Todd McShay's latest mock draft is out today , and he's got a brand-new name in that No. 12 slot for the Giants.
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As NFL schedules were announced Wednesday night, many season-ticket holders scrambled to the secondary market to list their game tickets.
The game with the highest average resale listed ticket price? The kickoff game that features the Green Bay Packers at the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, Sept. 4. The average ticket price on resale sites for that game is $575.62, according to TiqIQ, a ticket-resale market aggregator. The get-in price for the worst seat in the house is already a steep $245.
The second-most expensive ticket, by listed price, is the Week 12 "Sunday Night Football" matchup between Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants (Nov. 23). TiqIQ says the average listed price for that game is $569.90.
The defending AFC champion Denver Broncos are featured in the three next-most costly matchups. The team's game at Gillette Stadium against the New England Patriots on Nov. 2 has an average listed price of $567.09, according to TiqIQ data.
The Broncos' "Sunday Night Football" matchup against the San Francisco 49ers at home on Oct. 19 has an average listed price of $536.76, and their Super Bowl XLVIII rematch against the Seahawks in Seattle on Sept. 21 has opened with an average listed ticket price on the resale market of $526.98.
After looking over things again, I had a few more specific thoughts about the Giants' schedule that weren't addressed in the immediate analysis Wednesday night:
- The Giants only have one game against a team that has a bye the week before. It's their Week 12 home game against the Dallas Cowboys, who are on bye in Week 11.
- When the Giants play at Dallas in Week 7, the Cowboys will be coming off a road trip to Seattle in Week 6.
- Other than Week 12, the Giants have two games against teams that will be coming off extra rest. In Week 16, they travel to St. Louis to play the Rams, who will have had nine days off following their Thursday game in Week 15. And in Week 17, the Giants will host an Eagles team that will have had one extra day of rest after playing a Saturday game in Week 16.
- On the flip side, the Giants have one game against a team that will be on short rest, but they will be, too. The Giants' home opener in Week 2 is on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, who will have played the late "Monday Night Football" game in Week 1. The Giants will have played the early "Monday Night Football" game in Week 1, so they will have the advantage of three extra hours of rest in addition to playing at home.
- After they get home from the Sept. 8 "Monday Night Football" opener in Detroit, the Giants might not have to board a plane again until Oct. 18. From Weeks 2 through 6, they play three home games, and their only two road trips are to Philadelphia and Washington, which are easily reachable by bus or train.
- Under a new rule this year, the NFL has the option to "flex" a maximum of two total games (league-wide) into Sunday night slots on NBC between Weeks 5 and 10. Presumably, they would only do this for a matchup that screamed for it. The Giants' Week 10 game in Seattle could potentially be a candidate if the Giants have a very good record in their first eight games (and if two other games haven't already been flexed to Sunday night in Weeks 5-9). But since the Giants are already playing Sunday night in Week 6, Monday Night in Week 9 and have a bye in Week 8, the only other possibilities for an extra midseason "flex" game are the Week 5 home game against Atlanta (unlikely) and the Week 7 game in Dallas. Don't discount the latter possibility, because they do love putting Giants-Cowboys in prime time when they can. But you would have to think the fact that the Week 12 Giants-Cowboys game in New Jersey is already slated for a Sunday night slot would discourage them from moving the Week 7 game there if they aren't pressured to make a change. Also, the Week 7 Sunday night game as of now is 49ers-Broncos, which seems unlikely to move unless Peyton Manning retires before then.
The quarterback-needy teams at the top of this year's NFL draft are miserable, and justifiably so. No one's sold on this year's top quarterbacks, so taking one with a top-five or a top-10 pick is a frightening proposition. If you spend a resource that valuable on a quarterback and you get it wrong, you've made a franchise-crippling mistake.
Oh, but if you get it right ... well, then, you've made a franchise.
The New York Giants were one of those teams 10 years ago. They held the No. 4 pick in the 2004 draft and needed a quarterback, and the guy they wanted was going to go No. 1. In order to get Eli Manning from San Diego (and he'd made it clear he didn't want to play there), they had to pick Philip Rivers at No. 4 and trade him and a third-round pick to the Chargers. The Giants also would have to send their 2005 first- and fifth-round picks. 'Twas a heavy price, and a difficult one to pay. But pay it the Giants did, because they decided they were sure that Manning was their guy. They were certain they were getting the right quarterback, and that the price to do so was worth it.
Ten years later, in advance of a draft that has no Eli Manning (and no Philip Rivers, for that matter), the Giants' move to get Manning stands as a prime example of getting the quarterback right. Manning hasn't always been perfect, and he's not and never will be his brother. But as No. 1-pick quarterbacks go, he's one who has lived up to the promise and the price.
Could the Giants have won Super Bowls XLII and XLVI with Rivers as their quarterback instead of Manning? Sure, it's possible. Rivers is a fine player who at times during the past decade has been better than Manning. And those Giants Super Bowl teams did have other high-quality aspects to them. It's entirely possible that had the Giants emerged from that draft with Rivers and their 2005 first-round pick, they'd still have won those titles.
But it's not certain, and what is certain is that Manning did deliver those two Super Bowl titles. While Rivers and others who haven't been there continue to carry uncertainty about whether they can be championship-caliber quarterbacks, Manning has been a championship-caliber quarterback. Twice. He was absolutely instrumental in those playoff runs and Super Bowl wins, and to say that Rivers or anyone else would have won those titles with those teams is to presume they'd have played at least as well in those games as Manning did.
The result has been franchise-altering in the best possible way. Think about the difference in the way you perceive the Giants now and the way you'd perceive them if they still hadn't won a Super Bowl since 1991. Think of what having Manning at quarterback has done for the reputations of Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese ... John Mara, for goodness' sake. These are regarded around the league as men at the absolute top of their profession, the Giants as one of the league's exemplary franchises. Would that still be the case if they were working on a 23-year Super Bowl drought? If they'd only ever won two titles instead of four?
Just as Manning wasn't the only reason for the Giants' past two Super Bowl titles, he's not the only reason the reputations of the men in the previous paragraph stand out. But had they not made the move to get him in 2004 -- or had he not turned out to be the player they believed he would be -- they'd have spent all, or at least a good chunk, of the past decade trying to figure out the quarterback spot. And when you look around the league at teams that wander in that desert, you don't exactly see a lot of stability in the general manager's and coaches' offices. A franchise quarterback is an anchor. Having one makes everything else about your team and your football business seem brighter, all of your problems feel easier to solve. That's what Eli Manning has brought to the Giants since then-GM Ernie Accorsi made the move to get him in the 2004 draft. Because of what Manning has delivered on the high end, not even the low moments or the down years have ever given the Giants any reason to doubt whether they did the right thing.
Breakdown: Well, opening on "Monday Night Football" on the road isn't awesome, if for no other reason than it makes your fans wait extra-long to start the season (and for the first home game). I would say the early part of the Giants' schedule looks tough, with road games in Detroit, Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas and a couple of potentially tough home games against the Cardinals and Falcons. But that's nothing compared to their schedule immediately after the bye, which includes three straight games against 2013 playoff teams, one of which is the Super Bowl champion. Things appear to ease out considerably after Week 11, but the concern after last year is of course whether the Giants can avoid being buried again by a rough start. Winning on the road in Detroit to open the season would ease a lot of concerns, obviously.
Complaint department: Not only do the Giants have to go on the road to play the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, they have to do it on a short week. They play the Colts at home on "Monday Night Football" on Nov. 3 and then have to be in Seattle for what at this time is a day game on Nov. 9 (though flex scheduling could theoretically change that if the Giants have a big first half). And even if they get through that game, they have to come back the next week for what could be their toughest home game of the year against the 49ers. The bye hits in Week 8 after a tough start, but the schedule for Weeks 9 through 11 is a whopper of a midseason test.
Divisional balance: The Giants' first three NFC East games of the year are all in the first seven weeks of the season and all on the road. Their final three NFC East games of the year are all in the final six weeks and all at home. So if they can steal one or two early and hang in contention through those tough NFC West matchups, the Giants could be in position to dictate some things in the division with a run of late home games against the Cowboys, Redskins and Eagles. And if the Eagles are as good as all of the way-too-early predictions say they are, who knows? Chip Kelly could be resting guys by Week 17, right?
Strength of schedule: 26th, .465 | Vegas over/under : 7.5
Giants Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 8, at Detroit, 7:10 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, Arizona, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 25, at Washington, 8:25 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Monday, Nov. 3, Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, San Francisco, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, Washington, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, at St. Louis, 4:05 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
ESPN's 2014 Monday Night Football slate will open in Detroit and Glendale, Ariz., for the season-opening Sept. 8 doubleheader as 26 of the league's 32 teams will make an appearance on MNF.
The season's docket will open with the New York Giants at the Detroit Lions and the San Diego Chargers at the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 8, and in the weeks that follow the Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints are scheduled to appear twice on Monday night.
"A little bit," the always-honest Amukamara said. "I think it's natural for someone to think that, especially if you feel threatened by the guys and the guys are good. And there are two sides to that. You can look at it and say, 'This guy can help the team,' or you can say, 'This guy might take my spot.' But it's not my job to worry about that."
Amukamara still projects as a starter on the outside opposite Rodgers-Cromartie, with Thurmond likely playing the slot. But Thurmond can absolutely play on the outside if necessary, and Giants coach Tom Coughlin said last month that Rodgers-Cromartie would be asked to cover the opponent's top receiver every week -- an assignment Amukamara had toward the end of last year and was hoping to get again.
Add in the fact the Giants haven't yet decided whether to pick up the 2015 contract option on their 2011 first-round pick, and Amukamara has reason to wonder whether he's in the team's long-term plans.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it, but I can't really worry about that," Amukamara said. "I've just been living by, 'Only focus on the things I can control.' I could have controlled whether the Giants did or not by my play the last three years, but right now I can't worry about that. If they do it, that's great. If they don't, that's great too. But I would be very excited if they did, of course."
The option likely would be around $7 million for 2015 (it's the average of the salaries of the No. 3 through No. 25 highest paid cornerbacks in the league), and it wouldn't be fully guaranteed until the first day of the 2015 season. But the Giants have to decide by May 3 whether to pick it up, or else Amukamara would be a free agent following the 2014 season. Rodgers-Cromartie carries a cap hit in excess of $7 million for 2015, so it's possible the Giants wouldn't want to pay two cornerbacks that much. But it's a premium position in today's NFL, and the Giants treat it as one, so it's not out of the question either.
"It shows that the team wants you," Amukamara said. "And who wouldn't want to feel wanted?"
After the Giants' cornerback signing spree, it sounds as though Amukamara would like to know whether he is.
1. Eli Manning's ankle injury may not turn out to be a huge deal, but it's not a small one either. Manning is getting around on crutches right now, though he ditched them before he came out to stand in a walking boot in front of cameras and answer questions Tuesday. (I don't blame him for that, by the way. I'd probably do the same.) Asked directly whether he would be ready for the start of training camp, Manning said, "I think I'm safe to say I'll be 100 percent by the start of training camp." Then he paused and made that face he makes when he's not all the way comfortable with something and said, "I would hope so."
Now, it's important to note that the Giants start training camp a week earlier than usual this year due to their participation in the Hall of Fame game. So it's possible that Manning would be ready by the usual start of training camp but not by July 22, when the Giants are likely to start this year. But regardless of those semantics, it definitely appears that Manning and the Giants are prepared for the likelihood that Manning will miss the on-field portions of OTAs and probably the June minicamp. Manning is a stickler for practice and never misses a chance to discuss the importance of everyone being on the field practicing together. So if his arrival on the practice field is delayed by a month or more, that has to have an impact on his mindset, if nothing else.
2. Chris Snee is a big wild card. We've been treating the Giants' veteran offensive lineman as a question mark, and until we see him back on the field and playing the way he used to play, we'll continue to do so. But Snee said his offseason program has been completely different from what it was last year -- that he's been able to do much more in terms of strength and conditioning work and that he's basically going through a normal offseason of preparation, ready for full practice when the time comes. The potential benefits of a fully healthy Snee to the Giants' offensive line simply cannot be overstated.
3. The new offense will be very new. Lots of talk about new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and what he's installing. Everybody thinks it's going to look a lot like what they run in Green Bay, which is where McAdoo came from. Victor Cruz talked about the simplification of the passing game routes under McAdoo versus the option routes on which Kevin Gilbride's offense relied. There's a lot of learning to be done, and especially with Manning on the shelf you wonder how quickly they can become proficient with it. But the Giants are going to look a lot different this year when they have the ball.
4. They were on message on Will Hill. The Giants have a good media relations staff, and with the news breaking in the morning that safety Will Hill had failed another drug test and was in the process of appealing a potentially lengthy suspension, the players were prepared to answer questions about Hill. Everyone who was asked used the word "support" and talked about Hill as a good guy and teammate who needs help dealing with his issues. I question the characterization of a player who keeps getting suspended as a good teammate, since a good teammate is generally an available one. And I have my doubts about how far the Giants organization's "support" will extend if Hill loses his appeal. I have to think he's probably done here. But Stevie Brown is a question mark as an ACL recovery case, and Quintin Demps was signed more for his kick-return abilities than for his safety abilities. So it's possible they let this play out and see just how mad they want to get about Hill's latest headache.
The Giants' 2012 first-round draft pick injured his neck last year in a Week 5 game in Philadelphia and had surgery to repair the neck in January. He said Tuesday that he feels great and is eager to be cleared to play, but that his doctors still haven't seen a test result that convinces them Wilson's neck has healed sufficiently to allow him to play football.
"I feel great. I have no pain," Wilson said. "The only thing that's holding me back is a picture. They want to see that picture that shows I'm okay. So right now we just need to get the photograph that we need."
The Giants signed free-agent running back Rashad Jennings and plan to make him their starter, but they all know a healthy Wilson would be a significant weapon out of the backfield. They can't count on him being available, but if he is, they will find ways to work him and Jennings both into the offense.
"As far as a 1-2 punch, that's something we're going to strive to become," Jennings said. "He brings a special element to an offense."
In other Giants offseason injury news...
- Left tackle Will Beatty, who broke his leg in the 2013 season finale, is walking without crutches or anything but will be brought along slowly during the offseason. Beatty said his goal is "just to keep up" -- i.e., to be on the field when his teammates are on the field. He believes he'll be ready for Week 1 but sounded less certain about the start of training camp, which is likely to be around July 22 this year due to the extra preseason game the Giants are playing.
- Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who battled back and shoulder injuries in 2013, said he feels great and will be a full-go during the offseason program. Pierre-Paul also said he's 15 pounds lighter than he was last year, down from 285 pounds to 270, and that he feels comfortable at his new weight.
- Guard Chris Snee said he's been working out as he would during a normal offseason and that neither of his surgically repaired hips is bothering him. He said overcompensating for the first surgically repaired hip last offseason caused him to injury the then-healthy one. Snee missed the final 13 games of 2013 but believes he'll be the player he used to be once 2014 begins. If he is, he's slated to start at right guard.
- Safety Stevie Brown is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the 2013 preseason. He'll be brought along slowly. The team has a template for ACL recovery that Terrell Thomas provided last year, and they'll likely rest Brown more than usual in the offseason and in training camp. But with Will Hill facing a potentially lengthy suspension following his latest failed drug test, Brown may have to be a starter at safety this year.
- Wide receiver Victor Cruz, who injured his knee in a December loss to Seattle and missed the final two games of the season, said he's 100 percent healed and a full-go.
Last season Thurmond was a member of the "Legion of Boom," the Seattle secondary that propelled the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. But Thurmond says the Giants' secondary, which he is now a member of, is at least as good.
"Oh most, definitely, if not better, in my opinion," Thurmond said. "The cornerbacks, and the whole defensive backfield at the end of the day."
As for himself, Thurmond was asked where he ranks among slot cornerbacks in the NFL.
"I'm the best slot corner in the league," Thurmond said. "I'll say that, for sure."
Thurmond was one of about 20 Giants made available to the media Tuesday for the first time this offseason, on the second day of the team's voluntary workout program. He made the boldest remarks, but several other defensive players sounded brimming with confidence as the team begins preparing for next season.
"I think we did some great things on the defensive side of the ball. I think we did some good things on the offensive side of the ball, as well," said middle linebacker Jon Beason, one of several players the Giants re-signed. "The pieces that we brought in were smart moves, and it was aggressive, and it still says, [win] right now."
"I love what they've done," said safety Antrel Rolle, one of the Giants' captains. "I think they've made some great moves, some explosive moves, guys that can come in and contribute right away and help this team win."