Our Giants blogger Ed at Big Blue View pursued five questions with each of his NFC East adversaries. My answers to said questions should run at BBV later this week, probably by Wed. I decided to shoot some questions to BBV about his beloved Giants, and he graciously accepted:
Hogs Haven: 1. Although his comments towards the team and Coach this offseason have made him hard to miss, how much does the absence of Tiki Barber slow down this offense?
Big Blue View: I think it 'changes' the offense significantly. Whether it slows it down remains to be seen. I think Brandon Jacobs and Reuben Droughns will be an effective, bruising running duo though they won't have as many breakaway runs. There will be pressure on Eli Manning to make more plays. He has lots of weapons, so the opportunities will be there -- it's just a question of whether or not he can put the ball on target.
Hogs Haven: 2. Eli Manning enters his fourth year in the NFL with two good (but I won't say great!) seasons as a starting quarterback. By all indications he can reliably win the Giants football games and is better than a lot of starters in the league. Yet it doesn't appear as if he's really developing anymore statistically. What have you seen in his play that makes you think he has room to grow? Does he?
Big Blue View: He has gone up incrementally each season stat-wise -- from 48 to 52 to 57 percent completions last year. An improvement, but still not enough. Eli shows you flashes of brilliance, and the guts to lead fourth-quarter comebacks. The bothersome thing is his bouts of inaccuracy, which often seem to come from his bailing out on the pass rush instead of standing in there and delivering the ball. To me, that's courage and not mechanics. If he doesn't have the courage to take the hits he'll never be the player he could be. I think he will be fine, but this is the season that will tell you where his career is headed.
Hogs Haven: 3. Coach Coughlin has called for everyone to shut up and play, and many players have responded positively to that. Will Shockey and Plaxico shut up and play, or will they continue to talk but play quite well?
Big Blue View: I hate to come back to it, but I think some of that depends on Eli. I believe that Eli needs to 'man up,' and get in their faces once or twice when they start all the gyrating and demonstrations of anger if they don't get the ball when they think they should. Until he does that -- and I don't know if he ever will -- those two will continue to embarrass him when things go awry.
Hogs Haven: 4. True or False: The Giants are more likely to win the division than finish 4th. Why or why not?
Big Blue View: True. The Giants should have been better than 8-8 last season. To me, even without Tiki Barber, this is a team with 9 or 10-win talent. Defensively, I think they will get better under Steve Spagnuolo, and I think Eli will continue to grow. Oh, and the fact that the Redskins are in the division doesn't hurt!
Hogs Haven: 5. Coughlin inherited a 4-win team and took them to the top of the division in two years, and made the postseason 66% of the time. Yet he is under constant scrutiny and nearly always mentioned in the "coaches in the hot seat" discussion, for reasons that totally escape me. Is Coughlin in the hot seat? Should he be? How long would you, as a rabid Giants fan, keep Coughlin around for?
Big Blue View:Is Coughlin on the hot seat? I think his backside is pretty much charred black by now! That said, I think Coughlin is a pretty darn good football coach. It's his personality, not his ability to coach, that gets him in trouble. He's the anti-Joe Torre. Where Torre has lasted so long as Yankee skipper largely because of his ability to smooth over and deflect controversy, Coughlin seems to be a torch for it. What it comes down to is this -- if the Giants make the playoffs that would be three straight playoff appearances and you can't fire the guy no matter how hated he is. If they fall on their faces they can -- and probably will -- say it's time to go in another direction.
Much thanks to Ed for answering all my questions, and reader(s) are reminded to keep a close eye on Big Blue View for my largely incoherent, ranting responses to his probing questions. I will probably not acquit myself well.