This week, I sat down in a cold dark room with the leader of SBN's Giants cult, Big Blue View, Ed Valentine. After several hours, we both emerged with wit and wisdom from the other, and plenty of knowledge regarding the other's current state of affairs. Mr. Valentine, it was a pleasure. You are a gentleman, and a good judge of cheap whiskey.
1- Talk about the Management and Coaching of the New York Giants... are Giants fans sold on the decision makers, and are they comfortable with the direction of the team?
BBV: Well, that's the big topic of discussion right now. Basically, the answer is no, no one is comfortable with the direction of the team right now. How can you be when the Giants are 4-10 since starting last season 5-0? And when many of those losses are embarrassing blowouts? Are the players still listening to Tom Coughlin, who is a proven winner but who's message might be falling on deaf ears right now? Has Jerry Reese lost his touch when it comes to the draft? This team has good players, but does it have any locker room leadership? So, right now no one is sold on anything. The Giants are in a very precarious spot at the moment.
2- What would you say are the biggest strengths and weaknesses (offensively and defensively) right now with your team?
BBV: Offensively -- The Giants have a ton of receiving weapons and Eli Manning (despite the six interceptions) has throws the ball exceptionally well for the most part. Five of those picks have been balls that hit receivers right in the hands and were dropped/tipped for interceptions. The biggest weakness of this team is its offensive line, which was its strength just two years ago. Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara is out, LG Rich Seubert is aging, LT David Diehl is no longer even adequate out there. That is killing the Giants running game, and putting a lot more heat on Manning.
Defensively -- The strength of this team is its defensive line. Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora at the ends. Chris Canty and Barry Cofield have played well at the tackles. The Giants had a bad game defensively against Indianapolis, and I would like to see more turnovers created, but the defense has not been bad.
3- When you consider the Bears-Giants contest, what are some key match-ups to look for?
BBV: Well, the biggest matchup is on special teams. The Giants have been awful, and their plan is to simply kick the ball out of bounds so Devin Hester never touches it. If he does, I'm going to close my eyes. They can't cover punts or kickoffs, they can't really punt and they can't return to save their lives.
For me, the other key matchup is the Giants offensive line vs. your front seven. The Giants have to find a way to squeeze out some running room, and they have to do a better job of keeping Eli from running for his life.
4- We know that the Giants have some big names on their roster... Who are a couple of guys that we might not know about who could make a big impact for you guys on Sunday?
BBV: Well, Giants fans are excited about Victor Cruz. He is a free agent wide receiver from UMass who made the roster with a great preseason, and he will get extended playing time Sunday if Mario Manningham (concussion) does not play. Other than that I'd say a key player for the Giants is kick returner Darius Reynaud. The Giants brought him from Minnesota to help their return game, and in three games he has yet to break loose. They need something from him on Sunday.
5- The Giants defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, interviewed with Chicago this past offseason for the same position with the Bears. Ultimately, he decided the best place for him was NY. How has Fewell done so far this year, and what are the thoughts about where he is taking the defense?
BBV: Fewell is well-liked by the players. He brings an energy and enthusiasm that the Giants did not have last season with Bill Sheridan as defensive coordinator. Fans were very excited about him leading into the season. Through three games, though, I'm not sure we're sold. The debacle in Indy where the defensive game plan (playing two, and sometimes only one linebacker and dressing only two DTs) did not help. Fewell's philosophy is different than the 'go hell-bent after the quarterback all the time' type defense we are used to. There is more zone, there are more three-man rushes in long yardage situations, more 'bend but don't break' than we are used to and it's an adjustment. That said, his players seem to love him and we are not seeing the missed assignments and broken defenses we saw last season.
Bonus Round: Predict the final score of the game Sunday night, and we'll send you a peppermint.
BBV: Giants are the more desperate team, and I still don't believe the Bears are really a team that should be 3-0. I will take the Giants, 24-20.
Great stuff from Ed... we really appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions. Mike's official Game Preview will be up around 3pm CT.
Oh, and for BBV's version of this post, please click here. (link goes pop)