Blogging The Boys: As an outsider, here's what I've seen as problems with the Giants. Let me know if you agree/disagree and why. First, the defensive line is no longer the feared line that the Giants used to dominate opponents in the past.
Big Blue View: I agree wholeheartedly on that. I can give you chapter and verse on this one. Osi Umenyiora is no longer a great player. He is an abysmal run defender, and an occasional force as a pass rusher. He ought be a situational pass rusher at this point. Justin Tuck has been playing with one arm all season (thanks a lot, Flozell, you blankety-blank dirty blankety-blank). The defensive tackles have not been good. Fred Robbins and Rockey Bernard are getting old, Barry Cofield isn't that good and your old friend Chris Canty has had zero impact since he missed most of the season with leg injuries.
BTB: Also, it looks like you guys have the problem the Cowboys had in the past few seasons, safeties who can't cover? True?
BBV: Yep. The loss of Kenny Phillips (an arthritic knee which may end his career) has been devastating. C.C. Brown has been terrible, we call him either 'Bad, Bad' or 'Can't Cover.' Michael Johnson has been adequate at best, and he never was a cover guy. Aaron Rouse is a guy who was cut by the Packers, and he might actually be the best of the bunch. And Aaron Ross, transitioning from corner, just got back after missing the first nine games with a hamstring. So, no, the safeties can't cover. Other than Michael Boley, neither can the linebackers. You could probably complete 50 passes Sunday even if all you do is send Jason Witten out and leave everyone else in to block.
BTB: Believe me, I know that feeling from seasons past. OK, Brandon Jacobs just doesn't look like the same back. Is it the o-line, lingering injury, or is he just having a bad year? And what's the status on Ahmad Bradshaw?
BBV: Ahh, that is the other question. Most of the Giants problems are on defense -- they are still generally scoring enough points. But, where has the vaunted Giants running game gone?
It is a combination of things, I think. I did a post on it the other day -- http://www.bigblueview.com/2009/11/29/1175876/run-giants-run-or-why-cant-the -- and your folks should read it if they really want to know. But, it's like this. The offensive line has definitely not played up to its usual standards. Jacobs appears not be running with quite the same abandon -- and it is my belief that the struggles of the line simply have him in a state of mind where he doesn't trust that the hole will be there. Thirdly, the Giants have been giving up on the run too quickly. The percentage of passes they throw is much higher than last season, particularly in the last six games.
BTB: What's the Eli update? Where do things stand with his foot? Has it affected his performance?
BBV: Another great question. He says he's fine, it doesn't affect him, he can practice, he can make all the throws, yadda, yadda. Bunk! There was a three-game stretch after he initially got hurt where he wasn't good, and he can say what he wants the foot had to be a problem. The last couple of weeks he has thrown the ball well. As for how it will affect him going forward, who knows? Right now, though, Eli is not a problem. If the other areas of the Giants were playing as well as he has most of the time, the Giants would not be in this predicament.
BTB: OK, final query - how confident are you that the Giants can turn the season around, starting with a win on Sunday? Is there hope, or only despair?
BBV: Well, there is hope. Because the math says there is hope, not because the Giants have shown anything on the field that would give hope. Geez, they would have lost six straight if they had not won the overtime coin flip against Atlanta. I know darn well the Falcons would have scored if they got the ball first. So, hope yes. Confidence? Zero. As I have been saying to the folks at BBV, good teams and good organizations -- which the Giants are -- occasionally have down years. We might just have to accept that this will end up as one of them.