In the lead-up to the New England Patriots' final preseason match-up against the New York Giants, I asked Ed Valentine of Big Blue View five questions regarding this New York squad and what to expect tonight.
1. Eli Manning, simply put, hasn't looked very good from what I've seen this preseason coming off a down 2013 campaign. Is there any concern about his performance in New York? Any reason you can point to in particular about his struggles?
Well, first I am going to point you to two recent posts on BBV:
The biggest issue right now is what happened last year. Manning took the worst beating of his career, he did not trust his blockers or his receivers, and nothing worked. His fundamentals broke down and he was awful. The Giants have spent a lot of money, draft picks, etc., to try and fix the OL. Whether they have or not it's still a work in progress.
Watch Eli and there are a couple of things. He is still learning a new offense and isn't entirely comfortable yet. It is also obvious there is carry over from last year. He doesn't trust his pass protection yet, and no quarterback can play well when he is worried about being hit.
I think Eli can still be a top-tier quarterback, but only if the Giants protect him and his receivers do a better job making plays for him.
2. Damontre Moore, the Giants 3rd round pick in 2013, has racked up four sacks this preseason. Is he the real deal?
Giants fans certainly hope so. He has been dominant against second-team competition. When he was drafted fans hoped he would become the team's next great defensive end. The growth and maturity he has shown this preseason show that he MIGHT be on his way.
3. Considering we'll probably see our fair share of back-ups in this game, who is one lesser-known player on offense that Patriots fans might see?
Wide receiver Corey Washington is the darling of the fan base right now. He has fourth-quarter touchdown catches in all four games the Giants have played, three of those being game-winners. He's 6-foot-4, 214 and can go up and get the ball. Everyone would like to see him get some first-half reps, especially with Eli at quarterback.
4. Let's do the same thing for defense - who's one lesser known player who could stand out?
The guy who has been standing out is Devon Kennard, a linebacker who was the Giants fifth-round pick. This guy is playing like a first-round pick and is the most exciting linebacker prospect the Giants have had in a long, long time.
5. Tom Coughlin has opted to play his starters, at least for a couple of series, the last few years in this last preseason game. Is this a strategy you agree with?
Well, that depends. To be honest, seeing these guys playing in the final preseason game makes me cringe a little bit -- but I do understand it. This is not a team coming off 12 wins. It is not a team where everything is down pat and everyone is comfortable. This is a team that missed the playoffs the last two years. It is a group learning a new offense it still hasn't mastered. The offensive line that starts Thursday will be playing together for the first time. These guys, especially on offense, NEED the snaps.