Welcome to the first edition of Blogger Q&A for the Panthers 2010 season. Answering my questions is Ed Valentine from Big Blue View SBN's Giants affiliate. Ed was so kind to answer a few questions around what some might call a sore spot, the Giants final home game at the old Giants Stadium against the Panthers. You can read my answers to his questions here. So let's get to it. Oh, and I did get to get to talk to Ed briefly last night (sorry about the audio problems!) so when you read these questions you must use the proper accents in your head. Think of Bubba with a slow southern drawl asking the questions and then a thick NY accent answering the questions, think Christopher Walken in Joe Dirt! It's a must!
Question 1: Do you think last's year game between these two teams will have any bearing on this game? ie...is there a revenge factor based on not opening the new stadium the way the old was closed (with a bad loss)? Or is that game forgotten?
Ed V: The game, and the way last season ended, is not forgotten by the Giants at all. The veteran Giants players are still embarrassed by the way last season ended. The offseason, training camp, preseason, everything about the Giants for months now has been about erasing the sting of the way last year ended, starting 5-0 and then missing the playoffs. I would be stunned -- and deeply concerned about the upcoming season -- if you do not see an incredibly fired up Giants team on Sunday. They are opening a new building, a new season and getting another crack at Carolina.
The Panthers better get ready for a brawl. If they can keep from digging themselves an early hole the defense should keep them in it and give the offense time to get something working.
Question 2: In last years game RB Jonathan Stewart ran for 206 yds. What will the Giants defense do differently this time to counter the Panthers running attack?
Ed V: Well, the Giants are a much different defense. They have a new defensive coordinator in Perry Fewell, some new personnel and better health than at any time last season, so we will see what happens. Second-round draft pick Linval Joseph is a 325-pound guy who could develop into a big run stopper in the middle. Tackles Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard are healthy, which they weren't last year. Ditto for defensive end Justin Tuck, who played with one arm last season. Osi Umenyiora seems more committed to run defense, which he was not last season. Keith Bulluck replaces Danny Clark at outside linebacker. The return to health of safety Kenny Phillips is also huge for the Giants. That said, we have to wait and see how it plays out. There was some good, some not so good with the defense in preseason. The Panther running game is a great test.
Both Williams and Stewart will be healthy too. This one will be fun to watch! ...more after the jump...
Ed V: Jacobs is not taking it well at all. He is a dour guy who does not like the media much in the best of circumstances, and he's not happy about this development. Do I agree with this move? Heck, yes. Bradshaw is healthier than he has been in a long time -- the guy played on two broken feet and a bad ankle last season. He is faster than Jacobs, more explosive, tougher to tackle (yes, even though he is 65 pounds lighter) and more of a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. That said, Jacobs is still incredibly important to the Giants. In Carolina, you know all about having two terrific backs. We think we have the same in New York, it's just that who is 1 and who is 1a is now different.
Bradshaw worries me more than Jacobs certainly. The Panthers need to smother the run early and force Manning to check off to short passes.
Question 4: What must the Panther defense do first to stop the Giants from putting up a lot of points, stop the run or stop the pass?
Ed V: Well, that's an interesting question. The Giants have talked for months now about getting back to the balanced attack they had in 2007 and 2008, rather than the pass-first attack they were forced to become last season. I would say the Giants are going to do everything they can to establish a running game, especially since I would be concerned about their ability to handle the Carolina pass rush if they can't.
The Panthers better get pressure on Manning on 3rd down or it could be a long day for the Panthers.
Question 5: Do you think Eli Manning and the Giants offense have what it takes to get back to the Super Bowl this year? What will be the key on offense?
Ed V: As I said in the previous answer, balance. I have all the trust in the world in Eli, but much like the Panthers the Giants are a better football team when they can control the clock with their running game and when they can grind out some tough yards. If they have to rely on Manning that isn't going to work. Especially in the Northeast when it gets cold and miserable late in the season a team has to be able to run the ball. That said, I don't think offense really determines this team's fate. I think it rests on the progress of the defense, and the ability of the special teams to at least play neutral with the opposition and not consistently put the Giants at a disadvantage.
[Emphasis above Jaxon] You would think a SB winning QB would inspire more confidence in the fan base. I personally think he's a pretty good QB. I think he can get rattled at times on the field and can become indecisive. But I'd start him over Matt Moore if we had him (did I say that out loud?).
Both teams will try to chew clock so I expect a low scoring affair. I think both running games are going to have a tough time in the first half. The team that makes the fewer errors might pull this one out with a late FG. My prediction is 16-13 Panthers. What's yours?