The Giants haven’t performed particularly well this year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a danger to the Atlanta Falcons. To gain more knowledge about the Giants, if that’s something you’re in to, go visit Big Blue View.
Dave Choate: Look, it’s not an easy question to ask given how much he’s meant to the franchise, but is Eli Manning cooked? If so, do the Giants have an alternative, or are they targeting a quarterback in 2019?
Ed Valentine: The reality of the situation is that whether Eli Manning is “cooked” or not, his time as the Giants quarterback is coming to an end. Is this his last season as their guy? Will he get one more year? I can’t answer that, though I think right now odds favor the former.
Personally, I think Manning still has gas in the tank. I still believe that physically he can make the throws most of the time. Yes, he misses some throws. Show me a quarterback not named Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers who does. I think he showed in games against Houston and Carolina this year that when he’s comfortable he can still play and when the Giants need a big throw late in a game he can still deliver. Many disagree. Manning has had games this year that give fodder to both sides.
The Giants drafted Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round. I don’t know if he’s the answer, there are questions about his arm strength. There is a lot to like about Lauletta, though, in terms of accuracy, intelligence, mobility, competitiveness, leadership. The “succession plan,” if you will, has to start with getting Lauletta some playing time late this year when the opportunity arises and going from there.
Will they have a shot at Justin Herbert in the draft? I don’t know. Will they go with Lauletta or dip into free agency for a “placeholder” like Teddy Bridgewater? We’ll see.
Dave Choate: No one here is looking forward to seeing the Falcons try to stop Saquon Barkley. If you were in our shoes, how would you try to do it, and do the Falcons stand any chance?
Ed Valentine: Well, you shouldn’t be looking forward to trying to stop Barkley. In the open field the first tackler rarely brings him down. It’s almost not fair. Still, of course you have a chance.
First of all, despite the six straight 100+ yards from scrimmage games -- second all-time Kareem Hunt (7) -- there is a great argument to be made that the Giants aren’t using Barkley all that well. Barkley is only 10th in the league in carries, and there have been a few games where the Giants got away from the running game too soon. Also, despite leading all running backs with 40 receptions far too many of those have been check downs and far too few have been designed screens, wheel routes or targets with him lined up in the slot or out wide.
The Giants don’t block the run very well -- they are third in the league in negative runs with 20. You can go to just about any advanced stat you want and, while Barkley gives them a home run on occasion, the Giants have not been anything close to efficient running the ball.
In short, poor blocking and play-calling that hasn’t maximized his receiving ability has been the thing that has stopped him -- or slowed him -- so far. All you can do is hope that when you have to try to tackle him it’s not 1-on-1. If it is, that defender is probably getting embarrassed.
Dave Choate: The Falcons haven’t had much of a defense this year, if we’re being honest, but hopefully getting stud defensive tackle Grady Jarrett back will help. Is this offensive line attackable?
Ed Valentine: LOL!! Even asking that question tells me you haven’t watched the Giants much this year. (Editor’s Note: One game, so this is fair)
New GM Dave Gettleman completely rebuilt that line -- it now has all new starters from a year ago. Problem is it still hasn’t been very good. The left side -- tackle Nate Solder and rookie Will Hernandez -- is OK. Jon Halapio started the year at center, but is on IR. Veteran John Greco has been OK there. The right side, guard Patrick Omameh and tackle Chad Wheeler, hasn’t been good. Wheeler, of course, took over for the benched and released Ereck Flowers.
The Giants have given up 20 sacks. The run-blocking is awful. So, yeah, the line is attackable.
Dave Choate: Give us a player on either side of the ball who might impact the outcome of this game, but is relatively unknown outside of NY/NJ. That’s not a question, so?
Ed Valentine: Offense: This is interesting because the offense is really about maximizing the weapons the Giants have -- Barkley, Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, who will play Monday after missing three games with a knee injury. So, you know the important names. I will give you veteran tight end Rhett Ellison, who missed last week’s game vs. Philly with a foot injury. He’s known mostly as a blocker, but he’s more important to the Giants offense than many think.
Defense: I’ve got to give you rookie defensive lineman B.J. Hill. A third-round pick, Hill figured to be a backup nose tackle to Damon Harrison. Instead, at 311 pounds, he’s become a starting defensive end. The kid is a far better player than I thought. Another would be rookie EDGE player Lorenzo Carter, also a third-round pick who has shown some promise.
Dave Choate: Who wins this game, and honestly, where do the Giants end up?
Ed Valentine: I’m going to pick the Falcons. I think the Giants can win this game, but I need to see them beat a good team -- especially on the road -- before I pick them to do it. And yes, Atlanta might be 2-4 but I think the Falcons are a good team. Where do the Giants end up? Out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, that’s where. How many wins? I really don’t know, but they are probably headed for a top 10 pick in the draft again.