Ed: You started your questions to me in the same place I wanted to start mine for you, so here goes. What is Perry Fewell's future in New York? Is he coaching for his job with Steve Spagnuolo hovering around out there as a free agent? Is he still a hot commodity as a head-coaching candidate? It's tough to figure because this has not been his best year.
Pat: Well since our exchange of questions, I guess everyone's now aware that Fewell is actually signed through the 2012 season. So with that said, I think given how the defense has clamped down on things the last two weeks, I think Fewell MIGHT be safe for the coming year. As for Spags, here's what I see to be the dilemma. Where ever he goes, I would imagine he's going to want some sort of assurance that he'll be in the head coaching mix (even though teams technically aren't supposed to make those guarantees due to the Rooney Rule).
I would think - and this is just my opinion - that Spags will go to Philadelphia as their defensive coordinator (no way do I see the Eagles retaining Juan Castillo in that role) and with Eagles owner Jeff Lurie strongly hinting that Andy Reid will be on the hot seat next season, I could see Spags succeeding Reid if the latter is fired. Again, just my opinion here, but I'm not so sure Spags was ready to be a head coach when he took the Rams job - I said that back then and I'm sticking with that opinion. I think that maybe another year or two as a defensive coordinator will allow him to step back, regroup, and then try for another head coaching job down the line.
Ed: The one player on the Falcons roster the Giants should be most concerned about is ....
Pat: You're limiting me to one player? LOL! Ok, Michael Turner. He's a big, physical runner and it will be of the utmost of importance that the Giants run defense stay true to their assignments. As Dave Tollefson said, "So long as we're where we are supposed to be, and we tackle well, we should be able to limit the damage their running game does."
Ed: The biggest advantage the Giants have on Sunday should be ...
Pat: The home crowd. I commented about this last week and was glad to see Coughlin and some of the players also comment about it, but the home crowd last week was simply amazing. The energy, the volume, and the buzz were like nothing I can ever remember (at least in recent years) from a Giants home crowd. They were pumped up and I think the players and coaches fed off that energy. As you know Ed, I sit in the press box, which is a controlled environment (which means that we don't get to hear the sounds from the stadium unless someone on the field opens up a mic. Well you know what? We heard the crowd and it was just so neat that the Giants gave all those people who came (as well as those who stayed up late to watch that last game) such a treat. The fans really can make a difference - I think any one on the team will tell you that and mean it.
From a player perspective, I'd say one of the biggest advantages the Giants have is Eli Manning. He appears to be back on track, and what's not to love about the Manning-Victor Cruz connection? Cruz in particular has done a good job with adjusting to what defenses have tried to do to him and I can't wait to see what's next for this young man.
Finally on defense, who's down with JPP? If this guy doesn't win the DPOY, then I would be stunned. (And yes, I know I gave you three advantages, but I don't think you can really pick one, to be honest.)
Ed: Mario Manningham, Kareem McKenzie, Jonathan Goff, Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas will be free agents once the season ends. You're the GM. Which guys do you bring back, and why?
Pat: Thomas. Yes, I know about the injury history, but let's look at what his loss has meant. It meant that this defense had to go to that dreadful loose zone. I suspect a lot of people didn't really appreciate what Thomas brought to the table, but he just got better and better, and I think last year, you could make a case in saying that he was pretty near the level of Webster, the team's No. 1 cornerback. So I think Thomas is the only one of those guys you bring back.
As for the others, Manningham has been a disappointment this year - just look at his numbers compared to past years. It just seems that for every good thing he does, he does four things that leave you shaking your head, and I think the team ultimately would like to see Jernigan get more of an opportunity next year.
McKenzie's play has, in my opinion, declined from a year ago, plus he's getting up there in age. If I'm the Giants, I look at maybe moving Will Beatty over to right tackle next year and leaving David Diehl at left tackle (where I think he's played better this year). And I leave Kevin Boothe in that starting lineup at left guard.
Ross has also been inconsistent and with Amukamara on board, I think the plan might have initially been for Prince to move ahead of Ross, who I think has lost just a little bit in terms of speed, out of the picture.
As for Goff, I get the sense the Giants like the talent they have now. I'm told that they're very high on Mark Herzlich and they of course like what they have in Greg Jones. So as much as I think Goff is a good player, I don't see them breaking the bank to re-sign him when they have this other up and coming talent on the roster.
Ed: The most surprising Giant this season not named Victor Cruz? The most disappointing Giant?
Pat: Most surprising Giant not named Cruz... Jason Pierre-Paul. I knew the kid was going to be good, but this good in just his second year? He's been amazing and you know what? He's as humble as he was as a rookie. What I also love about him is his attitude. He so loves the game of football that he said earlier in the year that he asked to remain on special teams, which some guys tend to want no part of once they become more established. I can't say enough good things about JPP.
The most disappointing Giant? David Baas. But I'll add an asterisk there because I know what Baas is dealing with in terms of injuries. Still, an argument can be made that if you're well enough to be out there playing, your performance is fair game for evaluation and I just haven't been impressed by him. I think again it's due to the injuries, but at the same time I think you can say that the offensive line looked pretty effective without him in there.