Wednesday I posted a Q&A with Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger. Today, we are treated to veteran Giants' beat writer Ernie Palladino of the Journal News answering the same set of questions.
Getting two sets of perspectives from guys as knowledgeable as these two is really interesting. Thanks to Ernie for taking the time to answer these, and for being one of Big Blue View's earliest mainstream supporters. Be sure to check out Ernie's fine Giants Journal blog.
Big Blue View: When the playoffs started nobody gave the Giants a realistic shot to reach the Super Bowl. What, in your mind, is the most surprising thing about this football team?
Ernie Palladino: The most surprising thing about this team is its resiliencey. Even when things went bad and Eli Manning looked flustered and lost early in some games, he still managed to pull it together just enough to get it done in the fourth quarter. Even the defense, no matter how dominated they were in Buffalo or against Dallas in the playoffs, they came up with the big play at the big moment to win. They make a big deal of "just keep working," but with this team the philosophy truly applied. That's the most iimpressive thing about this whole run. And make no mistake, it wouldn't have happened last season.
BBV: The Eli question. After the way he has played since the New England game, can we now call Manning an upper-echelon quarterback? Or, do you believe he's still a question mark?
EP: I don't think Eli is a question mark, but he's not the prototype elite quarterback, either. What he's doing isn't spectacular like, say Tom Brady or his brother Peyton might do. But he is doing exactly what's been asked of him from the beginning -- take care of the ball and be efficient. It's not fancy, and the numbers (aside from the rising completion percentage) aren't mind-boggling. But he's winning, and that's the important thing. Remember, twice they had to settle for field goals deep inside the Green Bay Red Zone. And when Corey Webster intercepted the ball, Manning could only get the offense a couple of yards closer for Tynes' overtime kick. But then you have his gutsy drive at the end of the first half in Dallas. Big plays at big moments.
BBV: Did the Giants already hit the Patriots with their best shot, or do you think they have a legitimate chance to knock off New England in the Super Bowl?
EP: The Giants hit the Patriots with a heck of a shot and nearly beat them. I'm not sure how many of those they have left in them. I believe they will lose, but in a close one, probably by no more than a touchdown. Then again, nothing in this season makes any sense to me. So do they have a shot? Yeah. Why? Because why the hell not?
BBV: Is there something to this whole 'Giants play better away from home' thing? Ten straight road wins is pretty incredible.
EP: Ten straight road wins isn't incredible. It's downright supernatural. Nobody has ever strung together that many before. And we all know how hard it is to win on the road in the NFL. I think saying that the road pulls this team together is too easy an explanation, and basically a load of psychological malarky. But darned if I can put my finger on anything, either. Like I say, nothing makes sense in this crazy season. Chicago is knocking the daylights out of them in the rain and sleet, and the Giants come back and win. The season hangs by a yard at the goal line in Washington, and rookie Aaron Ross makes a tackle on fourth down. Corey Webster and R.W. McQuarters make interceptions in the playoffs, McQuarters on the final Dallas offensive play, after doing next to nothing in the regular season. Go figure.
BBV: The hiring of Steve Spagnuolo might be the best move of the Tom Coughlin era. We know Spags has been linked to the Atlanta head coaching job. Are the Giants going to be able to lock up Spagnuolo long-term, or do you see him moving on either this off-season or in the near future?
EP: Well, it looks like he's going to stick around for a while because Atlanta just hired Mike Smith of Jacksonville, and it looks like the Redskins job is between Fassel and Gregg Williams. That's a good thing, because Spagnuolo is way too valuable right now as a defensive coordinator. It's because of his adjustments that the defense got in gear and started stopping people after that 0-2 horror show. I wouldn't mind seeing him stick around until Coughlin retires, but I'll bet one more year of good defense and he'll be a head coach somewhere.
BONUS QUESTION FROM BBV: You are one of a growing number of sports writers who are writing for their newspaper as well as blogging. Which format do you enjoy most, and why?
EP: I'll probably lose a lot of readers for this, but I like to consider myself an old-style newspaper guy. I'm a technophobe at heart. Hate computers and everything that goes with it. I was brought up that newsmen told stories in a certain way -- to educate the reader. Entertain, yes, but first and foremost inform and educate. That's why I like the form of the newspaper article. It's formal, and in it we give the reader everything they need to know about a subject in as fair a manner as possible. This blog stuff, it blurs the line. It makes me out to be just another guy on a bar stool talking sports with another guy. I'm not supposed to be that guy. I'm supposed to be the knowledgeable one, because I'm the guy with the access. But at the same time, it does get kind of fun when I can inject some humor into it and the readers recognize and appreciate it. All in all, though, I don't think I'm getting along very well with the 21st century.