Sean McNeill asks: What as happened to Kaden Smith? Why aren’t the Giants using him more instead of Engram? I’m guessing it’s because Engram is the faster receiver and, theoretically, harder to cover, but Smith has much better hands. Consider: Last year Smith caught 31/42 passes for a 73 percent catch rate while Engram was 44/68, 64 percent. This year Engram is 26/44 for 59 percent catch rate, while Smith is 10/12, 83 percent. I don’t understand why Smith isn’t getting more opps, he clearly has better hands!
Ed says: Sean, I appreciate the question. I, too, would like to see him get the ball more often. I have to clarify one thing, though. Catch rate isn’t about hands. That includes off-target throws, interceptions, balls knocked away by defenders — any and every incompletion. It’s not just drops.
I don’t know exactly why Smith doesn’t get more passes thrown his way. First and foremost, one thing is the Giants don’t run enough plays. The offense isn’t on the field enough. Also, Smith is a better blocker than Engram. If they are in the game together and one has to stay in to block while the other is out on a pass route, which one does it make sense to keep in?
The Giants’ offense has a lot of issues right now. Getting the ball to Smith more often is kind of far down the list, at least for me.
Jason Byam asks: Jason Garrett seems to be improving as a play caller. Using designed runs for DJ and some more creativity is giving me optimism. Do you think there is a chance they return next year? Assuming Dave Gettleman is fired? Is it unusual to have a new GM come in and keep the head coach and coordinators? I would be absolutely crushed if a new GM came in and we lost Judge and Patrick Graham.
Ed says: Jason, the Giants aren’t blowing up this coaching staff after one year. Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur each only lasted two years. You get nowhere if you keep starting over. John Mara said the organization knows it will have to be more patient with Judge than it has been with the last two coaches.
If there is a new GM it is going to have to be someone who is excited to come in and work with Judge and his staff, not someone who can’t wait to sweep everyone out and start over. The Giants need some stability. They need to build. They can’t keep tearing the roster down and starting again every two years.
Sholom D Raitport asks: Seeing how well Matt Peart played at left tackle what do you think of perhaps starting him there and starting Andrew Thomas at right tackle, also why haven’t we seen more Shane Lemieux given how the guards are playing?
Ed says: Sholom, I quite honestly don’t care which side Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart play on. I think you can make valid arguments for both on the left, and on the right. All I know is beginning Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it just doesn’t make sense for Cam Fleming to play and Peart to sit. Both Thomas and Peart have to play — full-time.
As for Lemieux, I know the Giants want to get him on the field. It isn’t easy, though, to get snaps for backup offensive linemen. We’re told all the time that offensive lines don’t function without reps and continuity. The Giants are getting away with playing Peart because neither of their starters have performed well.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Zeitler traded before the Nov. 3 deadline to make room in the starting lineup for Lemieux.
Mike Elston asks: What happens with the contracts of players on the COVID-19 exempt list? If Nate Solder (As an example, I’m not suggesting the Giants would be better off cutting him) returns next year will the Giants have to pay his full contract and/or absorb the cap hit if they cut him. If I recall correctly the cap hit, $17-20 mil, made cutting him difficult.
Ed says: Mike, the short answer is those contract get pushed back. Had he played this season it would have been Year 3 of his four-year deal. So, the 2021 season will now be Year 3. If the Giants want to designate Solder a post-June 2021 cut, they take a $6.5 million cap hit, and save that same $6.5 million amount under the cap.
Marcus Mewborn asks: I think the defense has been better than the offense but it’s still missing an impact player. Are there any players in the draft, FA, and/or maybe trade that your eyeing? To go one step further which level of the defense are you trying to add talent to?
Ed says: Marcus, the defense has played as well as it can considering the talent level. There are too many players playing too many snaps who probably shouldn’t be playing at all.
In terms of specific players in the draft or free agency, I will be honest. I don’t pay an iota of attention to the free-agent market until free agency, so I have no idea. As for the draft, I’m not a year-round draft guy like Chris or Nick. I know a couple of the names, like Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. I will do my studying once I’m not immersed in the day-to-day of the season.
That said, the defense needs more talent. I think you can argue that position doesn’t matter. Aside from run-stuffing defensive tackles, you can make an argument for help everywhere. More good players. I don’t really care what position or positions they play.