Big Blue United

Carl Banks on the State of the 2017 Giants

Carl Banks

Legendary Giants linebacker Carl Banks who won Super Bowls 21 and 25 with the Giants did an exclusive interview with Big Blue United’s very own, Meir Sommer on the subject of the 2017 Giants and even dove in to issues like CTE and Colin Kaepernick. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Paul Spinelli)

By Meir Sommer – Big Blue United 8.10.17

Meir Sommer: Has the offensive line improved enough to protect Eli Manning and a legitimate running game?

Carl Banks: It has yet to be determined. IT’S UNMISTAKABLY TRUE THAT THE OFFENSIVE LINE PLAY WILL BE THE KEY TO THIS TEAM’S SUCCESS THIS YEAR. They have a great deal of weapons on offense and none of those will matter if the offensive line doesn’t enable them to execute their game plan each week.

Meir Sommer: How much do you read in to the fact that the Giants drafted quarterback Davis Webb in the 3rd round as a sign that they feel Eli Manning doesn’t have so much gas left in the tank?

Carl Banks: I don’t think he has given any indication that his skill set has eroded based on what they’re asking him to do within this offense. So let’s say that his age is not an issue right now. The job of any General Manager worth his title is always evaluate his talent, young talent coming out of college, and if there’s room for that talent on your roster, you pick it.  Is he insurance? Sure. He’s the heir apparent. 

Meir Sommer: Could you take us through your expectations for linebacker B.J. Goodson going in to the season?  

Carl Banks: He is a guy who naturally knows how to find the football and what to do when he does get to the football. He can naturally start to play the game because he’s a good football player and the more he’s able to play at an NFL speed, with a clear thought process, you’ll see him blossom. I will say this. He is by far their most physical linebacker. 

Meir Sommer: Last year, Landon Collins made the quantum leap from a safety who left a lot to be desired to a player who many consider to be the premier safety in football and a defensive player of the year candidate. What changes from one year to another in a player that allows him to make such a big transition so quickly?

Carl Banks: The thing about Landon Collins [that helped him] is that he played every position with the exception of defensive lineman [two years ago.]  He covered wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends. So what it did is it increased his knowledge of how offenses run.  It wasn’t that he (initially) couldn’t play. It was that the game was moving a little fast and he had to think differently. That’s why he was able to make the quantum leap because covered every skill position on offense the year before and he didn’t do it successfully at times. To have that on the job training and take that in to the offseason with [him,] it clicks right away and [he] could see everything.

Meir Sommer: If you had to pick one Giants player this year to make such a big improvement similar to that of Landon Collins in 2016, who would you pick?

Carl Banks: The guy that I would see making that kind of leap would be Paul Perkins. He got some valuable playing time and you could see by the end of the year that the game seemed to slow down a bit for him and he felt more comfortable running the football. So assuming that the offensive line will comply, he should have a really good jump from rookie to second year.

Meir Sommer: Having ranked 2nd in the league in points allowed and 10th in yards last year, can the Giants defense become the best one in the NFL in 2017?

Carl Banks: They have some of the best personnel in the NFL. The key for them will be health. Their tendency defensively has been to give up big plays.  Now they were a darn good red-zone defense which bailed them out a lot.  They have to make offenses earn it. Because of what they have up front, they have to on the back end on the third down situations, really make sure everyone’s on the same page and not give up those seam routes every week.

Meir Sommer: Odell Beckham Junior recently caused a lot of criticism for saying on Uninterrupted that he wants to be the highest paid player in the NFL. What are your thoughts on this?

Carl Banks: I have no problem with it because there’s not a player who’s ever played the game that didn’t want to be the highest paid in the sport.

Meir Sommer: If it wasn’t Odell Beckham Junior who said this, would it get even half the attention?

Carl Banks: No. They don’t. Not at all. It was as innocent as can be. If it was anybody else, no-one would care.

Meir Sommer: With Brandon Marshal and first round pick Evan Engram added to the mix, Is the Giants receiving corps the best one in the whole NFL?

Carl Banks: No. Not at this point. I’d say let’s see them play and let’s see what impact they have on defenses and then we can make that assessment.  They are probably the most talented group in the NFL, but I won’t [call] them the best until I see how they all work together in this offense.

Meir Sommer: Which Defensive Tackle do you see stepping up in to the second slot next to Damon Harrison this year to replace Jonathan Hankins and how much will they miss his presence this year?

Carl Banks: You never want to lose a guy who you drafted and is a good player. It didn’t work out though and as things would have it, there was a draft which Jerry Reese knew would be full of defensive tackles. So if they lost Hankins, they had a kid in Tomlinson who comes from a pretty good program. The draft gods had it aligned properly that they were able to get another guy. They will probably have a rotation in there with [Tomlinson] and Bromley and those guys. 

Meir Sommer: What would you consider to be a successful season for the Giants and just how far do you see them going in 2017? What could prevent them from reaching their potential?

Carl Banks: Injuries are the number one deterrent from a Super Bowl. What I’d consider success is for the Giants to win more games than they did last year and advance further in the playoffs. Especially when you have a team where the expectations are so high and you have a good talent base, I think it’s fair to expect the Giants to make the postseason and win a playoff game.

Meir Sommer: On Friday night, although it’s only the preseason, there will be many rookies seeing their first game action for the Giants. Could you take us through the feeling and experience of your first time taking the field for Big Blue?

Carl Banks: That’s like a bag of nerves. You want to limit your mistakes because coaches are always looking. I wanted to make an impression on my teammates especially the veterans who weren’t playing, but also the coaches. I just didn’t want to make a lot of mistakes and be looked at as this guy who’s not ready. 

Meir Sommer: UCLA QB Josh Rosen caused a stir when he said in a Bleacher Report interview, “Look, Football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. It’s like trying to do two full time jobs.” Do you agree with his statement? Also, should collegiate players get paid for the billions of dollars in revenue that they make for the schools for which they play.

Carl Banks: I would say to (Rosen) that he’s extremely narrow minded and he will start to appreciate his college experience as soon as he starts to embrace it instead of just embracing the fact that he’s a big-time football player. They do go together and if he’s that limited, mentally that he can’t work both, then it says a lot about where he has to grow. He’s got to figure it out. He should be smarter than that. Yes. (the players should be compensated.)

Meir Sommer: Has Colin Kaepernick been blackballed?

Carl Banks: Yeah. If talent were an issue he’d be on a roster. There’s no disputing that. The narrative changes a lot as to why, but the reason he wasn’t hired has nothing to do with his ability. His talent isn’t what’s keeping him out of the NFL.

Meir Sommer: What if anything, can the NFL do about the issue of CTE going forward?

Carl Banks: CTE is undeniable. I think the league is doing as much as they can and when they get more information, they make the game safer. That’s all you can ask for. I wouldn’t dive into the debate on the study. Obviously, it was extremely biased and that’s undeniable. I’m lucky enough to not suffer from CTE based on the symptoms. Nobody is denying it. We want a game that’s safer. Football is a physical game, but the best practices are being applied.


Meir Sommer is a writer for Big Blue United
You can follow him on twitter @Meirssommer