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Big Blue View mailbag: Draft, free agency, Jason Garrett, Daniel Jones, more

The mail’s here!

The Big Blue View Mailbag features an interesting mix of New York Giants questions this week. It touches on the draft, free agency, the future of Daniel Jones and more. Let’s open the mail and get started.

Chris Fiegler asks: Do you think that the New York Giants should select Christian Barmore, defensive tackle from Alabam, either with the 11th pick or in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft?

Ed says: Chris, under no circumstances do I think the Giants — or any team, for that matter — should take Barmore at No. 11 or within a few picks of that range. He’s not, in my view, a player worthy of that. Now, if they lose Dalvin Tomlinson in free agency I could see them investing a Round 2 or Day 2 pick in Barmore or another hand-in-the-ground defensive lineman.

Listen to what Brent Taylor of SB Nation’s Roll Bama Roll had to say about Barmore on a recent ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast:

Gino Phillips asks: There are enough things written about how the Giants need to address the second starting OT position in the draft (even with high picks) that I have to ask you, has the view of Peart soured after his one (very) bad game last season? Given that he was drafted with the intent of 2020 being a developmental year, it does not seem logical to me to spend a high draft pick on another OT given other needs on the team. What are your thoughts on this?

Ed says: Gino, I don’t think the Giants have soured on Matt Peart at all? Some fans might have, but that doesn’t matter. You know, I’ve never heard of fans latching on to one thing they have seen or heard (good or bad) and refusing to let that go.

Matt Peart was, as you say, drafted with the idea that he had all of the physical tools to make him a good NFL tackle, and that what he really needed was a year to learn and build his strength before being relied on as a full-time player. Joe Judge’s insistence that Peart be rotated into the lineup at times during the 2020 season, in my view, probably has him ahead of the curve entering 2021.

Now, there is no denying that Peart played better early in the season than he did later in the season. The other way to put that is he played much better for Marc Colombo and pre-COViD-19 diagnosis than he did post-COVID-19 and for Dave DeGuglielmo.

I’m not faulting DeGuglielmo or COVID-19 for Peart’s late-season difficulties, I’m just saying that both could have been factors. DeGuglielmo was upfront with media about his disdain for rookies.

I would like to see Peart given a full-blown opportunity in 2021 to prove that the Giants were right to take him at the end of Round 3 last year. I’m still bullish on Andrew Thomas despite his rookie struggles. If both players work out, you’ve got nice book ends for you offensive line for the next few years.

That said, if the Giants love Rashawn Slater of Northwestern as much as I do and decide to make him the 11th overall pick, I’m not going to complain. Slater could challenge Peart at right tackle, Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux at left guard or be a long-term replacement for Kevin Zeitler at right guard. Selecting Slater wouldn’t bother me a bit.

Jason Byam asks: When it comes to Jason Garrett as OC, do you think the offense can turn it around this year? I can imagine teaching a new offense to a young team with a young QB over Zoom wasn’t an easy task ( throw in the Barkley injury, as well). Seems to me the successful teams this year (Bills, Saints, Chiefs, Ravens, Packers, Bucs) all had the same system, head coach and OC as the previous year/years. I know Garrett gets criticized (rightfully so) for lack of motion and creativity in his offense but isn’t that something that takes time and continuity?

Ed says: Jason, many fans don’t want to hear it but you are absolutely right about all of the challenges last season posed for teams like the Giants — young teams with new head coaches and coordinators who were installing new systems without practice time or personal contact with players until August. The year was also going to favor established teams or veteran quarterbacks.

Mark Schofield, quarterback trainer Tony Racioppi and I had this discussion on a ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. The continuity gives Jones his best chance.

Here is what Racioppi, admittedly a friend of Garrett’s since childhood, said:

“People ask if Jason should be back. Absolutely I think Jason should be back. Listen, this year if they struggle big time or Daniel doesn’t play great or he plays the same or maybe he gets a little worse, OK, that’s a conversation to have next year,” Racioppi said.

“I’m looking for, now you know your pieces Jason, now you know what guys can do, hopefully you add some guys in free agency and the draft, things you miss in that offense that hopefully you can get and then adding stuff we’re talking about. Helping the young quarterback find completions.”

Racioppi said Jones seemed comfortable by season’s end.

“You see Daniel just so comfortable in things why would you want to change that up on him again?,” Racioppi said. “When you start understanding what the coach wants from you that’s when you can really take the next jump. Seeing the same concepts over and over and over again. It’s just different formations and window dressing, but it’s the same stuff, same concepts.”

Now, the Giants do need to improve some of the “window dressing’ in their offense. They do need to find some better ways to create yards after catch opportunities for receivers. They do need to be a bit more vertical, something Jones does well.

I do not think subjecting Jones to his fourth offensive system in four years, including his final season at Duke, is the way to go about it.

Jim Moriarty asks: You have made it clear that you don’t want to use the tag, and that something has to get done with Williams. Maybe this will be a moot point by Saturday, but I doubt it. If we reach the 9th [of March, the deadline for tagging players] and Williams is still unsigned, your preference would be to: Do nothing, transition tag, exclusive franchise tag, non-exclusive franchise tag (my preference)?

Ed says: Jim, I would hate to see the Giants use the tag on Leonard Williams under any circumstances. I want Williams back with the Giants, but I do not want to see the tag used to make that happen. We have been under the impression that the tag for Williams would cost $19.4 million in 2021, which is around 12 percent of the expected salary cap. We learned recently that Williams’ grievance — he wants to be considered a defensive end rather than an interior defensive lineman — has yet to be resolved. If he were to win, that tag value would exceed $21 million. Every penny of that would count on the 2021 cap.

In my view, there is no way the Giants can do that. Tag Williams, at either price, and free agency for the New York Giants is basically over. Without cutting other players the Giants would rather keep and would then have to replace somehow, there really would be no way they could do anything else of even moderate significance.

In my view, you keep working to get his name on a long-term deal where you can control the cap costs. If that’s not going to happen, you move on to a cheaper option.

Christopher Keller asks: Am I looking at things too simply when I look at today’s fantasy driven NFL in the following way. It’s been proven over a number of years that the way to make the playoffs is to average over 25 ppg. Average over 30 ppg to make the Super Bowl. Statistics will bear out that the more points you score the farther you go. Having a “great” defense is not all that important. A high scoring offense will make an average defense worthy enough to win the Super Bowl. When we look at the Giants it’s fairly obvious to me what their goal should be this offseason. They have to add at least 7 points to their 2020 ppg. average. So again, looking at this in the simplest way, the Giants should make the playoffs this coming year. We know that DG is going to get the offense some playmakers to go along with Barkley. The offensive line should be improved. Daniel Jones will be in his third year and second year under Judge/Garrett. The division is weak. With a cast of Barkley plus added playmakers there is no excuse for this offense not to score 25 ppg. If you can’t score 25 ppg. then you have the wrong GM, QB or coaching staff. The way I see it, the boatload of excuses that have been made for this team over the last 7 seasons needs to end this year. It’s time to put up or shut up. It’s all on the GM and coaching staff along with Jones. There are no excuses this year.

Ed says: Christopher, I understand your frustration. It’s felt by many in the fan base. I think, though, that your “get to 25 points per game/make the playoffs” is an oversimplification.

The Giants finished 31st in scoring at 17.5 points per game. So, seven more points would put them at 24.5. Look at the 2020 season and that would put them right in the middle of the league.

The teams that finished from 15th-20th in the league in scoring were as follows:

There isn’t a single playoff team in the bunch. So, while I agree wholeheartedly that the Giants have to play much better on offense than they did in 2020 there is no magic number that says “X” number of points per game guarantees a playoff berth. Scoring is absolutely essential, as the only team in the top 10 in scoring that did not make the playoffs is the Las Vegas Raiders, who were No. 10. No argument. I have said before that if your offense isn’t good enough, you are always playing uphill with little to no margin for error.

There is just much more to it than that. The Giants can’t simply put all of their resources into the offense, ignore their defense and automatically assume that Saquon Barkley and a No. 1 receiver make them a playoff team.

The Giants need more playmakers, on either side of the ball. As much as I believe the Giants need to re-sign Leonard Williams, he is not a superstar. The Giants don’t have one on defense. The only real star they have is Barkley. They need more difference-makers, I don’t care which side of the ball they play on.

Jeff Newman asks: Ed, we all know this is a make or break year for Daniel Jones. If he does well, we probably sign him to a long-term contract after this season. If he performs poorly, we probably move on and look for a new quarterback next season. My question is what happens if at the end of next season we still don’t know what we have in Daniel Jones? Maybe he misses too much playing time, or loses key weapons, or the o-line regresses or has injuries to the point where we can’t make a fair judgment on DJ. What would happen then? Would we lose patience and move on would we go with DJ for another year?

Ed says: Jeff, in trying to answer this question the first thing I thought about was something former New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said to me the other day on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast:

“At some point greatness is gonna show up. Let’s go! Take the team over and show that you’re a great quarterback,” Tannenbaum said. “There’s always going to be excuses … I think he’s flashed, but at some point we need to see it multiple weeks in a row.”

Mind you, Tannenbaum is a guy who admitted to me that he wants to believe in Jones. I want to believe in Jones. I think he has a great many of the things you need, tangible and intangible, to be a highly successful quarterback in the NFL.

But, he has to do it. There will have to come a point in time where greatness either shows up or it doesn’t. Where we don’t way “well, if he had a better this or a better that,” or “well, if only the Giants had a better offensive coordinator’ or whatever. At some point, the Giants need to look at Jones and know whether they see a championship-caliber quarterback or not.

The place the Giants don’t want to be is where the Chicago Bears have been the last couple of years — talking themselves into giving Mitchell Trubisky yet another chance because maybe, just maybe he’ll turn into the guy we hoped we drafted.

That just doesn’t work. Whatever the circumstances around Jones, I don’t want to hear “well, we’re still not sure what we have” in him after the 2021 season.