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BBV mailbag: 18-game schedule, predicting the Giants’ season, more

The mail’s here!

It’s an offseason Saturday in June. Your New York Giants have scattered for their summer recess. We are, however, all football all the time here at Big Blue View. So, let’s check the mail and see what questions we can answer this week.

Kevin Rogers asks: As you know the CBA is due to be renegotiated in 2020. One of the big looming issues is that the owners want to extend the season to 18 games. The owners like the idea of increased revenues adding two regular season games to the schedule will create. The players are dead set against it. The players state that this would expose them to an increased risk of injury. Unfortunately that risk is all too real. I have some thoughts that may be able satisfy both sides of this argument. What if the league year were extended by two games? However a player could only be active for 16 of those 18 games. The teams themselves could choose which two games to have the players deactivated for. This would be a great strain on a 53 man roster I know. To help offset this the NFL should increase the roster size from 53 by fifteen or twenty people. The increase of roster size across the NFL would mean that more players would be employed throughout the year. This would require some adjustment of the salary cap or the way it’s calculated. This would also add another layer of strategy for teams. Do you sit all of your starters for the first two games? How about the last two? If a player has a minor injury he could sit out inactive for two weeks and come back afterwards. This could in a sense be considered a flexible bye for injury reasons. If you choose to start your starters for the first 16 games and let them sit to rest up for the playoffs it could be advantageous, then again if you cannot ensure a playoff spot by the end of week 16 it puts you in a bind. The starters could be rotated out throughout the season or during a game against a team that’s playing poorly that year. The team playing poorly also has the advantage of playing “second teamers” in this strategy. If only I knew someone in an NFL circle to pitch this too. What are your thoughts?

Ed says: Kevin, I LOVE the thought you put into this. I absolutely HATE the idea of star players automatically having to be inactive for games that count in the standings, and I don’t think it would ever come to fruition.

I do think that sooner or later, Commissioner Roger Goodell will get his 18-game regular-season schedule. I don’t know if that will happen in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, but I think it’s inevitable. Offer the players enough things they want and one day they will cave on 18 games.

If the league goes to 18 games I think the schedule would have to include two bye weeks for each team. That’s as far as I will go in discussing changes that would need to be made to accommodate that scenario.

What I will discuss is changes I would like to see now. First, I would like to see game day inactives go away. I don’t care what argument you give me, I don’t understand the logic of having “active” players on your 53-man roster who are earning a full paycheck being “inactive” on the game day when they should really be earning their money. Honestly, I think this would increase depth, give teams more options and decrease the number of special teams reps some starters would have to play. It would also mean teams wouldn’t have to go into games intentionally short of players at certain positions.

I would like to see rosters increase from 53 to 55. Again, I think this helps gives teams coverage in the event of injury. It might even allow for a specialist like a long-range placekicker or something strategic like that. It would likely allow for three quarterbacks to be active, which I think would be a good thing.

I would love to see a baseball-style injured list. I think being able to designate players for return from injured reserve, which is fairly new to the NFL, is a good thing for the quality of play at the end of the year. It’s a few less “street” free agents who have been out of the league all year — and, honestly, shouldn’t be in the league — playing in games. I would like to see the NFL go further.

I would love to see two-week, four-week, six-week, eight-week injured list designations with teams able to take someone off their practice squad to replace that player. In my ideal world, teams could then return a practice squad player activated to replace an injured one to the practice squad without passing him through waivers and risking losing him.

Honestly, I think that injured reserve and the number of street free agents and guys pulled off practice squads by new teams to fill roster spots near the end of the season degrades quality of play and doesn’t give paying customers their money’s worth. These changes would be designed to combat that.

Steven Schlein asks: I’ve been looking at the Giants’ schedule and I’m pretty unintimidated. With the exception of the Pats and Bears, a lot of unknowns (Packers, Eagles) and a lot of mediocrity (Tampa Bay, Cincinnati). I’m leaning less against a 6-10, 7-9 type season and more towards a 8-8, 9-7 type season. What do you see in the schedule that gives you hope or pessimism?

Ed says: Steven, thanks for the question. So, what in the schedule gives me hope or pessimism? Truth is, for me the answer is absolutely nothing in either direction. I’m just not one of those people who looks at the schedule weeks or months ahead of time and tries to figure out what kind of year the Giants will have.

First of all, we have no idea right now how good or bad the Giants themselves are going to be. We know the New England Patriots will be good, because they always are. Do we, however, really know how good or bad any other team on the Giants’ schedule will be? Honestly, I don’t have a clue. We don’t know how healthy any of those teams will be when they face the Giants. Which teams will come into games using backup quarterbacks or missing other star players?

You can think “Team A will stink and Team B will be good,” but how do we really know right now?

If the Giants themselves are a team that deserves to win five or six games, that’s how many they will win. If they deserve to win 10 games, they’ll win 10 games. Quite honestly, I never understand the fascination with “who” they have to play in a given season. I care about “how” they are playing and whether or not the Giants themselves are good enough.

If they are good enough to win games they will, no matter who they play. If they aren’t, they won’t.

Paul Miller asks: I may be drinking the cool aid as a long time fan, but I can envision a 10-6, 11-5 season with a playoff game or two. What do you think the Giants do with Manning if does the unexpected?

Ed says: Paul, a little bit like the answer above I can see five wins or I can see 10 or 11 wins. There are reasons for optimism, there are reasons for pessimism. It’s June and I have no idea how things will play out, which players will surpass expectations, which will under-perform, which will get hurt and all of that.

Put a gun to my head and I’d say that no matter what happens I think this is Eli Manning’s last year with the Giants. Daniel Jones was the No. 6 overall pick, and there is going to come a point where the Giants can no longer find a reason for him not to be playing. Maybe that happens in 2019 depending on how the season plays out. I think the latest it comes is the beginning of the 2020 season, especially if Jones continues to impress.