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Big Blue View mailbag, 11/28: DeAndre Baker, Jason Garrett, offensive line, more

The mail’s here!

Let’s open the Big Blue View mailbag and see what pops out as we head to Week 12 of the 2020 NFL season.

Wayne Mirsky asks: You quoted CBS Sports on Big Blue View that Jason Garrett might not return next year as OC. Unless he was being considered for a head coaching job why would that happen? I also know that the Maras love him.

Is he not getting along with Joe Judge?

That would mean that your franchise QB in his first 3 years would have had 3 different offensive coordinators. Makes zero sense to me. Your thoughts?

Ed says: Wayne, first of all I was simply passing along the CBS Sports report. It’s a credible source, but it’s not my reporting. Just so everyone is clear on that.

Garrett is, of course, a one-time Giants backup quarterback and a man ownership has long been fond of. I think that works both ways, with Garrett always respecting the Giants organization.

None of that, though, will have any bearing on his future with the Giants. Does he work well with Judge? Is Judge happy with the progress, and style, of offense that Garrett is running? Who else will be available at the end of the season, when a number of coaches will be fired and looking for new jobs? Might there even be someone on the current offensive staff Judge would prefer to have running the offense? Could Garrett land one of the head-coaching jobs that will be available?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions.

I do know that the offense has been improving. I do know that the longer Garrett works with this group the better handle he seems to be getting on what guys can do. I also know that I share the concern about Daniel Jones ending up in a third offensive system in three years.

If Garrett doesn’t leave on his own, I’m sure the Giants will weigh all of that. Their ultimate responsibility is to make Jones the best player he can possibly be. If Judge believes in the end that he needs a different offensive coordinator to do that, so be it. He interacts with these guys for hours every day and knows far more about the working relationship than any of us ever will.

ctscan123 asks: So I was quite surprised that there was nothing about DeAndre Baker in last weeks mail bag. I have to say, all things considered I am very disappointed that he is not back with the G-men. It really seemed like a slam dunk to me. We have a large hole at the position, his arrest constituted the loss of significant draft capital which we could have reclaimed, he was improving and he wanted to come back. I understand and frankly love the Giants commitment to character and also understand that prior to his situation he had not lived up to expectations. That said, under the circumstances how about taking a flyer for Pete’s sake? worst thing that happened was that nothing changed and we released him. What was the downside? This just seems to make absolutely no sense considering the risk reward. Would you like to have seen him back?

Ed says: CT, I will answer the last part of that question first. How long have you been reading my work? I’m pretty sure the answer is several years. You should know how I’m going to answer that part of the question. No, I absolutely did not want Baker back with the Giants.

I quite honestly don’t know why the idea of bringing DeAndre Baker back to the Giants was ever a “slam dunk” for anyone.

Baker was exonerated, yes. That doesn’t make him a good guy. It doesn’t mean he has terrific judgment about the people he hangs around with or the situations he puts himself in. It doesn’t mean he is completely committed to being the best football player and best person he can be. It doesn’t mean the concerns about his attitude, work ethic and inability or unwillingness to learn a playbook last season aren’t valid. Those absolutely were on target.

The NFL isn’t the ‘All Saints League.’ It’s not filled with choir boys. That’s a given. We all know that. Knowing everything they know about Baker, and they know a lot more than will ever become public, Joe Judge and the Giants organization decided that Baker simply wasn’t the kind of person they wanted to go forward with. I’m 100 percent OK with that. After all of his “team first” and everyone has to buy in talk since he has been hired, there had to be concern about the message it would send to the locker room if the Giants brought back a player who hasn’t showed that willingness. Exonerated or not.

I get that Ryan Lewis and Isaac Yiadom might not be long-term solutions at cornerback. Nobody knows what Baker can or will be, either. The Giants made the decision they felt was best for the organization and for this head coach, and that’s fine.

Jeff Newman asks: With the Giants changing offensive line coaches mid-season, how much of an issue does this pose to the offensive line? Learning a new philosophy, new techniques, new schemes. What should we expect from this transition?

Ed says: Jeff, I will admit that I am a bit concerned myself about how the younger Giants’ offensive linemen will react to this change. As far as I can tell, these guys liked working with Marc Colombo. There has been tremendous progress made over the last four games or so, and no one wants to see that go up in smoke.

This worry about “new philosophy, new techniques, new schemes” is a bit much. Dave DeGuglielmo isn’t here to blow everything up and start from scratch with six weeks left in the season. The original intent wasn’t for DeGuglielmo to be offensive line coach at all. It was for him to consult with and try to help Colombo.

Here is what head coach Joe Judge said about the offensive line earlier this week:

“We’re not going to do anything to turn the offense upside down right here. We’re going to continue focusing on technique and assignments and principles of what we want to do big picture wise. There’ll be some adjustments here and there as we go. With six weeks left in the season, there is going to be a lot of continuity we’re looking to keep in place and keep improving as we go through the rest of the season. Will there be adjustments as needed throughout the season? Yes. Are we going to look to turn everything upside down? No.”

Center Nick Gates said Friday that what DeGuglielmo wants is “a little bit different” than what Colombo was teaching, but that it’s “things I’ve been taught in the past.”

The Giants aren’t going back to square one. My worry is really about DeGuglielmo’s history of being a guy who’s act wears thin pretty quickly. Bottom line is the progress on the line has to continue or the Giants won’t win games. It it does, great. If the line regresses, this will go down as the biggest negative of Judge’s rookie season.

Steve Sprague asks: Watching the Giants this year they seem to be a better coached team. Unlike the past few years the players seem to know their assignments. When they get beat it is because of either a good play or a lack of talent. At this point in the season do you feel that they are a better coached team?

Ed says: Steve, I absolutely think the Giants are better-coached. First of all, I think Joe Judge is a massive upgrade from Pat Shurmur. I liked Shurmur, but I think his stops in Cleveland and New York revealed that as a head coach he is one step about his competence level.

All-in-all, I think Jason Garrett is doing a good job with the offense. We have to wait and see what happens with Dave DeGuglielmo and the offensive line, but it’s a good group on that side of the ball.

On defense? Is there anyone who doesn’t think Patrick Graham is a massive upgrade over James Bettcher? Graham also appears to have a really good group of position coaches around him.

Jesse Sorel asks: Do you think with the addition of [Xavier] McKinney will open up the possibility of Jabrill Peppers playing linebacker in the Nickel package. It would move [Devante] Downs and [David] Mayo off field in Nickel. Peppers played LB a little at Michigan. He would be better in coverage. It would leave the Giants a little vulnerable to the run. Your thoughts.

Ed says: Jesse, Jabrill Peppers played a little bit of everywhere at Michigan. Truth is, he’s already playing everywhere on the Giants’ defense, including linebacker. He’s played 498 defense snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Box (various linebacker spots) — 227 snaps (45.5 percent)
  • Defensive line — 39 snaps (7.8 percent)
  • Slot cornerback — 128 snaps (25.7 percent)
  • Outside cornerback — 21 snaps (4.2 percent)
  • Free safety — 83 snaps (16.7 percent)

The only true linebacker staying on the field full time is Blake Martinez. The Giants aren’t going to re-invent their defense for or because of McKinney. Somebody is going to have to lose playing time, and my guess is that in the long run that someone is Julian Love.