The final game of the season for the New York Giants is approaching. We might not be excited about it, but here at Big Blue View that means we still have certain obligations.
Like bringing you cheerleader pictures. And chats with the blogger from the rival team. So, today I bring you both as I have traded some questions withe the Daily Norseman's Christopher Gates. Our chat is below.
Ed: Obviously, the Vikings are in the playoffs. They can't get the No. 1 seed. How would you expect them to play this one? Will they rest Brett Favre and other guys?
Christopher Gates: Honestly, the Vikings can't afford to rest their guys at this point. The #2 seed is still in play for them, but only with a victory, and they know that getting that #2 seed could be huge, since it would allow them a week of rest before hosting their first playoff game. I wouldn't expect them to rest anybody unless they somehow manage to get themselves a huge lead against the Giants. . .which, frankly, I'm not sure I see happening.
Ed: In a way, the Vikings remind me of last season's Giants. Off to a great start, but sort of stumbling down the stretch. How worried are you about the way they are playing heading into the playoffs?
Christopher Gates: The prevailing wisdom is that you want to go into the post-season "on a roll." However, it's not always necessary, as we've seen from recent teams such as last year's Cardinals and your Giants from the year before that. The Vikings aren't playing their best football right now, although hopefully there will be carryover from the second half of the Bears game, but I still think they're plenty capable of winning in January.
Ed: I have to ask. Your take on the whole Favre-Childress dynamic? Shouldn't Childress have known what he signed up for?
Christopher Gates: I really don't think there's as big a "feud" as it's been made out that there is, to be honest. A quarterback and his coach disagreeing is hardly newsworthy. . .hell, it happens all the time. But this got blown up because it was Favre. If this had been, say, Marc Bulger and Steve Spagnuolo, nobody would care.
However, in the past, Childress has been known for being relatively inflexible with his offense, specifically his audibles. We heard it from Brad Johnson, we heard it from Gus Frerotte. . .but neither of those guys are Favre, either. I think Childress has given Favre more freedom than he has to any other QB since he got to Minnesota, and with good reason. Most of the fans don't really have a "side" in the alleged battle between Favre and Childress. . .they just want to go back to whatever it was that made us 10-1.
Ed: Considering everything that has gone on, will success for the Vikings be determined this season by whether or not they get to the Super Bowl?
Christopher Gates: The prevailing wisdom is that, with the Favre acquisition, if the Vikings don't make it to the Super Bowl this year, their season is a failure. I think they've already had a successful season in many respects. Not only have they already gotten more victories than they had last season, but we've seen the incredible development of guys like Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice (especially Rice), and Minnesota is genuinely excited about their football team again. I didn't always get that impression about last year's team, despite the fact that they made it to the postseason. There weren't many places in the preseason that were predicting the Vikings to do very much, even after the acquisition of Favre, so relative to expectations, the Vikings have had a successful year. Yes, the Super Bowl would be great, but there's no reason to assume the sky is falling if they don't get there.
Ed: OK, last question. If you could take one player off the Giants roster and put him in your lineup who would it be?
Christopher Gates: Well, if we're going with everybody, regardless of health, I would probably look to someone in the Giants' secondary. Minnesota's secondary is their weak link by far on defense, and the two weakest links are located at the safety position in Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson. The Giants' young safety, Kenny Phillips, was having a pretty good season prior to his injury, if my memory serves me correctly, and if he was 100% healthy, I would love to plug him into Minnesota's secondary in place of either of our current safeties. I'd also take a long look at Corey Webster, too, but if he was 100% healthy, Kenny Phillips would be my choice, I think.
Christopher Gates: The Giants are playing a Week 17 game with nothing on the line for the first time since 2004. After getting off to a 5-0 start, what happened to the Giants the rest of the way that's put them in the position they're in now?
Ed: Do you have a couple of hours? Actually, I can sum it up pretty simply. Unbelievably bad defense. Four times this season they have given up more than 40 points. They don't rush the passer the way you would think they should with Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka. They can't stop the run. Without Phillips the safety play has often been horrible. The first-year coordinator, Bill Sheridan, is in way over his head. The defense was supposed to carry the Giants while the offense tried to find its way. Instead, the defense has let the Giants down while the offense has been tasked with pretty much needing to score every time the Giants have the ball if they want any chance of winning.
Christopher Gates: The Giants have battled a lot of injuries this season as well. Outside of Brandon Jacobs, who just went under the knife, how short-handed are the Giants going to be going into Sunday's game?
Ed: Well, Chris Canty will also be out. Although you could make a case that the Giants defensive tackles have been so bad thzie ey have basically played without any all season. Also, Kareem McKenzie (OT), Corey Webster, Aaron Ross and of course Kenny Phillips and Antonio Pierce. Also, No. 2 running back Ahmad Bradshaw is going to be limited, so Gartrell Johnson will get an opportunity. So, the Giants are thin in some places.
Christopher Gates: With all of that being said, give me your honest take on what sort of performance you're expecting for the Giants on Sunday.
Ed: It's a mystery to me what you will see Sunday. Going all the way back to preseason the Giants have been impossible to figure out. They have played some great games that reminded me of the past couple of seasons. Then they have played some horrible games where they just seemed to lay down and not give a damn. Last week was the latter. It was embarrassing to get beat 419 and look completely disinterested in their final home game at Giants Stadium. So, I really have no idea. I am curious, though, because the upanddown nature of the team has some people wondering if they are still listening to Tom Coughlin.
Christopher Gates: You mentioned that the Giants have played pretty horrible defense, which was a surprise given how dominant their defense had been in the past. Last off-season, the Giants lost Steve Spagnuolo, their defensive coordinator, to the St. Louis Rams. How much has that loss impacted the once mighty New York defense?
Ed: A lot, I think. There has been lots of miscommunication and blown assignments, some due to injuries and guys learning on the fly. But some, I believe, also due to Sheridan not being able to clearly communicate what he wants. Sheridan will almost assuredly get fired, and he deserves to. The players need to take much of the responsibility, though. Guys are getting blown off the line, missing tackles and failing to make plays even when they are in position. Those things are not the fault of the coordinator.
Christopher Gates: I'll go with one of the questions you had for me. . .if you could take any player off of Minnesota's roster and plug them into the Giants' lineup, who would you go with and why?
Ed: Well, there are two obvious answers to that -- Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen. Peterson is the best running back in the league, and every team would love to have him. I think, though, if I had to pick one I would take Allen simply because the Giants have been so bad on defense. He is the dominant defensive force the Giants thought they had with Tuck or Umenyiora, and that they need to protect that weakened secondary. He might even make Sheridan look competent.