This week’s ‘Friday Five’ features questions about the coaching staff, free agency, and key positions to rebuild on the roster. Don’t forget to drop by Inside Football for my answers to this same set of questions.
Question: With Pat Shurmur’s assistant coaching staff pretty much complete, what is your overall takeaway on the staff’s makeup?
Pat says: Time will tell of course, but I would say overall everyone looks promising. I’m not going to lie — I have a few concerns about the offensive line coach, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
On the flip side, I LOVE the Bettcher hire. I just did a piece on him for The Athletic in which I broke down his deployment of personnel, and I have to say he’s not afraid to be aggressive and it’s paid off for him. So I am really looking forward to what he does with the defense.
Question: Give me one player you would be absolutely stunned to see cut for salary cap purposes.
Pat says: Janoris Jenkins. I know some have mentioned him as a possible cap casualty now that he doesn’t have any more guaranteed money due his way, but I would be stunned if they cut him. Yes, Jenkins had the discipline issue last year, but sadly, the team was a mess both on and off the field (look at the penalties and the blatant mistakes for the on-field stuff). Jenkins, when healthy, proved he can be a pretty good cornerback, so I can’t understand why he would even make anyone’s list given last year, which was also a year in which he tried to battle through an ankle injury.
Question: Whip out your crystal ball and tell me which position do you think the Giants will address in free agency?
Pat says: Offensive line is priority 1A and linebacker has to be priority 1B, in my opinion. As I see it, if they can re-sign Fluker, I think they need two more guys to fill out the offensive line. I think Flowers will be the left tackle again, Brett Jones the center and Fluker the right guard. I don’t see the team moving Flowers because they’d need two tackles and left tackles are expensive (and I don’t see them putting a rookie there either, not if they think they can win with Manning).
Linebacker is another story — that unit needs a rebuild from the ground up. I know injuries are part of the game, but I sure hope B.J. Goodson’s injury-filled year isn’t going to be the norm. I’d like to see them re-sign Devon Kennard, and then depending on where Olivier Vernon fits in — maybe they look to move him to outside linebacker when they go 3-4? I think they need a new starter to replace Casillas, who will be an unrestricted free agent. I also think they could use an upgrade to the depth.
Question: We haven’t discussed season-ending injuries, so let’s do it now. Which player or players are you most concerned about potentially being ready for the start of training camp?
Pat says: I’m going to go with Odell Beckham Jr. Yes, I know the arrow is pointing up — I see the videos of him working out and doing all things Odell. But I remember this same song and dance when Victor Cruz was rehabbing from his injury, and while I understand that a knee isn’t the same as an ankle, the point is that if an injury isn’t fully healed, the athlete usually begins to compensate without realizing it, and that can change his gait. If I’m the Giants, I save Beckham until training camp and only unless I’m 100% sure that his injury is fully healed.
Question: And on that same vein, give me the one position unit that you think could be affected in either free agency or the draft because of that injury concern.
Pat says: Linebacker. Casillas’ season ended due to a neck issue, and I have my doubts as to whether he’ll play again, though I’ll admit I don’t know how significant his injury is. I wouldn’t bring back Keenan Robinson either, not after the injury bug returned to get him. And I know Mark Herzlich said his injury healed a few weeks after he went on injured reserve, but I’d move on from his as well — surely, they can find other guys to play special teams and contribute to the depth at linebacker. Finally, as I said before, I’m hoping Goodson isn’t going to be an injury-prone guy given how hard he plays the game, but I would probably upgrade the backup behind him as well.