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Big Blue View mailbag, 1/11: Joe Judge hiring brings spate of new questions

The mail’s here!

New York Giants Introduce New Head Coach Joe Judge Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The New York Giants introduced a new head coach this week, and that has inspired a whole new round of questions from Giants fans. So, let’s open up the Big Blue View Mailbag and get to some of them.

Marcus Mewborn asks: I appreciated Coach Judge talking about teaching and coaches being able to hold players accountable. It definitely echoed Coughlin and Parcells. But do you feel it’s important that he also needs to find and trust players that will hold their teammates accountable? It’s something that Coughlin learned with The 07-08 team.

Ed says: Of course, Marcus. Locker room leadership is essential. Back in the day the Giants had Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan, Antrel Rolle and a few others who carried the coach’s message and made sure other players knew what was — and was not — acceptable.

The Giants have some of those guys. I think Saquon Barkley is becoming one. Michael Thomas is another. Nate Solder has the rings, but I don’t think he likes to take that type of role. It would be no surprise to see a few ex-New England Patriots who are “Judge Guys” dot the roster next year until more of that locker room leadership develops from within.

Michael D. Yablonsky asks: Judge made a solid first impression so let’s dig into what he might bring to the table. Judge hasn’t said a single word about the use of analytics. Mara, Tisch & Gettleman said nothing about discussing analytics with Judge. Based on what you know about the programs he has worked in, what might he bring to the NYG,

Ed says: Judge didn’t say a single word about analytics because was never asked. Truth be told, good friend Pat Traina was sitting next to me at the press conference nudging me after she had asked a question and telling me to ask about Judge’s view of analytics. We know that I didn’t.

Anyway, here are two pieces from 2019 that tell you a lot about how the Patriots see and use analytics:

Listen, if you don’t use every tool available to you to gain information on players, schemes, trends, what works in certain downs and distances and what doesn’t, then shame on you.

Still, you also have to use your eyes, your gut and your own feel for the game and for players. It’s all part of the puzzle and if you aren’t using them all in some way then you aren’t giving yourself the best chance to succeed.

I would absolutely expect Judge and the Giants to continue to grow their use of analytics. We know from what Judge said on Thursday, though, that there will also still be a whole lot of “old-school” in the way the Giants go about their business.

Stephen LaSalle asks: Giants should be able to hire a top tier OC since they will get to develop Daniel Jones and call plays. What will attract a top tier DC given the mess the defense is?

Ed says: Stephen, I’m going to express the belief that “the mess the defense is” won’t mean a thing to any prospective candidate. There are only 32 of these jobs in the world and you don’t get one of them when the defense is filled with 11 All-Pros. These jobs are generally open because either the previous defensive coordinator got fired for poor performance or the head coach and his staff got fired because the results weren’t good enough.

I don’t think any coach worth his salt is going to say “I can’t take that job because the defense isn’t or wasn’t good enough.” You take that job because there aren’t a lot of them to be had, and because you believe in your own ability as a coach to make the situation better.

The other attraction to this job will be Joe Judge. You can be sure there are people has worked with who would love to coach with him. You can also be sure that people he hasn’t worked with will be attracted to him once they talk to him, as well.

Besides, I’m not sure how much of a “mess” the defense really is. There is a need for more play-makers. But Dexter Lawrence, Ryan Connelly, DeAndre Baker, Julian Love, Jabrill Peppers, B.J. Hill in addition to Leonard Williams and Markus Golden if the Giants can re-sign them, is a pretty good start. Better coaching, better teaching to use a Judge word, could go a long way.

Chris Hynes asks: Writing to you before D&O coordinators are announced, for the D, would they consider John Fox for the coordinator role?

Ed says: Chris, I would never say never, but I would think Fox would be a long shot. Fox did a tremendous job as Jim Fassel’s Giants defensive coordinator back in the day, but he hasn’t been a defensive coordinator since 2001. His last three jobs (Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears) have been as a head coach. I’m not sure he would have any interest in returning to that role.

If he reaches out to Judge and expresses an interest, I’m sure they would talk. Shoot, when the whole replace Pat Shurmur process began Judge was a long shot. So, I’d say it’s possible but seems unlikely.

John M Scott asks: I hate to get on someone for taking a much-deserved vacation after the end of a long season... but if that “someone” is a leading HC candidate, why schedule that vacation the week of Black Monday? If Matt Rhule had been available to interview with the Giants a few days earlier, could this have played out differently? Was this a rushed decision by the Giants, or do you think they had enough information to decide Rhule is not their guy without formally interviewing him?

Ed says: John, Matt Rhule knew exactly what he was doing when he took his family trip to Cabo. He knew he was sought after and he knew teams that wanted to talk to him would wait a few days. Maybe he also took those few days to finalize in his own mind what it was that he really valued from an NFL job.

I don’t know exactly why Rhule ended up scheduling his Carolina interview before the Giants one. Maybe that was a sign that he wasn’t as hot for the Giants job as we all thought. I couldn’t tell you for sure. Yes, maybe things play out differently if Rhule interviewed with the Giants before Joe Judge did. Then again, maybe they don’t.

What I know is what John Mara and Dave Gettleman said when I was standing three feet away from them on Thursday. That they were blown away by Judge during his interview and that by the time it was done they were convinced he was their guy.

Did the Giants have enough information on Rhule without interviewing him? Yes. They had all the information they needed when he wanted them to match a 7-year deal that could be worth $70 million BEFORE he had even interviewed for the job. Mara made it clear Thursday the Giants had no interest in going to that extreme for a first-time NFL head coach. Why would anyone agree to an unprecedented contract before even sitting in the same room with someone?

William Bowman asks: Could Nate Solder transition to center if the Giants either draft or gain a starting left tackle this off season?

Ed says: William, I don’t think that’s a realistic option. Solder is 6-foot-8 with monstrously long 35½-inch arms. Jon Halapio is 6-3. Spencer Pulley is 6-4. Point is, guys as big as Solder don’t play on the inside — especially center. They play on the outside, where they can use their body type and their arms to their advantage. Solder is huge for a center and would be at a massive disadvantage in terms of getting any blocking leverage playing inside against shorter, stronger players. Nick Gates, a guy I’d like to see get a shot at center is 6-5, and I don’t think I would want a center any bigger than that. You might see Solder transition to right tackle, but not to center.

Douglas Mollin asks: The hiring of Judge as head coach caught everyone by surprise (other than perhaps BBV’s own Raptor). The voter poll is all over the board, from A to F. Really, there’s not much to go on at all so hard to say how readers already have a set opinion on Judge. I’ve only been on BBV a little over a year, but how does the Judge hire compare to BBV’s reaction to the hiring of McAdoo and then Shurmur? In hindsight both hires seemed doomed to failure, but I can’t imagine they were universally panned by BBV at the time -- but maybe they were? Just hoping for some perspective on how BBV views this hire in comparison to the last two.

Ed says: Douglas, I can’t go back and dissect the reactions in the comment section. If you really want to, I would encourage you to go to the Archives for that. What I can do is talk about my own reaction.

I sat through the press conferences for both Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur. I was, admittedly, impressed by both. Shoot, no one gets that opportunity without having some impressive qualities. McAdoo was prepared for the moment, aside from his suit. In retrospect, though, the things we worried about — inexperience, inability to connect to players, the fact that he really knew only one system or scheme — all became problems. For Shurmur, the fact he was a calm, mature adult impressed after the mess that McAdoo made. The questions — could he inspire, did he have a real vision, could he learn from his mistakes in Cleveland — all really ended up being things that were answered negatively and were largely his undoing.

Judge is a commanding presence and it’s easy to see — and feel when you’re in the room like I was on Thursday — why the Giants fell in love with him. He’s never done this job, though, so what he does from here on out matters a whole lot more than the first impression.

Everyone wants to be optimistic when we start something new. We look for reasons to be optimistic. Judge gave those to us in spades on Thursday.

Bruce Frazer asks: At the press conference held by the new head coach Joe Judge he indicated that while he will have input into the roster and it’s players the final decision as to which players retained will fall to Dave Gettleman. Is this still the same old “rusty can” being kicked down the same “old dusty road?”

I understand that the new coach has yet to win an NFL game and has “no bank account” so to speak, but given the fact that he is willing to take on the responsibility along with the millions of dollars shouldn’t it follow that he be allowed to pick his own players? Didn’t John Mara indicate that Dave would have to compromise and cede some of his control in order to move the team forward?

Ed says: Bruce, you’re putting words in John Mara’s mouth. He never said Gettleman “would have to compromise and cede some of his control.” He said he would consider a change in power structure in the right circumstance. Here are his exact words:

“I’m always willing to look at whatever’s going to improve the team, and if I felt that there was somebody coming in here as a head coach who wanted a different role and he could convince Steve and I that that would make sense for our organization, we would certainly consider that.”

This “separation of powers” is something that was talked about a lot at MetLife Stadium on Thursday. People need to get over this idea that Gettleman sits in his ivory tower and dictates to the coaching staff what players they are going to be forced to work with. It simply doesn’t happen that way.

The Giants like to use the word “collaboration.” Yes, Gettleman ultimately is the one who turns in the draft card or puts the final stamp on a player acquisition. But, Gettleman talks to the head coach every day. He did that in Carolina with Ron Rivera. He did that with Pat Shurmur. He know who and what they like. They know what he likes. They build consensus on what is best.

Do you honestly believe that left to his own devices Gettleman would have added so many former Arizona Cardinals to the Giants’ defense? James Bettcher wanted those players, so Gettleman made that happen. Do you really think he would have signed Jonathan Stewart two years ago if Shurmur hadn’t seen a way Stewart could help the team? Gettleman has admitted that while he ended up loving Daniel Jones it was Shurmur who really convinced him to dig in and study the kid.

No, Judge isn’t shopping for the groceries. He isn’t, however, sitting at the table and being told “young man, you will NOT get up until you have eaten every last bit of that spinach!” He will have plenty of input into who is, and is not, on the roster.