Welcome to another NFL season, and another season of chatting with the enemy blog. Starting off this season is my longtime friend, Ed Valentine, over at the Giants blog, Big Blue View.
As we customarily do, we ask five questions to learn more about the Giants
Blogging The Boys: What were the biggest positive changes for the Giants over the offseason?
Big Blue View: I think there are two, one on each side of the ball.
On offense, the receiving corps is deeper and faster. Darren Waller is a game-changer at tight end when he stays healthy. Darius Slayton used to be the only real speed guy on the outside. Now, impressive rookie Jalin Hyatt and Parris Campbell join him as speed threats. Wan’Dale Robinson and Sterling Shepard are healthy again, as well. It is a much better group that should help the Giants, last in the league last season in explosive plays, fix that.
On defense, stopping the run was a weakness last season. The Giants improved the depth on the defensive line with Rakeem Nunez-Roches, A’Shawn Robinson and rookie nose tackle Jordon Riley. They also added an excellent off-ball linebacker in Bobby Okereke. The front seven should be improved.
BTB: What were the biggest negative changes for the Giants over the offseason?
BBV: I don’t know that there were ‘negative’ changes. The biggest question on offense remains the offensive line. Can Evan Neal improve? Can rookie John Michael Schmitz handle the center spot? Is there enough depth? On defense, the Giants will start two rookie cornerbacks, first-round pick Tae Banks and sixth-round pick Tre Hawkins III, with Adoree’ Jackson moving to the slot. Will they hold up? Hawkins has been a massive surprise throughout the summer, but regular season games in prime time are different.
BTB: What do you consider the strengths of the overall team, and what are the weaknesses?
BBV: It’s funny, because I don’t point to a position group or say ‘running the ball’ or ‘throwing the ball.’ This coaching staff is a massive strength for the Giants. Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. They were a resilient team a year ago, can they be that again. I think they have improved enough on offense that they should be more balanced, less Saquon Barkley-centric, and more able to generate chunk plays. The front seven is better on defense. The questions I addressed previously — will the offensive line improve, and can the young secondary hold up?
BTB: What has Brian Daboll done for the Giants that improved them so dramatically last year?
BBV: The biggest thing Daboll has done is changed the feeling around the entire organization. You remember Joe Judge and the infamous kneel downs from inside the 5-yard line while losing to the Chicago Bears, right? It became obvious to everyone at that point — players included — that Judge did not believe he had players he could trust.
Daboll has changed that. He trusts players, to the point of actively wanting their input on how the playbook develops. He empowers people around the organization. He also hired a fantastic coaching staff.
The other thing that has helped is that Daboll and GM Joe Schoen not only came in together, but they worked together for years. They do everything collaboratively. The GM and the front offensive understand what the coaching staff is trying to do, and what type of players they need. That means the scouts look for exactly those types of players, both in college and pro scouting. No player becomes a Giant now without a plan or an understanding in place for why that player is on the roster and how he will be used. That wasn’t the case for the last several years.
BTB: The Cowboys are favored by 3.5 points according to DraftKings. Do you feel that is fair, and what do you think the outcome of the game will be?
BBV: I do think that is fair. The Cowboys have beaten the Giants four straight times, won 11 of the last 12 games, and haven’t finished behind the Giants in the standings since 2015. The Giants have lost 12 of their last 14 games to the Eagles, as well. If the Giants are going to prove they have really turned a corner toward becoming one of the true contenders in the NFC, they need to start showing they are a real threat to the Cowboys and Eagles. The only way to do that is winning at least some of the games against them.
I am picking the Giants to win here. I said in my weekly ‘Tallysight’ pick that I am doing so hesitantly. That is because I know the history and I know the Giants are the team that needs to prove they belong. I think this is their best chance — at home to open the season when they are completely healthy. It’s Dallas that has made the significant change, with head coach Mike McCarthy running the offense. We will see if the Cowboys are at peak efficiency right away, but I wonder if that’s possible.
I think there is an opening here for the Giants. I will pick them to take advantage of it.
In addition to our five questions exchange our own RJ Ochoa sat down with Ed Valentine to talk about the game in the lead-up to it. You can watch their conversation below.
Many thanks to Big Blue View for the knowledge.