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Friday Five: What to learn from the Eagles, and more

It’s our weekly Q&A with Pat Traina

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New York Giants v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This week’s ‘Friday Five’ with Pat Traina and yours truly touches on Super Bowl lessons, the New York Giants offensive coordinator search, free agency and more. Be sure to hop over to Inside Football to see my answers to this same set of questions.

Question: We have both done some version of “things the Giants can learn from the Eagles Super Bowl title. If you had to pick ONE lesson the Giants should learn what would it be?

Pat Says: In an article I wrote for The Athletic – NYC — I believe it will be published next week --one of the lessons I wrote about is a strong culture, especially when things go wrong on the field.

Last year, it just seemed like with every little thing that went wrong for the Giants, instead of remaining strong and focused, the culture crumbled at an unbelievable pace, which led to the suspensions, fines, guys checking out, and inconsistent effort.

I think the Giants simply lost sight of the goal, and I never really got the impression that someone in that locker room, be it a player or coach, was standing up and rallying the guys to keep them focused.

You look at the Eagles — they overcame injuries to key players like Carson Wentz. They also overcame a 1-1 start out of the gate and fought back against the Giants in Week 3 when it looked like they would fall to 1-2 in that game.

That reminded me to what the 2007 Giants did when they put together that amazing goal-line stand against Washington in the third game of that season which turned things around for them after an 0-2 start.

As for 2017, it looked to me that once the Giants got kicked in the gut in that Eagles game, that was all she wrote.

I think with Pat Shurmur in place, the culture is going to be cleaned up and will get back to what it should have been all along. But with that said, one thing I’d like to see more of is guys who are natural leaders step up and embrace that role.

I thought too many guys shunned the opportunity to lead, be it out of modesty or just a reluctance. I really hope these guys re-think their positions about being more vocal as leaders and stop being so naïve as to think that other teammates are actually watching how they “lead by example.” Some guys might, but for the most part, guys tend to worry about keeping their house in order and finding their own niche.

Question: As of right now, it appears that the offensive coordinator position is going to come down to Minnesota QB coach Kevin Stefanski or Eagles’ RB coach Duce Staley? Who would be your first choice, and why?

Pat Says: Stefanski because he’s worked with more positions on the offense than Staley, who has strictly been a running backs coach after retiring as a NFL running back.

I think this would be a good move for Stefanski to get some experience as a coordinator — he’s not going to have to worry about calling plays this year (though maybe Shurmur lets him call the plays in practice — who knows?)

The other reason is his work with quarterbacks. Now I don’t know who Shurmur is looking at as far as a quarterbacks coach, but the way I see things, if the Giants do land Stefanski, that’s three guys – Stefanski, Shurmur and whoever the new quarterbacks coach will be — in place ready to go when the Giants ultimately have to transition from Eli Manning. And as I’ve said, that’s a major transition coming up and probably a big reason why the Giants leaned more toward an offensive-minded head coach rather than a defensive-minded coach.

Question: GM Dave Gettleman brought in Mark Koncz, with whom he worked in the Carolina front office, this week to help evaluate players. Could this be a hint that a post-draft shakeup might be coming in the scouting department, or is that reading too much into it?

Pat Says: Most definitely. I know there are people out there that want to see the shakeup done already, but you won’t see movement on the scouting front until after the draft. It makes zero sense to undo all the work that’s already been done so far in terms of gathering intel on the prospects and then firing the guys who gathered the intel and who could shed more light on things during discussions.

Right now, really the only “shakeup” in the scouting arena, if you will, is that Gettleman has redefined how he wants the scouts to look at players. I’m sure though that once this draft is done, Gettleman is going to reshape that part of the organization more to his liking.

Question: Free agency is coming. On the Giants’ list of unrestricted free agents who, in your mind, would be the single “must keep” player? Or, is there one?

Pat Says: I’m going to go with cornerback Ross Cockrell, whom the Giants acquired in a trade last year with the Steelers. With Eli Apple’s future up in the air, and with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie potentially facing a position switch to safety (assuming he’s not a cap casualty), getting Cockrell back in the fold is vital.

The good thing is I don’t believe they’ll have to break open the bank for Cockrell, who told me at the end of last year that he would love to be back with the Giants. Given his versatility, he’d be right up there with my “must retain” guys.

Question: This will be the first “football-less” weekend. Do you miss football already?

Pat Says: Well, there might not be any games to watch or cover, but there is always writing and film study of the college prospects to be done. So, there will always be “football” there if one wants it, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to be able to stay home as we get through these last few weeks of winter when the weather is so darned unpredictable.