Behind Enemy Lines: Inside The Giants

Giants insider Ernie Palladino drops by to lend his insight after New York blew a three-touchdown lead last week against the Eagles. Will the Giants bounce back? And how can a team with so much talent be in practically the same boat as the Packers?

Bill Huber: I guess the million-dollar question is, what should we expect from the Giants after last week's horrific loss to the rival Eagles? I'm not one who usually buys into the "hangover" theory because most pro athletes aren't wired the way we think they are, but this is an extreme example.

Ernie Palladino: Well, I think a loss like that can actually sink a season. But this team has shown resilience in the past. And they do have a history of doing just barely enough to get into the postseason. Look at 2007 as an example of that. They all but snuck into the playoffs, and then they went on a tear to the Lombardi Trophy. I'm not saying anything remotely like that happens this year, but there's no reason the Giants can't crank it up in Green Bay. If they don't, I don't think it'll be because they're still mourning the Philadelphia debacle.

Bill: I can't figure out how the Packers are 8-6 and I can't figure out how the Giants are 9-5. Not with Eli Manning, the stud running backs, the big-time receiving corps, etc., etc. What has prevented the Giants from being a truly elite team, because they sure look like one on paper.

Ernie: Yeah, you'd certainly think they'd be an elite team given the talent they have. But consider this: That talent has had some key penalties called against it and has turned the ball over far more than any team should. Eli Manning has a career-high 20 interceptions now, a number of which have cost him scoring opportunities.

And those penalties: The Titans goaded them into several personal fouls that stopped drives in their 29-10 loss in Week 3. And David Diehl's false start on second down of what should have been a clock-killing drive against Philadelphia last week turned into second-and-11, third-and-8 and a punt that led to the Eagles' tying score. Things like that sink a team, no matter how talented the roster.

Bill: Aaron Rodgers is coming off a concussion and the Giants have piled up a whopping 42 sacks. Is it scheme or is it just the talent from those guys in the front four or a combination of both?


Osi Umenyiora
Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images
Ernie: It's a combination of both. There's no denying the talent of Justin Tuck and a now-healthy Osi Umenyiora, along with the up-and-coming rookie Jason Pierre-Paul. But Perry Fewell's schemes are just as important. He's blitzed like crazy, a lot of times from a three-safety alignment that brings Antrel Rolle or Deon Grant into a hybrid linebacker position.

Both have been able to apply pressure on the quarterback from there, as has cornerback Terrell Thomas and linebackers Michael Boley and Jonathan Goff. They're so aggressive that they've knocked five quarterbacks out of games this year, and put a sixth — Tarvaris Jackson — on injured reserve. The players love his defense because it lets them play fast and loose, but not so loose that they're especially susceptible to the big play.

Bill: One of my favorite guys here was Will Blackmon. The statistics aren't pretty with him returning kickoffs or punts. Has he not provided a spark or is it just a part of larger issue on special teams?

Ernie: Blackmon actually has done OK. He's had a couple of returns where he was a block away from springing it. I like his aggressive, straight-ahead approach. But some of the blocking on punt returns has been horrendous. That in part is what cost the previous returner, Darius Reynaud, his job. He started going straight ahead, but when that didn't work he started dancing, and that was it for him. The Giants have had punt return issues for several years now, and I just don't see it getting much better regardless of who is back there. By the way, it looks like Reynaud will be back there this week; Blackmon's knee is acting up.

Bill: I guess getting back to the first question, it looks like it's the Giants, Packers and Buccaneers vying for one playoff spot (I'm assuming the Saints will make it.) Which one of us is covering a playoff game on the weekend of Jan. 8-9, or are we both going to be watching the Buccaneers?

Ernie: Hate to do this to you, Bill, but I'm picking the Giants to win at your place. That leaves the Pack out in the cold. Of course, knowing the Giants, it wouldn't be beyond them to louse it up this week and then beat Washington next week and get the needed help to sneak into the playoffs. Either way, I'm seeing them as the sixth seed either way. Believe it or not, I've been known to be wrong on the rare occasion. But I don't think this is one of them. So, enjoy the offseason. 


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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