Continuing with our weekly feature of getting together with an opposing team’s blogger for a little Q & A, this week I talked with Andrew Ilnicki of GMen HQ about the upcoming Monday night contest with the Giants. He are some of his answers to my questions, and as always, if you want to see what I had to say about the matchup, follow the link and head over to the Giants site to check it out.
1. The Giants are coming off a loss in a game they probably expected to win going in against the Redskins. How is the confidence level of the team and of the fans after falling to 0-1?
The fans for the most part are pretty concerned that the Giants have looked as flat as they have this whole offseason, preseason, and last week. The loss of two fan favorites in WR Steve Smith and TE Kevin Boss are not going to be forgotten easily or soon, especially when the offense cannot move the chains for half the game.
I think the players are confident in themselves and realize they need to execute a lot better on both sides of the ball. If the Giants get off to a good start and show they really prepared and overcame some things this week, the fans will feel a lot better about the season.
2. How did the running game look last week? The Bradshaw/Jacobs tandem seems pretty fomidable, so are they both looking good so far?
There was one drive last week that featured the run heavily that ended in a TD. Beyond that it’s hard to say since Jacobs only got 6 carries and the Giants only ran the ball 6 times total in the second half. Together they feel like they can dominate anyone, feel like they’re the best backs in the league — offensive line miscues don’t exactly make it easy. If the Giants offense can overcome some of those mistakes and find a way to stay with the run this week it will be the first time we’ll see the Giants look like the Giants in 2011.
3. Eli Manning has received plenty of praise and criticism in his career. What is your take on the Giants’ QB, and where would you rank him in relation to other quarterbacks in the league?
Less praise than criticism by a wide margin. But he is a top 10 QB right now. I did a post earlier in the year that ranks him at #8, and I think that’s about right. He’s not a top 5 guy – in most people’s eyes. However, he’s a great student of the game, has developed his offense well the past 4 years through a major change in personell and scheme, and has shown a lot of toughness both in dealing with the overly critical media and not getting hurt, knock on wood. I think if he simply minimizes the mistakes (INTs, Turnovers) like he did when the Giants won their championship in 2007 and in 2008 when they were so hard to stop offensively, the Giants will be in good shape.
4. The Giants’ pass rush has been very good for a long time, so how is the group looking this season?
Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are both injured… Tuck may play Monday night. Osi won’t so that’s still a big loss. Mathias Kiwanuka is playing OLB this season, not defensive end — he can still get to the QB though depending on what DC Perry Fewell wants to do with his coverage. JPP is going to be a beast, he’s already showing signs of dominance. I’d like more consistency from him this season than last season, I think he’ll get it with improved technique and a year under his belt. The central push is the thing that really creates opportunities for the Giants though — if Canty and 2nd year player Linval Joseph and establish that push and collapse the pocket it will get ugly. All in all, the Giants are a little shorthanded but I think in coming weeks they’ll be back to 100% effectiveness.
5. The Giants, like the Rams, have been hit hard by the injury bug as well this season. How is the team coping with those injuries and who are some of the new faces we should look out for?
There were so many, including their first and second round picks from this spring, that the Giants already have an uphill battle ahead of them. But truly devastating injuries to CB Terrell Thomas and MLB Jon Goff were very hard to swallow…. so Aaron Ross will be starting at corner and rookie Greg Jones will be captaining the middle of the defense. Both players NEED to make an impact this season, if not the Giants are fighting for an 8-8 record and pride.