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Big Blue View mailbag: Draft, GM, Joe Judge, quarterback — we hit them all

The mail’s here!

There are lots and lots of questions surrounding the New York Giants as another lost season winds down. Let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and try to answer some.

Bob Donnelly asks: The Giants will soon be interviewing candidates for their next GM.

If Mr. Mara asked you to write the job posting what are the qualifications you would list as must have and should have for the position?

Ed says: Bob, that’s a loaded question. Perhaps the real question should be asked of Giants’ ownership, particularly John Mara. Are they actually willing to go outside the organization, hire a strong-willed, talented executive from a winning background, get out of the way, let him hire and fire whoever he deems necessary, and let that GM do the job he is being hired to do.

If I’m a GM candidate that’s the question I’m asking. Are you going to let me do my job the way I think it needs to be done? If not, I’m not taking that job.

I think the new GM needs to have:

  • Proven college and professional scouting chops.
  • Experience in winning NFL programs.
  • The willingness, and the authority, to say no to Joe Judge — or even ownership — if he feels strongly about a particular decision.
  • Previous GM experience is not necessary, but I would like to see some previous evidence of ability to lead a group.
  • I would like to see a candidate who has demonstrated the ability to work in difficult circumstances, with difficult ownership or in a situation where he has been part of building an organization from the ground up.

Those are general guidelines. In the end, I want the best, brightest, most creative football person I can find — and I want that person to have the leadership skills to pull a group of people together.

Dennis Casner asks: Hello! Was just thinking about the draft this spring and how o-line is probably the top need for us. I know the usual approach is take the best player available, but in the Giants case of having tried for almost 10 years to fix the line following that strategy and with free agency and having mostly failed, do you think this year it’s realistic they could look and say we’re taking the best 2 oline guys available in the first round to finally make a huge investment in it, or with those 2 picks maybe trade back a bit and get 3 first rounders and focus on both lines. I know it’s not the wisest strategy, but being as following the wise strategy hasn’t paid off and we’ll have almost no cap space to chase top free agents do you think it’d be worth it just one time to gamble on it? Thanks!!

Ed says: Dennis, year after year I try to make the point that there is no such thing as “best player available.” Teams ALWAYS set their draft board based on their own perceived needs, and their own subjective evaluations of the players available. No two teams will have identical draft boards.

As for drafting two offensive linemen in the first round, I absolutely think that’s a possibility. I also don’t object to the idea of using the earliest of the two first-rounders and then trading back with the second one.

Jay Green asks: Long time Giants fan here and BBV reader. I have never commented on my gmen until now but here we go. There is the old saying that when you draft for need and not take the best player available you get in trouble. With that said, I don’t care who this team draft if they are clearly one/two of the top blue chip talents but they can no longer afford to reach anymore. I say this because the team is talent deficient everywhere. Kyle Hamilton will be regarded as one of the top 2 or 3 players available in the draft. I don’t care what we have already if this guy is far and away better than anything on the board regardless of position and what we can run out there he has to be drafted. Barkley was the best player available in the entire draft so in my opinion that was a good pick. Circumstances around the team and injuries unfortunately could make any pick look bad but we flat out need talent. We quietly have a defense problem as well. We have no standout rare talents at any position and if Kyle is in the rare air convo of Ed Reed, Sean Taylor etc. You have to take him! Thoughts?

Ed says: Jay, if whoever is in the Giants’ front office at the time thinks Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton is the biggest difference-maker available, I have zero problem with the Giants selecting him. The Giants obviously need offensive line help and I would expect at least one of their two first-round picks to be devoted to that. As I said above, fine with me if they use both on offensive lineman. If there is a pass rusher available, great. If Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux are gone and the Giants think Hamilton is an impact player with a chance to be great, I’m not going to argue with that choice.

Eric Chavis asks: Does the regression of the offense without Jones (hard to believe it continues to get worse) say something about Jones and how he was able to be somewhat successful and score points compared to what we’ve seen over the past few weeks without him? Feels like the fact he was leading any scoring drives looks all that much more impressive now.

Ed says: Eric, in my ‘Kudos and Wet Willies’ review of Sunday’s game, part of the headline was ‘Maybe Daniel Jones is actually good.’ That was partially tongue in check, though I know some people did not take it that way.

What does the regression of the offense say about Jones? Well, it says he is a more competent quarterback than Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm. That’s not saying a lot — I’m not sure the bar can be set much lower than that.

It does say that the Giants were reliant on Jones’ running ability and his athleticism, and that he is a better thrower of the football than Glennon or Fromm.

In the end, the situation probably tells us less about Jones than it does the broken, incompetent mess around him.

Vincent Ludwig asks: As the most disappointing season in recent memory is coming to a close, I have been thinking a lot on the turning point of this season. For me, it was Saquon rolling his ankle in the first Dallas game. The week prior we saw the OT winner versus the Saints in which DJ, Saquon, KT and Golladay all showed what the offense had the potential to be. Going into the Dallas game the following week, I truly believed we had enough momentum to beat Dallas; but that all came crashing down when Saquon rolled his ankle and DJ left with a concussion. These injuries marked the beginning of the end, and are truly emblematic of the whole season: high hopes derailed in an instant. Do you agree this was the turning point of the season?

Ed says: Vincent, I think the season was lost long before then. It was lost when the Giants started 0-3. Truthfully, the Giants have not played any meaningful football since.

I said many times during the preseason that the most important games of the season for the Giants were those first three. Denver, Washington, Atlanta was a relatively soft part of the schedule. The Giants were, and are, a young team that doesn’t know anything but losing. The fan base was already on edge. Everyone needed something to believe in, something to feel good about. The Giants desperately needed a 2-1 start. They didn’t get it, tossing away games that should have been won against Washington and Atlanta.

Judge said a few times during the preseason that September games were just an extension of the preseason. That’s a nice attitude to have if you’re Alabama and you win those games just by putting on the uniform. Or, if you’re the Brady-Belichick Patriots and you will accidentally figure out how to win more games than you lose no matter what.

Not, though, if you are a struggling, young team trying to find its footing.

I said way back in August I was fine with Judge not playing starters in Week 2 of the preseason vs. the Cleveland Browns. I was wrong about that. Judge was wrong not to get players more snaps, not to push harder to get players on the field during training camp, not to have the Giants truly ready to win football games when the season began.

The Giants were toast this season before they even had a chance.

Simon Hines asks: What effect do you think the Giants schedule has had on their season? According to Tankathon, the Giants have had the hardest schedule so far, with opponents at 0.542.

Looking back at the season so far, the Giants could have (should have) won against Washington and the Falcons, which would have put the Giants at 3-1 after the Saints game. What difference would this have made to how the season has gone?

The Xhiefs and Dolphins games were also very winnable at the time with how those teams were playing. We can argue about the depth on the Offensive Line, but any team that loses their starting left guard and centre will more than likely struggle. How much better could the Giants have been with a full season of Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux? Billy Price has been serviceable, and Gates could have filled in anywhere across the line where the Giants had issues. I think people underestimate the impact of losing those players. Particularly with 2 depth retirements immediately before the season.

The last 4 games have then been pretty much a write off when DJ went down, but all teams struggle without their starting QB. The chiefs took Mahomes out of the game last week and Chad Henne fumbled the first 2 snaps, it is a league wide issue with lack of depth.

As depressing as the past month has been, it feels like the season could have easily gone a lot better with just a little more luck. If the Giants were 8-7 with Washington and the Bears to play, I think we would all feel a lot better.

I understand wanting to move on from Gettleman, but I am really uncomfortable with keeping a head coach and QB and changing the GM. Maybe Gettleman should get another year and then clean house at the end of next season if we are in the same, or similar boat. Gettleman’s drafting has been respectable, and the main issue has been free agency with contracts such as Golladay, Jackson, Toilolo, Omameh, Stewart and Solder. You could even argue Shepard’s extension was a mistake given his injury history. Given the Giants won’t have much cap room to make significant free agency moves this year, doesn’t letting Gettleman draft again and giving it 1 more year make sense?

Ed says: Simon, short answer to a long question. The schedule didn’t kill the Giants. Losing their first three games did. Losing a game against the Kansas City Chiefs they should have won did. Losing Daniel Jones to injury for the final six games — a slate that includes Miami, Chicago and Washington — and not having a competent backup did.

Matthew Annunziata asks: Question about how the cap hit works if a player retires. Say Solder retires. Is there a difference in his cap hit if he retires prior to the new calendar year as opposed to after? What if he the Giants designate Solder as a post June 1st cut, but he decides to announce his retirement after June 1st instead?

Ed says: From the Russell Street Report, here is your answer:

When a player is released (or retires), the team is relieved of having the pay the player’s base salary (P5) and any Roster Bonus that may become due after that, but still will need to account for any Signing or Option Bonus prorations that haven’t yet counted against the Salary Cap.

In terms of Nate Solder specifically, he is a free agent after this year. The 2022 season is a “voidable” year in his contract. The Giants pushed $4 million in pro-rated bonus money for Solder into next season, but that’s all.

Solder gets his money and the Giants get to kick $4 million of his pro-rated signing bonus down the road into a year where the cap is expected to rise by roughly $26 million.

Douglas Mollin asks: Trying to think optimistically about 2022. What do you think the likelihood is that these things could break the Giants way next year and we end up with “meaningful December games”. As bad as things are, I have this hopeful feeling we’re not quite as far away as we may think:

  • We hire the right GM
  • We crush the 2022 draft, filling in several important holes at OL, Edge, LB, TE.
  • Joe Judge evolves to be a league average NFL head coach, or more.
  • He hire a competent Offensive Coordinator
  • DJ plays his best football yet, behind a solid OL and with a sound offensive game plan.
  • In year two of his recovery, and in a contract season, Saquon has a 2018 kind of season.
  • While not injury free, we have a more normal level of injuries to deal and catch a break o n that front.
  • Many of our key young players continue to develop: Ojulari, Smith, Roche, Robinson, Toney, McKinney, Thomas.

Hey, a guy can dream right?

Ed says: That would likely be the master plan. I’m not going to stop you from dreaming.

Chris Hynes asks: Count me in the list of fans who is highly upset with the news leak re the potential promotion of Kevin Abrams to GM. Just a couple of questions:

  1. It’s clear that J. Mara wants to be insulated with his yes men and lackeys as much as possible, even though he is aware (and does not care) re the fan’s perception of him. However, how can Tisch be happy with this? Tisch, according to reports, had to be talked into Gettleman. How can he be OK with keeping the status quo that Abrams represents?
  2. Since the reports are saying that it is almost a foregone conclusion that Mara wants to promote Abrams, could the Fritz Pollard Alliance file a grievance vs. the Giants?

Ed says: Chris, I understand the despair felt by much of the fan base. I believe that John Mara has made mistakes, and that he needs to look in the mirror and be honest with himself, but I don’t believe he doesn’t care about how people perceive him or the organization. I think he cares deeply about that. This franchise is his family’s legacy.

I detailed earlier this week how the Giants are the only franchise in the NFL with a dual-family ownership structure. That necessitates compromise. Neither side is always going to get all of what it wants. Mara can’t unilaterally decide anything when it comes to the direction of the franchise.

As for Kevin Abrams, it’s not a “foregone conclusion.” The report said he would get “strong consideration,” which is actually something we have always known. In terms of the Rooney Rule, there is no grievance to be filed if the proper interview process is followed.

Wayne Mirsky asks: It looks almost certain that the Giants will have the 5th pick in the up coming draft. I can’t see the Jets beating either Tampa Bay or The Bills Maybe Houston could sneak in a win and the Giants would move up one slot but that is doubtful.

If there is a top edge rusher, I won’t mention any names because you say that you have not really scouted any, and a top offensive lineman available, who would you select?

Ed says: Wayne, this is interesting. The one position group I have studied to some extent is the offensive line. I also know there are two premier edge rushers in this class — Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon and Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan.

This is a no-brainer for me. If one of those two pass rushers miraculously falls to the Giants — wherever their first of the two picks is — I might break a hip moving so fast to turn in that card. If one of those players is available, you have to pick him. Period. The Giants have been dying for a difference-making edge player for a looooong time. There are a number of first-round caliber offensive linemen you can get with the second pick. Ikem Ekwonu of NC State, Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa, Charlie Cross of Mississippi State, Kenyon Green of Texas A&M are all players you could consider there.