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Big Blue View mailbag: Dave Gettleman, Joe Judge, pass rush, more

The mail’s here!

Can the New York Giants upset the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday? That’s a question that won’t be answered until Sunday evening. We can, though, answer some Giants-related questions right now. so, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and do that.

David Bleecker asks: Let’s assume the Giants finish the season with something close to a .500 record. And let’s assume ownership decides to move on from Gettleman.

My understanding is Mara/Tisch hire the coach, not the GM. In your personal opinion, do you think they would make retaining Judge part of the package deal for the next GM? Or do you think it’s more likely that they allow the next GM to make their own decision regarding the head coach?

Ed says: David, I have said this before — I do not think Joe Judge is going anywhere. Whether Dave Gettleman will be the GM next season or not is a legitimate question. I think there is very little chance someone other than Joe Judge is coaching the Giants next season, regardless of what happens with the GM.

Giants fans need to accept the idea that these days it is Judge’s vision driving this franchise. That doesn’t mean he has final say on every decision. It just means Judge’s vision is the driving force behind the decisions that get made.

Ben McAdoo lasted less than two full seasons as head coach. Pat Shurmur lasted two seasons. John Mara said when Judge was hired that the organization understood they couldn’t keep recycling head coaches every two years, and that with Judge being a young, first-time head coach they were going to have to exercise more patience. As hard as that may be at times, that is exactly what I expect them to do.

Robert Forgione asks: Ed, with the lack of a pass rush this year, is it time to think Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are not the answers? I always liked Carter, but he seems not to have that extra gear to get to the QB on a consistent basis. Time for Quincy Roche, perhaps. Also, it seems Graham is not sending his safeties as much as last year, true?

Ed says: Robert, the Giants have waited ... and waited ... and waited for Lorenzo Carter to turn his extraordinary physical gifts into production. It just hasn’t happened. At this point, I think Carter has probably shown us what he is. That’s a useful, but not dynamic, player. Ximines flashed some pass rush ability as a rookie in 2019, but we’re not seeing it now. If he can’t be a force as a pass rusher, there’s no spot for him in my view.

As for blitzing, you might be surprised to know that Pro Football-Reference has the Giants blitzing 29.7 percent of the time so far this season. Only eight teams have blitzed more often.

Unfortunately, the Giants have not been productive. They are 20th in sacks with 6, 29th in pressure percentage (19.4), 30th in quarterback knockdown percentage (5.6), and 14th in hurry percentage (10.3).

ESPN has the Giants as 31st in pass rush win rate.

The plain truth of those numbers is this — no matter how many players Patrick Graham is sending, those rushers are not winning their matchups often enough. I don’t know if Quincy Roche can help, but if the Giants think he can I have no issue with him playing more and Ximines playing less.

Don Bucc asks: We’ve debated at length regarding DG’s decision to draft Saquon with the #2 pick with those opposing the decision arguing that a running back should never be taken that high and positional value matters. While I agree with that in basic concept and was hoping for a trade down that year, I quickly embraced the pick and was nothing but thrilled when we got to experience Saquon’s rookie year. He looked nothing less than a top 5 (arguably top 1 or 2) offensive threat in the entire NFL. While he has obviously suffered the injuries since (not necessarily because he is a RB), my question is really this - is it not worth the #2 pick if you believe you are getting a top 5 offensive threat in the entire NFL? Hindsight is of course 20/20 and Saquon’s injuries are cause for concern but this Sunday reminded us of how an effectively used Saquon can impact a game. Personally, I blame our coaches for principally using him as an RB (which is not worth a top 2 pick) vs. the offensive threat he is capable of being. Thoughts?

Ed says: Don, you’re right that this is hardly new territory. I love Barkley as a player and think he’s a terrific representative of the Giants franchise. He is capable of things that few players can do, and that maybe few players have ever done.

I have vacillated over the years about whether the Barkley pick, which goes against my general draft philosophy of not taking running backs that highly, was the right one. The Giants had three choices in that draft:

  1. Take a quarterback. Probably Sam Darnold, maybe Josh Allen.
  2. Trade down and take either Quenton Nelson or Bradley Chubb, and add a bunch of other picks.
  3. Take Barkley.

If they didn’t want the quarterback, I still believe the trade down would have been the preferable option. I think it would have accelerated the rebuilding process and been the better long-term play.

I think Barkley would have been a fantastic piece to add to a team that was ready to win. It’s just really, really hard to start a rebuild with a running back — even one as good as Barkley.

Now, the other part of your question. Is it really fair to criticize the way this coaching staff has used Barkley? I think not. Joe Judge and Jason Garrett had him for less than two games last season. This season, they have had a Barkley who has been finding his way after last season’s major injury. To be honest, they are also still figuring out both what he runs best and what they can block with their ever-changing line.

Pat Shurmur used Barkley to the tune of 91 receptions in 2018. I loved the way Garrett used Barkley vs. New Orleans — splitting him wide, getting him downfield, dumping him some well-time screens, handing him the ball on some RPOs where he hit the line with a full head of steam. I’m excited to see if that continues. As you said, Barkley — like Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey — is not just a running back.

Christopher White asks: When are Elerson Smith and Aaron Robinson due to be activated? Having showed well at the Senior Bowl, I recall the Giants thought enough about them not to risk waiving them or placing them on injured reserve. If healthy enough, they might provide useful depth pieces. Are they progressing, and do the Giants foresee their taking meaningful snaps this year, if only for the NFL experience?

Ed says: Christopher the answer is different for each player. Let’s go through it.

Smith is on injured reserve with what has been called a hamstring injury that he apparently suffered in rookie workouts the week prior to the official start of training camp. He is currently eligible to be taken off IR, but that doesn’t mean it is going to happen soon.

It is my understanding that Smith went through a workout early this week in front of Giants coaches and trainers. It would seem that after that workout the Giants determined that he isn’t quite ready yet. Once he is ready, the Giants will designate him for return from IR. Maybe that will be next week. Once they designate him to return, the Giants have 21 days to decide whether to activate him or leave him on IR for the entire season. So, we’re probably looking at midseason or later before we see Smith in action.

Robinson is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He is not eligible to return to action until after Week 6. After that sixth week, which would be following the Giants game against the Los Angeles Rams, the Giants have a five-week window in which to allow Robinson to return to practice, place him on IR or waive him. Once Robinson does return to practice, the Giants would have three weeks to decide to place him on the 53-man roster or on season-ending IR.

Bruce Frazer asks: How long do you think it will take before the Giants know if Isaiah Wilson is a worthy reclamation project and has the skills to take a spot on the O- line. If he is able to overcome his issues the Giants might have snagged a 1st round talent in a much needed position.

Ed says: Bruce, it is going to take a while. Offensive line coach Rob Sale said during the week that right now the work with Wilson is to get him into condition. The guy really hasn’t played football in a long while now.

Here is what Sale said:

“We’re trying to get him in shape and get him to where he can do more out on the field. That’s where we’re at right now. Get him in shape, get him caught up to speed so then we can really get a good evaluation on him.”

My guess is you won’t see Wilson on the 53-man roster anytime soon. Maybe not at all this season.