Many thanks to Big Blue View for his initiative in getting this frequent feature rolling. He also deserves the majority of credit for the NFC East roundtable of not too long ago, which I found very entertaining and hope we do more throughout the season. As per usual my answers to his inquiries can be found over at his site, here.
With little more fluff, I present you my questions, his answers:
Hogs Haven: You asked me a similar question and I'll throw it back at you because I think it speaks to the very purpose of asking a rival fan about the team they know so well; give me the name of two New York Giants football players, one on offense one on defense, that Redskins fans don't know much about just yet but will by the season's end.
Big Blue View: Offense -- This is an interesting one. I think the guy is Domenik Hixon. The Giants picked him up from Denver on waivers last season, and he showed that he was a good special teams guy. This pre-season he has shown much more. He is an outstanding return guy and I am hopeful he handles both punts and kickoffs. He also showed he can be a threat as a receiver.
Defense -- Kenny Phillips, Kenny Phillips, Kenny Phillips. Burn that name into your head. The Giants No. 1 draft choice should play a lot at safety Thursday (and might start). There are Pro Bowls in this young man's future if he stays healthy. He is the next standout in the loooooong line of stud safeties to come from the University of Miami.
HH: A Super Bowl victory in 2007 ensured we'd be talking about you guys the entire offseason. Question: How likely do you rate a repeat? (And by how do you rate, I mean provide a ballpark guesstimate percentage of that happening)
BBV: Oh, geez. My guys at BBV will KILL me for this one. I find a repeat very unlikely, maybe only a 10-15% chance. I do believe this is a very good football team, but expecting another championship is unrealistic. It's possible, but not likely.
HH: 53 sacks in 2007 of which 13 came from a team leading Osi Umenyiora. Does the team make up those 13 sacks and, if so, how exactly?
BBV: You know what, I am not worried about that. Fact is, six of Osi's sacks came in one game against the Eagles when poor rookie tackle Winston Justice got hung out to dry by Andy Reid, who never gave a kid making his first pro start any help. Osi is terrific, mind you, but he takes games off and I thought both Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck were better last season.
Mathias Kiwanuka has moved back to DE, the position the Giants drafted him for in the first place a couple of seasons ago. My worry with him is more handling the run, I know he can rush the passer. What the Giants have lost is a little depth at linebacker with Kiwanuka moving, and some of the flexibility they had last season in moving guys around.
We will see exactly how it plays out. The Giants might nnot get to 53 sacks, but I still expect to see quite a bit of pressure on QBs. Judging from how many roll out type passes were being called against the Giants in pre-season, I think offensive coordinators are expecting that, too.
HH: Tom Coughlin inherits a dog meat 4-12 Giants team and immediately makes them better, wins the division in year two, and finds himself a Super Bowl victor by year four. He's made the playoffs the seasons straight, which is more than the Redskins, Cowboys, or Eagles can claim. And yet, until very recently, everytime I turn on the TV I hear about him in some fictional hot seat because player X is angry about having to practice too much or player Y is rumored to be unhappy bla bla bla bla. Now he has a Super Bowl ring. What else, if anything, does this guy need to do to get out of an even mildly heated seat? Is the constant questioning of his ability to coach more an indictment of local New York media than it is of anything he's actually done? Even before the Super Bowl he was still a guy who had... taken his team to the postseason twice in a row in what many considered either the toughest or one of the toughest divisions in the NFL?
BBV: Anyone who wants to talk about TC being on some type of "hot seat" right now is, basically, blowing smoke up their butt. Of course, there are some unhappy guys. Plaxico Burress wants more money, Antonio Pierce thinks nobody loves him, blah, blah, blah. But, that's all normal post-Super Bowl stuff. TC got himself a nice four-year, $21 million contract from the Giants after the Super Bowl so he is hardly on the hot seat. If he continues getting the Giants to the playoffs year after year, and maybe wins another Super Bowl title, he will end up right next to Bill Parcells as the greatest coaches in modern Giants history. That is an amazing statement considering where things stood a couple of seasons ago, but I believe it's the truth.
HH: Ok ok, Eli Manning earned himself some reprieve from criticism with his very impressive postseason performance in 2007, but let's not lose sight of the fact that he's still a long ways away from a remarkable quarterback. Looking over his stats, I've reason to think that Eli Manning has revealed himself as the quarterback he intends to be for the foreseeable future. His completion % actually went down in 2007 (from 57.7 to 56.1) as is his YPA, at least from 2006 (career best 6.8). His touchdown % is down from a year ago and his interception % is up. His rating -- note: I think this isn't a very important statistic -- is also down. Don't agree with me, but Football Outsiders likewise thinks he's a worse QB last year than he was in 2006, from a DYAR of 520 to -70 and a DVOA from 3.9% to -13.1%. Question has two parts: 1) Do these numbers suggest he regressed (at least during the regular season) from 2006 -> 2007? 2) If you think that he hasn't revealed himself yet, that 2006 isn't the best we're going to see out of Eli Manning, what is his sky-limit and why is he going to reach it as a Giant?
BBV: Eli is, largely, everything you saw last season. He will never be a 70% completion guy, or the 50 touchdowns in a season guy his brother is. He will have moments where he looks like a junior high QB. But, Eli is much tougher than anyone realized. He is unafraid of the big moment, the big drive, the big throw. AT BBV, we have come to think of him much like Phil Simms. Simms, possibly the greatest QB in Giants history, only completed 60% of his passes once. But, he was a winner. We will take wins, and Super Bowl rings, over fancy stats any day. Eli has shown he can deliver those, and we will take it.
That said, I think Eli has grown. The Super Bowl MVP seems to have changed him. He isn't the little kid trying to prove he belongs any more. He KNOWS he does, he is completely comfortable, and that can make all the difference in the world for a quarterback.
Thanks again to BBV and make sure to post your own thoughts about the questions/answers in the comments section.