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Big Blue View mailbag: Jason Garrett, Daniel Jones, vaccine policy, more questions

The mail’s here!

You made it through the long NFL offseason, New York Giants fans! Football is back, with rookies already at work and veteran players reporting to training camp on July 27. So, let’s get to our last offseason Big Blue View Mailbag.

Spencer Gross says: Remember when everyone questioned what the Giants were doing when they took Coach Graham from the Dolphins? “Why would Brian Flores let him leave if he was good coach?” Well, funny how things have turned. My question is do you expect a similar change in views with Coach Garrett with all his new shiny toys or will we again see an offense very vanilla? My other question is I doubt he would stay the same way coach Graham decided to see another season through. He could jump ship for say for the Bears job or another vacant position at a moments notice.

Ed says: Spencer, yes I remember those days. I was one of those people asking the question, wondering why Flores would let his defensive coordinator walk out the door for the same job with one of his friends. Maybe it just came down to Flores and Graham both being defensive guys and Flores wanted final say. Whatever, it obviously worked out to the Giants’ benefit.

As for Jason Garrett, he is in a somewhat different circumstance. He is no longer a rising star in the coaching ranks. He has a 10-year track record as a head coach. People around the league know who and what he is.

I fully expect some changes to Garrett’s offense this season. More verticality. More movement. Some things designed to get the ball to Kadarius Toney. Red zone plays to utilize Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph. More pre-snap motion. The Giants aren’t suddenly going to morph into the Kansas City Chiefs or ‘The Greatest Show on Turf,’ but they should be better.

If Garrett were to get another head-coaching offer, he probably would take it. Not everyone gets a second chance, so why wouldn’t he do that? If Graham’s star continues to shine, he will earn interviews and perhaps also get a chance to run his own team.

As a Giants fan, you should want teams to be interested in your assistant coaches for bigger opportunities. That means Joe Judge has hired the right people and that the team is doing well. Losing assistant coaches to advancement opportunities is the price of success.

Brad Critchell asks: If we all believe that this year is truly a make-or-break one for Daniel Jones...what happens if the Giants are unable to get a good read on him due to, say, some or all of Barkley/Golladay/the paper-thin O-line missing very significant Jones doesn’t really get the chance to show what he can do with his shiny new toys. All too possible, and even with a good defense the team would finish with, say, seven wins and another “what might have been” kind of season.

Are we then in the same spot this time next year? Perhaps Gettleman is eased off into retirement, and this coaching staff inherited Jones so might be willing to cast him aside...but doing so would start the rebuild all over again. Is there a chance that the Giants give Jones yet another chance then?

Ed says: Brad, of course there is a chance. Listen, the narrative (and I’m probably guilty of being part of it) is that the Daniel Jones decision is clear cut. Either he is really good, the Giants are really good, they make the playoffs, Dave Gettleman is proven right, and Jones is the team’s quarterback for 10 more years. Or, Jones is bad, the Giants win six or seven games, Gettleman gets sent off to retirement in Cape Cod (which isn’t exactly punishment, incidentally), Jones gets jettisoned and the Giants take those two first-round picks they have next year, move up, and select a new guy they hope will be a franchise quarterback.

In reality, there are variables. There always are. In everything about life. An NFL season can take so many twists and turns. There are so many possible outcomes, so many scenarios that can affect those outcomes. How does the season turn out, and what does the organization see as the reasons for that outcome? How do they assess the upside of the 2022 quarterback class vs. what they see from three seasons of Jones? Is there a free agent available who is clearly an upgrade from Jones?

For now, I’m just fired up to begin getting the answers the 2021 season should give us.

Jim Moriarty asks: As the season approaches, one major injury could derail the Giants. With that in mind, can you please give us (in order), the 6 Giants that would have the biggest impact if they went down with a season-ending injury? The first three or four might roll off the tongue, but I find it gets harder after that.

Ed says: Six of ‘em, eh, Jim? Well, quickly, here they go. With short explanations.

  1. Daniel Jones — Because if the Giants are going anywhere, Jones is going to have to take them. They aren’t going anywhere except back into the top 10 of the draft if Mike Glennon is at quarterback for most of the season.
  2. Saquon Barkley — He’s still their best player.
  3. Blake Martinez — We can argue over exactly how good Martinez really is. What we know for sure, though, is that he is the quarterback of the defense and it’s doubtful that Tae Crowder or Reggie Ragland could do that job as well as Martinez.
  4. Leonard Williams — Sacks aside, he is a player draws a decent amount of attention and makes the players around him better. No one else on the Giants defensive line has the versatility to move around the way Williams does. No one else comes close to playing the 75 percent of defensive snaps he plays annually, either. The Giants have no one capable of replacing what he does.
  5. James Bradberry — No. 1 cornerbacks don’t grow on trees.
  6. Logan Ryan ... or Kenny Golladay ... or Andrew Thomas — OK, I can’t decide. So, I’m cheating. Ryan’s leadership is invaluable, and you can’t do that when you’re hurt and not really part of the team. He makes a lot of plays, too. If Golladay goes down, the Giants are back to not having a true No. 1 wide receiver. If the offensive line is going to get better, that is largely going to be because Thomas gets better.

Mike Koopersmith asks: With today’s announcements of the NFL’s new COVID policy and Toney’s placement on the Reserve/COVID-19 list do we have any idea how many Giants players have been vaccinated as we approach the start of training camp? Your thoughts on the impact, if any, of this news on those players who have still not been vaccinated?

Ed says: Mike, the Giants are not required to tell us what percentage are vaccinated. At this point, we don’t have access to Joe Judge until camp officially begins next week. Even then, I would expect Judge to deflect that question.

As far as my thoughts on the players who have yet to be vaccinated, you’re leading me down a road that I know is filled with people who are entrenched in their views on both sides of the issue. It is a minefield, and I am pretty sure I know what’s coming in the comments — and in my inbox.

The NFL won’t mandate that players take the vaccine. They are, though, taking a hard-line stance that will take money out of the pockets of unvaccinated players — and being blunt that they will be responsible for their teams losing money and potentially having to forfeit games.

Here is part of the memo the NFL sent teams regarding unvaccinated players:

“If a game is cancelled/postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players/staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection,” the memo states. “We will seek to minimize the burden on the opposing club or clubs. If a club cannot play due to a Covid spike in vaccinated individuals, we will attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams.”

Read the full memo here.

I have been upfront about the fact that I do not understand why players would not get the vaccine. The league is making it clear that day-to-day existence as an NFL player will be easier, and perhaps more profitable, if you take the shots. We are seeing more and evidence that current COVID-19 outbreaks and hospitalizations are occurring overwhelmingly in places with low vaccination rates and among those who have not received the vaccine.

Still, I don’t want to argue about that. Getting or not getting the vaccine is a choice. There are obviously players who don’t want it, and who are not happy about this development.

If I’m an unvaccinated player, though, and end up responsible for an outbreak that costs my team a game and perhaps a playoff spot, the organization money and draft slots, and takes money out of the pockets of players on two teams I would have a hard time facing those people. It’s actually not even about whether or not players are pro- or anti-vaccine. Part of being on a team is being a good teammate, and it’s hard to argue that opening your teammates and your organization to all of the potential consequences the league laid out is doing that.

This, I thought, was a telling tweet from Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

I’m sure players who don’t want the vaccine will continue to speak out. There might be a few who decide not to play. That, again, is their choice.

I am anxious to see how it all plays out.