The Jacksonville Jaguars take their perfect preseason record with them to the swamps of New Jersey to take on the four-time Super Bowl champion New York Giants. To find out more about the Jags Saturday opponent, we asked Josh Fyffe of The Giants Beat.com on Scout to fill us in.
Charlie Bernstein: Eli Manning is one of the very best QB's when he's upright. How does the offensive line look this year?
Josh Fyffe: Last season a lot of the players on the Giants offensive line had to play out of position and that definitely made things choppy up front. With the addition of first rounder Ereck Flowers to anchor the left tackle spot, the Giants O-line is a few strides of where they were a year ago. Justin Pugh who is also a former first rounder himself is now playing left guard, a position he played as a senior in high school, yet he has stated that he is very comfortable in that spot. Weston Richburg is heading into his second season with the Giants and can finally return to play center, as he was at right guard all last season due to other injuries. The line has battled the injury bug in the preseason however nothing is expected to carry over in the regular season. The 2015 Giants offensive line is definitely in a better position than they were a year ago.
CB: What is the latest on the JPP saga? Can Giants fans expect to see him by opening day? If he does pass the physical and sign his franchise tender, how much impact can he make after missing all of camp?
JF: Unfortunately Jason Pierre-Paul has yet to report to camp or participate in any of the practices. JPP had his right index finger amputated after the July 4th fireworks fiasco and has taken time away from the organization. That being said, JPP and defensive line coach Robert Nunn have remained in contact throughout the offseason, mostly on a personal basis; not too much talk about actual football. While this is troubling to the Giants organization, the team has prepared to embrace his absence and actually listed two other starters, Kerry Wynn and Robert Ayers, in his place on the team’s most recent depth chart. There is no time table for JPP’s return and he has been very lax in his communication with the ownership and coaches on football related matters. Nunn has commented that he would pull an ample amount of all-nighters with the star defensive end to make sure that he would be caught up for the regular season if he were to report to the team and sign his franchise tender.
CB: How desperate is the safety position being that the Giants signed Brandon Meriweather?
JF: I wouldn’t call the move to sign Meriweather a move of desperation for the Giants, more of a necessity as both rookie safeties Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson went down with injuries during the preseason opener against Cincinnati. Collins had x-rays done on his knee that came back negative, however he was listed to have a sprained MCL and there is no current time table for his return. Because of his age and value to the organization I would imagine they will be as cautious as possible with him injury, and unless he feels 100% he could be out for the remainder of the preseason. As for Thompson, his injury is more serious and has been labeled as an Achilles injury. The full prognosis on his Achilles has yet to be released but Thompson will definitively be out for the rest of the preseason and potentially a portion of the regular season. The Giants were already notably thin at safety, so the addition of Meriweather is both a stroke of good luck and a needed remedy. Defensive leader Jon Beason has already commented on the signing calling Meriweather a good fit in the Giants system.
CB: Will the offense be more balanced this season? I know it's tempting to throw the ball as much as possible when you have OBJ and Victor Cruz on the outside, but with a questionable defense do you think the Giants will try to play a little keep away?
JF: I definitely see a balanced offense for the Giants in this upcoming season, not the 2011 huck and chuck season that gave Eli Elite-QB consideration. The Giants do have the most potent offense since that 2011 Super Bowl winning season, and the vertical threats that Odell Beckham Jr and Victor Cruz have established themselves as definitely opens up room to operate for the running backs. The Giants will also be able to use Shane Vereen in the short passing game, similarly to how Tom Brady used him in New England, which can account for running plays as well. With the retooled offensive line, the Giants should also be able to churn more clock than a season ago, as they were 23rd rush yards per game.
CB: Who do you feel is the biggest threat to the Giants in the NFC East?
JF: While apparently Sam Bradford has been a perfect fit for the Eagles’ system, too many pieces moved around in Philadelphia this offseason for me to consider them the top threat to the Giants in the NFC East. Washington has too many question marks surrounding their quarterback as well as their defense, so for me it’s definitely the Cowboys. On top of being the division winners a season ago, they only lost DeMarco Murray during the offseason, and while he was immensely valuable to them last year, they still retained a majority of their 12-4 team. Not to mention that they also hit potential gold in the draft, scoring on three players who were thought to be first round picks a month or two before the draft commenced. The ‘Boys landed Byron Jones at corner, Randy Gregory at defensive end and La’el Collins all with only one first round pick. With the influx of new talent as well as the retention of their core talent (sans Murray), Dallas is the biggest threat to the Giants NFC East title hopes.
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