-Sun-tzu, Chinese general & military strategist (~400 BC)
With that in mind... I'm traveling to the deep swamps just a mere hour or so up the NJ turnpike to delve into the mind of Ed from Big Blue View and pick his brain about the G-Men's offeason and what he expects from the year ahead.
I also answered some tough questions about our Birds over there. In the next few days, all the NFC East blogs here on SBN should be answering some questions to get us caught up on the goings on with their respective teams. I keed!
BGN - I'm not high on the Giants this year and I've consistently given one reason for it. The loss of Tiki Barber. Watching this Giants team over the past few years it has seemed clear to me that he was driving force behind everything the Giants did offensively. Plus, the ability to hand off to a top 5 back like Tiki did wonders for keeping the defense fresh. I honestly think he could have been the MVP in any one of the past few years, and I can't wrap my head around the idea of this Giants team being good after losing one of the best talents in the NFL. So my question is, can you? Will his loss be as dramatic as I think or am I overstating his it?
BBV - You're not alone. From what I read a lot of people are having a hard time wrapping their minds around how the Giants will perform without Barber. I understand the sentiment, but I don't think his loss will be devastating to the Giants, for a bunch of reasons.
a. I think Brandon Jacobs is a monster. He won't have as many breakaway runs as Tiki did, but I think he's a quality back who can handle the load. Reuben Droughns is a decent backup as well. Besides, as Denver has proven, anybody can gain yards if you can block. That's not to put Tiki down, but if there are places to run Jacobs will find them.
b. Creativity. The loss of Barber will force the Giants to utilize the rest of their personnel. I think the Giants have been very predictable in what they have done the past couple of seasons, and spreading the load around could help.
c. Peace in the locker room. Barber was a great player, but his public disdain for Tom Coughlin was a distraction, and I think it was part of the reason for the team's struggles at the end of last season.
BGN - Alot of Giants fans seem split on Eli. Most seemed to think the trade for him was bad in hindsight, but they don't think he's the next Ryan Leaf either. Where are you on his development so far? Is this the make or break year for Eli Manning?
BBV - I am among those Giants who believe Ernie Accorsi should not have traded for Manning. He should have just used the 4th pick on Ben Roethlisberger and gone from there. The Giants would be farther along right now if he had done that, especially since one of the picks Accorsi surrendered to San Diego turned into Shawne Merriman. I think this is a season where you will find out if Eli will be an average/slightly above average quarterback, or if he can be more than that. I think Eli will be fine. By that, I don't mean he will be a superstar. I doubt anyone will ever look at Eli and say 'he's one of the top 4-5 QBs in the league.' I do think, though, that he can win in New York.
BGN - Who is currently the Giants best player? What position or what person is their weakest link?
BBV - Interesting question. I honestly think the best player the Giants have is No. 80, the guy everybody in Philly loves to hate, Jeremy Shockey. That also makes me crazy, because I think Shockey has been incredibly underutilized since Coughlin became coach. Most of what he catches is short, dump off stuff that doesn't really take advantage of what he can do. The Giants need to get him down the field where he can challenge safeties and wreak havoc. As for their weakest position, even though they drafted Aaron Ross No. 1 in an effort to shore it up, I would say it's cornerback. They really haven't been able to cover anybody for two years, and I'll believe they can when I actually see it.
BGN - Do think we'll be seeing the same kind of circus surrounding the Giants this year that we saw last year, or was that circus more a product of the NY media? Is Tom Coughlin the coach of the Giants after this coming season?
BBV - I think the circus was largely a product of Tiki Barber wanting to keep his name front and center so his media career could hit the ground running. Coughlin has asked for less talk from the players, and his key leaders (Michael Strahan, Manning and Antonio Pierce) are backing him up. That's a good sign. Will Coughlin be back? If they make the playoffs, yes. If they don't, all bets are off. My gut feeling is no, there are too many big-name coaches currently available.
BGN - Recent reports have Strahan and Umenyoria looking for new contracts. If I remember correctly Osi just signed a new long term deal, and Strahan is going on what? 35, 36 years old? How do you see the Giants dealing with this situation?
BBV - Strahan is not getting a new contract from the Giants. The thing with Umenyiora is still developing since he just hired a new agent. I don't know what to make of it yet. I am a little worried about Umenyiora, though. He became Chief of a Nigerian village during the offseason, wants to be called 'Chief Osi' and says he will jump off the George Washington Bridge if he isn't the best defensive end in the league this season. Just a little weird for me.
Your thoughts on the Giants?