With the London game against the Giants nearing, I got the opportunity to exchange 5 questions with Ed Valentine of Big Blue View, SB Nation's great New York Giants blog. Below are his responses to my 5 questions. You can head over to Big Blue View to check out my responses to his questions.
I have maintained repeatedly that the Giants would have been better off NOT making that trade. San Diego used one of the picks the Giants gave up to draft Shawne Merriman, for crying out loud. Think he's look good at LB for the Giants? They should have just drafted Roethlisberger. That said, Manning is playing the best football of his career. He's been really solid -- even spectacular at times. He is also stepping into the leadership role on offense. If he continues to play this way, the Giants will win a lot of games and he will go to his first Pro Bowl.
Entering the season, there was talk about how Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat. Now that he has his team at 5-2, has this talk died down? What would have to happen for Coughlin to lose his job following this season?
Well, the talk is dead right now. Instead, Coughlin is getting praise heaped on him for communicating better with players and for being much less demonstrative during games. I've even seen players go out of their way to hug him at the end of games. For him to lose his job? Remember, the Giants were 6-2 last year before ending up 8-8 and barely making the playoffs. They'll be 6-2 if they beat Miami Sunday. A second-half of the season implosion, which I don't see happening, would cost TC his job.
How do you explain the immense improvement of the Giants' defense from the first 2 weeks of the season to the following 5 games? And how has Mathias Kiwanuka been adapting to playing linebacker?
Two words -- PASS RUSH! The Giants have turned loose everybody. I hope Cleo Lemon can run, and take a hit, otherwise he will get killed. The Giants send 6-7 guys on a regular basis. Even when they send four on passing downs they line up Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Kiwanuka (all pass-rushing DEs) on the line and have been unblockable. Kiwanuka is doing OK at linebacker, and the Giants are covering his pass defense weakness by using him as a pass-rushing DT on obvious passing downs. One other thing -- the development of CB Aaron Ross, their first-round pick, has solidified the coverage.
What are your thoughts on the Giants having to travel to London to play a game right in the middle of the season?
I hate it, but probably not as much as you do considering the state of the Dolphins. I think it's ridiculous, but I also think you'll see more of it going forward instead of less of it.
How do you see the game on Sunday playing out? How will the Giants attack the Dolphins on offense? And while we're at it, give me your projected record for the Giants. Also, how far will they go in the playoffs if you had to make a prediction right now (if you think they will make the playoffs)?
Well, if the game goes according to plan the Giants will use their three-headed running attack (Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Reuben Droughns) to establish a ground game. Then, will use play-action and look for big plays down the field. That's been the formula all year. Defensively, they will attack constantly. Projected record? If they win Sunday and finish the first half 6-2 I see no reason they can't go 5-3 in the second half -- even though the schedule looks tougher on paper. Honestly, today I see the Giants as one of the three best teams in the NFC (with Dallas and Green Bay -- and I'm not sold on the Packers). I'll be disappointed if the Giants don't get to the playoffs and win at least one game.