As usual, Pat Traina of Inside Football and I have exchanged questions for our 'Friday Five' segment. Check out my answers to Pat's questions over at her blog, Train-A-Thought. So, let's get right to this week's Q&A.
Ed: If David Diehl plays this week, as seems likely, where would you prefer to see him -- left tackle or left guard? Second part of that question is, where do you believe the Giants will ultimately put him?
Pat: My answer to both questions is left tackle. With this team in its stretch run and with good defenses such as Minnesota, Green Bay and Philly still left on the schedule, no w is not the time to let Beatty, who has held his own, mind you, continue to cut his teeth if you have someone who's battle-tested. I think if Shawn Andrews and Shaun O'Hara were both available to play, then you might see Diehl at left guard, but based on what we know today, I would be shocked if he is not at left tackle.
Ed: Last week I asked you to assess Kenny Phillips. Let's pick a different player this time. What are your thoughts on Antrel Rolle's play so far this season?
Pat: I think the Giants have gotten their money's worth on Rolle so far. I mean if you are looking to compare him with what they had last season, well that's like comparing a Bentley to a beat up dump truck. I think Rolle has fit into Perry Fewell's system very well and he's even learned a new thing or two about his talents that perhaps he didn't realize were there. I like how they have used him this year and while I wish he was a little more careful with some of his opinions, I think he's been an excellent addition to this team.
Ed: Tom Coughlin would not commit to Bear Pascoe as a long-term solution for the Giants at fullback earlier this week. At this point, do you believe Pascoe has earned the right to go into next season as the starter, not just the guy playing there until the Giants get a real fullback?
Pat: I do think he's earned a chance to be the permanent starter, but at the same time, I have never believed that a guys should lose his starting job because he was hurt, even though it does happen (see Aaron Ross, who was ‘Wally Pipped' by Terrell Thomas).
I would not be surprised if we eventually find out that Madison Hedgecock's shoulder wasn't fully healthy this year, even before he started dealing with his hamstring issue. I think that's the only logical explanation as to why his performance went downhill so quickly because it was just two years ago that he was wiping people off the map with his blocking and I seriously doubt that he just woke up one day and forgot how to do it.
Now that doesn't mean that I think Hedgecock will be back with this team. As I reported before, he cleaned out his locker, which is now being used by Devin Thomas, and that' usually a good sign that a player isn't coming back for one reason or another. So either he was told that he would be paid the rest of this year and then set free or for all we know, maybe he's reached a point in his life where he would rather "retire" so he could farm full time. I don't know the answer to that.
The thing with Pascoe is that I always thought he'd be the blocking tight end the Giants so desperately needed. I think he was on his way toward making that role his own when fate intervened and thrust him into the fullback role. There's no question that the kid has done an outstanding job - I do my own grading at Inside Football, and we have rated him in the high 80s/low 90s, which is pretty darn good considering he's still learning the position.
As to whether he stays at fullback, I think that will depend on if the Giants are able to find another good blocking tight end top complement Kevin Boss. Is Jake Ballard (currently on their practice squad) that guy? Someone ask me that question next spring if there are OTAs and mini camps going on and I'll be better able to tell you.
Ed: The Giants are just 1-4 against the Vikings during Coughlin's tenure. Can you put your finger on anything in particular that has caused the team to struggle against Minnesota?
Pat: It's interesting. The other day during the Jets-new England game, I saw a stat about how Mark Sanchez has something like two touchdowns and about seven (I think) interceptions against New England at New England. Well, the Patriots have pretty much had the same core personnel, I think, plus they have Sanchez' number.
Regarding the Vikings, I don't have to remind you that last year the Giants limped into Minnesota all bruised and battered so they were ripe for the pickings. Also, I don't have to remind you that Darren Sharper has been Eli Manning's worst nightmare. Well the good news is the Giants are healthy this year. Sharper is gone. And Brett Favre will probably be the starting quarterback. The Vikings are there for the taking, and I think this week the Giants will extract some revenge. I don't think it will be easy, mind you, but I think it will definitely be a more competitive game than perhaps in years past.
Ed: It might seem like the Giants have not really missed Steve Smith, but we know they have. Can you explain the value of what Smith does for Eli Manning?
Pat: If you look back at what the Giants have done without Smith, most of their intermediates and deep stuff over the middle hasn't been there. Instead, the Giants have mostly gone outside of the numbers. That strategic approach just isn't going to fly when they start facing some of the better defenses, so right there you have one value of having smith in your lineup. The second value is that Eli feels comfortable with Smith, who is Mr. Clutch. He knows that if he tells Smith to be in a certain spot, he'll be there. The importance of that cannot be underestimated.