The BBV Mailbag is overflowing this week. I used as many questions as I could without making this ridiculously long. Let’s get to it.
David Bleecker asks: Do you think Eli stays on as a mentor all season ... or does he try to move on or retire or something I’m not thinking of? (Obviously, this doesn’t include an injury to DJ).
Ed says: First, I have to say this. Eli Manning is an absolute class act. He’s been a class act for 16 years, and that hasn’t changed since Daniel Jones took his job. Things could change, but I don’t expect Manning to go anywhere this season. He has a no-trade clause. He has a wife and young children. He loves the Giants. I believe it’s important to him to spend his entire career with the Giants, which would mean retiring at the end of this season.
That said, you never know what can happen. Maybe someone like, oh, Tom Brady gets hurt and the New England Patriots come calling. Would Manning waive his no-trade clause for one last shot with a team that has a shot at a championship? Maybe.
Chuck Ransford asks: I watch the game more as a fan than an analyst, but it seems to me that when Ryan Connelly is in the game he is always near the football. Can you talk a little bit about what you’re seeing from Connelly, and what his future in Big Blue could look like?
Ed says: I think Connelly has a bright future. GM Dave Gettleman talked in the offseason about the importance of instincts, and Connelly has them. He’s smart. He’s fundamentally solid. He is an above average athlete for the linebacker position. Teammate Antoine Bethea told me that Connelly plays the game “above the shoulders,” and I think that’s a great description. The kid should be a very good player for the next few seasons, provided he remains healthy.
David Kirchenbaum asks: It was quite clear that Evans was torching Jackrabbit. Why wouldn’t the defensive scheme take that away by having the safeties out there to help? I thought it got taken care of in the second half but on that last long pass completion to Evans as soon as I saw Jackrabbit close to the line and no one behind him I knew that was trouble, why didn’t the defensive coordinator know that also?
Ed says: David, you are of course talking about Mike Evans of Tampa Bay having his way with Janoris Jenkins last Sunday. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher was asked this week about leaving Jenkins in single coverage so much. Here is what he said:
“I think there’s certainly times when you look at what you want to do from a scheme standpoint on defense, you might say this is a guy that has a tough down, or this is where more help will go on this particular call. Then you have some other calls that are more balanced in what you do. Certainly, in that game, I tried to call some of those balanced things at times and there’s other times we’re calling some things either to try to rush the quarterback, create some one on ones, which in other places that creates other one on ones. Solely no, but there’s certainly times where whatever the call may deem that to be the case.”
Now, what on earth does all that mean? It means that there were times he felt he wanted to help his corners and there were other times when he had to sacrifice that help to send extra pass rushers and try to generate pressure.
What if the Giants hadn’t used the blitz and created some pass rush? Bettcher would be getting killed for not being aggressive enough with his calls.
Fact is, Jenkins is paid very, very well to cover guys like Evans. He didn’t do his job. Was it a mistake at the end of the game to leave Jackrabbit single up with Evans? Probably.
Joseph Infante asks: It seems like even before the injuries to Ogletree and Davis this week, we were still in need of help at linebacker. I am trying to figure out why the Giants wouldn’t take a look at Brandon Marshall. I love the Connelly kid. I felt like it was only a matter of time before he emerged. Very happy about him. Not really sure what the deal is with re-signing Stupar is? He was a good special teams player for us, but left more to be desired at LB. Maybe they plan to give LB reps to someone else and need Stupar as a substitution for that player? I guess we will have to see.
Ed says: Re-signing Stupar is not ideal. The Giants know that. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have cut him in the first place. It’s simply a situation where they needed a linebacker who could step in if needed on Sunday since they only have two healthy ones (Ryan Connelly and David Mayo) and Stupar knows the defense.
I thought the Giants might promote Josiah Tauaefa from the practice squad, but I understand why they didn’t. They figure they only need a play for a week or two, and you don’t want to promote a kid like Tauaefa, then have to subject him to waivers in a week or two and risk losing him.
As for Marshall, how do we know they haven’t taken a look at him? Or even offered him a contract? We don’t know. Marshall is 30, and my guess is he’s probably sitting at home waiting for the perfect situation — for a playoff team in need of a linebacker — to come calling. That’s not the Giants. Marshall would help the Giants. I get it. I’m sure Dave Gettleman knows it. Considering how young the Giants are on that side of the ball, though, he might not be the right fit.
Jack LeGoff asks: James Bettcher is a fine coach, but things just don’t seem to be working for him and the defense. And I’ve thought all along that his style of defense doesn’t really feel to me like a “Giants” defense, if that makes sense. If he gets fired, what do you think about the Giants trying to bring Rex Ryan back to the MetLife sideline? I think Rex is an outstanding defensive coach, he’s got that Parcells-like grit and swagger, and I just think he’d look good in blue. What are your thoughts? Thanks again.
Ed says: Oh, man! Jack, you really want to do that to Pat Shurmur? Rex Ryan! I get it, Ryan is a better defensive coordinator than head coach. If he gets back into the NFL, that’s the role he should be in. I just don’t see Ryan and his oversized ego fitting with Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman.
By the way, what is a “Giants” defense? They’ve won Super Bowls as a base 3-4. They’ve won Super Bowls as a base 4-3. I’m tired of the “which system should they play?” debate. As long as they play good defense, who cares?
The Giants are incredibly young on defense. Let’s see what Bettcher is able to do in terms of developing them. If they don’t make progress, maybe the Giants will have to look for another coordinator. Let’s see how it plays out.
Sai Mullapudi asks: I wanted to ask you opinion on Hal Hunter. Where does he stand in the list of O-Line coaches. He doesn’t have to be Dante Scarnecchia but I am always a little underwhelmed that he cannot seem to get the best out of his players. Do you agree? If so, how can the organization help him get better?
Ed says: Sai, how do we judge whether a position coach is a good one or not? I quite honestly think trying to do that is a fool’s errand. We don’t see them in practice. We don’t see in-game decisions they make, hear their interactions with players during games or see their work during position meetings each week. Sometimes really good coaches have really bad players and their position group stinks. Sometimes awful coaches have great players who cover for their weaknesses.
Is Hunter a better coach this year than last? Or, is the offensive line better because Kevin Zeitler replaced Patrick Omameh and Mike Remmers replaced Chad Wheeler? Probably the latter.
Craig Johnson is the Giants running backs coach. He sure looks better when Saquon Barkley is playing.
Want to make any coach look better? Get him better players.
Bruce Frazer asks: Last year Nate Solder had a rough start to the season and was able to turn it around in the second half, with significant improvement in pressures and sacks allowed. This year is again starting out rough for Solder, the speed rushers are having their way.
Given the size and scope of his contract, will the team be able to replace him, if deemed necessary, with a talented, athletic draft pick? Would he be a candidate to move to right guard? Solder is a good team player, but if his skills are in decline can the team afford to keep him at the left tackle position despite his contract?
Ed says: I say this repeatedly — Nate Solder is a good player. He is an average to above average NFL left tackle. He had an awful game last week against Shaq Barrett of Tampa Bay. In case you hadn’t noticed, though, no one has blocked that guy this season. My question isn’t why couldn’t Solder block him? My question really is why didn’t the Giants help him try? Asking him to do it alone was never going to work, and obviously didn’t. It’s sort of like leaving Jackrabbit against Evans. Sometimes you have to, but you can’t/shouldn’t do it all the time.
Solder isn’t a guy who can play guard. He is 6-foot-8 with monstrously long 351/2-inch arms. He would never win a leverage battle inside.
The Giants know that Solder and Mike Remmers are guys they will eventually have to replace. I would like to see them use the draft to find — at least — a developmental tackle who could eventually take over for Solder. I’m confident that this regime with Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur will continue to supplement the offensive line.
Patrick Morris asks: So, due to injuries, the Giants just picked Nate Stupar up again, after releasing him earlier. And odds are, he may be dressed for the game on Sunday. Which brings me to a larger question, it seems like there’s quite a lot of bringing back people who have just been released to the street earlier in the season. And often they end up playing the next week.
In your opinion, should the 53-man rosters for NFL teams be expanded? (and perhaps 46-man active game day rosters expanded too?) Perhaps to 57 and 49 men? It’ll cost the owners a little more money, but odds are the new additions will be making the minimum, so, it’s only ~$2 million a year, and the NFL is really doing quite well. Plus, it would probably improve the quality of the game some.
Ed says: Oh, goodie! I get to put on my Commissioner hat and change some of the rules I hate.
Listen, if it was me I would expand NFL rosters. I don’t know the perfect number, but let’s say 55 for the sake of argument. The other thing I would do is get rid of these ridiculous inactives. I simply do not understand why you have perfectly healthy players on your “active” roster and then by league rules you aren’t allowed to have them active when you play. Does that make any sense? To anyone? It doesn’t make sense to me. I might expand the practice squads by a few players, as well.
The other thing I would do is implement more of a baseball-style injured list. Why do teams have to IR guys who don’t have season-ending injuries and lose them for a whole season? What does that do to help the product? Nothing.
Why not have an injured list with two-, four-, six- and eight-week designations? Use your practice squad guys when you can to fill in for those guys when you can and then be allowed to return a player to the practice squad without passing him through waivers first?
I don’t see a down side to that. I think you would end up with a better product because as the year progressed you would be able to bring back players who actually belong in the league rather than being forced to pick up players off the street who probably don’t.