We are counting down the days until our New York Giants kick off their NFL regular season against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. With that in mind, I recently had the opportunity to chat online with Ken from our Redskins blog, Hogs Haven.
We covered a lot of ground, I think, in our relatively short chat. The results of our conversation are below. Enjoy!
BigBlueView: In your preview piece you listed the Redskins as a 10-6 playoff team. What really makes you that optimistic?
Hogs Haven: Haha...Yeah, we are really standing alone there huh? First, I think this roster is improved from last season. I think our defense is at least as good if not better than last season. And I think that some of the lesser known quantities in the league--Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, Fred Davis, Brian Orakpo--will make positive impacts. The schedule favors a quick start, and I am of the mind that in his second season, Coach Zorn can sustain any momentum built in the first half which is where he fell flat last year.
Finally, every season, a team like ours surprises. We are not a bad team. We are capable of being the team that jumps up this season.
BigBlueView: OK. So, the Zorn question. I wondered last year, and I still wonder. Is this guy, in your mind, up to being a quality NFL head coach?
Hogs Haven: In short, yes. As a former player, he brings his own perspective as far as how a player wants to be dealt with and I have found his demeanor and style to be refreshing. If he can eliminate time management mistakes (which are unacceptable), and get the plays in more efficiently, I think he will get the wins necessary to be given the opportunity to stick around.
It's all about wins right?
BigBlueView: of course
BigBlueView: As many as he wants, to be honest. Don't forget, he also has four straight playoff appearances. I think only Indianapolis has matched that. TC will stay as long as he wants, which no one would have believed at the start of the 2007 season.
BigBlueView: You mentioned a few names. Any other Redskins we might not know about who we should watch for Sunday?
Hogs Haven: Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly are players we are going to be watching for here in D.C.! We think they are ready to contribute, but until they do it in a game, we simply have no idea. On defense, LaRon Landry and Chris Horton will have to be patient and smart if we are going to be able to keep Eli in check.
If Haynesworth has a great game, it will be guys like Orakpo, Andre Carter, and Philip Daniels who show up in the stat box.
BigBlueView: OK, let's wade into the controversy of the week. How many minutes after Sunday's game do you think it will take for the Redskins to cut Andre Woodson?
He is terrible, by the way.
Hogs Haven: Haha...yeah, that move was dubious, eh? We shall see. As you have alluded to, he will never see the field, and I wonder what kind of value he has even in running the scout team offense.
BigBlueView: One serious comment about Woodson. He will look great in practice. He throws a nice ball and looked great in camp. In two seasons, though, it never translated to the field.
Hogs Haven: Am I mistaking him for someone else or is he pretty mobile?
BigBlueView: He can move around. Just mistake-prone. It always looks like the game is too fast for him.
Hogs Haven: I wonder if he would be adept at running a scout team wildcat formation in practice.
BigBlueView: OK, here's a question I always ask rival bloggers, and it's your turn since you and I have never done this. If you could have one Giant to plug into your lineup who would it be? Why?
Hogs Haven: Great question...I hope I don't let you down.
BigBlueView: I always love the answers to this one. I am constantly surprised by what people say.
Hogs Haven: Osi Umenyiora would have to be my guy. We have lacked an elite DE for a while and he seems to just get right to the QB. Brandon Jacobs and Chris Snee would be two offensive guys I would take. And Kenny Phillips is intriguing at safety. But Osi is a huge talent and would fill a need for us right now.
BigBlueView: Interesting thought. Osi, by the way, looks fully recovered from his knee injury. I am hoping for a big year from him.
By the way, if I was allowed to take a player from you and put him with the Giants I think it's an obvious choice. Santana Moss. The Giants definitely have the wrong Moss, and Santana would answer the Giants biggest question.
Hogs Haven: Brings me to my biggest question: how will your defense look without Spagnuolo?
BigBlueView: Well, I honestly don't think there should be any big change. Bill Sheridan was hired because he worked for Spags, and he was kept on (he had been LB coach) to run the same system. That said, there are huge personality differences between the fiery Spagnuolo and the more cerebral Sheridan. You may not see quite as much blitzing from the Giants, but that is because they have loaded up so much on the front I think they are hoping to get there with four, maybe 5, rather than selling out like they had to do last season.
Hogs Haven: Which receiver for you guys is going to emerge as a guy Eli can depend on? Seems like Eli is a bit frustrated.
BigBlueView: Frustrated? I wouldn't say so. Last season when things fell apart maybe, but not now. As for who he can depend on, Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith will start, but ... the guys to watch for as the season develops are No. 1 pick Hakeem Nicks and second-year guy Mario Manningham.
Nicks has been terrific the past two weeks, and I believe he will eventually replace Hixon. Manningham is an explosive, raw guy with a lot to learn. But, if he learns he could be fabulous. I also think/hope/pray the Giants will feature tight end Kevin Boss early in the season. He is much bettter than people realize, and could be a tremendous weapon.
Hogs Haven: Yeah, the best quarterbacks really use their tight ends well.
BigBlueView: It's really a case of usage. Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride are very traditional in their thinking with the tight end, and don't generally feature him unless it's in the red zone.
Hogs Haven: I guess I thought I saw Eli look a little chagrined at various points this preseason as he threw it to the right place and guys like Mario and Hakeem were not there.
BigBlueView: Well, Eli realizes there will be mistakes. There were a couple in the pre-season. The thing is, the Giants are built to win with defense, especially early on. It's up to the defense to carry this team while Eli and his receivers smooth out the wrinkles. That's why the Giants loaded up with Michael Boley, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard.
Hogs Haven: We are definitely led by our defense, but I find that fans in this league will boo their offense even when the main job of the offense on a team with a shut-down defense is to control the clock and be efficient. Will the Meadowlands rain down boos on Eli if they become a game management unit?
BigBlueView: Yes, it will most likely. Impatient folks, but I'd hope that people understand there will be some ugly-looking plays and some bad days along the way. I think, though, that this offense should be much bettter at the end of the season than it is at the beginning.
BigBlueView: Let's wrap this up. Give me your pick for Sunday. I will say Giants, 20-14.
Hogs Haven: Prediction: Skins over Giants 24-20. Eli fumbles late to put us in position to lock it up.