It’s that time again. Let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what New York Giants-related questions we can answer.
Bob Donnelly asks: Joe Judge suggested they may actually be trade deadline buyers. Currently the Giants are only one win off the pace for a wild card berth, and the most glaring need remains O line help. Who might be available, and at what cost? Would that be enough to turn the season around?
Ed says: Bob, there are two realities to discuss here. First, Judge wasn’t going to tell anyone what the Giants’ trade deadline intentions are. The question had to be asked, and it was on my list of questions for Judge the day it got asked, but another media member beat me to it. The critical thing Judge said was that anything the Giants do will be about the long term and not the short term. That sounds more like selling than buying, unless there is a Leonard Williams-type deal. Boy, wouldn’t that be fun around here! I find that unlikely.
As for offensive line help, the truth is teams all around the league are looking for it. There aren’t many teams looking to dump good offensive linemen. The Philadelphia Eagles might be willing to trade Andre Dillard. Question is, why is a 2019 first-round pick still on his rookie contract not good enough to play for a bad team.
Tackle Cam Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars) and center Ted Karras (New England Patriots) are names I have seen floated. Both can be free agents at year’s end, though, so you would have to be willing to make long-term commitments. Are those guys worth it? Are they significantly better than what the Giants have?
I’m not convinced.
Douglas Mollin asks: I’m optimistic and hopeful about Joe Judge. But if you had to take a step back and objectively look at his first season and a half, is he really a good head coach right now?
And what are we really hanging our hopes on? What skills does he bring that gives the Giants an edge over other teams in how they’re prepared, coached, trained and execute on game day?
Give us a reason to stay optimistic.
Ed says: Douglas, I think there is a lot to like about Joe Judge. I think he is “potentially” an excellent NFL head coach. I think he will get more time beyond this year, and as of now I absolutely think that is the right thing to do. I have not seen anything that tells me otherwise.
Granted, I have my issues with Judge. I think he has been far too conservative on fourth down. I think he needs to accept a lot of the blame for the 0-3 start. I don’t think the Giants were fully prepared Week 1, and I think there were costly coaching decisions that really hurt them in Weeks 2 and 3. I think it’s a bad look for a coach who preaches fundamentals that the Giants make so many silly mistakes and commit so many unnecessary penalties.
I think, though, that Judge is young and can learn. I think it’s important to realize that the locker room believes in him. That ownership is strongly in his corner.
You want a reason for optimism? How about last week? Judge admitted that the Giants changed some of their practice focus because they realized they had gotten away from working on some of the small details. I thought that was a good sign.
You want another reason for optimism, and for sticking it out with Judge and letting it play out? How about the Cincinnati Bengals? Head coach Zac Taylor was 2-14 and 4-11-1 in his first two seasons. I thought he might lose that job. The Bengals stuck with him and they are 5-2 and might be one of the AFC’s best teams this season.
The Giants simply can’t keep changing head coaches every two years. Every time you do that, you wind up bringing in new schemes and blowing up the roster. You just cannot grow and develop a functional team that can have anything other than an accidental year of success that way. The Giants have to let it ride with someone, and I believe that in the end they will be happy if they do that with Judge.
The thing I like most about Judge is that he has a philosophy, a plan, he knows where the Giants are and where they want to go. It’s not about winning eight or nine games this season. It’s about taking the steps toward becoming a team that can consistently win 11, 12, 13 games and be a playoff team more often than not. I don’t think Pat Shurmur or Ben McAdoo really had any type of plan or long-term vision.
Lawrence Jamieson asks: Yes, the Giants have A LOT of injuries to key players, but it seems that many other teams also seem to have many injured players. Have teams become much more cognizant of injuries than they were in the past, rather than just having players “rub some dirt on it” and keep playing? Will the most successful teams be those who have the least number of injuries?
Ed says: Lawrence, I think you know that teams ... and players ... and their agents are way more cognizant of player health and safety than they were 10, 15, 20 years ago.
In terms of which teams will be successful despite injuries, that is impossible to answer. Which key players are missing? How many of them? Who are they playing and how many of that team’s key players are missing? You can look at the Baltimore Ravens, who have more players on IR than the Giants and say, “oh, they’re still good, so Dave Gettleman sucks.” Which I’m sure many people do. Still, as long as Lamar Jackson is healthy the Ravens always have a chance.
Anyway, this gives me a chance to post some interesting injury data the NFL recently released.
Concussion are down. You can’t look at 2020 because there were no preseason games, no offseason program and a shortened training camp.
Soft tissue injuries are up. Way up.
As for the soft tissue injuries (hamstring, groin, calf, et al), the numbers are up to a five-year high even though the overall amount of preseason injuries went down. Of course, 30 teams played only three preseason games, down from four in previous years.
Sills cited the amount of work required of players in a short timeframe, and expressed a need for significant load management to combat the problem.
“There’s a lot to unpack there and we will have more to say about this, I think, as we approach the combine (in late winter),” he said. “This year (such injuries) were particularly noteworthy.”
My $.02 on the soft tissue stuff is that the softer the NFL makes practices and the less often they actually make players do it the more often they are going to sustain muscle pulls. If players aren’t asked to run and cut and go hard in practice on a somewhat regular basis their bodies aren’t going to be ready to handle that when they have to do it in games. Thus, muscle pulls. Obviously, I’m not a medical expert. That’s just my grumpy old man take on football players not actually practicing football very often.
Taj Siddiqi asks: After Sunday’s win the voices calling for firing of JJ and his staff and DG and his front office cleaning are slightly quieter. But we all know they will come back stronger next week. My thinking with regard to this point of view is that we do have the franchise QB in DJ who started to get comfortable in this system so why put the most important piece of any football team go through a change? Why not let him continue to grow more experienced and proficient in it?
Nobody is coming looking for Jason Garrett to be their HC I am sure. Let DG go/retire fine. For the sake of letting DJ continue with these coaches and this staff, at least I am okay, with hiring someone internally as GM. Making personnel changes on roster via trades, free agency and draft all acceptable just don’t mess with the growth of your franchise QB. The harm done to a team‘s future when they don’t have a starting caliber QB or they put a potential future QB through too many system changes is enormous. Giants must avoid that mistake though they will get tremendous criticism from the fan base I know.
Of course this is my layman point of view. I like to know yours Mr. Valentine, my football spiritual leader?
Ed says: Taj, I’m all for stability if it is at all possible. I keep saying it, but the Giants got less than two years out of Ben McAdoo and then just two years out of Pat Shurmur. If you think you have the right head coach, and I believe Giants’ ownership feels that way about Joe Judge, you give it a full chance to see if it will work. You simply can’t keep blowing everything up every two years. You will never get anywhere that way.
Same with Jason Garrett. If you feel like the relationship is beneficial to Jones, you don’t blow it up. That’s a decision for the end of the year.
Gettleman is complicated. The won-loss record is miserable. The mistakes of 2018 are, however, a long time ago. If the Giants finish this year, say, 5-12, you can make the argument that it just isn’t working and it’s time to move on. Or, you can make the argument that the Giants have drafted really well the past three years (aside from DeAndre Baker) and added a lot of foundational pieces. That injuries derailed a chance to see what they could really be this year. You could argue that if you are keeping Judge and you like how he works with Gettleman that you should keep them together, then usher them both out the door after 2022 if the team still isn’t winning.
I will take a deeper look at Gettleman at some point, but for now those are my thoughts. If you believe in Judge and Jones you have to ride this out.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: I forgot to answer this question initially. My apologies.]