There are less than two weeks until your New York Giants open training camp. Let's open the Big Blue View mailbag and see what questions you have as the season draws closer.
Ed says: Thanks for the question, Stray. This is a tough one to answer. Individually, I might pick Weston Richburg on offense. Being back at his natural center position, and with a year of experience, he should be a different player. Defensively, cross your fingers and hope the answer is Damontre Moore. Team-wise, provided they get adequate offensive line play the Giants could be dynamic offensively right from the start. Defensively, the Giants were the worst team in the league against the run in 2014. The answer on that side of the ball needs to be better run defense.
Josh asks (via e-mail):
Have we made too much of JPP's nine sacks over the last five games of 2014? The Giants as a whole recorded 28 sacks over that period, the most of any team in their last five games since the 1984 Cowboys. Even without JPP, the Giants recorded 19 sacks, the same as they had over their first eleven games. Maybe the Giants pass rush as a whole is stronger than we think. Or, perhaps, these were teams largely with weak offensive lines, in which case, JPP's nine sacks as well were not such an achievement either. What do you think?
Ed says: Great question, Josh! I have thought about this one a lot because I honestly don't know what to think of how Jason Pierre-Paul closed the 2014 season, either. Did he simply get healthier, figure out his technique isses and play better? Was it a function of better play around him, including the presence of Devon Kennard? Was it JPP realizing he had to give better effort and put up some numbers if he hoped to earn a big-money, long-term deal?
I really hate to think it was the latter. I do know that I have always felt Pierre-Paul was a great run defender and a good but not great pass rusher. He has always been somewhat of a mystery and it is fair to wonder if he is ever again going to play like he did in 2011. For me, the late-season sack surge raised as many questions as it answered.
#BBVmailbag How have Odigizuwa and JT Thomas seemed so far. Looks like both will be needed to step up this year.— TodfromPa (@TodfromPA) July 16, 2015
Ed says: Thanks for the question, Tod! Owamagbe Odighizuwa (I spell out the full name just to see if I can) did not do a whole lot during OTAs or minicamp. He did get back on the field some for the final couple of minicamp workouts, but missed a lot of time with a knee issue. So, it is hard to judge. With Thomas, also difficult to say. Hard to get a read on a linebacker when guys are in shorts and t-shirts with very limited contact. Thomas did take first-team reps, that much we know.
Ed says: Of course it CAN happen, William. That doesn't mean it WILL happen. No one other than Jake Long, his doctors and maybe the Giants -- who had him in for a visit -- really knows the condition of his twice surgically-repaired knee. Is the guy healthy enough to play and make it through an NFL season? Is he still even a good player after the injuries? He certainly isn't the dominant Pro Bowler he once was. That said, some shuffling of the offensive line the Giants used throughout the spring would not be a big surprise. Neither would adding a veteran to the mix -- whether that be Long, Evan Mathis or someone who gets cut when teams trim their rosters before the start of the regular season.
Ed says: Relax, Charlie! You do know they signed Dwayne Harris, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, right? Harris is one of the best punt and kickoff returners in the business. Unless he gets hurt, it will be a massive upset if Harris isn't handling both jobs for the Giants full time.
@bigblueview if JPP is out would we be likely see the draft pick Owa get a lot of run this year?— Wash (@RyanWash_12) July 17, 2015
Ed says: Thanks for the question, Ryan! I say this over and over, but I think the regardless of whether Pierre-Paul is in the lineup or not fans need to lower their expectations for Odighizuwa. Look at the history of the best Giants defensive ends. Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Pierre-Paul -- none of them had big impacts or were asked to be full-time players as rookies. Mathias Kiwanuka started nine games, that's probably the most playing time any rookie defensive end received.
It is possible that Owa gets significant playing time this year. It is also possible that he doesn't play much at all. Forget JPP for a minute. If you were making a Giants defensive end depth chart right now Robert Ayers, George Selvie, Damontre Moore and Kerry Wynn would all be ahead of Odighizuwa.
@bigblueview How many snaps does Vereen get per game? Do you see him getting more snaps than Jennings or Williams ? Thanks— G (@GiantKuma) July 17, 2015
Ed says: Thanks for the question! That's a tough question to answer. I'm going to guess the breakdown -- or at least the plan -- goes something like this. Jennings on early downs as the supposed 'feature back,' Vereen in passing downs, long yardage and when the Giants are playing from behind late in games, Williams in short-yardage, goal line and when the Giants are protecting a lead and trying to grind out first downs.