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Big Blue View mailbag: Andrew Thomas, Leonard Williams, NY media, more

The mail’s here!

It’s Big Blue View Mailbag time, so let’s get right to your New York Giants questions.

Robert Zysk asks: Do you think Andrew Thomas starts off the season playing LT? To me it makes too much sense to not go this route. Solder is not the long term LT or RT and struggled mightily last season. He can play RT, has in the past, and needs to prove himself to keep a roster spot with Fleming seemingly locked in as a swing OT with Gates also capable of that role. The real question to be is OC. I would love for Gates to run with this role but it might be Pulley until either an injury or completely horrible play. He is at least a vet and has never had the benefit of playing with Zeitler next to him. In 2018 Hernandez was a rookie, Eli helped out with calling protections, and the rotating door of Omameh and Brown wasn’t ideal. Pulley might surprise and keep the role all season. My prediction is as follows: Thomas/Hernandez/Pulley/Zeitler/Gates as the starting OL with Fleming/Lemieux/Murphy/Peart as the backups. Solder gets traded at the end of the pre-season for a 5th round pick that can move up to a 4th. Thoughts?

Ed says: Robert, did you read my interview with Shaun O’Hara earlier in the week? Before I get into my thoughts, O’Hara said he “loved” the selection of Thomas, but was very strong in his defense of Solder. Here is what he said:

“I still believe Nate Solder is a good left tackle. I think anybody that says anything otherwise isn’t watching film, and doesn’t understand how hard it is to play left tackle in this league,” O’Hara said. “Nate Solder is a damn good football player. He’s been a damn good football player, he’s played at the Pro Bowl level, he’s won Super Bowls. One hundred percent I think he’s the best left tackle the Giants have right now.” ...

”I think Andrew Thomas can morph into a left tackle but if you’re telling me to put the five best guys out on the field I’m putting Nate Solder at left tackle and I’m putting Andrew Thomas at right tackle.”

Now for what I think.

I believe that you and and anyone else who is still banging the drum to get rid of Solder this season is going to be sorely disappointed. The Giants would take a $9.5 million cap hit this season and a $6.5 million cap hit for 2021 if they simply cut him. They are not going to do that.

I also don’t think anyone out there is giving up a fourth- or fifth-round pick for Solder and taking on the last two years of his four-year, $62 million deal.

Also, don’t forget that Joe Judge comes from the New England Patriots, and Solder played successfully there for seven years. I think Solder is a Giant in 2020, and a starting member of the offensive line. Like it or not.

Now, will that be left or right? I don’t know. There are solid arguments either way.

Those who say, well, if Thomas is going to be your long-term left tackle just put him over there and let him learn have a point.

Those who say it would be better for the 2020 Giants to leave Solder where he has played for the last eight years and let Thomas learn without having the responsibility of protecting Daniel Jones’ blind side also have a legitimate argument. Running attacks also tend to be right-handed, and Thomas’ run-blocking at right tackle could be advantageous.

Judge has not committed either way, and there has been zero on-field work to give us a hint. My guess is that Thomas ends up at right tackle for 2020.

Remember, seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith played right tackle as a rookie. Future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters didn’t move to that side until his third season with the Buffalo Bills. Andrew Whitworth, entering his 15th NFL season, played a lot of guard early in his career.

Also, remember this. Perhaps the worst thing that happened to the last first-round tackle the Giants drafted — Ereck Flowers — was the Will Beatty injury that forced him to play left tackle immediately.

As I said, there are arguments to be made both ways. If the Giants decide to start Thomas at right tackle, that is not going to hurt him.

jay7852 asks: How come the New York media is always brought up in regards to Daniel Jones? I always see and hear stuff like “Daniel Jones has the perfect personality for New York.” What makes the New York media different than the media of any other NFL team? (Besides just the size of NY). Thanks!

Ed says: Jay, that’s an interesting question. As I’m considered part of that media it’s an awkward question for me to answer, but I’ll do my best.

This is yet another question that makes me harken back to something Shaun O’Hara said to me a few days ago when I asked him about Eli Manning. This is part of what he said:

“His image and what he allowed out there while he was playing was by design. He was the face of the franchise. When you’re a starting quarterback for any franchise you’re bulletin board material all the time. You’ve gotta be on 100 percent of the time and anything you say or do is going to get magnified and glorified.”

First of all, we are talking about the bright lights of New York City. There is temptation and distraction everywhere, and lots of people perfectly happy to drag you down those rabbit holes and take your career down along the way. You have to able to say no, and to focus on your job and representing the franchise in the right way. Manning always did that. Jones looks as though he will be able to do that, as well.

Now, back to the media.

First of all, yes, size matters. I have talked to folks who cover other NFL teams. There are teams around the league where you might have fewer than 10 media members at a facility on a given day when there is media access.

I don’t usually count when I’m there, but I’d say it’s a light day if there are fewer than two dozen writers, photographers, radio, and TV people in attendance. Depending on what is happening that number swells significantly. It might be four or five times that for training camp.

Now, the other part is tone. I won’t name names or mention publications, but the New York media isn’t there just to be there. They are there for a story. And, to be honest, there are a number of folks who are willing to make one out of the smallest thing. Or make an argument out of nothing, just to get the clicks, the TV viewership, the listens, follows, etc. It’s a minefield of agendas, and those agendas aren’t always beneficial to the Giants or their players.

You have to be able to navigate that. You have to be able to find a way to placate the media without giving them things — in words or deeds — that they can hurt you with. Because some of them will.

Thomas Tremba asks: The recent player owner agreement stipulates that 8 of the active roster on game days must be offensive linemen. Does the long snapper on special teams count as one of the 8?

Ed says: No, Thomas, the long-snapper isn’t part of the equation. Obviously, the long-snapper could be one of your eight offensive linemen. Increasingly, though, long-snapper is a specialized position of its own. Few NFL teams now have long-snappers who play another position and handle long-snapping duties. Most teams have a player who does only that.

I find it interesting that, with game day rosters increasing from 46 to 48 in 2020, that the CBA stipulates teams must dress eight offensive linemen. Often in the past we have seen teams dress only seven, and that has always been a HUGE risk. Obviously, five guys are playing. If you are only dressing two backups, that means you may end up not dressing a true backup center or backup tackle and if an injury occurs you wind up with guys playing unfamiliar spots. It’s why guys like Nick Gates, who can play all across the line, or Cam Fleming who can play both tackles capably and move to guard in an emergency, are incredibly valuable. In the past, a single injury was capable of throwing an offensive line into chaos.

Harold Tolchinsky asks: If a runner dives across the goal line, hits the ground and fumbles it’s a touchdown because the ball crossed the goal line. If a receiver catches a ball in the air before the end zone ( eg the one yard line) , lands in the end zone and fumbles it’s an incompletion and not a touchdown. Why the difference as the ball crossed the goal line?

Ed says: I turned to Cyd Zeigler of Outsports, who is a collegiate referee, for the official explanation. Cyd wrote:

“It’s all about when they become a runner. If the ball in a runner’s possession crosses the goal line, the play is over as soon as it breaks the plane. With the receiver, he hasn’t established himself as a runner, so now we have to go to the catch rule. If he’s going to the ground in the process of the catch (which it sounds like what he’s describing), he has to survive the ground to complete the catch. If he doesn’t survive the ground, he never had possession so it can’t be a touchdown. A player has to have possession for it to be a touchdown.”

Hope that answers the question.

Chris K asks: It appeared to me that Markus Golden’s play level improved after the arrival of Leonard Williams. What are your feelings and do the statistics prove or disprove my theory?

Ed says: Chris, by the basic numbers that is not correct. Williams played the final eight games with the Giants. During that time, Golden had 4.5 of his 10 sacks, 38 of his 72 tackles and 14 of his 27 quarterback hits. So, his production remained about the same.

Now, you can make the argument that Williams’ arrival did help the defense improve. Obviously, not everything that happened or did not happen defensively over the final eight games correlates to Williams, but here are a few numbers.

  • Rushing yards allowed per game: Without Williams (122.4); With Williams (104)
  • Total yards allowed per game: Without Williams (386.8); With Williams (367.4)
  • Points allowed per game: Without Williams (27.25 ppg.). NOTE: Take out the 24-3 victory over Washington and the Giants gave up 36.0 points per game in the other seven game played without Williams; With Williams (29.1 ppg.).

It’s pretty easy to make the case that Williams, while he did not compile big numbers of his own, made the Giants’ defense better.

Bruce Frazer asks: Rysen John although an UDFA, has the size, height and speed the Giants haven’t had in a wide receiver since Plaxico Burress. Even though everything written about him projects him as a reach for a tight.end position, might he be given some opportunity at wide out to see if he could play the position at the pro level? He would be imposing as an end zone target as well as a sideline player with his catch radius.

Ed says: Bruce, John is being used purely as a receiving tight end. I have talked to him, and he knows that. I have talked to his coach at Simon Fraser, and Mike Rigell acknowledged that tight end is the right position for him. John is 6-foot-7, 237 pounds. He has never faced the physical press coverage he would get from NFL cornerbacks on the outside, and Rigell admitted to me he probably would have trouble handling that. From an inline tight end spot or split off the line into the slot he won’t have to deal with that.

I’m confident that if the Giants thought he could play wide receiver at the NFL level that is where they would try him. His path, if there is one, will be as a tight end.