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BBV mailbag: Analytics, roster questions, media impact, more

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The mail’s here!

It’s Saturday, and you know what that means New York Giants fans! You know what time it is. I know you know. C’mon, say it! It’s mailbag time! So, let’s open the BBV Mailbag and see what questions we can answer today.

Jim Singer asks: I’m wondering how many QBs the Giants are going to keep on the 53, I really would like to see just two, Eli and Jones, what do you think ? If they do keep three (Tanney) is that a indication that we’re not going to see Jones at all this season?

Ed says: Jim, I’m really not sure. Pat Shurmur has said he has been involved with teams that have kept two, and he’s been involved with teams that have kept four. It’s going to come down, I think, to needs across the rest of the roster.

In each of my roster predictions to date I have had the Giants keeping three, with Kyle Lauletta ending up on the practice squad. I will stick with that.


Jay asks: What is the biggest difference in the New York media market as opposed to other markets? I hear all the time things like “Daniel Jones has the perfect temperament for NY” or “Daniel Jones fits the NY market better than Dwayne Haskins” etc. Is there really that big a difference in the media?

Ed says: I think it’s two-fold — volume and attitude. There are soooo many media members, local and national, around the team every day. There are probably few markets that can match the simple number of media members who show up on a daily basis.

The other part of it is there are so many media outlets in New York and New Jersey, including print, Internet, TV and radio that it’s difficult to stand out. I won’t name names but there are a great many “reporters” who aren’t there to report. They are there to push an agenda, to create the news, to stir things up, to try and get reactions from coaches and players. It’s a competitive, cut throat media market where you have to stand out somehow. If you have to take down an athlete to do it, or intentionally write things in the most controversial way possible, there are a good number of media members willing to do that.

As an athlete in New York, you have to be able to understand that not every media member you talk to has your best interests on his mind. There are going to be slings and arrows — often simply written in more audacious terms than someone else’s slings and arrows just to get attention.

You have to be able to tune that out. To not be affected by those who want to take you down. And not have your ego inflated by those who want to attach themselves to you and benefit from your name and your success.


Taj Siddiqi asks: I am curious to know this about a football team and my Giants in particular. Does any member of their coaching staff or the whole organization keeps an eye on what is being written about their game managing strategies in the media?

For example when ideas like using Saquon Barkley talents as a receiver or lining up Evan Engram as a receiver etc both offensive or defensive side of the ball are being suggested.

Do these ideas get discussed by any one in the coaching staff meetings? I think this will help a team to be unpredictable and widen the range of plays deployed during the game.

Ed says: Taj, this question is really about analytics. It’s not really about what is written in the media, as far as teams are concerned that is mostly just noise.

Dave Gettleman has been known to make some derisive comments about analytics. Gettleman, though, is a smart guy. I can’t tell you this with any concrete evidence, but I have a feeling he may not be as dismissive of the new analytics as he might want you to believe.

There are services like Pro Football Focus, Sharp Football Analytics, Sports Info Solutions and Inside Edge that do fantastic work compiling all manner of data on NFL teams, players and situations that simply wasn’t available a decade ago. NFL teams, to varying degrees, use some or all of these services to provide them with information about their players, their tendencies, what works, what doesn’t, what the trends are and more.

What services the Giants might or might not subscribe to and how much faith they put into any of the data those services provide I can’t really tell you. They’re not really going to tell us.

Gettleman is an old-school guy. He is always going to trust his eyes, as well as the instincts and philosophies developed over a career of roughly 40 years, but I would have a hard time believing that the Giants simply ignore the mountains of analytical data available to them.


Ryan Schaffer asks: It’s the time of year when football hope springs eternal. We here a lot of positive things about this rookie class, the young players, and the off season acquisitions. The question I have is how do you evaluate what good is with all the roster turnover and the absence of other teams? Is the young defensive line really looking that good or has the offensive line not gelled yet? Are the rookie CBs standing out or is it the WRs depth chart that can be pointed at? There are many battles like this across the camp and its hard to figure it out this year.

Ed says: Ryan, this is an interesting question. Both Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman have said that what you want to see if the offense win in some situations and the defense win in others. That way you feel like you have something worthwhile at both positions. If, for example, your cornerbacks always dominate your wide receivers is it because your cornerbacks are good or because your wide receivers stink? No easy answer.

It is also hard to tell in a camp setting because sometimes what you think you see as a media member is not what you really see. By that I mean you never know exactly what is being asked on a given play, or, in the case of a cornerback or receiver, would he have competed differently in a game situation vs. practice where guys are trying to take care of each other.

It’s also interesting because what looks like a “good” running play in practice might not be a good one at all since the defense can’t tackle and backs can just keep running. Also, quarterbacks can’t be hit, so they can stand there as long as they want.

It’s a tough thing. You just have to watch and trust that you know the game well enough to know good and bad when you see it.


Alan Goldstein asks: There has been a debate raging in some circles about when a No. 6 drafted QB “should” start. One on air personality went back to 2004 to prove that QB’s drafted No. 6 and up all started, thus proving that starting Daniel Jones at some point, regardless of the team’s record, is the only sane thing to do. I went back and put it in context and discovered that each and every one of those QB’s came to a team without an established starter, many of them without a decent QB for several seasons prior to that. It seems exceedingly rare for a team with an established QB to be picking that high in the draft and when they do they never take the heir apparent QB. It is my contention that unless you draft a No. 1 pick phenom that a QB can almost always benefit from sitting for a season a la Mahomes.

Ed says: Alan, I do not believe this question has a right or wrong answer. Every team is different. Every prospect is different. Every circumstance is different. Sometimes, quarterbacks start right away and succeed. Sometimes, they do that and fail. Sometimes, like with Aaron Rodgers, they wait years for their opportunity. There is no way to ‘say this is how grooming a quarterback is supposed to be done.’

You can’t tell me, for example, that Patrick Mahomes would have sat his rookie season if the Kansas City Chiefs had been bad. They weren’t. They made the playoffs.

Is there an established incumbent, like an Eli Manning? Is there a placeholder, like Ryan Fitzpatrick?

There are benefits to not being rushed, but Kurt Warner reminded us a few weeks ago that the only way to really learn to be an NFL player is to play in NFL games. So, for me, this is a question without a real answer.


Bruce Frazer asks: The Giants’ first team, both offense and defense looked pretty rough against the Jets first team. The “new” 0-line didn’t have any success blocking for the run, and the rookie defensive backfield looked like, well, rookies, out of place and beaten on several key plays. On the other hand, surprisingly, Daniel Jones looked pretty good against the Jets second team. Do you think that the first team O-line was “holding back” against the Jets in that first series, or were they just not in sync. Are the Jets that good or just further ahead in their preseason development? One series does not a season make, but it was not very encouraging.

Ed says: Bruce, I think the biggest worry for me coming out of the game was that I didn’t like how easily the Jets marched down the field and scored vs. the Giants’ first-team defense.

That said, don’t go and read anything into one series. The Giants played a vanilla defense and got a couple of long completions with Sam Darnold moving around. Offensively, it was three plays. It wasn’t the first three-and-out we’ve ever seen, and it won’t be the last.

Of course, you want to see the starters have some success during the preseason. Let’s remember, though, that an awful lot of guys didn’t play. Don’t obsess about it.


Tom Donlan asks: Now that we have seen Daniel Jones play in a actual game (preseason, yes, but still, it is against another team who is allowed to hit him), have heard all about how he “hasn’t disappointed” during the off season camps, has performed well in training camp, and saw Eli once again perform the check down flawlessly while someone else was open downfield, could you paint a scenario where a controversy makes the coaching staff and the FO reevaluate their “plan” and actually move toward starting DJ by say ... game 4 home against the Redskins? Or even sooner?

I don’t care who it is, when you draft a QB at No. 6 it becomes all about him. And if fans, the media, and even teammates start to fall in line behind DJ, can he play so well in preseason and in practice that he forces the Giants to play him? To the point where they actually feel he is totally ready and will win more games with him than with Eli? This is coming from a huge Eli fan and supporter.

Ed says: Tom, I do not believe that any “controversy” created by the media or fan base is going to have anything to do with the decisions the Giants make at quarterback. If that was the case, Eli Manning would have been shipped out of town years ago.

The Giants will use their eyes and make whatever move they think is right, when they think the time is right. GM Dave Gettleman said a couple of weeks ago that “guys play when it’s time” and that when the time comes for Jones to play and Manning to sit “it’s going to be clear.”

The Giants aren’t going to anoint Jones based on one preseason game or run Manning out of town because of one bad decision.

I don’t know for sure that Jones having a good preseason will accelerate the timeline. The Giants losing a lot of games is what will do that. A good preseason from the rookie will make the decision to go to him easier to justify, whenever the Giants make it.