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Big Blue View mailbag: Restless Giants fans leave mailbag overflowing

The mail’s here!

The New York Giants are 0-3, and Giants fans obviously have A LOT on their minds. The Big Blue View Mailbag is absolutely overflowing this week. It spilled out all over my office, into the next room, and required some creativity this week.

Many of you asked a similar question: If this continues, how deep will the organizational changes go? Will they include head coach Joe Judge? What I have done is separated those out and used those as the basis for Friday’s ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. Otherwise, I have answered as many questions as I could. Apologies if I didn’t get to yours.

I’m grateful for the overwhelming participation in this week’s mailbag.

Ronald Balsamo asks: Watching Florida-Tennessee there was a moment that a Tennessee player ripped the ball out of a Florida players grasp’ This was not a fumble, it was a ripped out ball. I question if this is legal. Seems to me that the player did not fumble the ball and the rip move is illegal. What is your thoughts on this type of play?

Ed says: Ronald, that’s called good defense. It’s what defensive players are supposed to try to do, and are allowed to do as long as a player isn’t down. It’s absolutely legal, just like a pass rusher swatting the ball out of a quarterback’s hands is legal. Part of a defender’s job is to try to separate the ball carrier from the ball.

Dave Kamens asks: Ed, two questions you might help me answer. First, do you think that trying to fix Jones’ turnover problems has caused the Giants to be this conservative? And two, do you think it would help Engram if the Giants sit him during home games until, if ever, he gets his confidence back? It has go to hurt to hear all this boos.

Ed says: Dave, I don’t think issues or worries about Daniel Jones have anything to do with the conservative play calling. I think Jason Garrett is trying to get completions on throws that don’t require a long time to develop. The Giants are throwing more in the mid-range (15 yards or so) than they did a year ago and their yards per completion is up from 9.4 to 10.7. They aren’t, though, getting the ball down the field. Some of the conservatism is just Joe Judge’s nature and something where I think he is going to have to look in the mirror and realize that needs to change.

As for Evan Engram, you can’t only play a guy in road games. In all likelihood, the Giants probably should have traded Engram in the offseason. At this point, they should look to do at the trade deadline. That would be better for them, and better for Engram, who needs a fresh start somewhere else. They won’t get much, but they should probably move on, anyway.

Chris Hynes asks: Let’s pretend John Mara has sudden moment of clarity and decides to hire you in the interim. How do you handle the remainder of the season? What trades do you look to make? Do you look to make any signings during the regular season?

Ed says: Bummer, Chris. Last week I got to buy the team from Mara and Steve Tisch. This week, you’re “only” giving me Dave Gettleman’s job.

Look, you can’t blow this whole thing up midseason. In terms of free agents, the guys who are available are out of jobs during the season for a reason. They aren’t premier, difference-making, free agents.

On the trade market, I’m not going out and looking to add players. I’m not making a Leonard Williams-type trade. I’m just going to look honestly at the roster, look as honestly as I can at guys who will be free agents at the end of the season that I’m not likely to bring back, and see what kind of value I can get. There are three names that I see as tradable assets midseason — Jabrill Peppers, Evan Engram, Lorenzo Carter. I’m not saying I would trade them all, but to be honest if you make me the GM none of those three guys are Giants next year so if someone makes me a useful offer I’m taking it. Will Hernandez is another free-agent-to-be, but I’m not removing another offensive line piece at this point.

The Giants already have 10 picks in the 2022 draft. If I can add more over the next couple of years, awesome.

As for this year, the team you see is pretty much the one that is going to be running out there the rest of the year. There isn’t much that can be done to change it in any meaningful way at this point.

Jeihel asks: My question is why don’t our players step up in big moments? Big players making big plays in big moments are supposed be the difference in close/competitive games yet we haven’t gotten any of them. James Bradberry’s 4th quarter INT was nice but he has looked average outside of that. Saquon looks like just a guy although I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Jabrill Peppers complains about playing time but always gives up a big play or two to a RB or TE. Logan Ryan is very on and off. I forgot Leonard Williams was even on this team.

Is it a coaching thing? Is this roster simply not as good as we thought? I just don’t understand how a team with so much draft capital and spent cap space comes out and looks like a team in the first year of a rebuild every week.

Ed says: Jeihel, have you heard the expression “water rises to its own level”? Another way to put that is “high quality finds high quality and low quality finds low quality.” Over time, players will show you what they are. There will be peaks. There will be valleys. Yankees announcer Michael Kay always says you should expect players to play to the back of their baseball card, meaning what that history shows you is what you should expect.

Who are those “big players” you are asking about? I know who you, and the Giants, want them to be. Leonard Williams. Saquon Barkley. James Bradberry. Kenny Golladay. Logan Ryan.

Aside from Barkley’s rookie year of 2018, when has any player on the Giants’ roster truly exhibited greatness? I’d argue “never.” There are plenty of good to really good players on this roster. I would say there is not a great one. You will say what about Saquon? My answer is that he had a great rookie year. He’s now in his fourth year. What has he done since 2018? He has to prove he can again be that guy.

The job of the coaching staff is to put players in position to make plays. Has this coaching staff done that as well as it could in the first three games? Probably not. The coaching staff, though, didn’t drop three interceptions on Sunday. The coaching staff doesn’t fumble, drop passes or commit stupid penalties. Logan Ryan says he wants to be one of the best safeties in the league. Want to be one of those you can’t drop two interceptions, even if neither was easy. Not to pick on Ryan, but in eight seasons he has never been named to a Pro Bowl or honored as an All-Pro. That tells you his peers don’t see him as a great player, and never have. There are, as I said above, a number of guys like that on the roster.

The Giants have enough talent to be better than they are. They just don’t have any game-wreckers, any players who truly scare the opposition. Unless Barkley return to being 2018 Barkley.

Douglas asks: Fans have come down hard on John Mara recently and rightly so in my view; but what role does Steve Tisch play in the decision making progress? What happens if he doesn’t agree with the Mara approach? I wonder what role having two bosses, perhaps meaning no real boss, plays in what seems like an endless series of compromise yet poor decisions. It seems like the Giants are continually trying to patch up a leaky ship rather than scrap the old one and build a new state of the art one.

Ed says: Douglas, John Mara is the “face” of ownership. The Mara family founded the Giants and has always been involved. The Tisch family acquired 50 percent ownership in 1990. John Mara is the co-owner who lives and dies with the team. He is there every day, and he has been invested since childhood. Steve Tisch is more removed, not around much, not involved in the day-to-day. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything to do with big decisions — like hiring/firing coaches and GMs. He has 50 percent stake, which means he has half the decision-making power.

Mara and Tisch have to come to agreements, and that often means compromise. That often means there may not be a clear vision, and I have often wondered if that is part of the issue with the Giants. No other NFL franchise has a shared ownership like this. What if one owner wants a coach or GM out, and the other doesn’t? How does that get resolved? I often think the Giants take half-measures, like letting Tom Coughlin go and keeping Jerry Reese, and my instinct tells me the ownership split is part of the reason.

Neil Sharma asks: I know that some people don’t love using PFF grades and that they aren’t everything, no one stat or method is everything, but for the sake of this question I’m going to use it. The Giants are playing inferior players at right tackle & tight end at the moment. At RT, Nate Solder currently ranks 65/74th among Tackles with a 51.7 PFF Grade. Matt Peart had a grade of 69.0+ last year and a 63.3 grade in limited snaps this year. At TE, Evan Engram has a 44.6 grade & Kyle Rudolph has a 53.8 grade while Kaden Smith has a 80.9 grade. Why are the Giants sticking with inferior players and could giving more snaps to Kaden Smith & Matt Peart have a tangible effect on the offense? My guess is that NFL teams aren’t good at evaluating players and they believe Solder is playing better than Peart when he isn’t and that Engram/Rudolph are better options than Smith, when they’re not even close to playing at that level.

Ed says: Neil, I say all the time that PFF grades are not gospel. A PFF grade does not “prove” that one player is better than another. It is PFF’s method, based on what they believe was supposed to happen on a play, not the one NFL teams use.

When it comes to Solder vs. Peart, I also wish the Giants were playing Peart. Especially as the losses mount, there is no point in the young player sitting. What I always say, though, is that the Giants coaching staff watches Peart work every day. They obviously have not liked what they have seen. Peart started off really well as a rookie and struggled at the end. Simply put, they don’t have confidence in him.

When it comes to Engram/Smith/Rudolph, the Giants are using all three. They have different skill sets. Would I like to see the ball go to Rudolph a bit more? Sure.

One more thing about PFF grades. Daniel Jones has played better than many want to give him credit for thus far. If you want to judge purely by PFF, he’s the fourth-best quarterback in the league right now. Patrick Mahomes? He’s 19th. Aaron Rodgers? He’s 22st. Are you buying that?

Billy Pilgrim asks: I’d like to get your take on the following numbers:

Belichick coaching tree....216-306-1......(.413)
Joe Judge.............................6-13...........(.316)
Belichick total.....................281-138........(.671)
Belichick w/o Brady ............63-75...........(.457)
Belichick since Brady left......8-11...........(.421)

I’m trying to understand why both owners and GM’s are enamored with hiring from the Patriots/Belichick organization. It’s not like these numbers are top secret information, one doesn’t need a degree in sabermetrics to get them. I am not questioning that Belichick is a great coach, I just don’t understand the rationale and common sense behind what owners and GM’s alike are thinking when it comes to being lured to, to some extent, a facade built around a house of cards.

Ed says: I have talked to Dan Hatman of The Scouting Academy at times about the way NFL owners hire coaches. There is no true “process” that works for everyone. Too often, owners don’t really assess their own organizations, what they need, the qualities a coach or GM has to have to lead them. They don’t know what they want, or need. They only know “Belichick wins, and I can’t get Belichick, so I’ll get one of the guys who learned from him. Maybe that’ll work.”

That happens with other coaches, too. Assistant coaches get jobs because of who they worked for, or because they ran an offense or defense that had a great year. That doesn’t mean they will be good head coaches, just that they are the hot name and owners see the results and think “I want that.” So, the guy gets hired.

Some of the best assistant coaches in the world work for bad teams. Those guys won’t be at the front of the line very often when openings for promotions come up.

Kolnerbigblue asks: With [Cam] Brown now on IR, how common is it for players on IR to stay with the team for rehab? Are they permitted to attend team and position group meetings?

Ed says: Yes, players who are on IR are allowed to be around the team. As long as it is physically comfortable/viable for them, it is encouraged. Joe Judge has already said he wants players like Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux and Blake Martinez around the team when they are physically able. A player who has an injury that would likely be short term, like Brown, would almost certainly do his rehab with the team, attend meetings, etc., so they are up to speed when they can get back on the field. The thing players on IR cannot do, even if physically able, is to go out on the field with the team and work.

Eric Chavis asks: Thanks for keeping up great content even through these tough years and games for the New York Football Giants.

My question is, “it feels like the giants have more heart breaking/last second losses over the past few seasons than any other team. Is there any truth to that, or is that me just feeling extra bad about these Giants?”

Ed says: Eric, I think you feel that way because the Giants are the team you care about. Those are the losses you take to heart, the ones that hurt you. Of course, maybe since the Giants and Jets are tied for most losses since 2017 you could actually be right.

Scott Coghlan asks: There has been a lot of talk lately about Giants receivers either standing still or coming back to the QB when they catch the ball. I’m sure Garrett’s scheme is a major factor, but do you think Jones is choosing the safe or easy throw too often? I’m not saying that’s the case, just curious as I can’t tell from my vantage point.

Ed says: No, I don’t think Jones is choosing the easy throw. Every pass play has a progression, where Receiver A is the first read, Receiver B the second resd, etc. We don’t always know what that is. We can watch film and say, oh, look, so-and-so was open deeper down the field if Jones had looked there. Maybe that’s true. It is likely also true that player wasn’t the primary read on the play and when a quarterback sees his primary read — the one he’s trained to look at — open, the ball is coming out.

Here is an interesting note about yards after catch: The Giants are 28th in the league after three weeks. Against Atlanta, though, they had 128 yards after catch. That pace, if they could maintain it, would put them middle of the pack among NFL teams.

Pete Vuolo asks: Last week the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame nomination list was announced. I am pleased that eight former Giants made the list. I am disappointed that Phil Simms was not one of them. Simms stats line up with many of the current HOF QBs. He was on two Super Bowl winning teams. MVP in Super Bowl XXI but did not play in Super Bowl XXV due to injury. He threw his share of interceptions but so did other HOF QBs Why do you think Phil Simms has not been inducted into the HOF and do you think he ever will?

Ed says: Pete, no I don’t think Simms is ever going to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has two Super Bowl rings, but only participated — memorably — in one of those games. He made two Pro Bowls in 15 years. The Giants in those days were built around defense and the run game. Simms was perfect for the Giants of that time, but I think he falls a little short of being a Hall of Famer.