I invited Dan Stack to share a little insight on the team that he covers so well for the Giants Football Blog. Here is our Q&A, thanks to Dan for the inside look at Sunday’s opponent.
Rich Tandler: The Giants strength over the past several years has been their lines on both sides of the ball. Then, after the lockout ended, they released O-line stalwarts Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert and they will be without star defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who always gives the Redskins fits, for at least the opener and perhaps beyond. On top of that, the reliable Barry Cofield is now a Redskin. Who is taking their places and what is the confidence level that the lines will be in good shape?
Dan Stack: The defensive line is the least of the Giants’s concerns, and to some extent so is the offensive line. Yes, losing Osi stings, as he has the experience and tenacity to pressure quarterbacks ferociously. However, Giants fans are salivating over the potential of last year’s number one pick in one Jason Pierre-Paul. He is a beast in the making. Pierre-Paul is freakishly athletic and has one of the biggest wingspans you'll ever see. He has shown in the preseason that he can attack the QB with relative ease. Then we also have old reliable in Justin Tuck (which we’ll discuss later). Up the middle is another story. Some fans were upset Cofield left, but the Giants do have capable tackles in Chris Canty, Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Giants have a new center in David Baas (from San Francisco), and in limited time he has caught on quite well. A perceived weakness might be at left tackle where Will Beatty will be thrown to the wolves. He has some promise, but it may take time for him to develop.
RT: Eli Manning’s (pictured) assertion that he is an elite quarterback on par with Tom Brady was met with snickers by many NFL fans and media types. What was the reaction among Giants fans to those statements and in your opinion where does Eli rate among NFL quarterbacks?
DS: Most Giant fans have Eli’s back. My thoughts were, ‘since when is a little confidence such a bad thing?’ Yeah, most Giants fans know that he is not on par with Tom Brady, or his brother Peyton, but he has one thing in his favor: A Super Bowl ring.
The most pressing issue fans have with Manning is his ability to turn the ball over. Take away his interceptions (as well as fumbles), and you’d have a stud quarterback. But, I’ll call a spade a spade here. Eli is good, but not necessarily great. I think he is somewhere in the 7-10 range of NFL quarterbacks.
RT: I know that Justin Tuck has been to a couple of Pro Bowls, but to me he doesn’t seem to get the attention and acclaim that one would think a truly elite defensive end should get, especially one playing in New York. What makes Tuck special?
DS: His attitude and demeanor are two attributes that you just can’t coach. Tuck has a great combination of speed and power that goes unmatched by most defensive ends. What helped Tuck a lot was the guidance Michael Strahan bestowed onto him. Tuck is no doubt the heart and soul of the Giants defense, and is a great leader.
RT: This will be an emotional game on the anniversary of 9/11. The Giants have owned the Redskins for a while, winning six straight and nine of the last 10. Is there any reason to think that the domination won’t continue? Who will win and why?
DS: You’re right. It should be an emotionally charged atmosphere. Both teams have something to prove, as both squads have been neglected in all the preseason hoopla surrounding the Eagles, and to some extent the Cowboys. That, and all the negative feedback the Giants have gotten about their lack of free agent moves and subsequent injuries they have sustained have given this team an edge. They have a chip on their shoulders, as should the Redskins, and the game should make for a grueling battle. I expect a close win by the Giants, say 20-17. I just don't think Rex Grossman will put enough fear in this team.