We’re hours away from the Falcons matching up with the Giants. To aid in your terror or good feelings about this game, I connected with longtime Big Blue View editor Ed Valentine to find out more about this year’s version of New York’s favorite team (citation needed) looks like so far and what their chances are of triumphing over Atlanta.
Suffice to say, there’s not a ton of encouraging items in here, so we’ll hope the Falcons are on top of their game.
Dave Choate: Daniel Jones has had a pretty clean, quality start to his season. Are you expecting somewhat of a third-year breakout for Danny Dimes, and how can the Falcons bottle him up on Sunday?
Ed Valentine: Yes, I’m expecting somewhat of a third-year breakout. The Josh Allen comparison keeps getting thrown around, and I’m not sure that’s fair. It is the ideal, but maybe shouldn’t be the measuring stick. What you want is enough improvement to show that he is a franchise guy, and after two games I think that’s what we’re seeing — at least so far.
The Giants didn’t win and Jones wasn’t perfect, but last Thursday against Washington might have been the best, cleanest football game I have watched Jones play in three years. He was really, really good.
Two things Atlanta needs to do against him. Absolutely respect his ability and willingness to pull the ball down and make plays with his feet in the zone read game. He’s not going to make guys miss, but this guy has legitimate wheels and he’s a weapon in the running game. The other thing is you have to try and force mistakes, especially by hitting him when the opportunity is there and seeing if you can get the ball out.
Dave Choate: Saquon Barkley is back. Obviously surface-level numbers can be deceiving, but he seems to be having a quieter year thus far. Is that more on the state of the offensive line than Barkley, and how much of the workload is he getting versus Atlanta?
Ed Valentine: The best way I can put it is Saquon hasn’t been SAQUON yet. That’s not unexpected. This weekend marks a full year since his torn ACL, which included other knee damages, as well. The Giants opened the season with two games in five days, so Barkley’s touches were limited in both games. Production-wise, I think he’s still feeling his way as he comes back, and he should get better with time. The Giants have had 10 days to prep for this one, and it’s a game they need to win. I think you could see Barkley getting the ball a lot on Sunday.
Dave Choate: The Giants have been pretty aggressive in free agency, and at least on paper, that secondary looks sharp. Especially with #2 Falcons receiver Russell Gage not playing, can this group shut down a so-so Falcons passing attack focused heavily on short passes?
Ed Valentine: The issue for the Giants has primarily been covering the middle of the field, which is why Kyle Pitts could potentially have a monstrous day. Check out this video breakdown of the secondary issues. James Bradberry, the No. 1 corner and the guy who will be assigned to Ridley, has not played his best in the first two games. It will be interesting to see how that matchup plays out. It will also be interesting to see how the Giants approach handling Pitts, and if they can close off some of the middle of the field issues they have had.
Dave Choate: What’s holding this Giants team back? They obviously have talent and added more this offseason. Is it just a slow start or are there concerns that progress isn’t being made here? Asking for a fan of a team in a similar boat.
Ed Valentine: Well, Week 1 shouldn’t have been a shocker offensively. Kenny Golloday, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph, Barkley all missed much of training camp. The offensive line was in flux because of an injury to starting guard Shane Lemieux, who is now on IR. Week 2 was simply a matter of mistakes.
Eleven penalties, including an iffy one that negated a touchdown and forced the Giants to settle for a field goal. A dropped touchdown pass. A penalty on a missed field goal that gave Washington a second chance at a game-winning field goal. The talent is there to be better, to be a .500-ish team, maybe a 9-8 or 10-7 team. But, you can’t continue to beat yourself. With a coach in Joe Judge who preaches discipline, accountability above everything, the lack of discipline thus far has been disconcerting.
Dave Choate: The customary capper: What are your expectations for this game, and what are your expectations for the Giants season?
Ed Valentine: I expect the Giants to win. I’ll be disappointed if this isn’t a better defensive performance and a good-enough offensive effort. The Giants are retiring Eli Manning’s jersey Sunday and inducting him into the franchise’s Ring of Honor. They wouldn’t screw that up, would they?
A big thanks to Ed for answering these questions! Now let’s get ready for kickoff.