It's Friday, New York Giants fans. That means time for our weekly 'Friday Five' with Inside Football editor Pat Traina. This week we talk about keys to the Giants to the Giants-Green Bay Packers matchup, the futures of Marc Ross and Brandon Jacobs ... and Pat makes a prediction on the outcome of Sunday's game. Be sure to stop by Pat's site for my answers to her questions.
Ed: Everyone talks about the Giants pass rush being the key against the Packers. Is there another match-up that you also think will be critical?
Pat: Most definitely, and that's whoever is assigned to cover TE Jermichael Finley. If I remember correctly, last time Jacquian Williams had the assignment and had his share of ups and downs. I think this time around Boley will draw that assignment. Remember, last time Boley was in his first game back form his hamstring injury and didn't get much in the way of coverage assignments. I think this week that will change.
Ed: How big of a loss would Marc Ross be if he gets the Chicago Bears GM job?
Pat: Truthfully I've had mixed feelings about Ross' drafts. I'm looking at the chart, "How the Giants Were Built" and let's run down the drafts since 2008 when Ross took over. In the '08 class, you have Terrell Thomas, Kenny Phillips, Mario Manningham and Jonathan Goff. Thomas, Manningham, and Goff will all be UFAs after this season and my best guess is that Thomas is the only one brought back.
In '09, you have Nicks, Sintim, Beatty, Barden and Beckum. Of those, I'd say Nicks is really the only keeper while the jury is out on Beatty. Sintim has been playing out of position-I think he would be better off in a 3-4 defense; Beckum couldn't nail a starting job in all the years he's been here despite the opportunities (and please don't' tell me he was hurt), and Barden has been passed over for a rookie down the stretch.
The '10 class includes JPP, Chad Jones, Linval Joseph and Mitch Petrus. Two core starters and a decent reserve in Petrus. Jones is a wash right now given his unfortunate accident.
The jury is still out on the '11 class give that Marvin Austin got hurt early on. Amukamara looks like a keeper. I think Jernigan turned the corner. Brewer is probably still more of a project. Jones appears to have lost that starting job to Herzlich, a rookie free agent (assuming Blackburn isn't brought back next year). Sash is a special teamer, Williams has been a nice surprise and I think he has a lot of upside. And Scott is going to be in the mix next year for a spot at running back if that unit is shaken up the way I think it will be.
Now what people don't really talk about is the undrafted free agents, which falls under the director of college scouting. Names like Cordle, Herzlich, Hynoski, Paysinger, and Trattou have all been diamonds in the rough.
So do I think the loss of Ross would be a big deal? Not really because I suspect the Giants might promote from within. The bottom line is that Reese has final say on personnel and I think whoever was to replace Ross should he leave will be able to pick up where he left off.
Ed: You asked me this, and I liked the question. So, you get to answer it yourself. Who is the most under-rated player on each team?
Pat: I'm assuming you mean the three Giants "teams" - offense, defense, and special teams, so here goes. On special teams, I'll give it to Zak DeOssie? The guy does a phenomenal job getting down field to cover punts and Steve Weatherford said having him is like having an extra gunner.
On defense, I think I agree with you about Mathias Kiwanuka -- his versatility allows Perry Fewell to deploy several different looks, and I think we saw how hamstrung Fewell was last year when Kiwi was lost for the season with a neck injury.
On offense, I'm going to go with Hakeem Nicks. He's sort of drifted to the back burner thanks to victor Cruz's breakout season, but you know what? Nicks is not only a threat to catch the ball, but some of his downfield blocks have been spectacular, and its' a contribution that doesn't show up in the stat sheet. So I'm going to go with Nicks as my top choice.
Ed: Six weeks ago, I would have said no chance Brandon Jacobs returns to the Giants next season. Now, I'm not so sure. What's your gut feeling on that one?
Pat: Jacobs is due what, a $4.75M base salary next season, plus a signing bonus in March? That's a lot of money to pay a guy who gets what, 10-12 caries a game? I think it could come down to whether he agrees to another pay cut. Either way, I think running back is addressed next year as Bradshaw has a lot of miles on him plus he's constantly having problems with his feet and I'm not so sure that DJ Ware will be brought back - I could see Da'Rel Scott maybe taking his job next year.
Ed: You told me you'd make a prediction on the game, so now is the time.
Pat: I feel good about this week, Ed. I don't know why, but I think the Giants are going to go into Lambeau and have a good game. I like the energy coming out of the locker room. I like the confidence level. I like that they're not intimidated by the Packers and I think they're going to surprise a lot of people by pulling off the upset.