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MG answers our questions

I sent questions (some of mine and some of yours) to Star-Ledger Giants' beat writer Mike Garafolo about a week ago. With mini-camp and all the player interviews he has been doing himself, it has taken the great MG a while to find time to get back to me.

Today, though, we have his answers. First, you will see a few questions from me. Then, many of the questions you guys e-mailed in.

Big Blue View: What players really impressed you during the mini-camp?

Mike Garafolo: In no particular order: both WRs Hakeem Nicks (good job of creating separation, catching balls near the sideline and very good hands) and Ramses Barden (long-striding deep threat), LB Clint Sintim (tall and thick plus pretty good feet in pass drops), S Sha'reff Rashard (good instincts and seemed like a real good kid), DE Maurice Evans (relentless pass rush and great feet) and QB Rhett Bomar (strong arm, confident; should beat out Andre' Woodson). It's tough to tell a lot of the other positions in limited contact drills and I've always said it's extremely difficult to see what the interior linemen are doing from the sidelines. (Which is why the coaches rely on the "eye in the sky" film.) So I'll try to gather more info on some of the other guys in the coming weeks.

BBV: Which undrafted free agent should we keep our eyes on when training camp starts in August?

MG: Definitely two guys: Evans and Rashad. Evans was all over the QBs the entire camp, but I want to see if he can do that with David Diehl or Kareem McKenzie. It's one thing to beat tryouts off the edge; it's quite another to speed rush around a veteran. But Evans does have a quick first couple of steps, so it could be interesting. As for Rashad, he looked like one of the most comfortable players out there. He stood out the way you'd expect a first-round pick to stand out: flying up toward the ball when other DBs were flat-footed and making a great play to cut in front of the receiver on an INT. The Giants don't have a lot of depth at safety, so Rashad definitely has a chance to make the roster.

BBV: Draft 'rates' and 'grades' are silly, so I won't ask you to do that. Let me ask this, though. What was your favorite move made by the Giants in the draft? What, if anything, left you scratching your head?

MG: I definitely liked the way the Giants targeted Barden, did their research and then went out and got him. Too many teams get scared off by a guy's level of competition. The Giants seem to take it into consideration and look for a guy to dominate as much as possible. Barden did that and the Giants saw the value in taking him in the third round. Plus, they traded up, so they did it witj conviction.
As for the head-scratcher, I'd have to say William Beatty. That's not to say he won't be a good player; just that he seems like he's more of an athlete than a football player. Between Guy Whimper and Beatty, it looks like they're trying to take an athlete and make him a tackle by developing a mean streak and better technique. At left tackle, I might go the other way. Give me the David Diehl, who might not stand out during workouts but will knock your head off anywhere and anytime - for the team, of course.

BBV: The Eagles seemingly did well in the draft. Many writers are jumping on their bandwagon and calling them the best team in the NFC. Will that be a motivating source for the Giants this season?

MG: I don't think anybody needs extra motivation in the NFC East. I do think the Eagles' picks are interesting, though, and addressed needs at skill positions.

OK, now here are MG's answers to the questions I sent him from you guys.

Hey Mike, with the money Jerry is paying Canty and Rocky, they are obviously going to be in on the field. How do you see this affecting Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins playing time? Beause I think Cofield is a great young player with a lot of upside and although Robbins is getting up there in age, I personally think he was snubbed out of a Pro Bowl last year.

MG: Cofield and Robbins are definitely going to see less of the field this year, but that's only going to help them in the long run. Those guys both wore down as the season progressed last year and were nothing like they were early in the year. Plus, there was no depth behind them, so the middle of the Giants' defense was exposed a bit. A lot of people were pointing to Antonio Pierce as being a problem late in the year. I disagree. I think the lack of a push inside was the real issue. That's not to blame Robbins or Cofield because they were beat up from playing too many snaps. This year, they'll get to share the load, so while they'll lose playing time, they shouldn't be upset about it.

I just saw that the Brown signed WR Mike Furrey. Is this a sign that Braylon Edwards is closer to being a Giant than we thought?
-- njgiant

MG: No, but it could be a sign Edwards isn't going to be with the Browns. And while many people think the Giants are the only suitor for Edwards, I wouldn't be shocked if another team jumped into the fray. There are a lot more teams out there with worse receiving corps than the Giants right now.

I admit that I haven't cut Kevin Gilbride very much slack for what many of us here at Big Blue View have called "questionable playcalling."
How much responsibility for those questionable plays really falls at his feet and why shouldn't we fear more of the same style playcalling this year?
We're a fair bunch of guys here at BBV and we all agree that the players failing to execute a properly called play is not his fault. But not using the two minute drill to get Eli into a rhythm, for example, is another.

-- NY17NE14

MG: It's partly on Gilbride, partly on Tom Coughlin, partly the rest of the offensive staff and partly on Manning, who has a lot of freedom to make calls at the line. Unfortunately, we don't always know exactly who called or designed what on a particular play.

As for the "same style of playcalling," I think a lot will change this year. It has to. There's no Burress anymore. And frankly, it's tough to change the offense in mid-season when something happens the way the Burress situation unfolded last year. The Giants have different personnel, which should allow them to do different things on offense and, in turn, there should be a different feel to the play calls. If not, they're in trouble.

How do you feel the 2009 Giants defensive unit will match up with the NFC East offenses, particularly with the new additions and new coordinator?

MG: Well, we know the line is going to be stout, but what I'm curious to see will be the LBs, considering Bill Sheridan was the LBs coach the past couple of seasons. I really thought a big key to the Giants' defense two seasons ago was Kawika Mitchell. They didn't have an attacking presence like him last season and it hurt them. I'm thinking Sheridan will want his LBs to attack and maybe Michael Boley will play a huge role. That could be the key to this defense.

Will the new stadium present the same problems with the wind as the old one?

I would think so. It's a similar shape and layout, so I'm guessing the swirling winds will continue. If there had been openings in the structure like a lot of the new stadiums, I'd have said we'd have to see the way the wind will blow.
-- JohnW

MG: I would think so. It's a similar shape and layout, so I'm guessing the swirling winds will continue. If there had been openings in the structure like a lot of the new stadiums, I'd have said we'd have to see the way the wind will blow.

Is there a glaring weakness that the Giants failed to address in the recent draft?

Not that I can think of. Maybe a backup interior lineman, but I'd hardly call that a "glaring weakness."
-- JohnW

MG: Not that I can think of. Maybe a backup interior lineman, but I'd hardly call that a "glaring weakness."

At this point in his career how does Eli Manning compare to other NFL QBs?

-- JohnW

MG: Tough question to answer, but I've always said what separates Manning from a lot of other quarterbacks (Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo being two of them) is his ability to handle the pressure and perform well late in games. He'll drive you crazy with his inconsistency and will have his share of blowup games, but if it's late and it's close, I want him as my QB.

A great job from you guys with the questions. As usual, also a great job from MG with his responses. We really do appreciate Mike's taking the time to help us out.