Editor’s note: As we head into Monday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Giants, we welcome Edward Valentine of Big Blue View — our sister SBNation site covering the New York Giants — for Five Questions with the Enemy.
1) The Giants defense had themselves a day against the Panthers. What caused the defensive turnaround?
Would it be too simple to say Sam Darnold being at quarterback and Christian McCaffrey NOT being at running back? That was, to be honest, part of it. I don’t think it was all of it. The Giants tackled better than they have. They did a better job setting the edges versus the run. James Bradberry actually caught a ball for an interception. That seems simple, but the Giants have dropped a number of woulda/coulda/shoulda been interceptions this year. The other part is that Leonard Williams, Azeez Ojulari and Dexter Lawrence were disruptive in the pass rush. That hasn’t been the case often enough.
2) Who’s the relative unknown Giants player that has performed well this season?
That is hard to say. Not that there aren’t candidates, but the Giants seem to field a different lineup every week due to injuries. I would say defensive tackle Austin Johnson. He was a backup in Tennessee, a guy who did not live up to his status as a second-round pick. He was a backup last year for the Giants. This year, he has stepped in for Dalvin Tomlinson, who is now with the Vikings, and played very well. He already has career highs in sacks (3.0), stops (17) and total pressures (11).
3) How has the Giants rushing attack managed with Barkley unavailable?
The most dangerous runner the Giants have is quarterback Daniel Jones. He leads the team in rushing yards (229) and yards per carry (5.6). The Giants are using zone reads and last week they used several designed inside “power” runs with Jones. Devontae Booker isn’t terrible, but he’s also not anything special. Fullback Elijhaa Penny also gets some reps as the single back.
One problem the Giants have is they have used seven starting offensive line combinations in seven games. That’s not conducive to good run blocking.
4) What are your realistic expectations for the Joe Judge era?
Let me set the table. Judge is in his second year, and he isn’t winning enough games. The Giants are 8-15 in his 23-game tenure. That said, I do not believe Giants ownership has lost faith that hiring him will eventually be proven to be the right move. I think Judge remains the Giants’ coach beyond this season, and I do think things are going to turn for the Giants eventually.
Daniel Jones has played well, though the numbers are not spectacular. The supporting cast just hasn’t been what it was supposed to be because of injuries. Andrew Thomas was terrific before going on IR. Azeex Ojulari and Kadarius Toney are showing a lot of promise. There are reasons to be optimistic in the long run, though maybe not for Monday night.
5) How does one play out? Score prediction?
I don’t think the Giants win this one. This is either going to be a “get healthy” game for Kansas City where the Chiefs blow the Giants out of the building, or it’s going to be competitive for about three quarters. I think the latter. I think the Giants do some good things, but they are not yet in Kansas City’s class. In the end, this is a 10 to 14-point Chiefs’ victory.
Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.