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‘Things I think:’ Mount Rushmore, Patrick Graham, more

Random thoughts for a Sunday without Giants football

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Las Vegas Raiders v New York Giants Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Let’s go through a few random New York Giants-related thoughts on a day without a Giants game.

Mount Rushmore

Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett opened the “who would belong on an NFL Mount Rushmore?” debate the other day with the highest possible praise of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

“They’re going to make a Mount Rushmore of football players at some point and the first face they chisel will be that guy’s face,” Garrett said of Brady. “He’s the best that ever walked and he’s a hell of a football player and what he’s done over the last 20 years has been remarkable. To think he’s 44 years old and probably playing the best ball of his career, it’s really amazing. He’s an inspiration to everybody in and out of sports.”

Garrett never completed his Mount Rushmore foursome, but he got me thinking about mine. So, I think I will share my list. Before I give you that list, here is the caveat. I can’t include players I never saw, or who were in the league when I was just a little kid and didn’t know what I was seeing.

So, here goes.

Tom Brady
Lawrence Taylor
Joe Montana
Jerry Rice

Jim Brown would probably replace Rice, but I was a 5-year-old kid when Brown retired. The other player I had a really difficult time leaving off my Mount Rushmore was Reggie White.

So, that’s my list. What’s yours? And, who is it really, really hard for you to leave off your Mount Rushmore?

A stat that stunned me

The Giants have scored just 11 touchdowns in 25 trips to the red zone this season, last in the NFL in red zone offensive efficiency at 44 percent. That’s bad, awful in fact, but it’s not the stat that stunned me.

I was looking deeper at the Giants’ red zone stats and the one that absolutely floored me is that Kenny Golladay, the Giants’ $72-million man, has one — yes, ONE — red zone target all season. The Giants have not thrown a ball in his direction when in the red zone since Week 1 against the Denver Broncos.

Now, I know that Golladay missed roughly 3½ games with a knee injury and that he did not work with Daniel Jones much in training camp due to a hamstring injury. That, though, is nothing short of ridiculous.

To be a red zone force is one of the reasons why the Giants went out and handed Golladay a four-year, $72 million deal with $40 million guaranteed, probably paying above market price. In his Pro Bowl 2019 season, Golladay scored 11 touchdowns for the Detroit Lions. He had 21 touchdowns in 47 games before coming to New York.

Let’s hope that while the Giants were self-scouting during the bye week somebody like Garrett, Freddie Kitchens or Joe Judge realized they need to start throwing the ball to the 6-foot-4, 213-pound Golladay and letting him do what they are paying him to do.

Golladay is itching to get into the end zone.

“Me personally, of course I want to set goals and put how many touchdowns I want. Is it frustrating? For me, yeah, just because I haven’t gotten in the (end) zone yet,” Golladay said. “But at the end of the day, as long as I’m making catches to help us get touchdowns, I’m okay.”

Golladay might be OK. It really isn’t OK, though, that the Giants have not figured out how to use the guy they are paying to be their No. 1 receiver at the most critical moments.

A thought about Isaiah Wilson

As evidenced by Saturday’s Big Blue View Mailbag, there seems to be a lot of interest in practice squad offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson. I get it. He is a 2020 first-round draft pick who flamed out after just four games due to a series of on- and off-the-field issues. In desperate need of offensive line help, the Giants are giving Wilson a chance to resurrect his career.

I think this is a long-term play by the Giants. It’s apparent they signed him when Wilson had few, if any, other suitors. It is also apparent that Wilson was nowhere close to being in playing shape when he joined the Giants at the end of September.

The Giants are using him at guard, and offensive line coach Rob Sale admitted a few days ago that the biggest reason for that is that Wilson isn’t in good enough physical condition to play tackle.

The more I think about this, I think the Giants are testing Wilson. Does he have the discipline and desire to stick with the program? Can he keep his head on straight? Could he perhaps be a useful offensive lineman for the Giants somewhere down the road?

It is really a low-risk play by the Giants. I can’t really blame them for taking a shot.

Elerson Smith’s long road

The Giants have begun to work rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson, their third-round pick, into the defense. I spoke with Robinson and the Giants’ defensive coaches about his progress recently, and the hope is for a Xavier McKinney-like progression.

I think the road is slower, and longer, for fourth-round pick Elerson Smith. An edge defender, he was active for the first time in Week 9 against the Las Vegas Raiders, but played only two special teams snaps.

When will we see Smith on defense?

“He’s gotta progress and become comfortable in himself and make us comfortable in what he can do,” linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer said recently.

That is an indication that Smith may not yet have earned the trust of the coaching staff. Honestly, that can’t be all that surprising.

Smith is an FCS player who has not really played football since 2019. His 2020 season at Northern Iowa was cancelled when the Missouri Valley Conference decided not to play due to COVID-19. He played a bit in the Senior Bowl, but in many ways that is a controlled environment. Smith missed all of training camp and the first half of the season with a hamstring injury.

Going into the offseason it would be great to know if Smith can join Azeez Ojulari and Quincy Roche to give the Giants an impressive, young group of edge defenders. It is hard, though, to know if the Giants will be able to get an accurate read on Smith this season.

They do want to get his feet wet.

“A lot of times in the past we’ve created a role, maybe a small role and said OK we’re gonna make this happen so he gets on the field,” Sherrer said.

Let’s hope the Giants are able to do at least that much with Smith at some point over the final eight weeks.

Patrick Graham as Giants’ head coach?

There is, of course, chatter about the Giants’ defensive coordinator being a sought-after head-coaching candidate this offseason. One report even suggested Graham as a Joe Judge replacement if the Giants think they have the wrong guy sitting in the head coaching chair.

I don’t see it.

First of all, as I have said repeatedly, I think the Giants believe they have the right guy. I don’t think Judge is going anywhere.

Second of all, though he might entertain head-coaching interviews this time around, I don’t see Graham feeling good about replacing Judge. As many times as Graham has professed his love for the Giants, he has spoken about his friendship with and respect for Judge even more often.

I simply can’t see Graham being comfortable stepping into Judge’s job if the Giants did show him the door.