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BBV mailbag, July 4 edition: Uniform changes, home field advantage, more

The mail’s here!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Since we never really take a holiday here at Big Blue View, let’s get to your weekly Big Blue View Mailbag.

Brett McDonough asks: It’s uniform changing season! I know you touched on this topic 2 years ago in a previous article, but I felt it was time to bring it back around with all the recent and varying successes of uniform changes. The Giants brass have called, and they want the uniforms to change.

So it’s time for you to be in charge of the overhaul, congratulations! So are you going BIG? Do you call Nike and ask for gradient jerseys, red uniforms, wild stripes? Change the hue of our current blue? Remember, this has been done before succesfully. Has the logo we’ve seen for 20 years (well, on this go around) need a refresh? Are you modernizing “ny”, GIANTS (underlined), or even bringing the 70’s TRON logo or the giant QB back? Or even bigger, something NEW? NYFG, modeled after the NYPD, or bring in architecture from the city itself in your designs?

Or are you thinking more of a refresh/tweak? You were correct about the white pants, but is it time to adopt the away color rush full-time? And if so, do those pants move to the home kit, eliminating the grey-blue-red multi stripe? Or maybe a small angular stripe, akin to the Titans, or even mismatched stripes like the Vikings? Add some color to the socks, slap on some red tones on the home jerseys? DO you keep the glossy helmet or go a bit bonkers with some matte experimentation?

Your job, and the look for an entire NFL team is on the line.

Ed says: Brett, you sent this question to the mailbag a loooong time ago. Here, finally, is your answer.

No, I’m not going big. I’m not turning the Giants into the Oregon Ducks. I’m not going off the reservation. The Giants are a historic franchise and whatever changes I would make I would want people to look at them and think “that’s a New York Giants uniform” and not “what the heck team is that?”

Yes, the white pants from the Color Rush uniforms would become standard home and away. The gray pants are awful, in my humble opinion. As boring as can be.

The lowercase ny would disappear. The all uppercase GIANTS would return to the helmets and the jerseys. I would probably want some type of an outline or border around jersey numbers, which currently look too plain to my eye.

The only other thing I might really consider is to acknowledge somehow in the design that the Giants are based and play their games in New Jersey. Maybe you imprint a small seal of New Jersey on one pant leg around the hip and a small seal of New York on the other. Don’t know exactly, but I would kick that idea around until we came up with an acceptable way to showcase both states. The New Jersey connection is another reason for getting rid of the lowercase ny.

James Pauloski asks: There’s no doubt that “home field advantage” is real in the NFL. But how much is that advantage if there aren’t any fans in the stands? If the stands are empty (or, say, 25% of capacity), is there any advantage? Have there been any studies or reports about this possibility?

Ed says: Jim, thanks for the question. Empty or nearly-empty stadiums are likely to become a fact of life for NFL teams this fall. See my conversation with Dr. Jill Weatherhead and Dr. Zach Binney for more on that.

The German Bundislega opened several weeks ago without fans. A study published in the New York Times found a stark difference in the performance home teams without home fans.

The performances of home teams in the Bundesliga have, for all intents and purposes, collapsed in front of empty stands. The number of home victories slipped by 10 percentage points, to 33 percent of matches in empty stadiums from 43 percent in full ones.

The change has been so extreme, in fact, that Lukas Keppler, a managing director of the data and analytics firm Impect, noted a sort of “negative home advantage.” For the first time in soccer history, he said, it has appeared, at times, to be easier to be playing on the road.

According to data provided by another analysis firm, Gracenote, home teams scored fewer goals than they had in full stadiums (1.74 to 1.43 per game), leading to a decline in goal scoring over all.

They also took fewer shots (a decrease of 10 percent), and those that they did take were worse. (The probability of any given shot ending up as a goal dropped more than a point, to 11.11 percent.) Home teams, the research found, also attempted fewer crosses, won fewer corners and tried fewer dribbles.

By almost every attacking metric, Bundesliga teams were worse while playing in an empty home stadium.

Sports are emotional. What we call momentum can happen when the home team does something that excites the fan base, the stadium gets loud and players get caught up in the wave. That won’t exist in empty stadiums.

That same study, incidentally, found that referees — perhaps not subconsciously fearing the wrath of home fans — are calling a higher percentage of fouls on home teams.

In baseball, stadiums have differing dimensions and the field itself can sometimes be part of the home field advantage. In football, every field is identical. The fans are the home field advantage.

The following questions come from our Facebook users.

Chantel Fisher asks: Do you think Oshane Ximines will dominate in Patrick Graham’s system?

Ed says: Chantel, “dominate” is a strong word. Von Miller and Khalil Mack dominate. I think that’s a lot to expect from Ximines. I do think the Giants need Ximines to take a step forward, and he has a chance to do that. I’m hopeful Ximines will emerge as their best pass rusher.

Anthony Bee asks: What is the plan to make the pass rush better?

Ed says: Anthony, we have spent much of the offseason talking about this. Everyone would like to have J.J. Watt in his prime coming off the edge. Not every team can. We don’t know yet if Markus Golden will end up back with the Giants, though each day that looks more like a real possibility.

The Giants will hope that young players Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines (as noted above), and Dexter Lawrence provide more pass rush. You’d like to believe young players improve with experience, so that’s not unreasonable. Leonard Williams is better than his half-sack total last year would indicate.

They will also depend on defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to be creative in how he designs and uses the blitz.

Steve Wilson asks: Any word on Ryan Connelly and how his rehab is going?

Ed says: Steve, we haven’t had access to players throughout the offseason. We haven’t talked to Connelly or been able to see him move around. The Giants don’t provide offseason injury information. So, we’ll just have to see when we get to training camp.

Travis Couillard asks: Do you think Garrett and Judge let Slayton step up as our potential no 1 receiver or you think they stick with Shepard cuz the money they paid him?

Ed says: Travis, coaches don’t “let” a guy be a team’s No. 1 receiver. A player earns that distinction by performance. You can argue that at times last season Darius Slayton was the Giants’ best receiver. As for whether they “stick with Shepard” all I can say is Shepard is going to play. A lot. He’s a really good, reliable player when he’s healthy. He’s just not a game-breaker. Golden Tate is a good player, too.

Can Slayton develop into a top receiver, a guy who can catch 90-100 passes and command extra attention from defenses? Maybe. We’ll have to see. That’s not up to Jason Garrett and Joe Judge, though. That’s up to Slayton.