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Big Blue View mailbag, 11/30: Pat Shurmur, Jason Garrett, Leonard Williams, more

The mail’s here!

Hopefully, you enjoyed your Thanksgiving with family and friends, then emerged unscathed from Black Friday. It’s Saturday, and that means it’s Big Blue View mailbag time. So, before you head out for some Christmas shopping, let’s answer some questions about your New York Giants.

Marcus Mewborn asks: Everyone says the defense is frustrating but I have to say the offense has become the same. They haven’t had a healthy full crew in a while but they seem to start off slow during this losing streak. Besides injuries what has been the biggest issue with the offense during the losing streak?

Ed says: Marcus, obviously the rookie quarterback is at times an issue. The fumbles, at times being hesitant in the pocket and maybe at times not getting the Giants out of a bad play and into a better one are problematic. Still, all of that is par for the course with a first-year guy. Daniel Jones has, in my view, a bright future. But, this year was never going to be perfect.

It’s hard to know what the offense would look like had everyone been healthy, but I think the Giants probably need at least one more real play-maker at wide receiver.

Personally, I have other issues. There are things about the way the offense is run that I believes are not optimal.

I would like to see the Giants attack more with Saquon Barkley in the passing game. They have started to do this, but I want more. I also want more variety and more getting to the edges in the run game. Barkley in space is the Giants’ best weapon, and I just don’t think we see it enough.

I would also like to see the Giants commit to helping their tackles more. Yes, they could use upgrades. For now, though, they have what they have. They need to help them more by using chip blocks and keeping a tight end or a fullback in to add to the protection.

David Gray asks: What happens if Leonard Williams doesn’t show anything in the eight games with the Giants to justify a huge contract? Do the Giants eat the third- and fifth-round picks? Or do you think because the Giants have given up a third-round pick that they are forced to sign Williams (which then the fifth-round becomes a fourth)?

Ed says: David, I’m just going to paste in something I wrote the other day. It’s how I currently see the Williams situation:

Leonard Williams is presenting the Giants with a conundrum. He does some good things, but most of it is what you might call “hidden production.” He has eight quarterback hurries in three games as a Giant, but zero sacks and only six tackles, three solo. He still does not have a sack this season. He’s playing like a solid complementary player, but when you give up a pair of draft picks for a free-agent-to-be you are going to have to pay big money to keep you want more than that. You want a guy who is actually making plays. Williams hasn’t done that. If he can’t, the Giants will be in the position of having to pay too much for too little, or tossing a pair of draft picks in the trash and letting him walk away.

Buffalo Bills v Dallas Cowboys
Jason Garrett
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Jeff Newman asks: With all the talk of the Giants being interested in Jason Garrett as their next head coach I would like to get your thoughts on the matter. He’s had a lot of regular-season wins, but not a lot of playoff wins with a pretty talented team. That concerns me. Why are the Giants so interested? Is there something I’m missing?

Ed says: Jeff, thanks for the question. It gives me a chance to clear something up. The report that came out last weekend was that GARRETT would like to coach the Giants if he were let go by the Cowboys. There was never any indication that the Giants would like Garrett to be their coach. Now, could that be the case? Maybe. There have been reports that they were interested in Garrett several years ago.

Could they be interested in Garrett if he is available this time and if they fire Pat Shurmur? Maybe. He would probably be on the list of candidates, but there is no indication the Giants are chasing him. On the contrary, it seems more like Garrett is pre-emptively chasing the Giants.

mkoopersmith asks: Assume for a moment that the Giants want to stay with Pat Shurmur after this season and decide instead to make changes to the coaching staff. If that turns out to be the case, then how difficult will it be for Shurmur to attract his top coaching candidates? I know that the life-expectancy of head coaches can be relatively short, but if it were me, I wouldn’t want to join a coaching staff where there’s a good chance the head coach might be fired in short order. And (if I’m right) how does the difficulty of upgrading the coaching staff weigh into the decision of keeping Shurmur in the first place?

Ed says: Mike, you have hit on something here. If Shurmur is back for a third season he will undoubtedly enter the year on the so-called “hot seat.” Assistant coaches will understand that they could be walking into a “one-and-done” situation. Now, if there are guys out there who are available and have relationships with and loyalty to Shurmur and really believe in him that probably won’t matter. For a hotly-sought after coordinator candidate, though, it certainly could. If a person has options in any walk of life isn’t that person likely to lean toward one that offers more security? You’re going to go to work for Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh or Jon Gruden and his 10-year contract before you go to work for a guy with one of the worst won-loss records ever as a head coach who might be out of a job in a year. Aren’t you? So, sure, whether or not he can attract quality assistant coaches has to be a factor in any decision to keep Shurmur.

Robert J. Simon asks: Are Giants fans going to be subjected to another round of piecemeal firings? Remember last time it was DC Perry Fewell, the following year OC Kevin Gilbride, a year later HC Tom Coughlin and finally GM Jerry Reese. It seems to me that everyone on the current Giants team is responsible for this mess. An owner who hates to let people go will usually follow this route delaying the inevitable. So I guess we should expect to see James Bettcher get fired at the end of this season and then wait for everyone else?

Ed says: Robert, things could very easily go down that way. If Shurmur is retained, and I’ve said many times that I think the Giants as we sit here right now would prefer that he give them reason to keep him rather than start over again, the status quo can’t be maintained.

Maybe some will consider it scapegoating, but there will have to be changes to the coaching staff. Shurmur admitted he had never worked with any of the assistant coaches he hired when he took the job, so it was a newly-created staff. Sometimes pieces fit, sometimes they don’t. After two seasons together, Shurmur will have a pretty good idea which coaches are working out and which ones aren’t. My guess is we’re going to be looking at a new defensive staff, and perhaps a change or two on the offensive side of the ball, as well.

Bruce Frazer asks: The Giants are on the clock for their round one pick in the 2020 draft. They have a choice of two players with huge potential, for years to come, Chase Young (edge) and Andrew Thomas (left tackle.) Both players fill a position of immense need for the team. If you are the Giants GM (whoever that may be) next season, who do you pick and why?

Ed says: Bruce, let me make an admission here. I am not a diehard college football watcher and I haven’t studied these prospects the way Chris has. I know who the top guys are, and I know what choice I believe Dave Gettleman will make. It killed Gettleman to pass on Josh Allen, the top pass rusher on the board when the Giants chose at No. 6 a year ago. He knew, though, that he needed to get the heir to Eli Manning in place. Given an opportunity to get Chase Young, the top pass rusher and by most accounts the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2020 draft class, I will be floored if Gettleman passes on that chance again.

Is there a wrong answer between taking the top left tackle prospect and the top pass rusher in the draft? Probably not, but in my view the biggest talent deficiency on the Giants right now is lack of defensive difference-makers. I’m not passing up the opportunity to select the best one in the draft class.

Jtroyka asks: What’s happened to TE Conrad? Sounded pretty good early on but has since been totally under the radar.

Ed says: I don’t really know the answer to this one. Anyone who follows Big Blue View knows I was bullish on undrafted free agent C.J. Conrad all spring, and continued to believe he would make the roster even though his production wasn’t there in the preseason. He didn’t make the 53-man roster and lasted less than three weeks on the practice squad. He has not hooked on anywhere since.

I am a bit surprised because I had been told there were teams ready to grab Conrad if the Giants let him go at the end of the preseason. Maybe, though, we simply misjudged him. That’s why it is dangerous to get attached to players in shorts and t-shirts, also why you have to take with a grain of salt the rave reviews you inevitably get from their college coaches. If the Giants had made a mistake, he would have been snapped up quickly.