Here are the questions I answered from Jets writer Kristine Reese.
1. Many people believe that if the Giants fail to make the playoffs again this year, Coughlin has to go one way or the other. I would love to hear your thoughts on Coughlin, his coaching style and if you feel he is mostly to blame for the team’s “struggles.” And if a change is made, what head coaching candidates are on your short list?
I respect Tom greatly. I have been lucky enough to meet the man and see the side the national media refuses to see. Tom is an ex-Marine, and that means loyal, organized, and disciplined. He is not a phony in any way, and therefore his methods and rules are not phony either. I was amazed when Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels marveled at how in “such a big game” he would discipline one of his players when he benched Ahmad Bradshaw for missing Curfew the night before the Cowboy game. Shouldn’t they be more amazed that a player would break a rule like that the night before such a big game? I think Tom is prepared for any situation and I hope he stays till he thinks he is done. As far as a short list if I had to make a choice…1. Gruden 2. Fischer 3. Cowher
2. Eli has played phenomenal this season, yet he is still unfairly criticized by some. What do you think it will take for everyone to agree that Eli is among the best in the league? And what, in your opinion, has brought him up to the next level?
Eli will need to win another Super Bowl with this team to get the extra level of respect. Until he outperforms his brother in that area, he will be the little brother that’s not as physically gifted or talented. Comparing Easy E, as he is known to teammates, to other QB’s is silly in many ways, his demeanor is different and in this world of fantasy football, stats rule. Not many QB’s get credit for changing plays from pass to run which Eli does with great success. Eli has learned that taking the sack or the incompletion is better than forcing balls. He thinks he can make any throw, which is great, except when you miss that throw by a half inch, it’s tipped, and it goes the other way. Eli’s sacks are up, but so is his completion percentage and yardage, while interceptions are way down.
3. The traditionally stout Giants defense had struggled, both against the run and in the secondary and in distinctly different ways. Other than the obvious injury troubles, can you give your thoughts on what other factors might be contributing to the decline in defensive performance? How do you think these issues can be addressed?
I believe you and I have had an ongoing conversation about the “dumbing down” of defenses. Somewhere, along the line, defenses are going to have to be adjusted to have the ability to cover 5 and 6 receivers with Tight Ends that look like power forwards with the hands of Wide Outs. I think the Giants, along with all teams are going to need to get quicker and more athletic overall. The standard 4-3-4 defenses are not going to be able to get it done going forward. Basically the Linebacker positions need to have the ability to cover, instead of being the stout run stoppers of the past.
4. The Giants have an excellent receiving corps. As both an NFL fan and a fantasy football player, I would love to get your take on the the current receivers and how you see things looking for next season.
Victor Cruz has been the biggest surprise of all in this group. He looked like he might be just a pre-season sensation that couldn’t stay on the field. He has proven to have a knack for getting open, and he possesses a quickness that is indescribable at times. Hakeem Nicks is a big, tough, WIde-out in the mold of Michael Irvin. He has huge hands, and great leaping ability. Jake Ballard has come from nowhere, actually Ohio State, and shown he also has a knack for getting open and possessing some pretty good hands. This entire group will grow together, learn the game better, and their relationship and trust with Eli can only improve with time. They will need to develop one more weapon on the outside to be truly unstoppable in the air.
5. I know that Giants fans believe the Jets to be the loud mouth misfits in town, but several Giants players have made a habit of running their mouths this year as well. In fact, as I type this, several Giants players are talking trash about the Jets, notably cornerback Darrelle Revis. How do you feel about this kind of media sparring in general? And do you think it’s fair that the Giants have the reputation for being choir boys when they behave similarly?
I personally have no problems with Jet players, or even fans. It’s Rex I object to and for only one reason. The national media will eat his schtick up like he’s a politician, and never go back and ask what happened to all his guarantees. I know they want to keep the golden goose talking, but its about to be three years, and I could tell you everything he says at a press conference without actually watching. I also think some fans confuse “Players” with “Organization”. Players come and go, some talk, some don’t. Same with coaches. When the Giants fan talks about their “classy” organization we are referring to our owners and how we as Giants fans are treated on a regular basis. The charity work they do behind the scenes, the special occasions, how they answer questions, concerns, and solve problems. We feel special and part of a family. I remember one NFL player remarked during the lockout that fans “root for players, not teams or owners” Perhaps the stupidest thing ever said. In the 86 years of New York Giants Football there have been many special players….but it’s The Giants we root for.
6. Time to talk Plax. Do Giants fans really care that he is now a Jet? How do Giants fans view the move or Plax in general?
Plax made some bad decisions in his past. As a person, the Giants, their fans, and the coaching staff, have always wished him the best in his personal life and that was their main concern. The idea that the Giants didn’t want him is ludicrous. The Steelers are the team he should be pissed at, they let him walk with no offer before he came to the Giants. As I said players come and go. Did he have the game of his life against Green Bay in the NFC Championship in ’07? YES! We wish him well, hope he stays on the straight and narrow, provides for his family, and has learned his lesson.