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Behind Enemy Lines: Giants’ creativity has them playing competitively

The Giants’ roster may not be full of stars, but their coaching staff has certainly gone out of their way to get everyone playing to their strengths.

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The Bengals are going to be matched up with Giants team that is fighting for their divisional lives still. New York has really undergone some changes the past few season, and we thought it would be a great idea to catch up with Edward Valentine from over at Big Blue View to get his thoughts on this week’s matchups.

Patrick Judis: How has Daniel Jones faired in his second season? Has he shown enough to make you feel confident as the quarterback of the future?

Edward Valentine: The second part of your question is really the one central to what the future of the Giants looks like. Jones teases. He has all the skills. He can make every throw, including good ones off platform. He can make plays with his legs, as evidenced by him being the Giants’ leading rusher. He’s tough. He’s smart. He’s well-liked. He can just be indecisive, and indecision at quarterback leads to turnovers, which lead to losses. He has been much better lately. We’ll see if it continues. I think Jones continues as the team’s quarterback at least through next season because I don’t see the Giants being in position to draft a “sure-thing” star quarterback. I think he’s a long-term starter in the league. To use a measuring stick Cincinnati fans are familiar with, question is will he fall above or below the Andy Dalton line? I just don’t know.

PJ: Can you briefly describe how a 3-7 Giants team is still very much in the hunt for the NFC East. Do you think they have a shot at winning the division?

EV: The 3-7 Giants are in the hunt for the NFC East title because the two teams expected to be at the top of the division — Dallas and Philly aren’t nearly as good as anyone thought. Philly (3-6-1) leads and the other three teams are 3-7.

Philly has had a mountain of injuries, and quarterback Carson Wentz has regressed terribly. Dallas lost Dak Prescott, then Dalton, and got exposed with sub-par quarterback play. Washington is a lit like the Giants, trying to climb after being down for a while.

I do think the Giants have a chance. Why wouldn’t they? There isn’t a truly good team, or a clear favorite. The Giants have two victories over Washington. They have a win over Philly. They get Dallas at home Week 17. If they can beat Cincinnati on Sunday they have just as good a chance as any of the division’s other flawed teams.

PJ: With Saquon Barkley out, many fans may not be aware of where the Giants offense actually comes from. Who are some of the key contributors on that side of the football?

EV: Well, Jones of course. The Giants have leaned into some zone read stuff, and Jones has been really productive with it. Aside from that whole falling on his face thing against the Eagles. The best wide receiver they have is Darius Slayton — he’s their big play guy on the outside. Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate are good players. Evan Engram is a guy who can make big plays, and he will also screw them up on occasion.

One of the biggest keys for the Giants in recent weeks is that they have figured out how to run the ball without Barkley. They have surpassed 100 rushing yards five of the last six weeks. Jones has been part of that. So, too, has been some improved blocking up front, a little creativity from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and some really hard running from Wayne Gallman.

PJ: The Giants defense has quietly been one of the better defenses at keeping teams from scoring with the 12th ranked defense in points per game. Is there any players on the defense you think deserve more attention?

EV: Cornerback James Bradberry, a free agent acquisition, has been incredible. Blake Martinez, another free agent signee, has been really good. Logan Ryan, a third free agent, has been a big part of it. Most of the credit, though, has to go to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. This guy has done an amazing job adapting to the personnel he has, going away from some of the heavy man coverage stuff he was expected to use, playing more zone, using creative coverages and creative blitz packages. Graham has been getting more out of this group than anyone really thought he could.

PJ: What is your prediction for the game, and what do you think the deciding factor will be?

EV: I think the Giants. I think they should win under the circumstances, considering the Joe Burrow injury and the importance of the game for the Giants. I feel better about the Giants’ quarterback situation than I do about Cincinnati’s and I think the Giants defense should put them in position to win this game.

Thanks again to Edward Valentine for taking the time out to answer our questions. If you’d like to check out more of his work or Giants coverage ahead of this Sunday’s game, head over to Big Blue View.