Let’s open the Big Blue View mailbag and see what New York Giants-related questions we can answer this week.
Seth Weissman asks: I don’t know much about Patrick Graham other than what was in the article on BBV. But, I don’t have a great feeling about him as DC since his defense in Miami was last in points allowed and 30th in yardage allowed. I understand that Miami didn’t have great personnel, but isn’t a great coach supposed to do more with less? If so, it would seem Judge’s hiring of Graham is about comfort (since they have worked together) over skill set. What are your thoughts?
Ed says: Seth, I wouldn’t even think about what the numbers were in Miami. The Dolphins spent the year stripping away what they had to prep for a future that had nothing to do with 2019. John Jenkins. who got on the field for 57 snaps with the Giants in 2018, was a key defensive tackle who played 479 snaps for Miami. That’s the most of his seven-year career. Avery Moss, stuck on the Giants’ practice squad in 2018, played 348 snaps for the Dolphins. They had no players.
I don’t know how well Graham is going to do as defensive coordinator for the Giants. The stats in Miami will have nothing to do with it, though. All a coach can do is try the best he can to teach his players during the week and then put them in position to succeed on game day. If they don’t have the talent to execute against other NFL players that’s not on the coach.
Sean Kearney asks: If you were to prioritize signing ONE free agent this offseason, who would it be?
Ed says: Sean, I will admit that I haven’t even really begun to study the market. Plus, since as I write this we don’t know who the offensive coordinator is or exactly what new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham wants to run it’s a difficult question.
I think you can look at the free agent piece I posted on Thursday for my early thoughts on players I would like to see the Giants kick the tires on. If you make me pick ONE right now I would probably say Yannick Ngakoue, the pass-rushing defensive end from the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s a force, he’s entering his prime and he gives the Giants something they don’t have and probably can’t get in the draft since they will likely be out of the Chase Young hunt.
Again, though, I haven’t done any sort of in-depth study at this point.
Bryan Camacho asks: Everyone assumes that the Bengals will draft Joe Burrow with the first pick. Why does no one seem to consider that they might sign a veteran QB and pick Chase Young first? If they do draft Young, can you speak to how that will change the top of the draft?
Ed says: Bryan, when you need a franchise quarterback to reboot a floundering team, have the No. 1 overall pick and there is a choice as obvious as Burrow sitting there for the taking, why would you do anything else? What veteran placeholder quarterback would bring the hope and potential for a brighter future to Cincinnati that Burrow would? None. Unless somebody offers the Bengals a king’s ransom, like three or four years worth of first-round picks and some other top draft choices, I can’t imagine the Bengals are dumb enough not to draft Burrow No. 1 overall.
If they were that foolish, it would be like manna from heaven for the Washington Redskins, who have the No. 2 pick. How much do you think the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins or Los Angeles Chargers, all quarterback-needy teams who pick after the Giants at No. 4, would give the Redskins — who have Dwayne Haskins — for that No. 2 pick?
Steve Canfield Crowley: My question and something that concerns me more than the Giants winning or there success long term involves Sterling Shepard. The questions being is should he have even played again last season and should he ever play again? I know there is a business side and I know there is a love for the game ... but is it worth it? He is a young guy and (should) have a lifetime ahead of him ... but should he be worried? I’m worried for him.
Ed says: Steve, it’s admirable and appropriate that you are concerned about Shepard as more than just a player for the team you root for. I’m concerned about him, as well.
It wouldn’t have bothered me if Shepard had not returned to the field last season. That said, I’m not a doctor. I’m not Shepard. The doctors, who are independent and don’t report to or get paid by the Giants, cleared him. I can only trust their judgment, and trust that they wouldn’t clear anyone without being comfortable that it was as safe as it can be for any NFL player to go out there and play.
As for Shepard, he will be 27 in February, loves the game and wants to continue to play. That’s his decision. He has a wife and two young children, and I’m sure he wants to be there for them as long as possible. We see more and more players walking away from the game early. Maybe Shepard will eventually be one should more concussions or other injuries pile up.
He’s got all the information. He knows the risk, as does every player. It’s his choice. I really don’t know what else to say.
Jim Pelella asks: I know other players have been waived and ended up having 12-year careers. But this love affair the Giants have with Jon Halapio at center I just don’t get. After almost every snap He’s either getting pushed back, on the ground, or facing the wrong way after the play. Why do they love this guy so much after he’s been cut by 4 teams plus 2 semi-pro teams from Boston and Brooklyn? Please help me understand by pointing out how great he must be to not even have a competition especially after his 2018 injury.
Ed says: Jim, I get that you believe the Giants need an upgrade at center. I happen to agree. I think, though, you are a little over the top in your criticism of Halapio.
The Pat Shurmur Giants chose Halapio over Brett Jones in 2018. I didn’t really understand that, because I thought Jones had done a nice job in 2017 and deserved to start. The Giants disagreed and Jones really has been little more than a backup since then with the Minnesota Vikings.
Back to Halapio, though. The Giants liked what they saw before he got hurt in 2018. Technically, there was a 2019 competition with Spencer Pulley. Right from OTAs, though, you could tell from the reps given that the job was Halapio’s. I would have loved to have seen the Giants find a young center for competition in last year’s draft, but that didn’t happen. With the options they had, giving Halapio a full shot was their best one.
Halapio is a terrific guy. He’s a great example of perseverance. He’s a standup guy. He’s terrific with the media. A full season, though, has shown us that Halapio isn’t the long-term answer at center.
Pro Football Focus ranked him 20th out of 21 centers who played at least 900 snaps. In my view, the biggest area of concern is run-blocking. PFF had him 18th among those 21 centers in that category.
Center is a position I think the Giants have to look to upgrade, especially after Halapio’s Achilles tear. I don’t think the 2020 starter is on the current roster.
John Neubauer asks: Isn’t strange to hire a QB coach with no experience before you hire a OC ... Shouldn’t the OC have some say in it?
Ed says: John, I thought hiring Jerry Schlupinski as quarterbacks coach before hiring an offensive coordinator was curious. That said, coordinators don’t hire the position coaches — head coaches do that. If the position happens to be open and a coordinator is in place, he may offer suggestions. That’s about all.
Judge worked with Schlupinski when both were on the New England Patriots staff. It’s obvious that he believes in Schlupinski’s ability to work with young quarterbacks.
I also think it’s incorrect to say Schlupinski has “no experience.” He has been working with quarterbacks directly for the past four years, though as an assistant and not the primary quarterbacks coach.