Things we like

1. The safeties

Signing Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant were two key moves, and they should prevent those big plays from sailing over the secondary like they did last year. Having Kenny Phillips back helps. Not having C.C. Brown back helps even more.

2. Ahmad Bradshaw

It took three surgeries but his feet and ankles appear to be good as new and he’s creating big plays out of nothing in the preseason. He knows when to stick his head into the pile and when to bounce it outside and find space.

3. The free agents

No, not the ones the Giants signed this offseason. The ones they signed last offseason. Michael Boley, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard have looked healthy and active on defense this summer. The Giants might finally get what they paid for.

Things we don't like

1. No returns

With the loss of Domenik Hixon and the early injury to Aaron Ross, the Giants have very little experience and not much explosion in terms of special teams return men. Maybe rookie Victor Cruz can change that. Maybe.

2. Man in the middle

Jonathan Goff will be the middle linebacker after Keith Bulluck moved back to his more comfortable outside position. The Giants have a lot of faith in Goff. We're reserving judgment.

3. Dodge City

After years of getting up to get a jump on commercial breaks when Jeff Feagles trotted out onto the field, Giants fans will have to hold their breath over every punt this season with inconsistent rookie Matt Dodge doing the honors.

Giants finish 8-8, miss playoffs

John Mara said last year’s 8-8 felt “more like 4-12.” This one won’t, as the Giants will fight to the end and be playoff contenders with a winning record into December. But those three road games in the last four will be too daunting for them to overcome and they’ll miss the playoffs for a second straight season.

This is Tom Rock’s fifth season covering the NFL for Newsday, and his third season on the Giants beat.

More Giants