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Big Blue View mailbag: No, this isn’t all about Brian Daboll

The mail’s here!

This was a tricky Big Blue View Mailbag to put together. There were a ton of questions submitted about the head coaching search, and picking through the ones that would apply whether or not a decision had been announced was a bit of a process. Due to the timing, I had to avoid a lot of the ‘who would you choose?’ or ‘who else would you talk to?’ questions.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

Anthony Cantore asks: I see a lot written about how the Giants should have drafted Josh Allen. How do you think he would have done in the Giants dysfunctional offense. Would we be saying now that we need a new QB? Allen struggled when he started until the Bills solidified their line and got him better receivers. I don’t think Daniel Jones has been put in a situation to be successful.

Ed says: Anthony, there is no way to know that for certain. Allen is a unicorn. He’s a 240-pound quarterback who can punish would-be tacklers and has a howitzer for an arm that few can match. Jones has many of the same traits, but Allen is more physically gifted. Allen would have made the Giants better, but whether he would have become the Josh Allen we see now is uncertain. I have my doubts.

The Giants know they haven’t given Jones the best opportunity. This is what co-owner John Mara said on Wednesday:

“We do feel that Daniel can play. We’ve done everything possible to give it to screw this kid up since he’s been here. We keep changing coaches. Keep changing offensive coordinators. Keep changing offensive line coaches. I take a lot of responsibility for that. Let’s bring in the right group of coaches now and give him some continuity and try to rebuild the offensive line and then be able to make it an intelligent evaluation of whether he can be the franchise quarterback or not.”

New GM Joe Schoen appears to be willing to give Jones the opportunity to see if he can show better production in 2022. We will see where things go after that.

Nick Harlow asks: I recently re-watched that documentary “Finding Giants” which followed the scouting process. During one segment it was pointed out that the Giants have only 10 scouts covering the entire country. And it showed these scouts spend a ton of time driving thousands of miles every year.

So, some questions:

  • Wouldn’t it make sense to hire more scouts since the ones they have are covering huge sections of the country and spending too much time driving and not enough time scouting?
  • Is 10 the average number of scouts other teams have? Or are the Giants way behind in this department?

Ed says: Nick, I didn’t check the scouting departments of every team in the NFL. Out of the ones I did check — Bills, Patriots, Chiefs, Packers — the Giants are right in the ballpark in terms of staff size when it comes to college scouts. They might even be a tad heavier when you add in some of the folks like Kyle O’Brien, Chris Mara and a couple of others who contribute to college scouting but don’t necessarily have that in their job title.

My quick research says the Giants are certainly not understaffed. Add in Chris Mara (I know, I know, don’t throw things at your laptop), College Scouting Director Chris Pettit, the GM, the assistant GM, there are plenty of people assessing talent.

It’s not about how many are doing it, it’s about how well they do it. And whether or not they make the right decisions with the information they gather.

Sean Motts asks: I watched Nick Falato’s video going over “Brian Daboll’s brilliance,” and in the first series Nick mentions what Josh Allen gets from Brian Daboll is to motion Cole Beasley and have Davis release inside. Maybe this is just my lack of knowledge, but aside from just calling a play, it sounds as if Daboll already knew the defensive play and what to call, communicated with Allen up to the snap, told him to motion Beasley and have Davis release inside based on the coverage he was seeing. Basically this was all Daboll and all Allen did was execute the play. So my question is ... was this really all Daboll and his brilliance, or Allen taking a play call, reading the defense, and manipulating the play in his favor? I’m not totally familiar with the pre-snap communication rules between the QB and sideline.

Ed says: Sean, there are nuances to everything. Nick, honestly, knows many of those better than I do. Daboll’s design was a big part of the success of those plays, but the execution by Allen and the subtleties of the route-running by the Buffalo receivers also had a lot to do with it.

Coaches spend hours and hours studying opposing teams. Daboll, or any offensive coordinator, will always send in a play call factoring in what their study has indicated to them a defense is likely to do given the situation. So, yeah, if they get it right it will look like they knew what defense was coming — because they got what they anticipated. If they get something different, that’s when you might see a quarterback change a play or a play simply not work because it slams right into the teeth of what the defense was doing.

Daboll’s brilliance in the plays Nick pointed out was in how the combination of pass routes put defensive backs in conflict, forced them to make choices, and forced them to be wrong.

As for pre-snap communication, in the NFL that shuts off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock. So, from there the quarterback is on his own.

Mikael Ari Cohn asks: Like a lot of fans/experts I think the Oline has been a disaster and a huge weakness especially this season. I haven’t seen much talk about the impact moving all the players around may have had. Solder to right tackle, Gates to LG and Hernandez to RG. Wondering if Gates doesn’t get injured if he played C, impossible to know but he played good at C last year, why move him? Also the impact on the tackles of moving Hernandez over. Thomas seems much better (even last year) with Hernandez not next to him. Also Solder looked worse with Hernandez next to him. Maybe that’s why Hernandez sat end of last year and they kept him away from Thomas even when a hole at LG this year when Lemeiux and then Gates got hurt (sacrifice the vet and save the high drafted young guy). Seems like another head scratching coaching decision why Hernandez was even starting.

In short, is it common for this much position switching in the oline? I remember Diehl moving around a bit but not almost every guy (except Thomas) switching positions like musical chairs.

Ed says: Mikael, all of the moving parts was obviously never the plan. The Giants had to move one of Will Hernandez or Shane Lemieux to right guard, and they chose Hernandez. Left guard or right guard, the problem is Hernandez just never became the player he was expected to be. As for why, Hernandez was starting just look at the roster. Were they going to play Wes Martin?

The Giants didn’t want to move Nick Gates. Problem was, they thought Billy Price was better than Matt Skura (he was) and moving him was the only way to play that combo.

The offensive line was a mess, but players didn’t necessarily switch positions like musical chairs throughout the season. The players just weren’t good enough.

John McGruther asks: I have a question for your mailbag about contracts, using Sterling Shepard as an example.

We can reduce Shepard’s 2022 cap hit by a maximum of $8.5m by releasing him; that would leave at least $4M in dead money. I wonder if we could set up an arrangement to push some of that dead money into 2023. What if we offered him an altered contract, in effect a pay cut, in which he would have a substantial cap hit in 2023 but his 2022 cap hit was pushed down to the minimal number? My question is: what is that minimum number - would it just be the veteran minimum, or is there no way round the $4.5m cap hit in ‘22?

Ed says: John, I’m not a salary cap guru but I’ll take a stab at this. Shepard has $7.99 million in pro-rated bonus money that the Giants are responsible for on their cap over 2022 and 2023 combined. Honestly, he has already banked that money. The Giants just have to account for it, which is why the bonus money is pro-rated across the life of the contract.

The Giants could probably convert some of Shepard’s $8.475 million 2022 base salary into a signing bonus, pushing some of that money into next season. I couldn’t give you a minimum number. What they would effectively be doing is making Shepard less expensive in 2022, but MORE expensive and harder to move on from in 2023.

Most likely, the Giants make Shepard a post-June 1 cut. They would take a $3.995 million cap hit and save $8.5 million. I’m not sure there is a better way.