As we do each week, we chat with our SB Nation fellow, up this week is Ed Valentine of the very popular Big Blue View. For those that are regulars to this site, you'll know Rick Snider of the Washington Examiner...the two of these guys are good friends and are long time journalists. I ask Ed this week about what to expect from the Giants' top-3 ranked Offense and defense, and who are the weak links in their backups filling in for all their injuries.
1.) The Giants have #3 ranked offense in the NFL and #2 defense, yet are only 7-4..and it's not like they have a tough schedule. What explanation is there for that?
BBV: Well, the Giants have only "lost" one game. Indianapolis flat out destroyed them in Week 2. The Giants beat themselves in losses to Tennessee, Dallas and Philly with bad penalties (vs. the Titans especially) and turnovers. Until last week they were terrible in the turnover department and had been very careless with the ball.
2.) The Gints have 31 sacks from 12 different players. Have most of them come from the DEs or the inside? The Redskins are horrible between the Guards, so I expect a lot of pressure from there.
Obviously, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck at the defensive ends are the premier players on this defense. The Giants will try to come with four, but they will move Tuck inside and sometimes stand him up and use an "ameoba" type look w/guys walking around. They will also bring in first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul (a pass-rushing defensive end) and line up three DEs in passing situations, with one inside. A lot of their successful blitzes will come off the edge with safeties (Antrel Rolle or Deon Grant) and occasionally cornerback Terrell Thomas. As good as their front four is, I would like to see defensive coordinator Perry Fewell dial up the blitz more often. Teams are max-protecting with 6 or 7 guys, and when you just rush four that isn't going to cut it.
3.) I guess part of the answer to #1 is the Giants rank 26th in turnover ratio with -6....obviously Bradshaw's fumbles and Eli's 16 pickles are killers...is there any end in sight with that? It's gotta be a Super Bowl killer in regards to a run this year, right?
As I said above, turnovers is the reason for three of the four losses. Sunday against Jacksonville was the first time all season they have not turned the ball over. If they can play good defense and not turn the ball over this team can go a long, long way. I can't find the exact numbers, but during Tom Coughlin's tenure when the Giants win the turnover battle they almost always win. When they lose the turnover battle it's the exact opposite.
4.) I'm hearing mixed reports on whether Devin Thomas will play this week. You having anything concrete? Who of the 8 WRs are likely to get cut when Hicks, Smith, etc return?
Well, if and when those guys return I would not expect Thomas to be in uniform on Sundays. He might play a little in four- or five-receiver sets. The Giants showed Sunday, though, that they will rely on three receivers and throw the ball more to tight ends Kevin Boss and Travis Beckum and to the backs. I don't know if Thomas will play, and think his impact will be negligible if he does.
5.) Of all the injuries, who's backups are the weakest links and what do the redskins need to do steal a win?
Well, you know about the receivers. The Giants are down to Mario Manningham and a bunch of guys who just got here in the last 2 weeks at receiver. That said, at least Derek Hagan has a couple of years of experience with the Giants -- he was cut at the end of camp after being with the team all of last year. On the offensive line, the Giants are down to their third choices from center all the way to left tackle. Rich Seubert (usually the left guard) is at center because both Shaun O'Hara and Adam Koets are out. At left guard, David Diehl usually slides in from tackle to replace Seubert. He is out, though, so Kevin Boothe is playing there. At left tackle, Diehl is out, his replacement, Shawn Andrews is out, so Will Beatty is playing there. All of that said, the line was tremendous last week. Eli Manning has not been sacked in four weeks, and the Giants ran effectively against Jacksonville. Your best bet? Hit a couple of big plays, particularly on special teams, and see if you can get the Giants offense to revert to being turnover-happy.
I'm not as confident as Ed is with that makeshift OLine. With guys playing out of position, Haslett can get creative. Will he? That's another question.