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Giants, Jets both filled with questions

Giants have issues with Strahan, Jets with Ferguson

By Michael Salfino / SNY.tv

D'Brickashaw Ferguson has not been all the Jets had hoped for after drafting him No. 4 overall. (AP)

With the season fast approaching and my previews already in the books, let's take one last preseason look at the local NFL scene.

I wonder if Eric Mangini is thinking about how the Patriots replaced Drew Bledsoe in 2001 with Tom Brady. Clemens has seemingly dramatically lifted his game (like Brady in the summer of 2001), while Pennington seems a shadow of his former self (like Bledsoe that year). In retrospect, the Patriots were lucky that Bledsoe got hurt in Week 2, forcing the switch that would otherwise have been too rash even for a team coming off a 5-11 season. The Jets, a defending playoff team, will likely live with Pennington's physical inadequacy until the season is over (at least for them).

Everyone is questioning the Jets' decision to get cheap with Pete Kendall, creating a huge void at guard. Note that Mangini's Pats didn't play salary cap hardball until they had established a championship pedigree. But more troubling, for me, is the continued mediocrity of LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson. He served as a pylon on a Osi Umenyiora sack last week. Ferguson should be elevating his game but continues to look like just another guy out there. This was not the expectation when the Jets showered him with millions after drafting him No. 4 overall.

I took a lot of heat for my offseason piece about how Thomas Jones was too old to bank on as a feature back. While his skills are still intact, it's looking unlikely that he's going to be able to take the wear-and-tear of being a full-time back at age 29. Leon Washington could have a Maurice Jones-Drew type year if Jones goes down; Washington is that talented.

So far, the Jets gamble in trading up for CB Darrelle Revis and LB David Harris looks to be a wise one. Revis looked like he lost nothing with the holdout in his first summer action. Harris has been stout in run support and surprisingly active in pass coverage. But as I wrote when I criticized those draft moves, the odds are always against you when you trade up because you're paying a premium based on your conviction that a player is going to be good. For example, imagine if the Jets had traded up to draft Ferguson. It's bad enough they have to pay him all that money while a guy drafted two rounds later, San Diego's Marcus McNeil, is perhaps the best tackle in the game.

On to the Giants....

The Michael Strahan soap opera has to end. He went all Desperate Housewives on us last year with the marital strife. Now we get weeks worth of tabloid fodder over whether he'll return to the Giants fold.

It seems that he's hoping the Giants will pick up some of the tab for that court-ordered divorce settlement. There's always Powerball, Mike. On the field, of course, they could use Strahan, who seemed to fade a little last year and is 37. But he can at least be a big part of an effective defensive end rotation. And the Giants will need a big rush to mask that secondary during the few weeks they face a top- flight QB.

I gave short shrift to Amani Toomer in my Giants preview. I'm fixated on Sinorice Moss in the slot not because I like him (he's showed literally nothing since the Giants drafted him in the second round last year), but because he provides needed quick-twitch speed. Last year, the Giants, even without an effective No. 2 receiver after Toomer blew the ACL, could attack the short, intermediate and deep levels of a defense. They've lost that short threat in Tiki Barber, who was able to gash defenses on swings and check downs. Without Barber, secondaries will be able to focus more resources on Jeremy Shockey and Plaxico Burrress (assuming those two are healthy). So, the Giants need someone else with explosive playmaking ability on shorter routes. Santana Moss is this kind of player when he's healthy. Maybe Sinorce inherited those genes, too. Anthony Mix? Steve Smith? I don't see this type of playmaking ability in either player.

It was fun reading about QB coach Chris Palmer's accuracy drill with dots and nets and some scrambling -- designed to help Eli Manning improve that poor completion percentage. But, as this seems to be a "throwing on the run" exercise, you wonder if there's even any proof that Manning's struggles most often occur when he's on the move. It seems to me he struggles with accuracy when in the pocket. A better drill would have 300-pound men grunting and growling on their way to do you evil while you're calmly going through your progressions, refusing to yield to the urge to run for your life. Virtual reality goggles, anyone? The problem, I think, is in Eli's head, not in his arm. Of course, it's perfectly normal for us humans to get happy feat in these situations. A great QB needs abnormal mental wiring (which is why they're so hard to find).

The Giants offensive line looked great in the Week 3 preseason game (the closest the NFL comes to a real dress rehearsal for the regular season). But the Jets aren't exactly the Steel Curtain with their front seven. I'm still skeptical that this Giants line is going to hold up, especially in the running game, which will miss Tiki's hops.

Michael Salfino is a nationally syndicated football and baseball newspaper columnist and regular contributor to SNY.tv

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