There is only one part of the offseason remaining for the New York Giants — next week’s mandatory mini-camp. As we wait for that, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what questions we can address.
Jim Moriarty asks: Hopefully we will see more effective use of jet sweeps and bubble screens next year with Toney aboard. With that in mind, can you give us your thoughts on the ability of our current wideouts to block?
Ed says: Jim, I’m going to try to answer this without quoting Pro Football Focus blocking grades. This is about what my eyes have told me.
Sterling Shepard is a really good, really willing run blocker. Remember when he earned a game ball for his blocking in 2018?
Remember last season when wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert called Austin Mack his position group’s run-game enforcer? Mack played 192 snaps on offense last season — 111 of them as a run blocker. Mack is 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, and the Giants often put that frame to use in the run game.
I have never really watched or studied him doing it, but Kenny Golladay is 6-4, 214. He’s big enough, and strong enough, to be a quality run blocker. Judging by his PFF scores (sorry, I had to go there) he’s a really good run blocker. In three of his four seasons, he has graded 67.1 or higher.
Darius Slayton I see as willing, and at least adequate. Kadarius Toney? I don’t really know, but I don’t expect Toney to be a player who will shy away from contact. Besides, he’s probably a guy the Giants want with the ball in his hands, not leading a convoy for someone else.
Overall, it looks like a pretty good group when it comes to the blocking aspect.
Eli Kramer asks: I keep seeing articles from national news sources talking about Nate Solder starting at LT with Thomas competing with Peart for RT. Given the direction of this team I don’t understand it. Local beat reporters seem more in line with my thinking that Thomas is a lock and Solder is as likely to be 3rd tackle as a starter at RT. Are the big guys just out of touch and looking at the names or is there some sort of indication that the Giants aren’t happy with Thomas that those major writers are picking up on?
Ed says: Eli, there are — unfortunately — too many people out there who write without doing any research. They figure Nate Solder was the left tackle before opting out so he’ll be the left tackle now. That’s just lazy and shows a lack of knowledge/understanding of the current situation.
Andrew Thomas (left tackle) and Matt Peart (right tackle) enter the upcoming mandatory mini-camp as the clear starters. At the recent OTA open to media, Solder reportedly worked exclusively at right tackle. Solder is there to be a veteran swing tackle and to be a mentor for the young tackles. If there is an injury or Peart simply can’t handle the job, then he would likely step in.
Jeff Newman asks: Ed, you hear a lot this time of year about so and so player worked on this or that skill, or gained muscle, or dropped weight this offseason. Do the coaches give each player a list of things they want them to work on in the offseason and the names of trainers to work with? Or, do the players take it upon themselves to do what they feel will improve their game and find their own trainers to help them achieve that?
Ed says: Jeff, players always have some type of exit interview with their coaches. I’m sure areas of improvement for the next season is part of that. Players also should be self-aware enough to know what they do well and what they don’t do well. As far as giving players names of trainers, I’m sure there are relationships and recommendations. The players, though, have their own relationships and can make their own decisions on how they want to train and who they want to train with. Daniel Jones, for example, has trained with the coaches at QB Country since high school, I believe. He continues to do that.
I’m sure there is some communication between these offseason trainers, like offensive line guru Duke Manyweather at OL Masterminds, and coaching staffs to make sure the training is appropriate to what the team wants. We know Will Hernandez worked with Manyweather this offseason, and spent a lot of time working at right guard.
One other thing I can say is that the offseason work is the most critical part of player development. There just isn’t a ton of time during NFL seasons for coaches to really train individual technique. There is some, but if a player is really going to get better his offseason work is crucial to that.
I hope that was what you were looking for.