It is that time again. Grab your coffee and let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag anbd see what New York Giants questions we can answer this week.
Barry Denkensohn asks: I am perplexed about Nate Ebner. I understand Coach Judge’s view of Ebner as a very good special teams player, but I feel that he has let his loyalty to a former Patriots player go too far. I watched a lot of games last year and don’t see that Ebner does anything that valuable on special teams. He doesn’t make many tackles, he’s never blocked a field goal attempt or blocked a punt. And worst of all, he does not play a lick on the field as a safety. The only thing it appears that lends himself to Judge is his leadership in the locker room. But leadership can only go so far. I believe that Ebner may take a roster spot from a much better player who could play special teams and also compete for a position on the roster. Cody Core was a very good special teams player, but he also played WR and filled in when needed. Ebner does play a lick on the field as a safety. I think that Judge needs to move on from Ebner and allow another player to play special teams and compete for a position. Gary Brightwell comes to mind as someone who wants to play special teams and compete for a RB position, which makes him more valuable than Ebner.
Ed says: Barry, quite honestly I was never a fan of the Ebner signing. Michael Thomas, whom Ebner replaced on the roster, has long been one of the NFL’s best special teams players. He was a leader in the Giants’ locker room. He is also a much more useful defensive back, having started 33 games and played nearly 2,500 defensive snaps in his career. Ebner didn’t play college football and had played one defensive snap in three years before joining the Giants a year ago. He was forced onto the field for 39 defensive snaps last season, and was a liability in that role.
Though I didn’t — and still don’t — like it I do understand it. New head coaches always bring in some of “their guys” to help establish their program. Especially when they have won and watched those players be highly successful when they were previously together, which was the case for Judge and Ebner with the New England Patriots. Remember how many former Arizona Cardinals defensive players the Giants brought in for James Bettcher? You don’t really think that was Dave Gettleman’s idea, do you?
To be honest, the whole “bring in their guys” thing might work in the locker room — we don’t see Ebner’s contribution there — but it doesn’t always work on the field. Coaches — and GMs — sometimes remember what players were and don’t fully see what they are. It can’t be easy to take the emotion out of decisions regarding players you have deep respect for. Jonathan Stewart and Antoine Bethea are probably examples.
When it comes to Ebner, I would rather see the Giants — and Joe Judge — move on. Reality is, though, that if he is healthy Ebner is almost certainly going to be part of the roster.
You referenced Cody Core and Gary Brightwell. Core was a tremendous punt gunner before tearing his Achilles tendon. I wouldn’t be against the Giants giving him another opportunity. As for Brightwell, I believe it was the special teams value that got him drafted. It’s hard to say, though, that a sixth-round pick who has never played an NFL snap is more valuable than a nine-year veteran who has been good at his job for a long time. Brightwell has to prove himself.
Barbara Bennett Chumsky asks: I know it’s early and we haven’t seen our players competing in training camp yet, but do you think we have enough talent to field an effective offensive line? We’ve gotten DJ some more weapons, but that won’t matter if he can’t stay upright.
Ed says: Barbara, you are absolutely right that the weapons won’t matter if the Giants can’t block effectively.
I have talked to a number of people who know offensive line play better than I do, including former Giant Rich Seubert, offensive line performance consultant Duke Manyweather and a few other talent evaluators. While all recognize what will happen if the Giants are wrong about this group, they all believe the Giants will end up being proven right.
i agree with them.
The coaching situation with Marc Colombo and then Dave DeGuglielmo was a mess last season. Colombo and Joe Judge couldn’t see eye-to-eye on what was being taught. DeGuglielmo admittedly had no use for rookies, making him a terrible choice for a team that drafted and counted on three rookies a season ago.
That situation should be much better this year. New offensive line coach Rob Sales draws rave reviews for his ability to develop players. Long-time Giants offensive line coach pat Flaherty is there as a consultant. Freddie Kitchens is there for oversight.
The lack of any offseason work was also a major handicap for a line with a first-time center and a bevy of inexperienced players.
I expect Andrew Thomas to be much better this season. Shane Lemieux and Matt Peart, too. If the work Will Hernandez put in this offseason pays off, he should be fine at right guard. The Giants have experienced backups in Nate Solder, Jonotthan Harrison and Zach Fulton.
I think the Giants offensive line is going to be just fine. If I’m wrong, well, we know that isn’t going to be good for the 2021 Giants.
Marcus Mewborn asks: The Giants are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the 2011-2012 Super Bowl team. What comes to mind when you think of that team and that season? Storylines, games, etc. One thing I can’t forget about was how unstoppable JPP was that year. How they had to play another NFC championship game that went to OT on the road. (Oh the memories)
Ed says: Marcus, there are so many memories it is difficult to pinpoint just a couple. Generically, what comes to mind is how improbable it all was. From 7-7 to Super Bowl champs. Amazing!
Antrel Rolle calling out Justin Tuck while saying he wasn’t calling out Tuck. Victor Cruz going 99 yards against the New York Jets to start the magic. Chase Blackburn getting off his couch to become a key defender late in the season. Hakeem Nicks’ Hail Mary touchdown in the playoffs against the Green Bay Packers. The beating Eli Manning took against the San Francisco 49ers. in the NFC Championship Game, and how he stood in there and kept on getting up. Steve Weatherford’s reaction to the game-winning field goal. Manning with the best throw of his career, a 38-yarder to Mario Manningham, to start the winning drive vs. the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The Giants should not have won the Super Bowl that year. They were not the most talented team. But, they did. They had a relentless will, a relentless belief that carried them.
The Giants are going to spend the season commemorating that team, and justifiably so. We will try to find our own way, our own niche, in celebrating that team, as well.