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Big Blue View mailbag, 11/21: Leonard Williams, Nick Gates, more questions

The mail’s here!

It’s time for a bye week Big Blue View mailbag. So, let’s get right to it.

Kevin Donohue asks: Leonard Williams has been impressive. While we don’t know how far apart they were last off season, do you think Gettleman wishes he’d met Williams’ terms and had him locked up for a few years? Last year’s terms are no longer possible.

Ed says: Kevin, no I don’t think Dave Gettleman “wishes he’d met Williams’ terms.” No GM is just going to say, “oh, that what you want? Fine. Here you.” It’s a negotiation. It’s no secret the Giants wanted Williams to sign long-term. It just didn’t happen.

As for last year’s terms no longer possible, do we know exactly what those terms were? There has been some speculation, but no, we don’t.

Besides which, we are entering an offseason where free agents are going to have to realize that the salary cap is almost certainly going down because of revenue lost due to COVID-19. The money guys were hoping for might not be there.

It is going to be interesting to see what happens with Williams, especially if Gettleman remains as GM.

Scott Coghlan asks: My question is about the defense. I agree with you that Patrick Graham has done a masterful job getting the most out of his players this year.

However, there have been many occasions where the defense suddenly becomes tissue paper, after looking stout for most of the game. Many of these occasions are at the end of halves, or at moments when we need a stop.

I do not have the technical knowledge to understand why this is happening, and I was hoping you or Chris would examine this. Are we intentionally playing a soft scheme for some reason? If so, it seems to be backfiring. Or is there something else going on?

Ed says: Scott, I have talked about this before. I think that sometimes you have to give the other guys credit for finding and attacking weak links, and I think at times opposing offenses have been able to expose players like Ryan Lewis and others in coverage.

That said, I think it’s hard to use the term “backfiring” when the defense has successfully closed out back-to-back games with impressive play in the final couple of minutes. The Giants struggle in two-minute situations for the first half of the season. That hasn’t been the case lately.

The Giants are often playing a “soft” scheme, playing “bend but don’t break,” for lack of a better term. They are playing a ton of zone, keeping things in front of them and trying to minimize yards after catch. They are doing that to minimize the times some of their young defensive backs and coverage-challenged linebackers are caught in difficult 1-on-1 matchups. They are mixing in some aggressive blitz schemes and man coverage when it’s needed.

Wayne Mirsky asks: On TV it is very hard to evaluate how a player is actually doing especially an offensive lineman. My question is about Nick Gates. How is he doing as our center? Is he our center for the future?

Ed says: Wayne, I could quote you a whole bunch of Pro Football Focus numbers to evaluate Gates, but let’s not do it that way. Let’s go based on what we see, and what is being said.

Gates is 24. He had never played center, and had never been a full-time starter before this season. There was going to be a learning curve. There were going to be bumps in the road, especially with no offseason to adjust to the position.

Look at the improvement in the running game, much of which is coming on runs right up the middle. There is improved communication and better pass protection. Here is what Joe Judge said about Gates recently:

“I think he’s developed really well. I see a lot of improvement on a weekly basis from Nick. Look, going from playing guard and tackle into center is a completely different animal. The multiples on your plate, the command you have to have, the calls, even just the different mechanics of having to snap before you block, these are things you have to learn how to do. There’s a reason a lot of guys play center throughout their entire career up through high school, college and then in the NFL. It is a different type of position. I think he’s done a really good job of advancing in that. I see a lot of promise going forward with him.:”

Do I think Gates is the center of the future? Absolutely.

I would honestly go further and say I think the pieces of the Giants offensive line of the future are in place.

Jesse Sorel asks: It seemed to me that Daniel Jones called a lot more pre snap audibles last week. More than I recall all season. Is this a product of Jones starting to recognize coverages and blitz reads? Or is it that Jason Garrett allowed Jones to start to audible out of called plays as of last Sunday? Or was it that Jones is making the line calls, which is more evidence of the coaching issues at offense line (conspiracy theory)? I think it was that Garrett is finally allowing Jones to make audibles. Your thoughts?

Ed says: Jesse, I think you are looking for something that isn’t there. Jones has had the ability to overrule Nick Gates’ line calls all season. I haven’t noticed that happen since really early in the season, to be honest. He has also had the ability to change plays all season. I don’t know what you thought you saw, but I’m not buying any of this conspiracy theory nonsense. I didn’t see anything from Jones at the line of scrimmage that I haven’t seen all season, except maybe that he was really decisive.

Bruce Frazer asks: Three more COVID-19 positives as of Friday for the Giants. Another O-lineman. What would happen if the Giants end up with a majority of the O-line testing positive and being held out of the game next week? Is the game eligible to be postponed if they can’t field a position group? There must be some sort of accommodations worked out by the NFL in case an entire unit is infected.

Ed says: Bruce, I don’t know for sure. If, however, the Las Vegas Raiders situation (11 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list) is instructive, games will be played as long as teams have enough players to take field. We’re past bye weeks now, so the league doesn’t have as much flexibility. It looks like the NFL just intends to plow ahead and do what they have to in order to get games played.