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Big Blue View mailbag: Wilderness Years, draft plans, Joe Judge, Dave Gettleman, more

The mail’s here!

No preamble today. Let’s just get right to the Big Blue View Mailbag and answers some New York Giants questions.

As I did last week, I also did a ‘Mailbag’ for Friday’s podcast. Check that out in the player below.

Douglas Mollin asks: For the younger fans, The Wilderness Years for the Giants were from 1964 to 1980. Seventeen seasons in a row without a playoff appearance with an average of five wins per season. Note that for 14 of those seasons, there were only 14 games.

Are we in a mini-Wilderness these past 10 seasons?

We do have that 1 “awesome” playoff game but otherwise nothing. And we have won an average of six games a year over that time instead of just five (again with an extra game each year, but whatever).

It’s possible that we extend this new Wilderness another few years should Judge be the wrong coach, DJ be the wrong QB and if we hire the wrong GM.

Do you believe we are in another Wilderness? Is this different from the last one? Is there light at the end of the tunnel, or is that just a train heading our way?

Ed says: Douglas, I don’t think there is much doubt. Call it a ‘mini-Wilderness Years’ or ‘Wilderness Years, Part 2’ or whatever you want. It’s a decade of bad football. Two winning seasons in 10 years. One playoff game. What is going to end up as five straight double-digit loss seasons.

Being this bad for this long — twice — is an amazing feat of ineptitude. If there is such a thing.

Is it possible that this Wilderness adventure stretches a few more years if Joe Judge is the wrong coach, if Daniel Jones or whoever comes after him is the wrong quarterback, and whoever follows Dave Gettleman is the wrong choice at GM? Absolutely.

Listen, here is something I truly believe. If you want a window into my soul it’s probably why I was harder on Jerry Reese than I have been on Gettleman. It’s harder to fix something once it’s broken than it is to keep something in good condition well-maintained and keep it going. All that takes is proper care to get the maximum production and life span.

Reese had a high-class luxury car on his hands with Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin. He eventually fell asleep at the wheel, drove that sucker around a curve and sent it careening down a mountain. Gettleman is the mechanic the Giants turned to, and his overhaul hasn’t gotten the job done.

If you have the wrong GM, coach and quarterback, you won’t find your way out of the darkness.

Jeff Newman asks: We have so many holes on this team and very little cap space for free agents. We need four offensive linemen, one or two pass rushers, a coverage linebacker, replacements for Blake Martinez and Bradberry who we should cut for cap space, and that’s just the starters. We also need depth. That being said, I think we can wait one more year to go after our next quarterback since the experts are saying this isn’t a very good QB draft class and DJ’s is still on his rookie contract next year. What if we trade down on both our top-10 first-round picks for two later first-round picks and some second round picks+ so we can draft multiple quality early round players and really jump start our rebuild?

Ed says: Jeff, I agree with your stance that next season is not the time to go all-in on trying to find a Daniel Jones replacement. I think I have been clear about that. Over the years, I have also been clear that I support the idea of trading down in the draft and accumulating picks whenever it makes sense.

If the right deal were to present itself (and I have not really considered it enough to know what the “right” deal might be) I would think about using ONE of those two top-10 picks to move down and accumulate assets. There is no scenario in which I could support the idea of trading back with BOTH of those picks and leaving the top 10 entirely.

I supported the Giants’ decision to trade down from No. 11 to No. 20. That netted them a fifth-round pick they used to move up in Round 3 and get cornerback Aaron Robinson, who looks like he could be a really good player. It brought the Giants a first-round pick from the Chicago Bears that will land in the top 10 in 2022. That might bring the Giants a foundational player.

The Giants, of course, used that No. 20 overall pick on wide receiver Kadarius Toney. We have only really seen a brief glimpse of Toney’s talent. He has neither been healthy enough nor used well enough by the Giants for us to have an idea what kind of player he might be.

What we do know is that right now the trade down is providing ample evidence for why GM Dave Gettleman resisted the idea of moving down in the draft in his previous eight drafts as a GM. That being the reality that trading back means you remove your opportunity to draft some talented players. You get more swings, which in the long run is likely to produce dividends, but you can miss out on some quality players along the way.

The combination of Toney, Robinson and whoever the Giants select next April with that Bears’ pick might be wonderful. What, though, do the Giants need more than anything? They need transformational, foundational, game-changing players on the offensive line and front seven on defense. That happens to be exactly what the players drafted 12th and 13th last April — Micah Parsons and Rashawn Slater — are.

Getting back to next April’s draft, I think the Giants would be foolish to take themselves out of both of their opportunities to draft those types of transformational players.

Christopher Benfer asks: You noted that Andrew Thomas is really the only OL that should be in the Giants’ plans moving forward. You specifically mentioned jettisoning Nate Solder, Billy Price, Matt Skura, and Will Hernandez. While I agree with Solder and Hernandez, I’m curious about Price and Skura. I believe both of them were signed as backups. While they clearly aren’t guys you want starting, have you given up on them as backups as well? If they are on typical backup contracts does it make sense to bring them back with the idea that you’ll have some new starters in front of them? While I’d prefer backups with some upside in the long run, I wonder if having a couple of people that know the coaches and know the system in that room wouldn’t be helpful if we’re going to be forced to turn over most of the starting positions.

Ed says: Christopher, on their own guys like Price, Skura and Hernandez are OK NFL offensive linemen. On good lines with quality players on both sides of them they would be functional players. The problem is that none of them are above-average players, and together they simply aren’t good enough.

I could live with Price, Skura or perhaps Ben Bredeson as backups next season. Skura has played a lot of football and offers guard-center flexibility. The Giants, though, can’t walk into the season counting on those guys as starters.

Rich F asks: Here’s another Gettleman & Judge email. I’ve thought for over a year now that Gettleman needs to go. Since then with the abject failure to “fix the offensive line once and for all” and the many other draft misses, I can’t see how he stays. Like you I’ve thought that Judge should be given another year. But after the Tampa Bay and Miami games I’ve changed my mind. They’ve looked more like a JV squad than an NFL team. They have shown no improvement (even if Judge insists otherwise) other than the last few games of last year, and that’s proven to be a mirage. My concern is if ownership decides that Gettleman is gone but Judge stays, wouldn’t that potentially reduce the potential GM pool? Why would a good candidate want to come in when he/she is being force-fed a coach that they don’t want? I’m thinking of the Jets from seven or so years ago. They insisted Rex Ryan stay and ended up with an over-his-head John Idzik. That catastrophe has cost them for years.

Even though I’m sure that you are tired of writing about the future of Gettleman & Judge, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this?

Ed says: Rich, I’ve written about this a number of times. I think you’ll find what you are looking for in this post.

Jacob Willett: Why do you think the Giants have been so terrible at scouting offensive linemen out of college? Outside of the 3-5 year run during the Coughlin years the offensive line has consistently been one of weakest units on the team for the past 30 years. Since 1990 only 3 offensive linemen drafted by the Giants have made the Pro Bowl (Snee 4, Diehl 1, and Jumbo Elliott 1). Guys like O’Hara, McKenzie, and Ron Stone were free agent acquisitions brought in to help struggling units. This problem is obviously deeper than the just the GM so what could it be and how does it span 3 decades?

Ed says: Jacob, I think there are a lot of layers to the answer. I can’t really go back three decades. What I can do is look at the time period since 2007 when I started covering the Giants for this site.

Initially, I don’t think the problem was one of terrible scouting. I don’t think that’s really ever been the problem. I think the problem has been one of negligence. The Giants went from 2009 (Will Beatty, Round 2) to 2013 (Justin Pugh, Round 1) without using any premium draft resources on the offensive line. The once-dominant line was allowed to fall apart without being properly supplemented. The Giants have been chasing the fix ever since.

Pugh was, and still is, a good player. He just couldn’t stay healthy and the Giants decided not to invest big money to keep him. Same with Weston Richburg, who is now retired because of injury. I thought they made the right decisions with both players.

Fact is, when you are chasing a fix the way the Giants have had to each mistake is magnified. That’s why the Ereck Flowers pick hurt so much. I know he is now playing well at guard for Washington. That, though, is the guy’s fifth NFL stop. It has taken five teams and seven seasons for him to become a functional player, so I don’t want to hear “the Giants should have made him a guard.”

Signing Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh? Right idea, wrong players. I have no problem with the picks of Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux. I think we don’t yet know if Lemieux and Peart can become answers, though I wonder if they will get a chance. The issue, again, is negligence. Why the Giants did not supplement the line with at least one early- to mid-round draft choice, and do a better job finding better veteran depth during the offseason, I will never know. It was a pretentious approach, and it backfired. In 2019, the giants had five picks in the first 108. Again, no clue why they didn’t use at least one on an offensive lineman. Same thing — that’s negligence.

Jerry Reese and Dave Gettleman have both been guilty of it.

Paul Miller asks: I’ve seen a few of the “experts” early mock drafts and I’m stunned that several of them had one or both picks going defense. I know the the Giants D is not top 10, but I believe that an offense that ate up more clock and scored a little more would be a benefit to a D that I think is good. We won’t know what kind of QB Jones will be unless he has a decent offensive line so, I’m taking the tackle [Evan] Neal, the center [Tyler] Linderbaum and a guard Johnson (?) or Seltzner (?) with my first 3 picks or some combination like that. How do you feel about an offensive spree?

Paul: Listen, I can’t and won’t commit to certain players at this point. I have barely studied more than a half-dozen prospects. What I will says is what I told Chris Pflum when he reviewed Todd McShay’s first mock draft, which gave the Giants Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis and Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean.

Before knowing what happens in free agency, I cannot support any draft — mock or otherwise — that does not use at least one of those first two picks on offensive line help. In the question above I was talking about negligence. Not selecting an offensive lineman with at least one of those first two picks would be absolute gross negligence.

Mike Tizzano asks: I’ve been a reader for a few years but never written in before. I was curious, now that you’re questioning Judge’s job security, how much will the fact that the Giants are still paying Shurmur play into the decision on whether or not they retain Judge. If I’m not mistaken they have to pay Pat for one more year minus whatever Denver is paying him. Will ownership bite the bullet and pay three head coaching salaries next year if they come to the conclusion that Joe Judge won’t figure this out?

Ed says: Mike, I understand why you would ask. Contracts for coaches are not available to the media and the public the way player contracts are, so I can’t give any specifics. I’m sure they don’t want to be paying three head coaches. I can’t believe, though, that would be the determining factor. All I will say is I think Giants ownership will do what they believe is right. As of now, I believe they still feel the right thing to do is to give Judge one more year to see if he can get this right. Could that change over the next four games? Sure, but right now I think that’s where it stands.

Mike Koopersmith asks: Regarding the pathetic performance of the Giants at the end of the first half – you reported that they have been outscored 59-0 this season – is this a reflection of Judge’s conservative offensive/defensive philosophy and what he’s telling his coordinators to do? Or is it on the offensive/defensive coordinators? Or bad execution of a perfectly fine strategy? Or what? As bad as the team has been playing for the other 58 minutes of each game, the final two minutes of the 1st half are in a class by themselves. What do you think?

Ed says: Mike, it’s a combination of everything. Dysfunction that has led to poor use of timeouts, putting the Giants at a disadvantage of the of the half and the game. Poor offense. Poor defense. Special teams units that have not gotten the job done at critical moments. What has happened in the final two minutes of first halves this season is really a microcosm of everything that has gone wrong for the Giants.

M2-0Buscemi: Just curious going back to last year’s draft when the Giants had a chance to draft Parsons. the rumor I heard was that someone in the Giants organization said there was too much baggage to take have any truth to that he obviously is the pass rush that we needed.

Ed says: M2-0, there were some concerns about Parsons’ maturity due to off-the-field stuff at Penn State, and some worry that he might be a “big” personality. Those weren’t specific to the Giants — they were a pretty common refrain when I read about or talked to people about Parsons. I don’t know what might or might not have happened internally as the Giants debated what to do.

Here is what head coach Joe Judge said on Thursday when asked about Parsons:

“He’s obviously a very good player. There were different needs we had and we thought the value was very good for the organization in terms of building for the future. There’s a lot of good players in the draft every year and there’s a lot of guys you’d like to add to your team. You can’t add ‘em all.

“Parsons is a guy we were very impressed with. We watched him work out in person, his tape obviously spoke for itself, we liked him as a guy. You knew he was going to be a very effective player in this league and really he’s progressing the way you thought he would.”

Don Bucc asks: Why hasn’t Freddie Kitchens seemingly met with the media the last few weeks like Graham, McGaughey and Garrett before he was let go? Other offensive position coaches seem to have met with the media based on the videos I’ve watched on but not Kitchens? Perhaps he has and they just haven’t released it?

Ed says: Don, Kitchens does not carry a “coordinator” title. He is still “Senior Offensive Assistant.” The Giants don’t have to make him available, so they aren’t. They have been making a different offensive coach available each week. Kitchens was available on Thursday as all the position coaches did their bi-weekly media availability. I only had a chance to stop there for a minute as I was talking to other coaches.