We spoke with Mike Rannells of 'Fight For Old D.C.' and exchanged some Q&A on each other's football team. Here are Mike's answers to a few of our questions:
1) It has been effectively an entire season since the Giants and Redskins played one another. This is a different team than the one the Giants saw Week 1. Is youth making the difference?
I think it's part youth, part hunger. You see guys that don't have the gigantic contracts going out and playing their hearts out. The drop-off in talent is probably the reason for losing so many close games, but these guys are out there working their butts off. On top of that, Jason Campbell has been playing VERY well. Despite all of his criticism, the guy has really proven all year that he deserves another shot next season.
2) The Skins have been extremely competitive the last 5 games. Arguably your FG kicker cost the Skins 2 games, so you could have been 4-1 in those contests. And considering the Skins blew an 8 pt lead vs the Eagles, it really has the elements of building something here with just a few less mistakes. Is there a sense of optimism that it is slowly coming together?
The optimism is high because people are seeing what they've thought was the case the last few years. This is the first year that a coaching staff has been FORCED to develop young guys rather than address problems with big money (Albert Haynesworth). That, paired with a new GM has the people in DC pretty excited for the next few years. I think people would honestly take a few sub-.500 seasons just to see us develop some of our own talent and get to the next level the right way. Whether or not that's the way it will work out remains to be seen.
3) Orakpo has an eye-popping 11 sacks. Is this rookie the real deal?
This kid is ridiculous. He's got a great motor, and he sheds blocks like nobody's business. It's still a question whether he should be playing a lot of linebacker, considering he's still developing his coverage skills, but he's got the athleticism to be an effective tweener for years to come. I would say for now, if you're a Giants' fan and you see #98 with his hand in the dirt, be a little worried.
4) Campbell is playing better as of late. Is he finally arriving as an NFL QB or is the new GM going to short-circuit him once again?
I think he actually is. He's finally establishing a rapport with guys that have come into the system as developing talents, and he looks like he's making quicker decisions. Part of that comes along with a patchwork offensive line that has greatly overachieved, but we'll take it. A lot of unfair criticism has been thrown his way when the front office has done NOTHING to address the line over the last eight drafts. JC will be a pretty good quarterback for the next several seasons, it's just a question of what uniform he'll be wearing. He's handled all of the pressure and trade talk with class and tact, and that tells me he can handle just about anything.
5) Are you optimistic for next year?
Yes, and no. The possibility of an uncapped year is a little nerve-wracking for a fan that's been dealing with a cash-happy owner that wants to continue to make bank on his mediocre franchise. The Redskins were once great, and that was a result of an owner that was supportive of his KNOWLEDGEABLE football guys coaching and managing the team. If Bruce Allen is allowed to use the opportunity and shed/rework bad contracts (Randle El, Portis, Thomas, Hall, etc.), then I feel good about the future. However, to clarify, I'd consider a good year anywhere from 7-9 to 10-6 where the team is moving in the right direction personnel-wise and competing in every game. If they dump a truck of money on aging vets again and go 11-5, it's hard to say that it's entirely successful.
6) Final Score this Monday night?
Closer than most expect, but the Giants are just deeper. 28-24