Injuries to Beckam Jr. and Marshall Point Out How Quickly a Season Can Be Ruined For Giants.
Winning or losing a preseason game carries very little weight. Remember, for example, that the 2008 Detroit Lions won all 5 of their exhibition games. They went on to record a 0-16 season, setting a league record for losses and becoming the first winless team in over 30 years.
Neil O’Donnell and the New York Jets won all 5 of their preseason tilts in 1996 before a 1-15 season that facilitated the merciful end of the Rich Kotite era. Wins and losses clearly, at least in those cases, did not prepare anyone for the horrors that awaited their fans once the games began to count.
Injuries, however, can have a profound effect on a team’s chances. The Vikings believed they were a Super Bowl contender last season until a late preseason practice resulted in a catastrophic injury to Teddy Bridgewater.
A preseason neck surgery to the great Peyton Manning cost the Colts their franchise quarterback and facilitated both his release and replacement after the team crawled to a 2-14 season in his absence. The point is, even a season with championship aspirations can be derailed before it begins. And this nearly happened to the Giants on Monday night.
For all of his bad headlines and questions about his focus, it’s generally agreed that Odell Beckham Jr. is simply a game changer. His hands and his speed give the Giants offense a dimension of quick strike ability that should make even the best of NFC teams nervous. But he sustained a knee injury and concussion during Monday’s 10-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Beckham was alert, and preliminary scans of his knee revealed no clear structural damage. But it was severe enough to send shock waves through the team’s fan base on social media and certainly scare the hell out of coach Ben McAdoo.
His counterpart, the newly acquired Brandon Marshall, already had a difficult road ahead of him this preseason. As a newcomer, the team’s no-huddle offense largely based on improvisation and hand signals was already a lot to absorb. One of the reasons he was limited in his participation in Week 1 was his need for more familiarity with the signal calling and verbiage of McAdoo’s complicated system. Already behind, he too suffered an injury against the Browns. His shoulder injury is not expected to be severe, but it may keep him out of next week’s annual preseason clash with the New York Jets.
They say that injuries are no excuse for a football team’s failures. After all, it is a contact sport. And each team, even those still standing in January, will have dealt with a myriad of bruises, sprains, and breaks by the time the season is over. But each team has a handful of men they cannot afford to lose. And these two are vital parts of what promises to be a very prolific passing attack in New Jersey this fall.
The full extent of these injuries may not be known for several days, and it is still unclear whether or not these two men will miss significant time or any at all. But, with each passing season, the window for the Giants to win with Eli Manning closes a little more. Manning turned 36 in January and appears to have the tools around him to lead the Giants on another postseason run. But none of that will happen without a healthy set of weapons. They can ill afford to lose an accomplished veteran like Marshall. And they might be just another team without Beckham.
Hopefully, neither man will miss significant time due to these injuries. If they do, then a season that begins with optimism and promise might be over before it begins.