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Zoom-mania! 20 things we learned from 9 Zoom calls with Giants position coaches

Let’s look at some of what we found out

NFL: New York Giants at Chicago Bears
The Giants wanted ore physicality from Blake Martinez this season, and they are getting it.
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants made position coaches available to media on Tuesday, and it turned into a busy, informative day. Here are 20 takeaways.

1. Zoom-mania was a massive headache

The Giants chose on Tuesday to have nine Zoom calls with position coaches pretty much simultaneously. Technically, it was three calls with three assistants in each room. Trying to figure out who you wanted to talk to, get in the right room at the right time and get your virtual hand raised quickly enough wasn’t easy.

It certainly was interesting, though.

2. Marc Colombo preaches patience

The offensive line coach is a former NFL tackle, and listening to him talk it’s obvious that he is a communicator who loves to teach and can inspire players. He understands his group is a work in progress.

Colombo was asked about the spotty run-blocking over two games and said this:

“It hasn’t been up to the standard we’re trying to set here, but there was an improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. That’s what our main goal was. It’s a relatively young offensive line, new guys playing with each other and it’s gonna take some time.

“We’ve gotta do better. I’ve gotta coach better and we’ve gotta play better

3. Blake Martinez is off the cleanup crew

The Giants’ high-priced inside linebacker had a reputation as a member of the Green Bay Packers for compiling a high number of tackles, but not necessarily making impact plays. Martinez even said he sometimes felt his job in Green Bay was to clean up rather than make plays.

That’s not the case with the Giants. Martinez leads the Giants with 19 tackles in two games, and 15 of those have gone for stops — failed offensive plays — per Pro Football Focus.

Sherrer said that was “a point of emphasis” with Martinez this year.

“That was one of the things, playing more with his hands and being more physical, having more physical tackles where you’re getting knockbacks or at least a stalemate on the tackles,’ Sherrer said.

“We’ve kinda put him in that position and he hopefully is understanding. It seems that he is.”

4. Corey Ballentine is losing the CB2 competition

Defensivbe backs coach Jerome Henderson did not come right out and say that. You can, though, infer it from what he did say about newcomer Isaac Yiadom and second-year man Corey Ballentine.

“We’re working through that” competition, Henderson said. Yiadom played 26 snaps to Ballentine’s 29 vs. the Bears.

Henderson said Yiadom “has done a solid job.” Henderson said Ballentine “has gotta finish plays better. He’s had some opportunities to make plays and we’ve just got to work on the finish of those plays to continue to grow him and get him better so that in the future he’s making those plays we need him to make.”

5. Carter Coughlin is converting to inside linebacker

Drafted in Round 6 as an edge player, the Giants seem to be moving the rookie from Minnesota to an inside linebacker position. That would put Coughlin direct competitions with seventh-round picks Tae Crowder and T.J. Brunson.

Inside linebacker coach Kevin Sherrer said it’s a position Coughlin played early in his collegiate career.

“We knew when we got him here that he had the ability to play both,” Sherrer said. “He fits that role a little bit better. He’s got kind of a unique skill set where he can rush and stack back and play ‘backer.”

6. Daniel Jones has the protection scheme “trump card”

One source of confusion, at least for me, has been whether quarterback Daniel Jones or center Nick Gates has the responsibility for setting protection schemes. Offensive line coach Marc Colombo clarified for me:

“Most of the time it’s coming from Nick. Nick gets out there and makes the protection calls, but Daniel’s got the ultimate trump card in that situation. If Daniel sees something he likes and he wants to re-ID it he’s completely capable of doing that.”

7. “Good to great”

Defensive line coach Sean Spencer says second-year man Dexter Lawrence is a player he hopes will make that leap.

“I talk to Dexter about going from good to great,” Spencer said. “He could be a dominant player at all times. He’s the one guy that in my opinion is continuously going upward ... he is trying to do what we’re asking him to do and what we’re coaching him to do.”

8. Kevin Sherrer needs some love

When I popped into the beginning the inside linebacker coach’s Zoom, Patty and I were the only media members in the room. A couple of other stragglers eventually came along, saving Patty and I from having to completely carry the call.

9. Schuplinski waiting, too

Like a lot of Giants fans, quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski is waiting for Daniel Jones to cut down on the catastrophic mistakes that have cost the Giants points in the first two weeks of the season.

“We hope we don’t have to wait too long,” but it is part of the process and it is part of the growing pains sometimes,” Schuplinski said.

Schuplinski said he has “seen a lot of growth” in Jones, but the quarterback needs to understand that “every single play is so important.”

10. Burns joins the Barkley comeback bandwagon

Running backs coach Burton Burns said Tuesday that “I have no doubt that’s he’s [Saquon Barkley] going to make a fast recovery.”

Barkley himself, via Instagram, and head coach joe Judge have both said Barkley’s recovery from upcoming ACL surgery will be “a hell of a story.”

11. Moving forward without Barkley

Burns knows that the Giants won’t hit the “home run” as often without Barkley. He also knows, though, that he has a group of experienced to turn to in Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Elijhaa Penny and perhaps Devonta Freeman or Rod Smith.

“They were disappointed, but they know what their job requires. Their job is to move forward and do the best that they can do. Let’s figure out how to use their abilities to help the team move forward,” Burns said.

Burns said the Giants would “let it play out” to see who ends up getting the majority of the snaps.

12. Quick hitter for Freddie Kitchens

Most of the Zoom calls with position coaches lasted 8 to 10 minutes. The clip from tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens is only 2:07. Sorry, Freddie!

13. Turf problems? What turf problems?

Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said he was “surprised” to hear the complaints from the San Francisco 49ers about the MetLife Stadium turf.

“We practiced on it during training camp. We played on it already. It’s been good as far as I can see,” Tolbert said. “I’m one of the guys that goes out there and looks at all aspects of the field and I haven’t seen any problems with it. I’m sorry they feel that way, but we don’t have any problems with it.”

14. Bradberry Island?

James Bradberry played like a shutdown cornerback on Sunday against Chicago. While some top-tier cornerbacks like to be the center of attention, that’s not Bradberry’s style.

“Doesn’t say two words. Just kinda one of those lunch pail guys that just shows up and kinda quietly goes about his business,” defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said. “He’s a little different that way. He’s built a little differently, but if you ever watch him play he just kinda quietly goes about his business, doesn’t say a lot, doesn’t get emotional a lot, just kind of really focused and detailed.”

15. That’s a new one

Kyler Fackrell had a good game on Sunday. Asked about him, outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema called Fackrell “a really good in-game adjuster,” which is a description I’m not sure I have ever heard a coach give a player. Bielema also called Fackrell “a really unique and fun player to be around” who has “natural skill sets” and length he needs to learn to utilize more consistently.

Sounds like we are going to be seeing more and more of Fackrell in weeks to come.

16. “Drinking the Kool-Aid”

Leonard Williams has a sack, two hurries ands six tackles (all for stops) so far. He’s been much more disruptive than he was during his eight games with the Giants last season.

“He’s been drinking the Kool-Aid, so we’re gonna keep feeding it to him,” said defensive line coach Sean Spencer.

17. Defensive line rotation here to stay

Williams leads the defensive linemen in snaps played with 86, but that is only 66.7 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Spencer was asked if that heavy rotation would continue, and indicated that it would.

“We really believe in the rotation of the defensive line and keeping guys fresh. I want them to be as fast at the end of the game as they are at the beginning of the game,” Spencer said. “It’s really not a conditioning thing. It’s more so, we’ve got those guys up, if I’ve got five guys eligible to play then I need to play those guys. We’ve got a lot of talent there.

“This is the way we’re going to do things moving forward.”

18. Week 2 better than Week 1 for Nick Gates

That is how offensive line coach Marc Colombo assessed Gates’ play at center after two games.

“Nick’s done a good job. The big thing we were looking for is an improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. He is new to the position. There’s a lot of things and a lot of responsibility that comes with that. I’m proud of the step that he’s taken, now we’ve just gotta take it a step further.”

19. Andrew Thomas off to good start

“I think he’s handled it really well. He’s gone against two great pass rushers and he’s held his own for the most part. There’s a lot of room for improvement and Andrew knows this,” Colombo said. “It’s really good for him to get these type of pass rushers right off the bat. His whole entire career is going to be these type of pass rushers. Every week there’s going to be a stud sitting there right up over him and he’s gotta block ‘em. He’s done a good job of that so far.”

20. Cameron Fleming better than ever

Marc Colombo worked with Fleming in Dallas. I asked Colombo if the veteran tackle has given him what he expected to see thus far.

“Cam’s been even better than he’s been with me in the past,” Colombo said. “He’s gone against two tremendous pass rushers. It’s not perfect, but he has held his own and he has fought really hard.

“I love the man. He’s the right type of guy for this group. He’s a veteran. The guys can learn from him. Learn the way he studies pass rushers. Learn the way he prepares himself. His preparation and getting a chance to start has taken his game to a new level. It it perfect? Absolutely not.”