Your New York Giants face the Minnesota Vikings Monday night. That means this week's 'Five Questions' segment is with Daily Norseman editor Chris Gates.
Ed: Give me your thoughts on Josh Freeman. What do you expect from him Monday, and as awful as he has been the last couple of years is he really any better than what the Vikings have had at the position?
Chris: Well, as he's only been with the team for about a week and a half, I'm attempting to temper my expectations for what Freeman is going to bring. Then again, with Bill Musgrave's offense, I'd have to temper my expectations if we brought in 23-year old Dan Marino. Freeman's biggest plus over Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel is the famed "big arm" to get the ball down the field. If the Vikings can get Adrian Peterson going against a suspect Giants' run defense, they might get an opportunity to get the ball deep to guys like Jerome Simpson and (if he actually gets on the field) Cordarrelle Patterson. I'm not expecting 300 yards and four touchdowns or anything, but I think he has an opportunity to put points on the board with this team.
Ed: As an outsider, how surprised are you that the Giants come into this game 0-6?
Chris: I'm actually very surprised. I expected the NFC East to be a very evenly-matched division, and for the most part it has been. . .except for the Giants. I'm flabbergasted by the fact that an offense with Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Rueben Randle (who I loved coming out of college) turns the ball over as frequently as they do, and almost as puzzled by what appears to be the complete disappearance of the pass rush. I didn't think the Giants were going to be an 11 or 12-win team this season, but I certainly didn't expect them to be 0-6, either.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants' roster and put him in the Vikings' lineup who would it be? Why?
Chris: Well, Eli Manning would be the obvious answer, but since I'd like to go off the beaten path a little bit, I think I might actually go with safety Antrel Rolle. I know that he might not be what he once was, but he's still a very good safety, and would make a very good complement to Harrison Smith. Or, you know, he would have before Smith got put on IR-Recall this past week. He's not a superstar anymore, I don't think, but he would definitely fill a need for this football team.
Ed: Give me a couple of players Giants' fans might now know much about but who they should watch for Monday night?
Chris: Even though he has played very well over the past couple of years, a lot of people might not know who defensive end Brian Robison is. He's often overshadowed by another Vikings' defensive end in Jared Allen, but Robison does his damage from the left defensive end spot, and has been one of Pro Football Focus' most productive pass rushers over the past few seasons. If New York's right tackle isn't up to the task, he could make things pretty rough for Eli Manning. On offense, the Vikings are one of the few teams in the NFL that still makes regular use of a fullback, and they split those duties up between Jerome Felton and Rhett Ellison. Felton made the Pro Bowl in 2012 as part of Adrian Peterson's record-breaking year, but Ellison is no slouch, either. If they can get Peterson to the second level, he could have a big game.
Ed: If you were game planning against the Vikings how would you attack them?
Chris: Obviously, on offense, you have to gang up to stop Peterson until Josh Freeman shows that he can make you pay for it. In the passing game, tackling is key, as guys like Simpson and Greg Jennings are very good after the catch. If you can put Minnesota in a lot of third and long situations, it's to your advantage.
On defense, the game plan is easy. . .find the guy wearing #21 and throw at him on every single play. Honestly, Josh Robinson might be the worst cornerback in the NFL right now, and quite possibly the worst NFL starter at any position. Between Robinson being on the field and Harrison Smith not being on it, if you can keep the Vikings' pass rush at bay, there's no reason that a competent quarterback shouldn't shred this back seven.
Be sure to visit Daily Norseman for my answers to Chris's questions.