It’s Day 1 A.E. (After Eli) for the New York Giants. Let’s get back to normal a bit, open the Big Blue View mailbag and answer some some questions.
Jeffrey Itell asks: Just a hunch, Ed, that Garrett’s at the head of the line to replace Gettleman in a year or two. Giants GM is the job he’ll bolt for when Gettleman steps down having completed his rebuild or if he fails. Mara seems to love him and would likely have an edge over Abrams. What do you think?
Ed says: Jeffrey, I think you’re getting way, way ahead of yourself. I don’t see a GM path for Jason Garrett. Who goes from a coordinator role to general manager? If anything, Garrett will bolt in a couple of years for an opportunity to be a head coach again. As for assistant GM Kevin Abrams, I remain unconvinced that he is the right guy to succeed Dave Gettleman whenever that time comes. But, Garrett as GM? Nah.
Douglas Mollin asks: I wonder if we’ll have a version of Air Coryell or a version of what the Patriots do? Which is — whatever works best against that week’s opponent.
Flexibility was the word of the day during Judge’s press conference, along with getting the most out of what our players CAN do (as opposed to what the coaches may WANT to do). I’m pretty tired of hearing about “systems” the past two seasons to be honest. Do you think we run a “system” in 2020 or that we end up closer to the flexible Patriots’ approach and just come up with the best plan we can every week. And — God forbid — maybe adjust in-game now and then too.
Ed says: Douglas, I do believe the Giants will aim for flexibility. They will aim for being able to build game plans around run or pass, and around using a variety of personnel packages to accomplish either objective. Still, there has to be some system behind any of that. The Patriots have a system — everyone has to start with some basic set of principles. They just aren’t married to the idea of running the same play set or same exact formations each week and more or less trotting out the same game plan. There has to be a foundation, which is the scheme, from which you build in as many options as you can.
Florian Cortese asks: We really haven’t heard much if anything on what Daniel Jones is up to in his first off season. Is he working out with some GB guru, back at Duke with his old college coach, doing something special to improve his ball security skills, back in NJ, NC, etc? I know we’re just the in of the new year, but returning to camp for the upcoming season is really just around the corner. And now with a new OC and probably a new system to learn, what he might be doing to prepare for the 2020 season? Any rumblings about DJ you can share.
Ed says: At the end of the 2019 season Jones told us he would spend most of his offseason in New Jersey. He will also spend some time at Duke and in Mobile, Ala., working with David Cutcliffe (his college coach) and David Morris (his personal quarterback coach).
The new season really isn’t “right around the corner.” It’s a couple of months away. Jones can’t get a playbook from Joe Judge/Jason Garrett yet. Nor can they have any real scheme discussions, watch film or any of that stuff. So, all he can really do is get himself ready. Pretty much like every other player.
Anthony Del Genio asks: Edge is a big, big need for the Giants. But at No. 4, Chase Young is likely to be gone. In your opinion, are there other edge players who would qualify as the game-breaker the Giants’ defense needs? Or would you consider Isaiah Simmons, a different type of potential game-breaker who fills some of that need (7 sacks in 2019, not sure if any were from the edge) but would spend some time in coverage, at #4 if he is available?
Ed says: Anthony, Chris is better when it comes to draft questions than I am at this point. That said, there aren’t any other pure edge players considered to be in Young’s class. There are those who like A.J. Epenesa of Iowa and think he’s a top 10 pick, but there are others who think Epenesa is a Round 2 talent.
Simmons, with all of the positions he can play and flexibility he offers, sounds like the kind of multi-faceted player Judge was talking about at his introductory press conference. We’ll find out in about three months.
Alex Sunderland asks: With Eli retiring, I think we’re all feeling a bit nostalgic. Who do you think was the best complementary offensive player for Eli Manning? As in, of the many playmakers he had at his disposal, who do you think was the player that best matched Eli’s strong suits. Personally, I’d vote for Brandon Jacobs because of how much of a problem it created for defenses from a personnel perspective.
Ed says: Alex, I don’t know if you can pick just one. The Diehl-Seubert-O’Hara-Snee-McKenzie offensive line matched Manning’s skill set because they gave him the pass protection he needed and the run blocking to help him not have to do everything. Jacobs exemplified the toughness that the Giants wanted to play with. I always thought that big, aggressive wide receivers like Plaxico Burress and Hakeem Nicks, who could win 50-50 balls and didn’t need perfectly-placed throws to make big plays down the field, matched what Manning did best. Some will hate my mentioning the name, but I also always felt that Kevin Gilbride as a play-caller/scheme designer understood Manning better than Ben McAdoo or Pat Shurmur and built a more high-risk, high-reward downfield offense that suited Manning better than the West Coast stuff he ran the past few years. Come to think of it. Jason Garrett, with his vertical Air Coryell background, would have probably been a great coordinator for Manning.
Chris Fiegler asks: Do you think that the New York Giants will draft a quarterback to back up Daniel Jones since Eli Manning is retiring from the NFL?
Ed says: Hey, Chris, we’re neighbors. Your e-mail says you live in Latham, which is only a hop, skip and a jump my home in Brunswick. As for your question, no I do not think the Giants will be drafting a quarterback. There’s no reason to. I have no idea if Joe Judge wants two quarterbacks or three on his roster. I think, though, that whoever is on the roster in addition to Daniel Jones will be a veteran. Maybe that’s Alex Tanney. Maybe it’s a veteran free agent who is used to the backup role. The Giants would, in my view, be wasting a pick to select a mid- to late-round quarterback in their current circumstance.
Raymond Dansereau asks: With Eli’s retirement is there going to be a point at which the Giants look back and realize how badly they messed up the last few years of Eli’s career and even his last year? His last two coaches clearly didn’t believe in him and tried to make him into a quick pass, ball control QB. His last year, he became the fall guy for a team that then went on to lose 9 straight before Eli saved them from losing 10. Is there any sort of sense from the organization that they messed up and that this was not the exit Eli should have had?
Ed says: Raymond, I think co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch (especially Mara) absolutely already know that. I have said many times that whatever you think of Manning the past few seasons, the organization let the best quarterback in franchise history down far more than he ever let it down. They messed up by hanging on to Jerry Reese too long and by getting the head coach decision wrong the past two years. You might even argue three, if you think Tom Coughlin should have been given more support and a stronger personnel voice instead of forced to coach what Reese gave him and then shoved out the door when the results weren’t good enough.
They don’t have to look back and figure it out. They already know.
Bruce Frazer asks: The Giants will have a fair amount of money to spend in free agency. Do you see them having any interest in either Jack Conklin on the offensive side or Jadeveon Clowney on the defensive side? Do they look to free agency for proven, young, veteran players entering their prime as mentioned above to improve the O-line and pass rush and use the draft to build a base of diverse talent across the roster at positions such as linebacker, receiver, and safety?
Ed says: Bruce, I can absolutely see a big run on Jack Conklin to solidify right tackle if the Tennessee Titans let Conklin hit free agency. I would be fully on board with that.
Clowney? Not so much. First of all, I don’t think you are going to see the Giants go nuts in free agency. Mara doesn’t want to. Dave Gettleman wants to build via the draft, and never really has gone on any type of crazy free agent spending spree in Carolina or with the Giants. The new head coach comes from the New England Patriots, and the Patriots are the epitome of a team that wins without being big free-agent spenders or overpaying to keep its own players.
Secondly, in six seasons Clowney has NEVER posted double-digit sacks. He had three (3!!!!) in 13 games last season. He was 38th in the NFL among 61 qualifying edge rushers in pass rush productivity last season, per Pro Football Focus. In 2018, he was 37th of 71 qualifiers.
To me, Clowney is more reputation than production. Remember how much Giants fans complained about Olivier Vernon? Well, if you go by PFF data Vernon has been a more productive pass rusher the past two seasons than Clowney.
If I’m the Giants I go nowhere near the guy.