It's Friday, and that means time for our weekly chat with Ernie Palladino. I hope you guys are enjoying these as much as I am. Remember to stop by Ernie's place and check out my answers to these same questions.
1. Given the fact that Brandon Jacobs' yardage numbers are down this week, would a role-switch with Ahmad Bradshaw be beneficial to the team this week?
Ernie's answer: I'm kind of split on the question. On the one hand, Bradshaw is producing like all get-out. It seems every time he hits a hole, that's 10 yards right there. You just can't beat that, especially when he has performances like last week when he outgained Jacobs by almost 50 yards on 10 fewer carries. But then again, you don't necessarily judge Jacobs by his yards-per-carry numbers. You judge him on the number of carries he takes and the damage he inflicts on defenses. And in those catagories, his production is still up there. Going backwards from last week, he's got 21, 21, and 26 carries his last three games. That's a good way to soften up a defense throughout the game, and it makes Bradshaw that much more effective. Don't get me wrong, I'm still worried about Jacobs because he hasn't hit the hole consistently the way we all expect a 264-pound back would. But when he does, the energy expended to bring him down can only have a debilitating effect on the other side. So I say keep the pecking order the same. If anything, give Bradshaw five or six more carries, but certainly keep Jacobs in that 20-25 carry range.
2. How do you think the Giants truly feel about facing their old, abrasive teammate Jeremy Shockey?
Ernie's answer: I think if Eli Manning could twitch his nose and make Jeremy Shockey a linebacker, he'd rear back and fire a high hard one off his noggin right out of the gate. The aggravation Shockey put Manning through during his developmental years with the tight end's hystrionics was something to behold. And Manning, whether he wants to admit it or not, is better off without him. But he won't say that. And Shockey will remain a tight end, so the two might only nod politely at each other as they leave the field. But make no mistake, the Giants would love to knock the daylights out of their ex-teammate, and Tom Coughlin would love to see them do it. Shockey said this week that he left here with a bitter taste in his mouth, but never, EVER took responsibility for the behavior that led to his departure. Poor Jeremy. But that's how he is. I think the defense, which long ago developed a great respect for Manning, would love nothing better than to put the wood to him anytime Drew Brees throws his way. Bet Shockey ends up with two catches for about 14 yards and a bunch of bruises.
3. Willl this game between the 5-0 Giants and 4-0 Saints prove a measuring stick to the Giants' true strength?
Ernie's answer: Oh, geez. Another Game-of-the-Century. Look, this is a real big game for this juncture of the season. But if the Giants go down to the Superdome and lose a close one, does it mean they're a bunch of also-rans? What if they lose this one big and then run the table to 15-1? A little perspective is needed here. Yes, it's a big game. But it's not going to define their season. There are too many games left, including four division games. But a win here would certainly set them up nicely for those and tell the rest of the league that they can beat the good teams and not just the pushovers. And a close loss shouldn't send their reputation spiraling downward. To me, they're one of the top three teams in the league, and only a hideously-played blowout loss could threaten that image, and I don't think that's going to happen.
4. Assuming Terrell Thomas continues playing as well as he has, what would you do with Aaron Ross once he returns from his hamstring strain?
Ernie's answer: You're assuming Ross is coming back. Just kidding. I think he'll eventually be back. And when he does get back, it'll be a nice headache for Tom Coughlin and Bill Sheridan to have. But it may not be much of one. Thomas has played out of his mind on the right corner, and I can't see removing him for anyone. I've never been a firm believer, anyway, in the old, 'You don't lose your job because of injury.' Ross has been out so long, and Thomas has played so well, that it would probably be a real negative to turn Thomas into a part-time player again. Better to put Ross at the back of the line, on the dime, say, and let him work his way up to starting status. But the way things are going, that won't be a question for quite some time, as Ross can't seem to get back on the practice field. Thomas, meanwhile, has proven he can be around the ball wherever it's thrown, and can also get to the quarterback on the specialty blitzes. Can't ask for much more than that.