Here is this week's edition of 'Friday Five With Pat Traina.' Pat and I liked the way this worked out last week, and we will continue doing it. Be sure to drop by 'Train-A-Thought' for my answers to Pat's questions.
Ed: Antrel Rolle is talking this week about the Giants being the best team in the NFL. Hearing him say it makes me cringe. Is his personality and the fact that he seems to have no trouble saying whatever is on his mind to the media good for this team? Or, is he rubbing people the wrong way?
Pat: I don't think so - maybe he's annoying some opponents and their fans with his brash talk, but that all comes with the territory. Rolle reminds me a lot of Antonio Pierce - he's not afraid to speak his mind and he's not worried about being politically correct. I actually think the leadership he's brought into that locker room is refreshing - ever since he called out his teammates following that Colts game, they've been playing much better ball. You're also starting to see a lot more guys step up and lead the team, which is also refreshing. Sometimes you have to be brutally honest, and while some might say that Rolle's proclamation is debatable, there's no question that it's what he believes. And what was it that Michael Strahan said during the Super Bowl to the offensive line? "Believe it, and it will happen."
Ed: There is some 'Eli Manning for MVP' talk this week. This seems like the kind of stuff that always happens when a team wins. If the voting were held right now, do you think Eli is a legitimate MVP candidate?
Pat: Realistically? No. I think the things that will hold him back from being the MVP as of right now are the interceptions and some of the ill-advised throws he's made. Don't get me wrong - he's a very good quarterback, and I think if the Giants ever lost him for any length of time, their season would be finished. However, there are still some issues with him - and he'll be the first to confirm this - that he needs to work on to bring his game back to the next level. The good thing about Eli is that he's jot afraid to roll up his sleeves and put his nose to the grindstone. So while he's probably not a realistic choice for league MVP, I don't' think there's any denying that he's one of the team's MVPs - and when you think about it, league honors don't really matter that much if your team isn't winning, right?
Ed: You asked me why I thought the Giants running game had begun to click? Same question for you. Give me your keys to the resurgence of the running game.
Pat: Well, it all starts up front with the o-line, so you have to give those guys credit, especially the interior of O'Hara, Snee and Seubert. I think the biggest differences, though, are 1) the blocking of Kevin Boss, which has been much better this year; 2) the addition of Shawn Andrews in that jumbo package, and 3) the insertion of Bear Pascoe at fullback. What's amazing about Pascoe is how far he's come in such a short period. He's blocking the way Madison Hedgecock blocked in 2007 and 2008. (Hedgecock, by the way, has been helping Pascoe out, according to one of the coaches . Pascoe is such a humble person who said he's only filling in until Hedgecock comes back. But I think it will be pretty hard to take him off the field if Hedgecock does come back.
Ed: What are your thoughts on Darius Reynaud? I said on BBV the other day that he couldn't make a cardboard cutout miss a tackle. Is he just not the explosive return man we thought when the Giants acquired him, or is it that the Giants just can't create any lanes for him to run in?
Pat: Not impressed. I realize that his blocking on punt returns has been poor, but I'm sure you'll agree that there have been times when he has hesitated to the point where if he had taken off just a split second earlier, he might have made something out of nothing. Even your favorite assistant coach, Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn, said that Reynaud regressed against Dallas. So I can't say I was surprised that the Giants made a move to bring in a new returner (Will Blackmon) because realistically there was no way they could continue at the current pace and be successful. What is interesting though is that the Giants kept Reynaud on the roster, which makes me wonder if he's going to be left on kickoff returns (what else does he do that would warrant keeping him around?) We'll find out soon enough.
Ed: Jason Pierre-Paul, Ramses Barden, Travis Beckum, Shawn Andrews. Which player will have the biggest impact for the Giants in the second half of the season?
Pat: Pierre-Paul, hands down. The kid has a bunch of raw talent that Fewell and company are just starting to tap into, and I wouldn't be shocked if we see Pierre-Paul lining up in even more defensive sets as the season grinds on. Fewell did say on Wednesday that he didn't want to put too much on the kid's plate considering the rookie is having a blast playing special teams as well, but I suspect that Pierre-Paul would be up for the challenge of getting as much responsibility as he could. I think Beckum is going to continue to be a spot player assuming they can get a favorable matchup for him. As for Andrews, in speaking to the assistant coaches, it sounds like he's still learning the offense (remember, he didn't have training camp or the off-season to study the playbook so from that standpoint, he's WAY behind his teammates). I don't think they're going to expect a whole lot from him until maybe next year, once he's had a chance to get everything down pat.