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BBV mailbag: Markus Golden, Dexter Lawrence, play-calling, more

The mail’s here!

Good morning, New York Giants fans! It’s BBV Mailbag time, so let’s open it up and see what questions you had this week.

Bruce Frazer asks: If Markus Golden can repeat the success he had in Arizona before his injury, the Giants will have struck gold in their search for an edge rusher with the ability to disrupt the offense. The results won’t be known until the season is well under way but can you speculate as to the chances of Markus becoming a dominant pass rush threat like he was a couple of years in Arizona with James Bettcher?

Ed says: Golden took a one-year “prove it” contract with the Giants for a reason. He is now three seasons removed from his breakout 12.5-sack 2016 season with the Arizona Cardinals. A knee injury really curtailed his effectiveness the last two seasons. If Golden is ever going to recapture that form, reuniting with Bettcher in a defense he already knows and fits in, gives him his best chance.

To be honest, I have concerns. I have no way of knowing right now whether the knee injury took some of his athleticism. I am also concerned about Golden’s supporting cast. In Arizona, he had Chandler Jones (11 sacks) and Calais Campbell (eight sacks) sharing the load, and probably drawing more of the double teams.

With the Giants, Golden isn’t paired with another accomplished pass rusher who can take the heat off. Can he be a No. 1 guy? That’s a big ask, and I need to be convinced Golden is up to it.

NFL: New York Giants-Rookie Minicamp
Dexter Lawrence
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Bernosky asks: Is “D-Rex” Lawrence at NT, B.J. Hill & “TNT” Tomlinson at DEs going to be the primary D line? If so what about the scuttlebutt that Lawrence could get some snaps at DE?

Ed says: Michael, it looks like Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson is gong to end up being the primary line. Where they line up is another matter.

The Lawrence at DE stuff hasn’t been just scuttlebutt. He actually has been lining up there, albeit working with the second team. Not sure at this point if that is permanent, but it is interesting. I think the Giants really prefer Tomlinson at the nose and believe Lawrence can be good at the 5-tech. We’ll see.

Something else I want to mention. I have seen fans going crazy because Lawrence isn’t working with the first team all the time. Same with DeAndre Baker and Julian Love.

This is how it works. You don’t just grant these guys Day 1 starting jobs. Make them earn the spots. Remember, right now they are still learning the playbook and getting acclimated. It’s the beginning of June, still the offseason. First team, second team, third team. That doesn’t really make any difference right now.

Florian Cortese asks: September and the start of the season is still months away, yet almost daily I keep seeing articles about how horrible the Giants are as a team, as coaches and as management. “Giants’ receivers ranked among the worst,” “Rotoworld (who the heck are they?) rate Gettleman among the worst GMs,” what a mistake it was to select Jones at 6, how washed up Eli is, etc, etc. I have gotten to the point that I do not even go beyond the headline to read the article. Why such animus against the Giants? The Giants are in the midst of a rebuild while trying still to put a competitive team on the field. I feel they are in a much better place than they were two years ago. We all can agree there is still work that needs to be done. In your opinion, why such hate from all of these so-called experts and what would you define as an acceptable win-loss record for this upcoming season?

Ed says: Florian, I think there are a couple of things at work here when it comes to the hate.

First, the Giants have not been good for a long time. They have made the playoffs once in seven years, and that never should have happened. Not with the best quarterback in franchise history. Not with a Hall of Fame, two-time Super Bowl winning head coach there for the first part of that stretch. The losing brings mounting frustration and second-guessing of everything. There’s no trust that the Giants will get it right. I get that.

Second, GM Dave Gettleman isn’t doing this rebuild by the book. He won’t even call it a rebuild. He’s doing it his way, the way HE thinks is right. Not the way the media or fan base are telling him he is supposed to do it. That makes him an easy target for second-guessing and animosity, especially when he has so vehemently defended his positions.

As for an acceptable win-loss record, I think that’s impossible to say. I think that if Eli Manning starts all 16 games the Giants better make the playoffs. I think if they don’t make the playoffs, and it becomes obvious they aren’t going to do so, Daniel Jones will need to get playing time.

I want to see signs of progress, but for me it’s really not possible to put a number on what progress would look like. I think we will know it if and when we see it.

Earl Bell asks: With approximately 65 million dollars in cap space available next season to spend, what position do you see the Giants targeting? I think we can use a side line to side line LB who can also cover RB’s out of the backfield and TE’s in coverage.

Ed says: Earl, I think it is far too early to answer that question. We are still in the offseason before the 2019 season. Let’s see how the current roster performs during the upcoming season. Let’s see who is available on the free agent market when the times comes. When the 2019 season is over then we will have a better idea what the needs will be going forward, as well as potentially available players who could fill them.

Rich asks: Eric Dungey’s role intrigues me, where would he line up and how often would they use him?

Ed says: Patience, Rich. Like with Earl’s question above, it’s not possible to answer that with any authority yet. We have only seen a couple of OTAs at this point. We haven’t seen a practice in pads and won’t until August. We haven’t seen a preseason game. We haven’t really seen whether or not Dungey is comfortable catching the ball.

We don’t even know right now if the kid will make the team. He was undrafted, and making the team remains a long shot. The Giants are experimenting with the kid to see if his athleticism translates into some type of hybrid tight end role they can work with. The often-used comparison is Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints. Right now, I don’t think anyone can predict with certainty how it’s going to turn out.

Alan Goldstein asks: There seems to be a lot of hair pulling regarding all of the CBs that the Giants drafted this year in addition to Beal. Some are insinuating that the team can’t keep all the kids they drafted. How many CB’s/Safeties will make the final roster and how do you see the new guys fitting in?

Ed says: Alan, I don’t know who “some” are, but whoever they are I think they are getting way ahead of themselves. Remember, these things tend to take care of themselves because of a little thing called injuries.

I don’t know exactly how many cornerbacks and safeties will be kept. I have been fiddling with an initial 53-man roster projection, but I won’t release that until after next week’s mandatory mini-camp. I do believe there will be space for all of the young corners. The possible exception would be sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine depending on how far behind he is both physically and mentally after suffering that unfortunate gunshot wound. I wonder if he could land on the practice squad.

As for how guys will fit in, I expect DeAndre Baker to start opposite Janoris Jenkins. Sam Beal would be the No. 3 corner. I expect Julian Love to eventually overtake Grant Haley to be the slot cornerback.

At safety, I think Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea will be fine.

Paul Szczepanski asks: Did it ever feel to you like Pat Shurmur’s perceived unwillingness to open up the playbook and/or take shots downfield were due to him not trusting the offensive line? For example, we often heard that Barkley ran a WR route tree and would be a nightmare for LBs and safeties – yet he seemed to spend the majority of passing downs within a few yards of the LOS as a permanent safety valve. Assuming the lack of confidence in pass protection by the coaches (and Eli) was the case, how much of an impact can a potentially greatly improve o-line have on the play calling?

Ed says: Paul, I think it felt that way because it was that way. Listen, you can’t throw the ball down the field or design long-developing plays when you know you can’t block them. For the first half of the season last year, the Giants couldn’t block them. It wasn’t until Jamon Brown came on board and Will Hernandez and Nate Solder settled in that the Giants got competent play from their offensive line.

I think we saw more effort to get Saquon Barkley into real pass routes as the season went along. If the offensive line is better, the playbook opens up and the offense should be better.