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BBV Mailbag: Offensive line, quarterback, free agency, more

Let’s see what is in this week’s mail

It’s a new year and, for the New York Giants, a new offseason. So, let’s get to our first Big Blue View mailbag of 2019.

Ed says: I think the Giants really like Jon Halapio. GM Dave Gettleman couldn’t name drop Halapio fast enough the other day during his season-ending press conference when he was asked about needed offensive line upgrades. He said Halapio was “playing the best of anybody” when he went down Week 3 with a fractured ankle.

My expectation at this point would be that the Giants give Halapio every opportunity to reclaim that job this year. Spencer Pulley did an adequate job when inserted into the lineup and I could see the Giants bringing him back as competition/depth. I could also see the Giants drafting a guard/center, maybe someone like Penn State’s Connor McGovern, in the middle rounds.

As much as they seem to like Halapio, I don’t see them spending big free agent dollars on the position.

Ed says: Sure he “could.” Anything can happen, and I’m not going to down play what the young man has done at the college level. I don’t have any inside info on what the Giants think of Kyler Murray, but I have serious doubts that he is Gettleman’s cup of tea. I just don’t see him going for someone that small and that “new school” at quarterback. I would be very surprised if this came to pass.

Ed says: First of all, there is absolutely no guarantee at this point that Eli Manning will be back with the Giants next season. I think he will, but I’ve been surprised before.

Gettleman said “everything’s on the table” and I believe him. I don’t know if the Giants will take a quarterback in Round 1, but I wouldn’t rule it out. They know the situation they are in. If there is a guy they believe in they will take him. If there isn’t, they won’t.

This is what Gettleman said at his season-ending press conference, and it’s consistent with the way he approached the draft a year ago:

“Let me tell you something: if you make something a priority, you will make a mistake. It’s got to be within the flow of what you’re doing. You can’t force it, especially at quarterback ... You get in the draft, you’re taking the best player -- you’re not taking, ‘ I need a ___, so I’m taking a ___’. No. You do that, you’re going to make a mistake, you’re going to screw it up.”

For the record, I think he’s 100 percent right.

Ed says: I honestly don’t know. You’re asking me in a vacuum to choose Player A over Player B. I can’t do that. Right now, I couldn’t even tell you if I would take Alabama’s Jonah Williams regardless of what else the Giants do on the offensive line. There are too many other factors. Is there a quarterback available that I’m in love with? An edge rusher? Is Williams the best offensive tackle? Is there a stud free safety on the board? All I know for sure is that Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur have indicated that both lines are a priority, and I like that philosophy very much.

Ed says: Paul, it’s really too early to answer that question in any depth. Let’s see who hits the market. The one and only name that seems obvious to me is Carolina Panthers right tackle Daryl Williams. The Giants have a need at the position, Williams was a good player before missing all but one game in 2018 with a knee injury and Gettleman drafted him (Round 4, 2015) for the Panthers.

Martin Horowitz asks: Who among the recent coaching/front office fires would you like to see picked up as an assistant by the Giants?

Ed says: I can’t go through them all, but the name that jumps out as a possibility for the Giants is Kevin Stefanski. Shurmur tried to hire Stefanski away from the Minnesota Vikings to be offensive coordinator a year ago, and was blocked. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants try to find a role for Stefanski this time around.

It will be interesting to see if the Giants shuffle their coaching staff at all. The only assistant on the staff Shurmur had worked with prior to 2018 was linebackers coach Bill McGovern. We will see if he thinks any changes are needed.

Christopher Trageser asks: Are the Giants looking at Eric Dungey of Syracuse? If not, should they?

Ed says: Dungey, for those who aren’t aware, is the Syracuse quarterback. The answer, Chris, is that the Giants look at everybody. Syracuse coach Dino Babers thinks Dungey has a chance. I have yet, however, to come across any NFL Draft analysis or ranking of quarterback prospects that agrees. Walter Football lists 21 quarterback prospects without including Dungey. I hate to upset the Orange fans in my readership, but it would appear Dungey is an extreme long shot to make it as an NFL quarterback.

Tom Mandler asks: In your opinion, what do you think is the reason for some of Coach Shurmur’s head scratching game management calls this season? How do coaches improve in this area? Does it just come down to building more HC experience or something else?

For context, I do not think this has anything to do with him holding onto play calling duties.

Ed says: Other than the fact that he’s human and human beings make mistakes I really don’t have a single thing to attribute any of those “head scratching” decisions to. I also don’t believe what can be been as game-management miscues can be pinned on him calling the plays. Coaches have to make decision after decision over a three-hour window in a matter of seconds. They aren’t going to get them all correct. No coach, no play-caller is ever going to be perfect.

The one that bothered me the most was running back-to-back quarterback sneaks with the clock running while needing two scores in the final minute in Atlanta. That was a bad mistake. It left the Giants without enough time to realistically try to get the second score even if they recovered an onside kick, which they did not.

Like anyone else, coaches get better by being honest with themselves. They have to review the decisions they made and recognize when they have gotten something wrong. They have to prepare. They have to trust their assistant coaches.

It wasn’t necessarily an end-of-game decision, but Shurmur did recognize at the halfway point of the season that the Giants were getting away from the running game too often. Saquon Barkley averaged 18.75 carries per game the second half of the season after getting only 13.9 over the first eight games. That, to me, is a sign that the coach is willing to self-evaluate.

I don’t think there is a magic formula that makes a coach get better at this. Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in the NFL, yet over the years his clock management has been an endless source of frustration for fans of his teams.