Now that you have had a night to sleep off all that Thanksgiving turkey, and whatever else you might have imbibed to go along with it, let's get back to football. Here is this week's 'Friday Five' with Pat Traina of Inside Football. Be sure to to check out Pat's site for my answers to her questions. Anyway, here is this week's 'Friday Five.'
Ed: With the mounting injuries, the successive losses, the memory of last year do you get the feeling we are looking at another second-half collapse? Or, will this team be OK?
Pat: I wish I knew the answer. Certainly, when you have to reshuffle 60 percent of your offensive line and are missing three Pro Bowlers from the equation, that's a lot to overcome. For as good as the defense has been, my biggest concerns is that the Giants don't sustain drives and that leads to the defense cracking.
Ed: Offensively, what is the bigger problem? The injuries to the offensive line, which seem to be impacting the running game? Or, the mess the Giants have at wide receiver?
Pat: I think it's a combination of the two. Let's start with the offensive line. Right now, the left side of the line is virtually useless in the run blocking game, which is why you see a lot of runs to the right side. I do think though that once Shawn Andrews gets a full year under his belt, he's going to be a significant upgrade at that left tackle spot - no disrespect to David Diehl, but I have always thought Diehl was better suited for inside.
As for receivers, remember that Eli Manning and the Giants use a lot of timing routes. Now he's without three of the receivers he worked with in the offseason and summer, having to start from scratch. That's a huge problem. So now, the onus shifts to the running game. And we both know that when an offense is one-dimensional, it becomes easier to stop.
Ed: You asked me this one, so I will send it back at you. Do you agree with the decision to flip the roles of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw?
Pat: Absolutely. Over at Inside Football, we were calling for this weeks ago when we saw Bradshaw losing balls. No disrespect to Bradshaw - you really can't kill a guy for being competitive and for fighting for every last yard, but a good player looks at the big picture. What's more important, that extra yard to pad your personal stats or sustaining a drive and keeping your defense off the field?
The feeling that we came away with is that he just didn't fully grasp the magnitude of what his fumbling was doing for the team and by Coughlin announcing today he was making a change, there's no doubt in my mind that he's shaken Bradshaw's core.
Think about it for a moment. During the summer, the Giants would never come right out and say who their starting running back was. How many times did TC tell us to not read into who was getting the first handoff in practice? So ask yourself, why is TC being so straightforward and revealing now that he's making a change? What's his goal? Remember, this is a man who every time is asked about personnel decisions, plays coy and answers, "We'll see."
I was talking with a colleague about this and we believe that TC has a strategy behind his decision to announce the change before the game. His previous attempts to get Bradshaw to change how he thinks weren't working. What better way to get through to a guy in his contract year than to take away carries and expose the seriousness of his flaw in hopes that he gets it fixed once and for all?
The question now is will he do something to fix this issue or he's going to sit in the corner and sulk. Let's see what he's really made of.
Ed: The Giants don't need Michael Clayton or Devin Thomas to star, just to do something helpful. Do you think either of them can, especially this week?
Pat: I would think so. What that something is, though I don't know, because as I said above, the passing offense relies heavily on timing patterns, and I am not so sure they'll get the timing down with Manning in just a couple of days. TC said that he's going to give them just the game plan rather than have them learn the whole playbook -that's what the off-season is for.
Ed: I wrote earlier this week that the ultimate success or failure of the season rests on Eli's ability to rise above the mistakes he has made, and the crumbling foundation around him. Do you think he has it in him to carry this team despite all the issues the offense currently has?
Pat: I do. He did it in 2007; no reason why he can't do it again unless he's hiding some sort of major injury that he's trying to play through.