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Big Blue View mailbag, 11/9: Pat Shurmur, James Bettcher, an Eli cameo, more

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What’s in the mail?

Let’s open up the Big Blue View mailbag and see what New York Giants questions we can answer for you today.

David Matuozzi asks: Pat Shurmur has tried, and failed, to challenge a pass interference call 5 times this season so far. Many, if not all of those challenge calls appeared as if they should have been overturned. However, refs are clearly refusing to do so. Some think Shurmur should accept the reality that this rule change is a farce. But my question is, shouldn’t these refs be held accountable for knowingly allowing improper calls? They’re basically completely disregarding league rules at this point.

Ed says: David, I think the league has turned the whole “pass interference is reviewable” thing into a joke. Shurmur’s like the last guy to sell his property when someone comes in and buys up all the surrounding land for a strip mall or a supermarket or something. He’s doing what he believes is right, and he is right on most of these that the calls “should” be changed. He is, though, fighting a losing battle and I think he’s coming to terms with it.

I don’t know when, or why, but somewhere along the way the league decided that how PI was reviewed would change. It’s not being judged the way the league said it would be, or the way it was at the beginning. It’s a farce that is affecting outcomes. When it’s clear that you won’t change calls that should be changed, but in other review situations you will split hairs and change calls you should leave alone you’ve messed with the game’s integrity and turned the whole system into a joke.


Rob Wengrzyn asks: I know it is hard for players to bounce back from injuries, but it seems with all his talent, Engram cannot seem to stay on the field. Saying that, is he potentially a player you think the Giants would release or trade? Again the talent is there and he is a weapon, but he seems to constantly be fighting the injury bug and just not able to stay on the field.

Ed says: Rob, why would the Giants or anyone simply release a player as talented as Evan Engram? He’s not a troublemaker, he’s developing into a locker room leader and there are really not that many tight ends with his skill set. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy and that’s frustrating, I get it. But, he is a really talented 25-year-old third-year player.

Would the Giants trade him? Probably, for an offer they thought gave them a legitimate chance to get better. They aren’t going to just dump him, though. In my view, he’s the kind of player you want to build with.


Brett Gallitto asks: What is it going to take for the giants to get rid of Pat Shurmur? He has a .293% winning percentage which is top 10 worst all time (min 50 games coached). It seems like Shurmur is in the same mold as Norv Turner, a great offensive coordinator, but just not fit to be a head coach. What are the chances of Mike McCarthy or Matt Rhule coming to the Giants?

Ed says: Brett, we know the numbers with Shurmur. I know some Giants fans are done with him. I still believe there is a path for him to succeed as Giants head coach, but there’s no denying some things have to change and some progress needs to be shown. Why the Giants would hire Mike McCarthy I have no idea, nor do I know if he would be interested. He’s never impressed me. Matt Rhule? If the Baylor coach wants to come to the NFL and the Giants are looking for a coach, he’s the first guy I would interview.


John Neubauer asks: I know that the Giants aren’t in the playoff hunt and Eli Manning is not part of their future but if you were in the Giants front office, would you consider giving Eli one more start at home? We play the Eagles at home the last game but I would prefer he get his chance against the Dolphins to give him one more victory in his Giants career. Do you think Eli would do it?

Ed says: John, I would consider at least starting Manning in the final home game. Even if it’s just a cameo for a series or two to give fans a chance to see him and send him off with an ovation. Whether it would happen or not depends, I would think, on how Manning would feel about such a scenario. If he is not planning to return next year, and is agreeable, some type of farewell makes sense.


Bruce Frazer asks: What do you think, should Pat Shurmur and his staff be playing for their jobs along with the players, especially if the lose to the Jets? I read an awful lot about how he called out his team to play better or be benched, or even let go. Shouldn’t the coaches and management also have to bear some responsibility for the mess the team is in?

Ed says: Of course Pat Shurmur and his coaches are coaching for their jobs. They know that. It’s a results-oriented business, and sooner or later if you don’t win enough games you get replaced.

Does that mean everyone is going to get swept out the door on Monday morning if the Giants lose to the Jets on Sunday afternoon? No. Could some changes happen? Sure. Nothing is impossible, or should be discounted.

I’m not sure I would use the term “mess” to describe the Giants. They’re building, or re-building if that is your preferred word. They should definitely have at least one more victory than they do now, maybe a couple more. I have been clear that I think it is definitely fair to begin to wonder whether Shurmur is the right coach to oversee this build. His McAdoo-esque “built for this” comment this week was unfortunate.


Florian Cortese asks: With our secondary being so porous and almost non-existent at times and with the fact that we are playing so many rookies and the miscommunication brought to light time and again, would simplifying the defensive scheme be a temporary solution? Often we hear about simplifying the playbook for rookie quarterbacks. Should Bettcher dial back his coverage schemes?

Ed says: Florian, this is a great question and something I have advocated myself on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. Why don’t the Giants simply play more man coverage, maybe let their safeties play some zone over the top and be done with it? Do what they have to do to avoid some of the assignment breakdowns we have seen?

Well ... here’s food for thought. I had a conversation recently with an NFL evaluator I trust and he pointed out that if you are going to simplify, pretty much letting opposing offenses know exactly what coverage you are going to be in on every down, you had better have top-shelf talent at every position in the secondary. Like the Seattle Seahawks did with the Legion of Boom. They got away with playing one way almost all the time because of how good Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and the coverage linebackers were.

The Giants don’t have that right now. There are “coverage beaters” in offensive playbooks for pretty much anything a defensive coordinator can cook up. Let a really good offensive coordinator know exactly what coverage you are going to be in on almost every play, and you are going to get torched.

There is a fine line. You don’t want players who haven’t yet mastered Level 1 trying to execute Level 4 type stuff. You have to teach well and make sure your players can do what you ask, and I wonder sometimes if the Giants are going too fast with their young players, but most teams have to at least somewhat scheme coverages to situations and matchups.


Jcactus asks: I’m guessing you’ve seen a comment or two from me about this but so here it is. When Mara fired Reese it’s my understanding that Ernie Accorsi “advised” him to hire Gettleman. It seems that John Mara can’t make a decision without Accorsi’s input. Do I have this right, is Accorsi actually indirectly making all of these management decisions for Mara?

Ed says: I’m not buying this conspiracy theory that Ernie Accorsi is some sort of puppeteer pulling the Giants’ strings from afar. Yes, Accorsi was a consultant in the Giants’ search for a new GM. Yes, he has obvious ties and loyalty to Gettleman. Yes, I’m certain he recommended Gettleman for the job.

Be realistic, though. We know how the Giants have always done business. From the moment Jerry Reese was let go, Dave Gettleman was the front runner to replace him. By miles and miles. With or without Accorsi.

Gettleman has admitted that Accorsi is a confidant, a person who’s opinion he values. Mara obviously has respect for Accorsi, as well. No matter what each of us does for a living, I think we all have people we trust, people who maybe have been in our position before, people who we look to for counsel before making a big decision. For Gettleman and Giants ownership, Accorsi is one of those people.

Accorsi isn’t running the Giants, though. John Mara, Steve Tisch, Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur are.