Is is Monday Night yet?
This week's MNF matchup between the St Louis Rams and New York Giants on ESPN has that "big game" feeling already, and the weekend hasn't even started yet. Maybe it's because we have not one, but two Q&A sessions lined up for you on the site this weekend, to help fill the extra time we spend waiting for kickoff.
Today we talked to Glenn Warciski of UltimateNYG.com, our G-men brethren on the Bloguin network, and got the distinct feeling that all is not well in big blue. Maybe it's a lifelong New Yorker's natural disdain for any team that falls short of the 1929 Yankees, or maybe there are serious cracks in the foundation that Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese built. I also answered a series of questions for him, which will be posted soon on his site. [UPDATE: Here you go.]
RamsHerd: It seems as though the Giants defense got back on track last year, two years after the loss of Coach Spagnuolo. Do you attribute that to health, the players, or the new coordinator?
UltimateNYG: 2009 was a disaster under defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. The Giants gave up 40 points FIVE TIMES. Last year, without question, was an improvement.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell brought his Tampa 2 scheme to the Giants. But we do not have the personnel which matches this defense. This is the reason we collapsed at the end of the year. When it counted, the Giants defense did not play well in the second half of the Eagles debacle. And the defense was a no show against the Packers.
One of our experts, Pete Furman, has called Fewell's defense "Fools Gold". Because we do not have the personnel, without quality linebackers, the good quarterbacks will pick us apart. Despite winning 10 games, the Giants were 1-4 against playoff teams.
More after the break...
RamsHerd: The Giants have been hit hard by injuries early. Is this a long-term concern for the team, or do you expect them to get healthy and rebound?
UltimateNYG: Yes, injuries continue to plague this team. This belies Coughlin's statements when he took a shot at former coach Jim Fassel. He called the injury situation a cancer. More importantly, he led us to believe he had a cure.
From the day he took over in 2004 til present, things have gotten worse under Coughlin. Each year it is something new. From groins, to hamstrings, to knee problems, the Giants cannot finish a season without significant losses.
This year, the Giants lost Terrell Thomas, Clint Sintim, and Jonathon Goff to season ending knee injuries. Reserve cornerback Bruce Johnson tore his achilles. Second round pick DT Marvin Austin tore his pectoral muscle. Both are out for the year. And first round selection cornerback Prince Amukamara is sidelined with a broken foot. Thankfully, he plans to return sometime in October.
The Giants can ill afford to have anymore significant injuries suffered by defensive players. Last week, they were forced to start rookie middle linebacker Greg Jones.
RamsHerd: Three years after winning the Super Bowl, what's the confidence level in this team? Still a contender or needing a change of course?
UltimateNYG: After the way they performed last week, this team is on the back of their heels. The offense did not get into a rhythm. They scored 14 points and were shut out in the second half. They were an abysmal 1-10 on third down. Eli was sacked 4 times. Oh by the way, he threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown. The defense allowed of all people mercurial Rex Grossman to throw for over 300 yards. Furthermore, the special teams continues to stink it up. A blocked FG and poor kickoff returns put the Giants offense in terrible field position.
With too many key losses, this team does not have immediate replacements to step up. When the Giants let Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith walk, they thought they had answers with Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham. Because both did not play well as the slot receivers against Washington, the Giants signed veteran WR Brandon Stokley.
This team is not a contender. I believe they will win 5 games this year. And then Giants co-owner John Mara can do some heavy duty gardening. Fire Coughlin and his entire staff. And say goodbye to GM Jerry Reese too.
RamsHerd: What's your game prediction?
UltimateNYG: I think it will be a close game. If the Rams can provide protection for Bradford, the Rams can win this game. If Rex Grossman can throw for 300 yards, I am confident Bradford can do the same. (NFL Network's Michael Lombardi on the Giants: If you are a Giants fan, you have to be worried that Rex Grossman of all people just threw for 305 yards against the defense. Really worried.)
The Giants do have a great defensive line (Jason Pierre-Paul is going to be a star and he looks like a young DeMarcus Ware) but unless they get sacks they can't stop a good passing game.
As for the Giants, they need to win this game. The Super Bowl Champion 1986 Giants will be honored at halftime. But I do not know if the inspiration will be enough. The Giants will continue to play sloppy special teams. Eli will throw a pick or picks. Again, this will be their undoing.
Rams 23 Giants 17