Rather than 'Five Questions' this week, Bleeding Green Nation head honcho 'JasonB' and I were able to chisel out some time earlier Friday for a little online chat. Our conversation about Sunday's New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles matchup is after the jump. Enjoy!
JasonB: So obviously the biggest issue facing the Giants for the past month has been the unbelievable amount of injuries. Where would you say that the effect of those injuries is being most felt and where have you maybe been surprised at how well they've responded.
Ed: Well, the pass defense is suffering the most. Terrell Thomas out for the year, Prince Amukamara still recovering and backup corners Brian Witherspoon and Bruce Johnson both down for the year. Plus, middle linebacker Jonathan Goff. Aaron Ross is a step down from Thomas, and Antrel Rolle is being forced to play in the slot. Mostly, the Giants have had communication issues as a result of guys being shuffled around. As for responding well, the loss of Goff has not hurt the run defense. Greg Jones has played well thru two games, at least against the run. Giants fans love the kid, and he shows signs of being a good run-stuffer, but he struggles right now vs. the pass.
JasonB: And obviously the Giants made some big changes on the offensive line this year and so far it hasnt' appeared to work out well right?
Ed: Well, that is tricky. The problem is not talent, the problem is the lack of work in the summer and the lack of two-a-days in camp. Will Beatty at left tackle has been an upgrade over David Diehl -- who is doing OK @ guard. David Baas is a good center, but with a new center and new left side of the line the issue has really been communication -- blitz pickups and guys blocking the right guys. That only comes with time, which this group has not had.
JasonB: See i think David Baas was awful against the Redskins
Ed: I think he did a great job against Barry Cofield, but not against the other nose tackle. Two games is too soon to judge, but I think he's a good player.
JasonB: Well yeah it's early.
So the other big thing...Is Steve Smith. The football gods surely have something weird at work here with Manningham and Hixon getting injured for this game and having Steve Smith not only healthy but an Eagle...
Ed: A great many things have happened to the Giants this season, most of which are out of anyone's control. The injuries and the Oakland Raiders overpaying Kevin Boss are at the top of that list. Losing Smith, especially to Philly, was not. I wrote recently at BBV that the Smith loss is the one thing GM Jerry Reese could have and should have prevented. No one expected Smith to be ready Week 1, and the Giants played a dangerous game with him. They basically put him on "hold," thinking they had plenty of time to sign him when they were darn good and ready because no other teams would pursue a guy coming off a bad injury like that. Obviously, they were wrong and they got burned. And yes, that one hurts given all the other things that have happened.
Couple of questions for you.
Ed: With six straight wins over the Giants, especially the way the last one unfolded, just how much of an advantage do you think all of that gives the Eagles?
JasonB: Well there's probably some kind of mental edge, especially after last year. There has to be some element of confident with teh Eagles that tells them they know they can beat the Giants
But, at the same time, it's rarely ever easy for them, so I can't see them ever taking the Giants for granted.
Ed: Tell me what you think of the revamped Eagles' defense? The book is run, run, run and attack the linebackers.
JasonB: Sure, that's going to pretty much anyone's gameplan.
It's pretty clear to see that the Eagles put all their resources into the defensive line and the corners.
So far those guys have all paid immediate dividends, but obviously the young LBs have had their struggles.
For the Eagles, it's a whole team game plan.
If you want to run the ball and control the clock, you have to first stop their offense from scoring and so far no one has done that.
So I think that's going to be the plan all year
If you can get yourself in a position where don't need to throw to keep up/catch up with the Eagles, you'll be in a good position.
Ed: That said, are the Giants -- a 'run-first' type team -- the type of offense that could give the Eagles trouble?
JasonB: Well both of the team the Eagles faced in weeks one and two were run first teams.
And I don't think things are all that much different between the Eagles and Giants
So I think it could give the Eagles trouble if the right set of conditions happen for the Giants
JasonB: But if your defense starts giving up a lot of points, then being able to run the ball isn't going to help much... If the GIants can build a lead however, then for sure it could be trouble.
JasonB: I guess my question is, if the Eagles are a pass first team, how many problems does that present for the Giants secondary?
Ed: Tons. The Giants simply have to find a way to keep the Eagles receivers in front of them. I'd prefer long drives to long plays, or quick-strike scores. Of course, that is easier said than done. Aaron Ross seems to play really well for a couple of plays and then suffer some sort of brain-lock and let a guy run free. Shoot, Rex Grossman and Sam Bradford each put up more than 300 yards passing and they don't have the weapons Michael Vick has. As a Giants fan, it's scary.
Ed: Give me an honest opinion/impression of Eli Manning. Does he scare you at all? Do you guys think he is a quarterback you can take advantage of? Do you think of him as 'elite?' I know that's really three questions in one, but I think you know what I'm getting at.
JasonB: Well I think I mentioned this to you before, but to me Eli Manning gets defined by the one completely boneheaded play he'll make in a game.
He really has every tool to be an elite QB, but those decisions he'll make in a certain situation are the ONLY thing that makes people think otherwise.
And rightly so I'd say.
Why he would try to throw a ball straight up in the air with his left hand rather than just take a sack is beyond me...
And unfortunately, that one decision he'll make ends up overshadowing what he does the rest of the game.
JasonB: So I know he's a very capable QB and if we give him an opportunity he's almost definitely going to burn us with it...
But I also am always waiting for that one crazy decision he'll make that will end up going our way.
And not be to long winded, but the fascinating thing to me about him is the difference in how he handles pressure as opposed to pressure situations.
JasonB: If you pressure him, you can force him into one of those crazy mistakes... but he doesn't get rattled by pressure situations. He's no more likely to make a mistake in the 4th quarter of a close game than he is the 2nd quarter... It really doesn't make sense to me.
NOTE: Thanks to Jason for taking the time. Our chat will also be appearing this afternoon at BGN. It will be interesting to gauge the reactions of the two fan bases.