We caught up with Edward Valentine of Big Blue View to learn about the New York Giants before Sunday’s big matchup.
1. A string of three losses near the start of the season followed by a nearly unbroken succession of close wins. I could be talking about either the Lions or the Giants here. How have the Giants kept themselves alive in a competitive NFC East division, and what have we been learning from these close victories about how good or flawed the Giants are?
Well, there is a theory that the Giants took advantage of a weak schedule during their six-game winning streak. And there is some truth to that. The best team they beat during that streak was the Ravens, and their victories included wins over the Browns, Bears, Rams, Bengals and Eagles. But, no NFL game is easy and six wins in a row is six wins in a row no matter who they are against. And if anyone wants to question whether they really are a good team, handing Dallas its only two losses of the season is the answer to that.
The Giants have developed into a dominant defensive team with a terrific secondary. The flaw has been the offense, which has under-performed expectations all season. If they can continue to play at a high level defensively AND finally get the offense to at least play efficiently they could be really tough to beat. Of course, we've waited 13 games for the offense and haven't seen it yet.
2. Everyone knows about Odell Beckham Jr. by now, what makes him tick and general ideas in trying to keep him from scoring et al, but he's still put up 1100 yards so far. Which corner has had the best game so far in defending against Beckham, and what has made that player so efficient in shutting him down?
One player isn't shutting Beckham down. Period. Josh Norman couldn't do it. Richard Sherman couldn't do it two years ago. Darius Slay won't do it by himself on Sunday. Most teams play two-high safeties or at least rotate a safety to bracket him. You have to keep him in front of you and tackle him after the catch. If you let him catch the ball in stride, especially on the slant, good luck. Watch what he did to Dallas on the 61-yard catch-and-run Sunday night. As for what makes him tick, we know he's an emotional guy. The Giants just have to hope that stays channeled in the right direction.
3. The Giants' only have 1023 rushing yards on the year, averaging for a meager 3.4 yards per attempt; stunningly, that's somehow worse that Detroit's ground game. What's been the source of these problems and how much do the Giants really have to rely on their ground game in the first place?
Well, as bad as the running game has been overall it has been somewhat better in recent weeks. The Giants were happy with the fact that despite averaging less than three yards per carry they ran the ball more times against the Cowboys than they passed it (33-28). Rashad Jennings is a grinder, not a dynamic back. Rookie Paul Perkins could become the big-play guy, time will tell. The Giants don't carry a fullback. The tight ends have struggled with blocking. The wide receivers are all smallish and don't help there, either. The offensive line isn't great. The Giants do need the run game, at least the semblance of it to possess the ball and open up the field a little for Beckham and their other receivers.
3. How has Olivier Vernon been doing for the Giants following his big acquisition? How well has he fit in on this defensive line?
Vernon has been fantastic. He has eight sacks on the season, including a string of five games in a row with a sack. That number may not seem like a lot, but he played much of the year with a damaged hand that limited him and forced him to the left side, where he isn't comfortable. He's among the league leaders in hurries. He's a great run defender. He isn't a big ego guy. He works really hard. He's fit in quite nicely.
4. If you were in charge of the Giants cornerbacks, who are you putting on Marvin Jones and who are you putting on Golden Tate, and why?
The answer is simple. Which guy do you truly consider your No. 1? Is it Tate, far and away the leader in receptions? Or, is it Jones, who has basically the same receiving yardage on 25 fewer catches? Whichever guy it is, good luck getting the ball to him. Jenkins is playing as well as any corner in the league. He covered Dez Bryant Sunday and Dak Prescott had a 0.0 passer rating throwing to him. He can be beaten on occasion, of course, but counting on a big day from whoever he is covering is a bad idea.
5. Is there any cure for Eli Manning's very silly looking face?
Ha, ha! It's a beautiful face. Except when it's not.