With the Colts facing the New York Giants this Monday, Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson talked with Big Blue View's Ed Valentine about the Giants and this Monday's matchup. The questions are in bold and then Ed's responses follow.
1. We know that the Giants put in a new offense to help Eli Manning, and it looks to me like it has worked. Is that your assessment of the offense as well? What are they doing differently this year as compared to in years past?
-- The Giants went from Kevin Gilbride's vertical offense, where risk (and interceptions) was part of the deal as they sought big plays, to a quick-throw, rhythm-based offense directed by Ben McAdoo. The result has been that Manning has the highest passer rating and completion percentage of his career, and has thrown one interception in the past five games.
The Giants have not generated many big plays, though, and now even GM Jerry Reese is calling for the Giants to free Eli and throw the ball down the field more. Reese said this week the Giants have been "too cautious."
My view is that the Giants don't have a ton of deep threats at this time, they have a developing offensive line and this is what the Giants signed up for when the hired McAdoo. They want to create yards after catch and haven't gotten enough. They have also put themselves in too many unfavorable field position or down and distance situations and have chosen not to take chances. I think that will be different if they can run the ball a little better and get some better field position from their return game.
2. This will be New York's second game playing without Victor Cruz this season, their leading receiver. How are/will they adjusting to the obviously big loss?
Well, the Giants had hoped of course to pair Cruz and first-round pick Odell Beckham. When they finally got Beckham back after he missed the first four games with hamstring issues, Cruz went down. To me, it's part of why the explosive plays haven't been there.
You will see the Giants move Beckham, their best weapon, around a lot. They will likely also target tight end Larry Donnell quite a bit. He has been a huge surprise this season.
3. In almost every metric the Giants' defense ranks in the bottom half of the league. What are the thoughts regarding the unit among Giants fans, and is there hope that it might improve?
On paper you would think that unit has not played up to its talent level. The Giants have suffered a series of injuries at cornerback, turning a strength into a question mark. Safety play opposite Antrel Rolle has been an issue.
The pass rush has been inconsistent. The run defense, good for the first few games, broke down the past two weeks. There is a belief, expressed here, that talent isn't the issue. Discipline is.
There is some hope that talented young players like LB Devon Kennard, DE Damontre Moore, DT Jay Bromley and S Nat Berhe will get more playing time going forward. That would be a good thing for the future of the Giants, and maybe even their present.
4. Knowing what you do about the Giants, how do you expect them to attack the Colts on Monday night?
Offensively, I don't expect them to try to duplicate the 500-yard passing night Ben Roethlisberger had. Tom Coughlin believes what he believes, and he believes in running the ball and balanced offense. If they can, I think the Giants will try to establish the run, manage the clock, take some shots when they are available and try to use their offense to keep Andrew Luck on the sideline.
Defensively, I know what I'd like. I would like to see the Giants throw caution to the wind and try to protect their wounded secondary by sending extra rushers after Luck on a consistent basis. That, however, is not defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's DNA. The Giants blitz roughly 22 percent of the time, well below the league average. Fewell is more likely to try to rush four and play coverage. My fear is that will get the Giants torched.
5. How do you expect the Colts to attack the Giants on Monday night?
Defensively, attack the Giants offensive line. I know the Colts love to blitz, and when the Eagles did that relentlessly the Giants offensive line broke down. The line has, for the most part, protected Manning well. But, I'd expect the Colts to see if they can force an Eagles type meltdown from that group.
Offensively, attack that secondary. The Giants are down to their third slot corner in Jayron Hosley. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is not close to 100 percent. The safety play has been spotty. If Luck is comfortable in the pocket he could have a huge night.
Bonus: What's your prediction for the game?
Oh, boy! This is a game the Giants absolutely have to win if they are going to play meaningful football the rest of the way. They face Seattle, San Francisco and Dallas in the three games after this one. You would like to think they will come out, play with desperation and win a game they probably shouldn't. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Fact is, right now the Colts are the better team. I think Indy wins.
Thanks again to Ed Valentine of Big Blue View for taking the time to answer these questions!