Paul Burke of fellow Bloguin football blog UltimateNYG was nice enough to trade questions with us this week to get us ready for the game tomorrow against the Giants. (You can find my answers to his questions here.) Thanks, Paul!
1) For several years now, the Giants have been a great running team, averaging over four yards per carry. However, this year they're averaging just a bit over three. What happened?
The Giants went through a bit of an over-haul on the offensive line. They cut O'Hara and Seubert, moving their left tackle Diehl to left guard, inserted free agent Baas at center, inserted third year player Beatty at left tackle and finally they have a RT in McKenzie on the downside of his career. The previous group had 4-5 years of continuity, familiarity and cohesivness as a unit which was a significant factor in their success. Teams have been adjusting since the 2008 Burress "gun shot to the thigh" by loading 8 in the box and daring them to pass. This year, more than ever, they have a suspect group of TEs. Finally, we at UltimateNYG have been commenting on the decline in the performance of Brandon Jacobs since 2009. The Giants are a much better running team with Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield.
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2) After the game against the Rams, several reports came out alleging that defensive players for the Giants faked injuries to slow down the no-huddle offense used by St. Louis. Given that Seattle has recently found success using a sustained no-huddle offense, this is something that concerns the fans here. Is there any truth to those reports? And if there is, do you see the Giants employing the same tactic against the Seahawks?
This is something to keep an eye on for this upcoming game given that the Seahawks have had recent success employing the no huddle. While we don't doubt that the Giants employed the tactic we cannot, of course, confirm. Another factor that many over look is the shortened training camp which limited teams preparation in many areas but also their adjustments to the no huddle offense. The media exposure and attention makes us skeptical that another injury-gate will occur again.
3) Everyone likes to hear how their old players are getting along, and there's a couple of ex-Seahawks currently on the Giants' roster. Care to give us a quick update on Deon Grant, Rocky Bernard, and Brandon Stokley?
Deon Grant filled in admirabely as a quasi-linebacker last year but thankfully less so this year due to other players stepping up. He is a very intelligent player in the secondary but with limited athelitic skills. Bernard was limited and injured for the last 2 seasons but has been a big bonus so far this year and has paid big dividends both as a run defender and in the rush. Stokley on the other hand was very limited and recently let go.
4) Beyond the usual suspects like Eli and Osi, are there any Giants players we should be keeping our eye on this Sunday -- overlooked stars, key role players, etc.?
The Biggest rising star to keep an eye on is without a doubt Jean-Pierre Paul (JPP). Osi is just coming back and has struggled against he run but the Seahawks need to give more attention to JPP. If the Seahawks are looking to attack a unit look no further than to the LB unit. Jones and Williams have done admirably but they are rookies none the less and will be susceptible to mistakes.
On offense the obvious names would be Nicks and Bradshaw, but Mario Manningham may be a guy to keep an eye on as a matchup issue with his speed and quickness.