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Big Blue View mailbag: Quarterback, offensive line, more questions

The mail’s here!

The Big Blue View Mailbag was absolutely overflowing this week. So much so, in fact, that I used Friday’s ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast as a second mailbag to answer more of your New York Giants-related questions. Be sure to give that episode, which is embedded below, a listen.

Now, let’s get to this week’s questions.

Ernest Mammano asks: Can you tell me how we missed on Elijah Mitchell? Our offensive line coach Rob Sale was the offensive coordinator for Mitchell in college. These are the kind of things that drive Giant fans nuts about Gettleman. This should have been the easiest pick to make.

Ed says: Ernest, I understand the frustration. This, though, is the kind of question that drives me nuts. The Giants did not miss on Elijah Mitchell. They did not get a chance to select him.

Mitchell was taken by the San Francisco 49ers at pick No. 194 in the sixth round, two picks BEFORE the Giants selected running back Gary Brightwell at No. 196. The Giants did not have a fifth-round pick. I believe there is a really good chance the Giants would have taken Mitchell at 196 had he still been there, but he was not.

Chris Doheny asks: It seems like consensus is that there is no slam dunk QB in this year’s draft class who would be clearly better than Daniel Jones. But it also seems clear that the Giants are in a difficult situation with the salary cap over the next few years, and a starting QB on a rookie deal is one of the best ways to save money. So my question is this: in your opinion, could it be worth it to move on from Jones to Pickett/Willis/Corral, even if it is not a clear upgrade in talent, simply because it allows more cap flexibility to improve the rest of the roster over the next 4-5 years? Or is a high first-round pick too much to give up when there is expected to be good edge rusher, CB and OT talent available at the top of the draft, and those tend to be expensive positions as well?

Ed says: Chris, if it’s not a clear upgrade in talent why do it? If you LOVE the quarterback and you think he’s a franchise-changer you take him. You don’t talk yourself into taking him for ancillary reasons.

Most analysts are still saying that any quarterback taken in the top 10 is a reach. To me, the better course of action is to use those two top-10 picks to add two studs to the roster. Maybe two offensive linemen. Maybe an offensive lineman and a pass rusher. Maybe an offensive lineman and a hybrid safety like Kyle Hamilton of Notre Dame. Whatever. Build the roster. Don’t take a quarterback swing right there unless you are 100 percent convinced the guy you pick will be an upgrade over what you have.

David Bleecker asks: I can’t quite put my finger on it, but somehow this last game against Miami felt like some kind of new low. It felt more frustrating and senseless than so many of the loses I’ve watched over the last decade. And today, listening to the NYG podcasts and reading the blogs and twitter and comment sections, don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way.

So my question to you is — does the fanbase feel like they’ve crossed a point of no return? Even among such a disgruntled fanbase as this one (rightly) is?

I don’t know if I can remember the base being this unified with DEEP outrage and disgust. It really feels like there’s something new in the air.

Or have I just finally snapped?

Ed says: David, earlier in the week I wrote that Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins was the first time I came out of a game feeling like Joe Judge’s job might actually be in jeopardy. So, yeah, it felt like some kind of new low. Really, the problem is that it was just more of the same — with a lot of the same in-game issues we have watched for two years.

As for the fan base, I won’t speak for them. Folks, go ahead and use the comments to tell our friendsMr. Bleecker how you feel.

Jerry Panza asks: Do you think it’s just time to blow this whole thing up and start from scratch. If our coaches are supposed to have the players ready to play I haven’t seen it. Have you? I don’t like the idea of sweeping everybody out even Joe Judge any more than you. Is it a possibility the Giants hire a strong George Young type GM and let him make his own choices of his personnel? I am also wondering about the mental state of the locker room and are players just anticipating getting this season over with and just going through the motions?

Ed says: Jerry, I understand the “blow this whole thing up” argument. There are things that continue to happen during games that mystify me. I have written about the dysfunction, the lack of discipline, the game management errors, a number of times. I don’t understand why there hasn’t been progress in those areas.

That said, I still think the Giants want to stay the course and give Judge another year. I don’t think Judge returning is a guarantee, but I believe strongly it is what ownership would prefer as of now.

As for the GM, I think anything is possible. I think what is more likely is hiring someone familiar with Judge, or at least familiar with the Patriots way of thinking. I just really believe the Giants want to see this through and try to get off this “two years and start over” treadmill.

As for the locker room, did you see any signs of lack of effort on Sunday? I certainly did not. I saw a team that played hard. I don’t see bickering or dissension. It’s just a terrible offensive team.

Larry Jamieson asks: What an incredibly frustrating year. I’m sure lots of people are doing way too early mock drafts and a lot of them come down to how soon and how many offensive linemen. Typically I have been doing (at least) three.

Part of the equation of who we already have? At this point, Thomas seems to be the only sure thing. Peart seems destined for depth as swing tackle, Solder may be retiring, Hernandez is playing himself of the roster. Gates is highly questionable due to the severity of injury. What of Shane Lemieux? We haven’t heard much about him. Will we ever see Kyle Murphy on the field? You’ve already talked about Isaiah Wilson, but he is still in play?

I left out the rest of the guys playing right now because none look to be the future.

I guess the big question is, what’s your overall though on the line at this point and what needs to be done for the future?

Ed says: Larry, I think the Giants have ONE offensive lineman they can absolutely go forward with — Andrew Thomas. Shane Lemieux wasn’t good as a rookie and is now coming off a major injury. Nick Gates may not be healthy enough to play at the start of next year, if at all. The guy had at least six surgeries on his fractured leg. This staff doesn’t believe in Matt Peart. We don’t know what will become of Isaiah Wilson.

To me, you have to sweep out Nate Solder, Billy Price, Matt Skura, Will Hernandez and start over. If it’s me, I’m trying to find three new starters and figuring out the other spot (depending on whether it’s guard or right tackle) with Wilson, Peart, Lemieux, Ben Bredeson.

Ray Kochert asks: Did anyone notice that John Mara was absent at Strahan’s jersey retirement. Give me a break, one of the all-time Giant greats and an HOF’er and Mara was nowhere to be seen.

What does that tell long time Giants fans? He is absolutely useless.

Ed says: Ray, I know exactly where Mara was. He was up on the sixth floor of the stadium, which is where the press box is and where his suite is, standing in line with the rest of us to get a bite to eat.

That is exactly where I would have been if I was John Mara, and exactly the right place for him to be.

Did you notice that Mara got lustily booed when he was at the podium during the Eli Manning ceremony? That there were a smattering boos at the mention of his name during Strahan’s ceremony? Mara did the right thing — he stayed upstairs and let Strahan have his moment without the distraction of fans venting their anger at the sight of the owner.

James Williams asks: The Giants drafted Jones as an Eli Manning type, Coach Cutcliffe bred drop-back QB, which is fine. Pats kinda did okay with what’s-his-name and are again with their Jones as recent examples.

DJ showed pocket-escape straight line speed with Shurmur as a rook but management, perhaps unwisely, decided he’s Joe RPO and now we’re watching injuries wreck his career. If you are the next GM, do you hire coaches to maximize his pocket abilities or continue with an RPO offense that seems destined to break him?

Ed says: James, the RPO and zone-read style of offense is here to stay in the NFL. At least until the next newfangled thing comes along.

Something else to clarify. With the Giants, ownership has always hired the head coach. The GM would have significant input, but I still do not believe the Giants will be hiring a new head coach next season. The head coach has primary responsibility for hiring the assistants. It is his staff.

Now, Daniel Jones. It is true that all of his injuries have come as a result of him being used as a rummer. Fact is, his running ability is a tremendous asset. The Giants can’t completely remove that from their arsenal. What you want is to get to a point where it is not a primary weapon, rather a rarely-used one that you keep in your back pocket for special circumstances.

You need a better offensive line to do that. You need a running game you can rely on without the quarterback being a primary ballcarrier. You need to give him better support so you don’t have to use him as a primary runner, or as a receiver in situations where he can take big hits.

Bob Donnelly asks: Can you explain why Hernandez is still starting for the NY Giants?

Given the circumstances why have they not replaced him with Peart?

We know Peart was drafted as a tackle and there is the “body type” argument. However, even Ereck Flowers has made the transition from tackle to guard and is starting for Washington. Worst case is Peart can function as the depth for tackle and guard.

Given the state of their line play it boarders on coaching negligence to not look for any option to Hernandez. What is the backup plan had Hernandez been injured or placed on the Covid list?

With but 4 wins the Giants would need to run the table; win the last 5 games to avoid yet another loosing season. Playoffs are once again a pipe dream.

Isn’t it time to give the “developmental” players meaningful snaps to determine if they should be part of the team’s future?

Ed says: Bob, reality is there isn’t anyone better than Will Hernandez for the Giants to play right now. Former Washington Football Team practice squad guard Wes Martin isn’t the future, and he is sidelined with COVID-19 right now, anyway.

Matt Peart practiced a few times as an emergency guard, but that’s not his spot. Maybe it could be with an offseason and a training camp, but not now. Besides, this coaching staff has screamed from the mountaintop that they have already made their decision on Peart, and they don’t see him as part of the solution. Their biggest problem with Peart? He’s not physical enough. If he isn’t physical enough to play tackle, how would he succeed at the even more physical spot of guard? Ben Bredeson played last week in place of Matt Skura. If the Giants don’t think Isaiah Wilson is in playing shape yet, there isn’t anyone else.

There are a few emergency offensive linemen on the practice squad aside from Wilson, but if they were really any good they would be on someone’s 53-man roster.

Anthony Del Genio asks: There is a lot of talk about the performance of Joe Judge, Jason Garrett (now Freddie Kitchens), and Patrick Graham. But there’s been little about the position coaches. Is there any evidence of whether any of them have been doing a good or poor job, especially those on offense?

I’m thinking especially of Rob Sale. He was hired with some fanfare. And I realize there have been injuries and retirements that cloud any judgment. At the same time there seems to be no visible sign of improvement anywhere along the OL since the current 5 starters were put into place a couple of games into the season. He as much as admitted he hasn’t been able to motivate Matt Peart. Will Hernandez still can’t recognize a stunt. Billy Price often looks around aimlessly wondering if there is someone he should be blocking after he snaps the ball. In contrast, there seemed to be a noticeable improvement in the OL when Dave DeGuglielmo replaced Marc Colombo in mid-season last year. I’ve been thinking about this, and a tweet this morning by @clt_ny made me decide to ask you about it.

Is there any way to get a good idea of whether Judge hired good position coaches?

Ed says: Anthony, the quality of work done by position coaches is difficult to judge. After training camp, media does not get to watch practice. So, we really don’t see or hear these guys coach their players.

That said, I think there are a lot of really good, qualified coaches on the Giants’ staff. I don’t think the staff comes back intact next season, but I believe it’s a good group.

Specifically when it comes to Rob Sale, I think it’s really difficult to say. I believe he’s a good coach who simply isn’t working with much. Don’t forget that Pat Flaherty, who was Tom Coughlin’s offensive line coach during his entire tenure, is also on staff.

I don’t think the coaching is the problem. I think the talent is. Will Hernandez is in his fourth season and on his third OL coach. He still can’t pick up a stunt or figure out who to block on a blitz. At this point, that’s on him. Billy Price went through a couple of coaching staffs in Cincinnati that judged him not to be starter material. Matt Skura was on the street when the Giants signed him. The Baltimore Ravens are probably still chuckling about getting a fourth-round pick in return for Bredeson. As for Peart, the Giants’ problem with him appears to be lack of aggression. You can teach technique and motivate all you want, but you can’t change someone’s personality and make him something he’s not.