With a huge game coming up this Sunday against one of our NFC East brethren, I thought it would be a good idea for a 5 Questions segment to pick the brain of ETVal, who runs Big Blue View, a SB Nation blog dedicated to the New York Giants. Below is the Q&A.
Blogging The Boys: Will Brandon Jacobs play or will they be cautious and rest him? If they rested him this week, he'd be fresh for the Panthers next week which is the game for the #1 seed (if the Panthers win this week).
Big Blue View: I highly doubt Jacobs will play. He wants to, and has said all week that he can even though he hasn't practiced. Fact is, though, as much as the Giants would love to win Sunday they have already won the division and need to get Jacobs healthy for the playoffs. They will rest him, get him ready for Carolina and -- just guessing here -- shut him down for the regular season if they are able to clinch home field advantage at some point.
[Note: This interview was conducted before we knew that Brandon Jacobs was officially ruled out. But keep reading after the jump, the rest of the questions are relevant and have some excellent answers from ETVal.]
Make the jump for more.
BTB: With the Plaxico Burress/Antonio Pierce situation and the subsequent loss to the Eagles, what's the mindset of the team and the fanbase going into these final weeks?
BBV: Plaxico who? For the most part, we consider that situation over and done with and are moving on. I think the mindset is that there is still work to be done and that it's time to get back to doing what the Giants do. The team knows it did not perform well against the Eagles, and I sense they feel they still have things to prove.
BTB: Domenik Hixon is not going to force teams to roll a safety over to his side like Plax did, at least not yet. Do you think Plax's absence will hurt the Giants or not, and what do you do to overcome his absence?
BBV: That question, of course, had been debated at length at Big Blue View. In reality, it is a very complicated answer. Of course any team would miss a player with the talent of a Burress, no one can deny that. Last season the Giants don't win the Super Bowl without him -- he was tremendous despite playing on one leg. Plaxico wasn't the same player this year, though, nor was he quite as important to the offense. The Giants have more weapons than they did a year ago, with Steve Smith healthy, Hixon, Kevin Boss, the running backs and an improved, more mature Eli Manning. Yes, it will be more difficult but the strength of the Giants is that they aren't the Eagles -- their offense is not totally dependent on one player. If they can continue to pop some running plays, despite the stacked fronts, and if the young receivers play to their capabilities the Giants will be fine.
BTB: Eli Manning is the subject of much debate when it comes to the Giants from an outsider's perspective. How has he been playing this year as opposed to last year? Have the Giants fans now accepted him as their franchise QB or is there still any dissent?
BBV: Funny you should ask. We had a nice Eli debate this week, largely because it seems most teams have now decided that the best plan is to force Manning to try and win games. This is New York, there is a faction of Giants fans and Eli-haters who will never believe in him no matter what he or the Giants do. The reality of it is, though, that Eli has played the best regular-season football of his career this season. As far as I'm concerned he has nothing left to prove. Arizona and Washington stacked the box against the run, and he carved both of them up. Last week, his numbers looked bad, but that doesn't take into account the fact that there were two huge drops on perfectly-throws balls -- including one by Hixon that would have been an 85-yard touchdown. Eli will still throw a ball up for grabs every so often, but if you want to dare him to beat you, go right ahead. I have all the confidence in the world that he can.
BTB: What's happened to the pass rush/sack stats for the Giants defense recently? They look to be down. Is there a problem? Tell us what to expect on Sunday from the Giants front seven.
BBV: Another great question. Fact is, the Giants are missing Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan. That is not because Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka aren't terrific players -- they are. Tuck, though, is playing more snaps than he ever has and facing double teams for the first time in his career and has admitted that he is just plain worn out. Defensive tackle Fred Robbins is playing through injuries to both hands. So, the Giants are a little beat up along the line and don't have as much depth as they did a year ago. They just don't get to the QB with the four-man rush the way they did a year ago. A big issue for me Sunday against Philadelphia was that, for the first time all year, they got manhandled physically and could do nothing about the Eagles' running game. That has to change.