Got this from a reader on Twitter:
@DanGrazianoESPN so when does Randle make his season debut? Someone told me he's been playing but that can't be right— michael trainor (@ceorock35) September 23, 2015
This is a cleverly made point. Rueben Randle's getting off too easy, right? Preston Parker became the target of fan ire for dropped passes in the first two games and ended up getting cut Tuesday in the kind of angry move the New York Giants never make. But there's a far bigger picture to address here, and it involves Randle, the 2012 second-round pick who was supposed to be a star by now.
Yes, Parker dropped too many passes. But at least he was open. As Eli Manning has spent the first two games of this season looking for downfield targets to take some of the attention away from Odell Beckham Jr. every now and then, Randle hasn't been an option. Manning has targeted him seven times. Randle has managed to catch four passes for 28 yards.
"We've got to do a good job of getting Rueben involved some more, get him some catches," Manning said Monday. "He's got to be a weapon for us."
He absolutely does. Say whatever you want about Parker, but if Randle had been performing up to his draft position, his SEC pedigree and his physical profile, Parker wouldn't have found himself in a position to have to make key catches. The Giants' offense should feature Randle and Beckham on the outside as the primary downfield playmakers, and Randle isn't getting open or making plays.
Randle can do this. After a season spent in the doghouse because of clashes with the coaching staff over tardiness and poor practice habits, Randle caught 12 passes for 290 yards in the final two games of the Giants' 2014 season. He has the ability to be what they need him to be. They don't know why he's not doing it.
"I don't have a theory," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Tuesday. "I can tell you that there was basically a two-week stint during training came when he couldn't work [because of a knee injury]. That doesn't help."
No, but all indications are that Randle is healthy now. He's just not delivering. He had a key drop against Atlanta. Randle's not in danger of being cut, but he is in the final year of his rookie contract and is eligible for free agency when it's over. For his own sake and that of the Giants, it's about time he started to deliver on his considerable promise.
"It's just about me getting out there and playing fast," Randle said. "That's what I want to do. Hopefully this Thursday, I can get back into the groove and make some plays."
The Giants face Washington in an 8:30 p.m. home game Thursday and must win to avoid an 0-3 start. Since 1990, 300 NFL teams have started a season 0-3 and only three of them made the playoffs.