This week I caught up with a Bloguin Network cohort in Andy Furman who runs "UltimateNYG". Without question it is THE BEST Giants blog out there so you should definitely check it out, and please give them some love on twitter as well.
Many thanks to Andy for taking the time, here is my Q & A with him. You can also check out the Q & A he did with me on his site. Saints Nation: That was a tough loss to the Eagles. Eli is quite the enigma, I feel like I never know what to expect from him. He seems to have had a solid season overall, but is the support for him in NY dropping off?
UltimateNYG: This is Eli's best season. He has taken far more responsibility for the team than the previous 7 years combined. Yes, Eli can be inconsistent, but the game vs the Eagles was a perfect example of how the offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride, does not help him. The Giants scored all 10 points when the hurry-up was used at the end of H1 and H2. There needed to be a greater sense of urgency, yet Gilbride was fiddling while the Meadowlands burned.
SN: Going into this game, what do you think the Giants must do to beat the Saints?
UNYG: Stop playing zone coverage or else Brees will torch them. I know that the Saints have some WRs that can get down the field, but you have to press them anyway at the line or else Brees will just have too much time. Vince Young threw 3 picks. Brees will not be as charitable.
SN: The Giants are 31st in rushing in the NFL, and that's the one thing the Saints don't do well (stop the run). Do you think the Giants can commit to Jacobs offensively in this one and have it be effective?
UNYG: The Giants need a credible running game in order to give the offense more balance. It also makes play action much more effective. Gilbride will run the ball to attempt to establish that. What they need to do better is use the RBs a lot more in the underneath passing game. It will take some pressure off of the OL and then they can go back to Jacobs. The Giants miss Bradshaw. The Giants miss the physicality that Jacobs used to bring. The psyche of this team needs Jacobs to be physical. But if I am running the offense, I use a lot more Da'Rel Scott (assuming Bradshaw still not back), who has speed and can stretch your defense much more than Jacobs ever can.
SN: Victor Cruz has been an ANIMAL this year. Where did this guy come from? Is he the star receive of the future? Did anyone see this coming?
UNYG: In August of 2010 in the preseason game vs the Jets, we saw him light it up. And we were there. He was not used much during 2010 but everyone knew he had the talent. Giants coaches like taking their time in using rookies on offense, mostly because they want them to block better and not miss those assignments. Because of the loss of Smith and other injuries, the Giants had little choice but to use him more, and he has been great. He is going to get much better too. His consistency will improve over time (remember, this is essentially his ROOKIE year!). So this guy's future is (along with Ballard's) the biggest thing about this team this season.
SN: I noticed, per usual, the Giants' sack totals are ridiculous. Umenyiora has been tearing it up, Jason Pierre-Paul already has 10.5 sacks (??!!!) and while Justin Tuck has been banged up we all know he's terrifying off the edge as well. Seriously, can you guys hook us up with one of your premiere pass rushers since you have so many to spare? How has the defense been so mediocre to bad this season with how much pressure you guys generate?
UNYG: The problem is that our Front Office adheres to the notion of a pass rush to the exclusion of ALL ELSE. We have drafted simply too many Defensive Linemen too high to the exclusion of other positions, notably LBer. And as a result, the team suffers. We simply do not have good LBers who can stay on the field all three downs and cover adequately. So we make aging Safety Deon Grant into a quasi-linebacker. We make Defensive Lineman Matthias Kiwanuka into a Linebacker. Kiwi is a nice player, but he is a tweener, and when he goes into coverage it is simply not fair to him. Michael Boley (a free agent pickup from Atlanta), arguably the only player who can be effective in coverage, was out against the Eagles. So our drafts have been able to yield next to no one at that position. We wanted Rey Maualuga in 2009, didn't take him. We wanted Daryl Washington in 2010 (assuming McClain wasn't there, for Round 2), didn't take him. We wanted Donte Moch or Martez Wilson in 2011 in Round 2, didn't take him. At least in 2007 when we won the title, we had Antonio Pierce and Kawika Mitchell, two solid free agents.
The second problem with being mediocre is that our Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell plays way too much zone. (see question #2 above)
SN: Give me your score prediction for Monday night.
UNYG: The Giants play down to and up to the level of their competition. So that means they'll show up vs the Saints, a better team. But Brees is the best QB they have faced this season (yes, better than Brady, because Brady does not have any deep threat) and it will be too much to stop. That dome is a track meet and it means the Giants defense will get burned. The offense will bounce back, but it will come up short, Saints 30 Giants 24.