Once again, it’s time to have a chat with one of our fellow SB Nation NFL blogs and get some insight into their team as your Minnesota Vikings prepare to do battle with them. This week, the opponent is the New York Giants, and I got an opportunity to chat a bit with Ed Valentine, the lead blogger over at Big Blue View.
Here are the questions that I asked of Ed, along with his responses. Once he posts the questions that he sent me, I’ll have them up on the front page here.
1) Pat Shurmur, the Giants’ head coach, got his current job after a wildly successful season as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator in 2017. Twenty games into the Pat Shurmur era, what are your impressions of him so far?
In general, I like Shurmur. I have had my quibbles with some of his strategic decisions, but I think that happens with every coach. His future is tied to Daniel Jones. He had the courage to bench Eli Manning and go to Jones after just two games. If he can develop Jones into a winning quarterback he will be around for a while. If it becomes apparent that he can’t, then down the line the Giants will find someone else.
2) The Giants made a big move at quarterback a couple of weeks ago, benching long-time stalwart Eli Manning in favor of rookie Daniel Jones. What has Jones done to help lead the G-Men to two consecutive victories?
Well, he’s done A LOT. He is the primary reason they have won two games in a row. His mobility allows Shurmur to call some things he couldn’t/wouldn’t with Eli Manning. The Giants have gone 14-of-26 on third down the past two weeks after going 5-of-23 the first two with Manning. A lot of that is Jones either running for first downs or getting outside the pocket and making a play. Some of it is just really crisp, on target throws.
Jones has brought energy and a new sense of hope to a franchise that needed it. He’s got a better arm and is far more advanced as a quarterback than most realized. That said, he is still a rookie and the Vikings will be a formidable challenge for him.
3) Golden Tate had a reputation as a bit of a Viking-killer when he was with Detroit. Sunday, he’ll make his 2019 debut following a four-game suspension. How big a role do you envision him playing?
I think he starts and plays like he never left. The Giants like to move receivers around and I think that’s how they will use Tate. He’s a hards after catch machine, and so far Daniel Jones has been good at giving receivers opportunities to run with the ball. Should be a good combo.
4) The Giants’ defense, at least statistically, has not been very good this season. What are the strengths of that unit and how do you think they match up with the Minnesota offense?
This is a really young defense (well, except for ancient Antoine Bethea) that has a lot of intriguing talent but is a work in progress.
I am really interested to see how the defensive front with big Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson stand up to the Vikings running game. The fact that the Giants are missing their best three inside linebackers (Ryan Connelly is out for the year and neither Alec Ogletree not Tae Davis will play this week) is an issue.
I’m also interested to see how aggressive Minnesota is in taking some shots at the Giants secondary down the field. The Giants have been up and down in that area.
5) Who is one “under the radar” player on each side of the ball for the Giants that you feel could make a difference in Sunday’s game?
Offense -- Wide receiver Darius Slayton. Fifth-round pick who is just getting healthy after missing most of 2 months with a hamstring injury. He’s got 4.39 speed and is a better route runner than given credit for.
Defense -- Third-round pick Oshane Ximines. He was pretty much the last of the pass rushers on the board in the draft, and he’s shown flashes of being really good.
Bonus question: Eli Manning. . .Hall of Famer? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand. . .go!
Yes. And I’m going to leave it there.
Thanks to Ed for taking the time to answer my questions. We’ll have more on this week’s game as we get closer to kickoff.