SB Nation’s New York Giants blogger, ETVal, has instituted a "5 Questions" series with the rest of the NFC East blogs. I answered his questions which are posted over at Big Blue View, so head on over and check out my latest babblings. In return, he answered my questions which I have posted below.
By the way, is it a consensus that we hate the Redskins the most, or have the Giants or Eagles crept their way up in your hate-o-meter? Anyway, on to the Q&A.
BTB: What's up with the Tom Coughlin situation? Last year, there seemed to be a mini-revolt against Coughlin, yet the organization brought him back for another year. What's going on there?
ETVal: Coughlin's in a tricky spot. He's gotten the team to the playoffs two straight years, yet the feeling is they have underachieved and few people really like him. He's asked for less complaining in the media, and so far the team seems to be on the same page with him. It doesn't hurt the locker room unity that Tiki Barber is gone. He was the primary critic. Coughlin is probably in a 'make the playoffs or be replaced by Parcells-Cowher-Weis-Schottenheimer-Belichick ' type situation.
BTB: The big question, how do you replace Tiki Barber's production on the field? Every time we played the Giants we knew we had to contain Tiki. What are the Giants doing in that area?
ETVal: The Giants will use a combination of Brandon Jacobs and Reuben Droughns as their primary ball carriers. They expect big things from Jacobs, a 265-pound bruiser, and so do I. He's powerful, fast, shifty for a big guy and chomping at the bit for this every-down opportunity. The running game will be OK, but I do expect the Giants to look for Eli Manning to make more big plays.
BTB: We have Terrell Owens, but you guys also got a couple of out-spoken and sometimes petulant receivers. What's up with Jeremy Shockey and Plaxico Burress this offseason?
ETVal: Shockey and Burress are, well, Shockey and Burress. They worked out in the infamous 'U workouts' in Miami during the off-season, as usual. I'd expect lots of big plays from them, as usual, and lots of complaining when Manning misses them, as usual. These are the two guys who could make problems for Coughlin. I think a lot of people around the Giants are hoping Manning will grow a set and finally put these two guys in their places when they start whining. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that, though.
BTB: Eli Manning? You guys did a lot to get him, but from an outside perspective he hasn't lived up to expectations. What's the feeling among the Giants faithful and inside the organization about his future?
ETVal: You're right, he has not lived up to expectations. Among the Manning-Rivers-Roethlisberger trio, the big three QBs available in 2004, Eli is definitely No. 3 on that list right now. The Giants would be farther along if they had just used their first pick (No. 4) on Roesthlisberger. The Manning question is the most divisive one when it comes to the Giants. Some think he is steadily improving and will be a good QB. Some think he is as good as he is ever going to be. Some think he will blossom into a star without Tiki and with a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Still others think he'll get run out of town after this season if he doesn't play well. I'm hopeful that Manning will be fine. I think he's better now than a lot of people believe, and that he will be good, but not great, for a long time. If he bombs out, the franchise is probably set back for years to come.
BTB: Which is the bigger concern going into this season, the offense or the defense?
ETVal: Surprisingly, I would say the offense. The Giants defense was sometimes non-existent last season, but I think many of those problems have been addressed. They have a new, more aggressive defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo. Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Corey Webster should be healthy. Kawika Mitchell and Mathias Kiwanuka should be improvements over what the Giants had at OLB last season. Aaron Ross should help their pass coverage.
The real questions are on offense. How good will Eli be? Can David Diehl successfully move from guard to left tackle to replace Luke Petitgout? Can Jacobs adequately replace Barber? Can Amani Toomer come back from his knee injury? Can Steve Smith or Sinorice Moss give the Giants a capable third receiver? Do they have anybody who can play fullback? Lots of questions, and we won't know the answers until the games start.