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Big Blue View mailbag: Jason Garrett, defensive concerns, Kadarius Toney, more

The mail’s here!

The New York Giants having played two games since the last time we opened the Big Blue View Mailbag makes this edition interesting. Many of the questions posed came in prior to Thursday night’s game, and thus are skewed by the results of Thursday’s loss to Washington.

Robert Forgione asks: Ed, the story goes that Garrett was forced on Judge by Mara, I can certainly believe that, being a fan for over 50 years. With that being said, it seems Garrett is holding back the entire offense, DJ can’t grow in this 1985 offense. Is Garrett the problem, or just one of many?

Ed says: Robert and Seamus, I can’t speak to whether or not Garrett was “forced” on Judge. I do know John Mara and Jason Garrett has tremendous respect for each other, dating back to Garrett’s days as the Giants’ backup quarterback. I have heard people from outside speculate that Mara protects Garrett, but I have no real information as to whether that is true or not.

I do know this. Mara thinks incredibly highly of Judge and believes he is the right guy for the job. If Judge had gone to Mara in the offseason and insisted Garrett be shown the door, I truly believe that would have happened.

The Giants concluded, I think rightly at the time, that Garrett deserved a second opportunity. The strange circumstances of 2020, not wanting Jones to have to learn a third system in three years, the strong relationship that exists between Jones and Garrett all factor into that.

The offensive performance against Denver wasn’t good. I wonder if your opinion differs any after Thursday night’s much-improved showing. The Giants scored 29 points, and probably should have scored 35 or more.

Listen, going back to when Kevin Gilbride was offensive coordinator I always say a good play call is one that works. A bad play call is a play that doesn’t. Sometimes the best play call in the world blows up in your face.

Garrett didn’t run an imaginative offense a year ago, or on Sunday. There were some signs of improvement Thursday. There are still plenty of issues. Saquon Barkley still isn’t 2018 Barkley, may never be 2018 Barkley, and his tendency to run sideways when he should take a yard or two will always drive everyone crazy. Kadarius Toney isn’t a productive part of the offense. Evan Engram hasn’t played. Two-fifths of the starting offensive line, that many didn’t think would be good enough to begin with, is on IR. A third piece of that line, Matt Peart, is buried on the bench.

It’s not just Garrett. You have to block, run and catch, too, and the Giants have to prove they can do those things.

Everybody is frustrated. Everybody is edgy. I get it. There are 17 games to go. It’s either going to get fixed and the season will turn out to have an upbeat feeling, or it won’t and at least some heads will likely roll.

I do believe Freddie Kitchens is sort of an “offensive coordinator in waiting.” I know Judge trusts him, but did he really run a great offense in Cleveland. Here’s the other thing — does Judge really want to play the Kitchens card? If he does and it doesn’t work that comes to Judge because Kitchens is his guy.


Jeff Newman asks: After watching two weeks of Giants ”football” I’m left with one burning question. What the heck happened to our defense? We were top last year. After adding players like Adoree Jackson and Azeez Ojulari, I expected improvement not regression.

Ed says: Jeff, I think everyone did. What the Denver Broncos and Washington Football Team did to the Giants’ defense is incredibly concerning. Can anybody rush the passer? Why are receivers running open all over the lot against a secondary that was supposed to be the best position group on the team? Why can’t the Giants get stops when they need them? What happened to Patrick Graham’s magic wand?

They’re all legitimate questions. I don’t have the answers. What I do know is Graham needs to find them — soon. The Giants entered the season figuring they could rely on gettin g solid, top third of the league, defense. They aren’t getting that. Not even close. Two games doesn’t make a season, but it does make you wonder if the Giants over-achieved on defense in 2020.


Haddon51 asks: I can remember watching every Giants WR going back to the late great Del Shofner. Love your BBV mailbag responses.

I suggest the Giants try Toney as the a return specialist….that in my opinion is his best use at this time….for several reasons:

1. He’s supposedly electric

2. The Giants have more pressing issues to address on Offense than cherry picking designed plays for this guy.

3.Slot receiver is not a weakness on this team with Shep delivering on this level.

Best use of available talent and resources almost demands that he be utilized on the return team.

Or is he just not “pro ready” for this…or would it be read as a negative for the position they drafted him at.

To me this looks like a no brainer.

Thoughts?

Ed says: Haddon, I think the Giants have always planned to use Kadarius Toney in the return game. I think everyone, Toney included, needs to be able to see what is happening here.

This is a young man who skipped voluntary OTAs. He started training camp on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. He then suffered a hamstring injury. He missed almost all of the on-field install. He missed almost all of the really full tilt training camp work. He is way, way behind where he should be. I don’t know if he is fully healthy yet.

Giants’ coaches have spoken over and over about Toney needing to earn the trust of both coaches and players. The way they are using him, or more accurately not using him thus far — screams that he has not done that yet. If you are going to put him on the return team you have to trust both his ball security and his decision-making. The Giants aren’t there with him yet.

It is way too early to give up on Toney or call him a bust. I think it is perfectly fair, though, to say he has been a disappointment thus far.


Jack asks: What is your take on the state of the team now, after all these years of losing? My understanding of team management is that there a lot of good people there, but that has not helped the franchise. The management is thought to be out of touch with today’s football, and much too loyal for their own good. Currently, they are a laughingstock.

What do you think of them taking a good look at their operations with some outside people that could give them some ideas on how better to run a 21st century football team? Maybe the Tisch family could get more involved.

Unless they make some drastic changes, it’s going to be “deja vu all over again”.

Ed says: Jack, you’re reciting all of the old tropes that people fall back on when they want to be critical. “Good people,” “out of touch with today’s football,” “too loyal,” “laughingstock.”

Listen, things aren’t good. One playoff berth since 2011. The worst record in football since 2017. There is no way to argue that everything is wonderful.

My take? I still believe this franchise is in better shape than it was a few years ago, from the front office all the way down to the players on the field. There have been many front office and scouting changes, process changes, this is the best coaching staff the Giants have had since the Coughlin days, and even though the Giants are 0-2 I still think the roster is the best one the Giants have had in several years.

The thing is, we all know it has to translate to results on the field. The frustrating thing is that to this point it hasn’t. Let’s see how the season plays out before we decide everyone needs to get thrown overboard. That said, I’m not going to say everything will be fine. We have seen too many 0-2 starts turn into much worse in recent years.

As far as the Tisch family getting more involved, what good is that going to do? Tisch is a Hollywood guy who really doesn’t deal with the Giants on a daily basis. I sometimes think part of the problem is that the Giants are the league’s only split ownership structure, and that leads to a lot of push/pull and compromise.

If the season goes south, we all know changes are coming. Let’s see what happens from here.


Scott Keller asks: Last season, when Barkley played, the Giants ran a lot of zone runs and really didn’t have good success. From a blocking perspective, it seemed like the line improved when Barkley went on IR and Gallman was in to run more of a power (pin/pull) scheme.

With Barkley back this season, it seemed as if there was more zone against Denver and again not much success running the ball. Is this a situation where the strength of the line and the strength of the RB do not match? Or will we see more power runs with Barkley this year? Or does the young line need more time to gel and improve at zone blocking?

Ed says: Scott, the thing about the run game is there is no real way to tell what is going to work and what isn’t going to work until you get to the games, try stuff, and figure it out. There isn’t enough contact in spring or summer practices to do that.

The Giants did, as you say, end up going more straight ahead last season after Wayne Gallman took over. I think they would like to try to get Saquon Barkley to the edges, but it’s still a little bit of trial and error. What can they block? What can Saquon hit? They have had more success so far running some power, and I think you will probably see them lean on that more.