Every week, I hope to bring you a quick Q&A with someone who covers the Ravens' opponent that week. This week, I chatted with reporter Jenny Vrentas, who covers the
MV: Both the Ravens and Giants are coming off embarrassing losses. Ravens fans saw what happened to their team, at least before they left M&T Bank Stadium during the fourth quarter. But what happened to the Giants, particularly
JV: For the second straight week, Manning threw an early interception that led to a touchdown by the opponent. But unlike the
MV: Manning is one of the NFL's coolest quarterbacks in crunch time, as evidenced by his two Super Bowl rings, but he is going through another uneven regular season. Is that something the Giants just have gotten used to?
JV: That's probably with every quarterback. But the way Manning played last season, particularly after his turnover struggles in 2010, raised the bar for what he's able to do on the football field. It's interesting because, early in the season, offensive players were raving about the passing game being the most in synch so early on as they could remember. Then, it hit a speed bump. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride made some adjustments in the bye week -- moving receivers around to more consistently get guys open, for starters -- which seemed to help. With Manning, his ups and downs are more tolerable, because of what his ceiling is, and because of his ability to shake off early bumps and rally, whether it be in the context of a game or a season.
MV: Despite having all that talent up front, the Giants are in the middle of the pack with 32 sacks. Defensive end
JV: The Giants' sack numbers are no doubt down. We're not used to seeing them ranking in the middle of the pack in an area that's supposed to be their signature. It is true that teams are scheming well against them, using tight ends and backs to slow the edge pass rush and eliminate one-one-one matchups. But another big factor is that the Giants aren't stopping the run. They're allowing an average of more than 120 rushing yards per game. When you're not stopping the run, that limits situations in which they can line up and tee off against the passer.
MV: That being said, is a lack of pressure up front the main reason for the struggles of the Giants defense?
JV: When the strength of a unit is targeted by opponents, it has to find another way. And that's been an issue for the Giants. If the edge rushers are neutralized, they need to get push up the middle, which they haven't done regularly. Injuries on the back end -- safety, linebacker -- have also presented challenges, such as communication breakdowns that have led to big plays by the opposition and less flexibility to blitz. So yes, the inconsistency of the Giants defense starts up front because that's how their defense is built, but each phase has a hand in it.
MV: It seems impossible to predict which Giants team will show up each week. Your best guess: Do the good Giants or the bad Giants show up at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday?