Sticking with the NFC East, I was able to get in contact with Ed Valentine from Big Blue View, the Giants SB Nation site. Luckily, he had some time for me and answered a few questions to give his perspective of the 2011 Giants season. The Saints are scheduled to face the Giants at the Superdome on November 28th.
Jon Banks: After the Giants 2009 season, what were your expectations of the 2010 season? How did they do with regard to those expectations?
Ed Valentine: I expected the Giants to make the playoffs in 2010, so they did not meet that expectation. Of course, they did win 10 games and they were a better team than Seattle, which did make the playoffs, so it's a mixed bag. The 2010 Giants were a very good football that, in the end, did not reach its potential because of its own mistakes -- turnovers, sloppy special teams play, etc.
Ed: Well, the Green Bay game (the 15th of the season) was a blowout loss. Really, the others weren't. I think what happened in that game was a simple -- and predictable -- letdown. Coming off the historic collapse against Philly the week before I think the Giants knew that they had already squandered their opportunity and there was obviously a hangover.
Ed: Coughlin was never really on the hot seat. He coaches the Giants, which means he is always on the hot seat with fans and with the media. The organization has always been supportive of Coughlin, and I believe justifiably so. You can probably count on one hand the number of current coaches 'better' than Coughlin. I know there are plenty of teams who would line up begging him to coach them if the Giants ever fired him. As for strengths and weaknesses, I would say this. He is incredibly organized, he knows exactly what he wants. He knows what winning football is, and how to achieve it. He preaches discipline, he preaches taking care of the football, he preaches knowing and carrying out your responsibility. What you have to ask is why, then, have the Giants been a turnover machine the past two seasons, why do they break down on special teams and why do they blow assignments in the secondary and give up the big play so often? Coughlin is respected as a man by his players, but I wonder if he has changed so much since 2007 that players no longer fear repurcussions from their mistakes.
Ed: I believe the Giants did incredibly well in the draft. I am always a 'value over need' over 'best player available' draft guy. There are people who go nuts because the Giants did not draft a center or did not get a linebacker until the sixth round. I'm not one of them. The Giants got incredible value w/each and every pick. Almost every guy they took was expected to come off the board much earlier, which tells you that they were able to land several players they did not think they had a shot at, especially cornerback Prince Amukamara in the first round.
The most intriguing pick for me is the selection of WR Jerrel Jernigan in the third round. The Giants have a lot of receivers, and I was sure this pick would be Washington LB Mason Foster, but Jernigan's speed and kick return ability are worth being excited about.
Ed: Well, the main thing the Giants need to do to get back in the playoffs is stop turning the blasted ball over. They had a league-high 42 last year, after having -- I think -- just 13 in 2008. Sometimes they treat the ball like a grenade -- something to be gotten rid of as fast as possible. As for free agency, I don't know that there is a single move that would put them into the playoffs. I think the Giants will kick the tires on free-agent linebackers and see if the price is right on a player like Paul Posluzsny. They need an experienced center, as well, since there are injury concerns with Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Adam Koets -- the three guys who shared the position last year. The biggest move they need to make is getting Ahmad Bradshaw to re-sign.
I would like to thank Ed Valentine for taking the time to answer my questions. And for more about the Giants, check out Big Blue View.