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Big Blue View mailbag: Dave Gettleman, Joe Judge, a four-bagger of questions, more

The mail’s here

The Giants are on a bye week. Big Blue View, though, is never on a bye week. So, let’s open up the Big Blue View Mailbag and answer some questions.

Gino Phillips asks: In looking at some of the stats/ratings that you shared after this week I have some questions for you:

  • Is Rudolph possibly just rounding into full shape following his off season surgery and limited pre-season?
  • Was the run game success driven by the blocking of Solder, Peart and Rudolph against the Raider’s DE’s?
  • Is A Jackson not a good run defender/tackler?
  • The once forgotten Holmes is playing in Pepper’s absence. What is your assessment thus far?

Ed says: Gino, you’re in luck. It’s a light week here at the mailbag, so I will take on all of these.

  • I wouldn’t say that Kyle Rudolph is just rounding into shape, though it takes time to build up after missing as much time as Rudolph did. I think it has taken time for Jason Garrett to fully incorporate him into the passing attack. Despite the missed practice time, that’s on Garrett. There is a decade worth of tape on what Rudolph can do, and the Giants should have been prepared to use that from Day 1.
  • I would say that, yes, Nate Solder, Matt Peart and Rudolph had a lot to do with it. All three had great days run blocking. Per Pro Football Focus, Solder (83.7), Peart (81.0) and Rudolph (76.1) had the Giants’ top three run-blocking grades.
  • Adoree’ Jackson has historically been a decent run defender, though he hasn’t been this season (36.0 PFF grade). He is only 185 pounds, so it’s never going to be his forte. As for tackling, it’s not Jackson’s tackling in the secondary that I have a problem with. James Bradberry has missed a ridiculous 26.3 percent of his tackle attempts so far this season.
  • I think Darnay Holmes on the field instead of Peppers provides an upgrade in pass coverage. I think, like Peppers, Holmes can be an effective blitzer. I think Peppers is bigger, more physical and a superior run defender. I also think the Giants traded up to draft Aaron Robinson because they hope he will eventually supplant Holmes in the slot.

Kyle Presogna asks: Could you break down what happens to a player who is cut after the trade deadline please?

Ed says: Kyle, here is your answer. It comes from DraftKings Nation:

Now that the NFL trade deadline has passed, any player released must go through waivers. Prior to the trade deadline, if a vested veteran — a player with at least four years of accrued service time — was cut, they immediately became a free agent. Now through the Super Bowl, they must go through waivers — which allows any team to claim them.

The waiver wire priority follows the current draft order. That currently means the Giants are No. 8 in waiver priority. Following the Super Bowl until the day after the third regular season week, the priority is the same as the first round of that year’s NFL Draft. So, for the first three weeks the were No. 11.

Captain Stubing asks: I’m firmly in the ‘It’s time for Getty to retire to Cape Cahd’ camp. Let’s assume my dream comes true - what do you feel are the chances that Mara hires someone from outside the organization? Personally I feel that would be best instead of going the typical ‘someone the org knows’ route. Preferably someone with a more modern approach to team-building & understanding of positional value.

The secondary question is who the possible candidates are. I assume that Judge is not going anywhere so the candidate needs to be willing to work with him; perhaps that suggests someone who knows Judge or is some offshoot of the Patriots tree. What do you think?

Ed says: Captain, I have said before that I believe the Giants should cast a wide net if they decide to move on from Dave Gettleman, or if he chooses to retire, at season’s end. They can’t simply promote Kevin Abrams or Chris Pettit or Kyle O’Brien or whoever they think is next in line. It is time for some fresh thinking, some fresh perspective.

Candidates? Monti Ossenfort, director of player personnel with the Tennessee Titans, has to be considered a candidate. He has history with Joe Judge from the New England Patriots. Ed Dodds, assistant GM in Indianapolis and a guy who worked for the Seattle Seahawks for a decade, is a guy worth talking to. I have wondered in the past if Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy is interested in being an NFL GM. Chris Shea, VP of football operations/team counsel for the Kansas City Chiefs, has an interesting background. I would talk to him. There are a lot of guys.

This can’t be an Ernie Accorsi-led search. I also don’t really want a retread GM. Decide what you’re looking for, talk to as many up-and-coming executives from successful franchises around the league as you can, find the best, brightest guy you can.

John Mernit asks: You’ve been very critical of Joe Judge’s conservative calls on fourth down, often citing a statistic giving the win probability of making the more aggressive decision. I agree with you in a number of those instances. My question, though, is whether that’s a fair statistic to measure him against. It may be that I just don’t understand how they’re compiling that statistic. However, unless it controls for whether it’s a good team or a bad team making the decision, it’s worthless. If you’re a head coach running one of the worst offenses in the league - which we are - knowing what an average of all NFL teams would achieve isn’t the salient factor. What you need to know is the probability of your bad offense - against, say, a really good defense - on a particular Sunday when you’ve been stuffed on third down repeatedly - making that 4th-down conversion. In some cases, Joe Judge may not be conservative as much as realistic.

I can imagine a day - one I fervently hope for - a year or two down the road when the Giants are a solidly good team, and reading articles about how Joe Judge has gotten more aggressive on 4th down, that fact being cited as a reason for their success. It may just be, though, that he knows he finally has the horses to deliver on those conversions. I would actually expect him to get more aggressive in direct proportion to how far the team improves.

Again, I’m not arguing whether Joe Judge is right or wrong, just questioning the measuring stick, which might lead us to view his choices a bit more harshly than they deserve. Your thoughts?

Ed says: John, you are absolutely right that there are limits to the data and that you can’t simply blindly follow the analytics. As an example, I love baseball but I hate the way starting pitchers are treated now. The analytics say pitchers struggle more a third time through a lineup. So, managers dutifully pull guys out after four or five innings, regardless of how well they are pitching. Then, at the end of the year they wonder why none of their relievers have anything left, and they are looking around trying to find useful arms.

The analytics are a guide, and you need to understand them. But, you don’t need to blindly follow them. You have to use your eyes. You have to use your experience. You have to factor in the weather, your feel for the game, the momentum, the opponent, all of that.

My feeling is that right now Judge is displaying a blind spot for understanding that there are certain times when you have to go for the throat, when you have to try and take the game over yourself. Not play the long game, the field position game, hope for a big special teams play or a big stand by your defense. You have the ball and the opportunity in front of you — go take it.

Let me give you for situations where I thought Judge needed to be more aggressive. Three of them are fourth-down decisions.

  • Against Washington in Week 2, the Giants trail by a point when a James Bradberry interception sets them up at the Washington 20-yard line with 2:16 to play. The Giants go run, run, short and incomplete pass, field goal. Not once did they take a shot at a touchdown that would have forced Washington to score a matching touchdown to win. Judge trusted his kicker and his defense. He did not trust his quarterback, or his play makers. You want to know if Daniel Jones can win a game? Let him go try to win one. Those game-on-the-line red zone situations are what the Giants are paying Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph for. They didn’t get a chance to make a play. The Giants played it safe and it contributed to a loss.
  • Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons was, more or less, Eli Manning Day. The Giants were retiring Manning’s jersey and inducting him into their Ring of Honor at halftime. MetLife Stadium was alive and in a celebratory mood — until Atlanta took the lead just before halftime.

In the third quarter, the stadium was deadly silent. The Giants weren’t doing anything. They reached the Atlanta 39-yard line, still trailing, 7-6, with 6:29 to go in the third quarter. They had a fourth-and-3. Here was a perfect chance to energize the stadium, get the home crowd rocking again, build some momentum, take charge of the game. The Giants punted.

  • Week 5 against the Dallas Cowboys. The 1-3 Giants are a heavy underdog on the road. Lorenzo Carter makes the only big play he has made all season, tipping and intercepting a Dak Prescott pass on Dallas’s opening possession to give the Giants the ball at their own 49-yard line.

The Giants get one first down, but end up facing fourth-and-5 at the Dallas 36-yard line. Judge sends out Graham Gano, who misses a 54-yard field goal. Why not go for it there? Try to stun Dallas early? Field goals were not going to win that game, which the Cowboys won, 44-20. That’s a wasted chance, even if the field goal is good.

  • Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Again, the Giants are on the road as a heavy underdog in a game they were not supposed to win. Trailing 14-7 with 2:48 left in the first half the Giants face fourth-and-2 at the Kansas City 5-yard line. They kick the field goal, again missing an opportunity to change the momentum. The field goal had to feel like a victory for the Chiefs there, and it did nothing to add to the unease of a Kansas City crowd which was expecting the worst.

The analytics probably agree with me on all of those. The analytics, though, aren’t the point. Sometimes, you have to be bold. You have to be the aggressor. You have to just push your chips to the middle of the table and shoot your shot.

As Judge has gone through his self-scout this week, and as he reflects on things that need to be done differently going forward, I hope he will remember this old adage:

Fortune favors the bold. He need to be bolder.