It might be the offseason, but questions about the New York Giants never seem to stop pouring into the Big Blue View mailbag. Let’s open it up and see what comes tumbling out this time.
Matt McCarty asks: Obviously Daniel Jones’s college stats leave a bit to be desired, but back in 2004 when the Giants traded for Eli, he was statistically worse than Rivers and Roethlisberger (not nearly as bad as Jones). For reference those statistical differences have held true throughout their careers.
That was a different time pre social media, but do you happen to remember your reaction to the trade at the time and do you feel that if Eli didn’t have the Manning name attached that his draft status and the trade would have been more scrutinized?
Ed says: Matt, there are a couple of parts of that to answer. Let’s start here — yes, it was a different time but the move still got a lot of scrutiny. Shoot, it was the talk of that draft — and is still discussed today. I think some of the scrutiny is because of the Manning name, so I’m not sure how NOT having a Manning involved in such a deal would add to the scrutiny.
The other part of your question was about my personal reaction. Truth be told, thinking back on it I probably figured the Giants would have been just as well off drafting Ben Roethlisberger and keeping all those draft picks they gave up. I don’t, though, really remember having any sort of strong initial reaction. Maybe because at that time I didn’t study players the way I do now.
One thing I do remember clearly about that draft is that my dad, who passed a year later, was a big believer in Roethlisberger. He used to watch all sorts of college football and he had Big Ben pegged as a star before I really even knew who the guy was.
Earl Bell asks: The Tennessee Titans declined the fifth-year option on Jack Conklin. Should the Giants be interested? Would he be a better fit than Remmers at the right tackle position? Thank you.
Ed says: Earl, let me make sure that everyone understands that declining the fifth-year option does not make Conklin a free agent right now. He is under contract to the Titans for 2019, the final year of his rookie contract.
That said, if Tennessee wanted to part with Conklin in a trade for one of those legendary conditional seventh-round draft picks I would do that in a heartbeat.
Injuries have limited him and he hasn’t matched the caliber of play he showcased in making All-Pro as a rookie in 2016. Still, I would take a one-year flier to see if he can be a long-term answer.
As for 2020 free agency, if Conklin plays well during the upcoming season there is going to be a robust market for his services. And sure, the Giants could be one of the shoppers.
W. Douglas Hahm asks: Have you heard anything about Sam Beal’s progress coming back from his shoulder surgery? He didn’t attend the rookie camp last year since he was a supplemental selection, and then hurt his shoulder and was shelved for the season soon after being selected. Was there any consideration given to having Sam Beal attend the rookie camp since he is effectively a rookie?
Ed says: The Giants have told us that Beal is fine. He will be part of the exciting group of young players the Giants have who will be competing for snaps at cornerback. Competition is good and teams can never have too many good cornerbacks, so we will see what happens. As for the rookie mini-camp, yes the Giants would have liked to have Beal work during those three days. Pat Shurmur wasn’t clear on exactly how it’s worded, but he told media that league rules prohibited Beal from participating.
Stephen Godlewski asks: What will happen to Alex Tanney, Kyle Lauletta and even Eric Dungey?
Ed says: Well, Stephen, they will compete for a job. There is almost certainly only one quarterback spot behind Eli Manning and Daniel Jones. Pat Shurmur has said he likes a veteran backup, so that gives Tanney a leg up. The Giants drafted Lauletta and like his skill set. We’ll see if he can stick. As for Dungey, he was at quarterback during rookie mini-camp. Still, I don’t see him sticking purely as the No. 3 quarterback. He will have to show some versatility, the ability to be a weapon in a number of roles. I suspect the likely landing spot for him is the practice squad as he learns the non-quarterback aspects of the job.
Scott Herrington asks: Dave Gettleman invoked the “Kansas City model” when talking about the likely career arc for Daniel Jones. Of course, the key to this model was the way Kansas City polished all of Mahomes’ rough edges in the space of one year. My question is this: do the Giants have the staff in place to do the same sort of development with Daniel Jones? Coach Shurmur developed something of a “quarterback whisperer” reputation for his work with Case Keenum, but I can’t imagine that the head coach can commit the time to work with a young quarterback. And I can’t even tell you who the quarterbacks coach is for the Giants!
Ed says: Scott, let me start with this. Mike Shula is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and he will take his direction from Shurmur. With the Giants, Shurmur is running the offense.
As for Mahomes, how do we know “Kansas City polished all of Mahomes’ rough edges?” We weren’t at practice for a year. We don’t know what they worked on, what they talked about, etc. We know that Mahomes sat for a year and learned from Alex Smith, then was extraordinary when he got his opportunity. We don’t, though, have any idea what the Chiefs did on a daily basis to develop him.
As for the Giants, I think they are well positioned to develop a young quarterback. Knowing they would eventually have to do that is one of the reasons Shurmur was hired in the first place. He is a solid, veteran coach who has had success with all kinds of quarterbacks. First-round picks like Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford, an undrafted guy like Case Keenum, mobil quarterbacks, pure pocket guys.
Shula has been in the coaching business for three decades. He has worked with Cam Newton, David Garrard and Trent Dilfer. He also knows how to do this.
Chris and Fiona ask: I was thinking back to all the offseason player movements. I don’t mean to rehash the Odell trade but I was wondering about something. Odell missed the final four games. Is it possible that instead of coming back for at least the final game or two, that Odell made a “business decision” to pack it in? Doing this because he was unhappy with the team. If so, was this the final straw with the Giants?
Ed says: C&F, of course that’s possible. We don’t know anything for certain, and neither the Giants nor Beckham are likely to ever really re-visit those four games. Still, it seems logical to conclude that the Giants thought there was a chance Beckham might be able to play in at least some of those four games. They did keep him on the active roster. If they knew he would be unable to play they would have just put him on IR and filled the roster spot.
If there was a disagreement between the team and player about his ability to be on the field in those games — and I’m not saying there was — it’s not hard to imagine that as being another strike in the “we can’t work with this guy” column.
Timothy Baker asks: A lot has been made of the Giants having “no pass rush.” Am I naïve in thinking that the addition of Markus Golden will be very significant, not only to the Giants, but by league standards? My opinion is that Markus Golden, Carter and X-Man is actually a pretty formidable pass rush and will outperform by a good measure.
Please help me break down these notions, and or help quell the theory that the Giants have ‘no pass rush.”
Ed says: Timothy, right now I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer to the question of whether the Giants will have a “formidable” pass rush or “no pass rush.” Are you a glass half-empty or a glass half-full kinda guy? Because, how you see the pass rush is really about whether you are excited about the potential of the young players the Giants have accumulated, or worried about the lack of proven production.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher pointed out this week that the Giants currently have a group of players who, for the most part, have to build their resumes and “the only way the guys get a chance to do that is on the field getting snaps.”
If you’re looking for past production, you’re in a panic. If you’re into potential, you’re excited about the possibilities.
Markus Golden had 12.5 sacks in 2016, but only 2,5 since as he has been limited to just 15 games by a difficult knee injury. Can he be a lead pass rusher? That’s a big ask. If Bettcher can help him return to form, though, that will be fun to watch.
Defensive lineman B.J. Hill had 5.5 sacks as a rookie. Was that real, though, or a fluke? He came out of N.C. State as a nose tackle analysts thought wouldn’t impact the pass rush.
Lorenzo Carter had 4.0 sacks and the Giants are counting on him to take a step forward. Can he? If he does, that gives the Giants a dynamic edge player. If he doesn’t, that increases the pressure on guys like veteran Kareem Martin and rookie Oshane Ximines.
What of Ximines? He was productive at Old Dominion, but he was picked 95th overall. A lot of pass rushers were selected before he was. Can he transition from a smaller school to the NFL?
Can Dexter Lawrence, drafted 17th overall, be more than just a two-down player?
Me? I’m excited about the possibilities but aware of the fact that not every player becomes what you hope he will.
Michael Poulin asks: It seemed like the Giants had a couple of pretty good “depth” DL guys in Wynn and Okwara, but let them both go elsewhere. Do you know why they were not retained, and do you agree with those decisions?
Ed says: Michael, they are two different circumstances. Let’s take them one a time.
Romeo Okwara was cut before the 2018 season began. Remember, the Giants transitioned from a base 4-3 defense to a base 3-4. I’m pretty sure there were concerns that Okwara, at 274 pounds, didn’t fit well as a standup edge player in the 3-4 alignment.
The Giants brought in veteran Connor Barwin. They also had Olivier Vernon, Kareem Martin and Lorenzo Carter. They preferred those players. Obviously, Barwin for Okwara ends up looking like a net loss.
No one could really have foreseen the breakout year Okwara had with the Detroit Lions. In two years with the Giants he played 450 snaps over 22 games with 1 sack and 24 tackles. Okwara landed in a great spot with the Detroit Lions, a pure 4-3 team. He ended up starting 14 games, playing in 15 and getting 7.5 sacks and 39 tackles in 716 snaps.
In retrospect, considering how much time the Giants actually spent in a 4-3 alignment, how well Okwara played and how little they got from Barwin the Giants would probably like a do-over on this one.
Kerry Wynn was a free agent. I do not know how seriously the Giants tried to keep him, but it was Wynn’s choice to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Wynn was a nice depth player, a solid professional and a guy who gave great effort all the time on both defense and special teams. Let’s not pretend, though, that he was more than that. In five years and 63 games, he totaled 4.5 sacks.
The Giants have remade the defensive line. Wynn, Mario Edwards, Josh Mauro and John Jenkins are out. Dexter Lawrence, Chris Slayton and Olsen Pierre are in. R.J. McIntosh, too.
Christopher Tragerser asks: Could Eric Dungey be a diamond in the rough for the Giants? Tough kid, won in the ACC. Good runner too.
Ed says: Sure he could, but probably not purely as a quarterback. I think the Giants would like to see what Dungey can do eventually as a hybrid player, a guy they might be able to use as an H-Back type. It’s been said a number of times, but the comparison is Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints. Can he be that type of guy? I don’t know and the Giants don’t know, but they are curious.
“He is one of those guys we had our eyes on at the draft. We will see,” coach Pat Shurmur said during rookie mini-camp. “I think he is a good football player. Usually there is a place on the field for good football players. We will see what happens.”
Bruce Frazer asks: It is of course way too early for a “set in stone” prediction on which rookie wide receiver signed this spring will make the team but given a choice of either Darius Slayton or Reggie White Jr., do you have a feeling for which of the two will be on the team in September, roster or practice squad? Although Slayton was a draft pick noted for his speed, while White was a UDFA, are not there “red flags” regarding Slayton’s ability to hold onto the football? From what I have read Reggie might not be as fast but his ability to hold onto the ball would seem to be a more relevant factor if push comes to shove. After reading the many comments written about White and his college production I find it hard to believe that he was passed over in the draft.
Ed says: Bruce, I honestly think it is far too early to make that determination. Media has seen two non-contact rookie mini-camp practices in shorts and t-shirts. No way to make a real judgment from that.
You can see Slayton’s speed, and you can also see that he has to work on consistently catching the ball. You could see in mini-camp that White has an idea of what he is doing.
All things being equal a draft pick or a free agent making guaranteed money is almost always going to get a roster spot over an undrafted player. So, White has a mountain to climb.
Have questions about the Giants? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the best ones will be answered in an upcoming mailbag. Thanks!