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Giants’ head-coaching search, Eli Apple, more as ‘Friday Five’ returns

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Our Q&A with Pat Traina is back after a lengthy absence

NFL: New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals
Landon Collins
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Years ago, Pat Traina and I started a post we called the “Friday Five,” picking a single set of questions that we would each answer for the other’s web site. Well, with Pat having added contributing to Big Blue View to her voluminous workload, the “Friday Five” is back.

Here is how Pat answered this week’s questions. Check out Inside Football to see my answers.

Q: How surprised are you given how the Giants head coaching search has played out?

Pat: I think the biggest surprise for me has been the various reports that have come out about the search.

I get it that everyone wants to be first with the news, but unless anyone spoke with one of the four men who interviewed the candidates, NO ONE knows what ownership is thinking. Also, I’ve seen some fans gripe because they feel the Giants are missing out on candidates and being put into a position to settle.

Again, how does anyone know that? If the original reports of, say Matt Patricia being the favorite, were erroneous, then how do you jump to the conclusion that the Giants are missing out?

Last point. The Colts, Lions, Cards and now Titans still don’t have their head coach signed on the dotted line, meaning anything is still possible. So how is it that the Giants were ever “behind” the curve when it looks more like they’re in the same boat as the other teams?

Q: Peek into your crystal ball. What’s the one potential move you think you could see coming for the Giants that either doesn’t make sense now or no one is talking about?

Pat: For me, it’s signing Landon Collins to a contract extension this year, even though he has another season to go on his rookie deal.

Assuming the Giants do not re-sign Beckham to a new contract this year — and I would be very surprised if they do given that he’s coming off an ankle injury (there’s optimism he’ll be okay, but remember, there was also the same optimism when Victor Cruz had his injury and we know how that turned out) — they can still use the franchise tag on him in 2019 and 2020 absent reaching a long-term deal.

If I’m Dave Gettleman, I sign Collins, who is also coming off a season-ending injury (a broken arm, which is much different than a broken ankle), to an extension this offseason.

If they don’t and if Beckham has a solid year in 2018, now you have Collins and Beckham both coming up for new deals (Beckham will be playing out his fifth year under his rookie deal in 2018).

If you take care of Collins now, that means you can slap the franchise tag on Beckham in 2019 if you can’t reach a long-term deal. If, however, you don’t make a move to re-sign Collins or Beckham in 2018, then you are running the risk of one of them hitting the open market, which would be a nightmare scenario.

Q: Forget about who the next head coach is for a moment. Who would be your dream coordinators on offense, defense and special teams?

Pat: That’s a tough one for me because on the surface, it’s just a carousel of retreads, unless there is a sleeper coordinator on the college level that is generating buzz that I’m not aware of.

Anyway, on special teams, I’d go with Larry Izzo, who was the assistant special teams coordinator here for a bit before moving on to Houston.

The thing I always liked about Izzo, a former player (Patriots) was that when he coached, he actually ran around and physically demonstrated things, unlike Tom Quinn, who was more of a statue that barked out instructions.

And maybe it’s just me, but off the top of my head, I thought the Giants special teams, which weren’t very good to begin with, really went south after Izzo left.

On defense, I could see a case where Steve Spagnuolo is retained. I know that wouldn’t be the popular choice among fans, but if management feels that last year was an aberration given the injuries and locker room issues that tore the defense apart, I could see Spags getting another crack and building on what the defense started in 2016.

With that said, I could only see the whole thing working if Gettleman finally gets Spags some linebackers and improves the depth in the defensive secondary, and if the coaches can develop a viable third defensive end to take some of the load off Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon.

On offense, I wonder if reported new head coach Pat Shurmur might reach into the past and see if he can coax Brad Childress out of retirement? I know when Shurmur was a first-time head coach with the Browns, he called his own plays for a season. I would hope that this time around he hires someone to do that right from the start.

Q: The East-West Shrine game is coming up this weekend. Give me some prospects that you’ll be watching and why.

Pat: Let’s start with LB Tegray Scales of Indiana, who is intriguing. He’s a four-year starter for the Hoosiers who looks like he can be the complete package. He has 324 total tackles, 46 for a loss. Toss in 17 sacks, eight interceptions and six passes defensed over his career and well, when was the last time the Giants had a linebacker prospect who could play the run as equally well as the pass and had numbers like that after four years?

CB Deatrick Nichols, South Florida, is another guy to watch. He’s listed at 5-10, 189 pounds, and is a fourth-year player. He’s logged 174 career tackles, 15 for a loss, one sack and 11 interceptions over his career. Nichols brings versatility to the picture in that he can play outside, nickel and safety.

Nichols, who has proven himself to be a shutdown cornerback, earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors this season. He has shown good instincts, is quick to break on a thrown ball and good hand-eye coordination. He also plays much bigger than his size, meaning he’s not afraid to mix it up.

(Side note: Stats are from College Football Reference.)

Q: Do you think Eli Apple can repair his image and reputation with his teammates?

Pat: Absolutely, but it’s up to him to do so. The way I see it, Apple’s off-field issues were largely instrumental in what happened. I don’t care who you are or how tough you are — having a loved one go through brain surgery is scary and a major distraction.

If I’m Apple, I come in next year, I work my tail off, I keep my mouth closed, and I look to repair relationships with Landon Collins and anyone else I might have irritated. The way he can do that is to back his words by being accountable. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I think if he shows a sincere desire to be a part of the team and to work with his teammates, it can be done.

I also look to make amends with the fans by being more agreeable to signing autographs, answering fan mail, and above all, refraining from engaging in wars of words on social media.

Apple needs to develop a thick skin (no pun intended) if he’s going to reach his potential in this city. I think it’s fair to say we haven’t seen that yet. Will we? I think that’s up to him.