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Big Blue View mailbag: Giants’ biggest question is, what happens now?

The mail’s here!

We have reached the final weekend of the New York Giants’ 2021-22 season. The miserable weather expected Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J. is a perfect complement to the end of yet another miserable season for the Giants. While we await the fates of GM Dave Gettleman and coach Joe Judge, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag for the final time this season.

Jeff Durand asks: I’ve read many articles about the change to coaching hiring process where teams are able to interview coaches 2 weeks before the season ends if they have a vacancy already or have told the coach they are considering making a change. Does this rule apply to the front office as well If so why not “retire” Gettleman now and officially begin your search.

Ed says: Jeff, the rule applies to coaches only. If the Giants want to interview candidates working in other front offices they have to wait until the season ends. At this point, that’s just a matter of hours.

Raymond Dansereau asks: Reading a lot of “the sky is falling/tear it down and start over” commentary, I have to ask how we know how bad/good the Giants are? How do you evaluate the team, or, more specifically Gettleman, in a year with a makeshift offensive line, mediocre backup, and patched up receivers? Consensus was Giants could be a 9-8 team this year if healthy. Given the injuries, isn’t it possible that’s really the team they are? What 9-8 team could survive these injuries? And does this provide hope for a turnaround next year?

Ed says: Raymond, I have said many times that you have to evaluate the offensive line based on the fact that the Giants have been scrambling since the beginning of the season. Yet, that is on the GM. Why didn’t he draft an offensive lineman? Why didn’t he provide better depth entering the year than Zach Fulton? Why didn’t the Giants take the backup quarterback position seriously? Why did they overlook injury history in bringing in players like Kenny Golladay, John Ross, Adoree’ Jackson and Kadarius Toney? I think you can evaluate Dave Gettleman based on the reality that the Giants no better than they were when he got the job 4+ years ago, no matter what the reasons are and no matter which moves you support/don’t support. Joe Judge has to take a hit for that, too, but the final responsibility does lie with the GM.

Obviously, the Giants would be better if so many players weren’t injured. As for quick turnaround, that’s always possible in the NFL.

Brian Flynn: So Sunday from 1-5 p.m., I cleaned my bathroom, did the dishes and prepped dinner, then gave my dog her pills. I then went upstairs and fought the fight of building a piece of furniture in a box ... without the instruction sheet (not included). Came downstairs and started the laundry, went to sit down and watch the end of the game, only to see that my dog had spilled her water across the couch ... spent the next 20 minutes trying to clean up ...

My question for you is which one of us had more fun on Sunday (assuming you watched the game)?

Ed says: You did. I had to watch the entire game, as did Chris Pflum and Emily Iannaconi, then figure out what to write. I had to do so with screaming grandchildren running around the house, and I would have rather been playing with them instead of asking them to quiet down. That would have been much more fun.

Steve Alessandrini asks: You have talked a lot about ownership’s desire to avoid firing a third straight coach after two seasons as a major factor in why Judge is likely to be kept. To me, keeping a coach for that reason is flawed logic. The only way off this “Merry Go Round” is finding a coach who in his first two years gives you reason to justify a third. If you look at the first time coaches hired in the last five years who are still coaching, they almost all demonstrated some level of success in the first two years (McVay, McDermott, Vrabel, Shanahan, Reich, Stefanski, LaFleur). So what exactly has Judge demonstrated to ownership to think Year 3 and beyond will be any better than the past two years? I know they are hoping Judge can be the guy but as they say hope is not a strategy.

Ed says: Steve, I don’t disagree. I have previously pointed out that most successful coaches run teams that show significant on-field improvement in Year 2. I have also said that if Judge were a political candidate running for office he would be running a bad campaign. He might win re-election, anyway, but he isn’t giving the Giants real hope that he has the answers. It is also why I have said I think the decision on whether he stays is not nearly as clear cut as it would have been maybe two months ago.

John Williams asks: My questions is about the coaching staff - I think there are something like 24 coaches, and best I can tell there are all sorts of overlapping responsibilities.

The O-line is coached by Sale, Flaherty, Wilkerson, Judge (according to him anyway) and I’m assuming Garrett when he was here.

In a similar fashion Special Teams has 2 coaches plus Judge coaching them (not to mention 7 roster spots dedicated to Special Teams but I digress).

If I had 5 coaches I would have a hard time sorting out who to listen to. The communication would have to be perfect for a setup like this to work.

These two units are probably the two poorest performing ones on the team - my question therefore is do you believe there is some correlation there between the performance of these units and dare I say it - too many voices in the room?

Sometimes less is more.

Apparently the head coach believes otherwise.

Ed says: John, there are 23 assistant coaches. Judge makes 24. That seems like a lot, but I know there are larger staffs in the NFL. The one place where there have been a lot of voices has been the offensive line. Rob Sale, Pat Flaherty, Ben Wilkerson, Freddie Kitchens, Joe Judge and Jason Garrett before he was fired all had input. Yes, I think that’s too much.

Overall, though, it’s about the quality and not the quantity. Watch the defense and that group looks well coached. Watch the offense, not so much. Special teams has Thomas McGaughey and Tom Quinn, a coordinator and an assistant, and both have Super Bowl rings.

If Judge returns I believe he needs to make an honest assessment of which coaches are doing the job and which are not. If I were to give him any advice I would tell him to hire experienced NFL assistant coaches and get away from hiring so many college coaches without meaningful NFL experience.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
Jason Garrett
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

James Farrell asks: Long time Giant fan going back to Yankee Stadium. Has the collapse of the team accelerated since they fired Garrett? He had the most experience running a team and may have been better able to correct the lack of discipline. If so, [is] Judge in over his head? The current team is the worst I have seen going back to the decline during the Allie Sherman years.

Ed says: James, I don’t think the collapse is because Jason Garrett was fired. I think, though, that the collapse has laid bare the fact that the problems on the offensive side of the ball extend well beyond Garrett’s inadequacies as a coordinator.

The collapse pretty much correlates to Daniel Jones being injured. The Giants simply did not prepare for that eventuality by bringing in a quality backup. You have no chance without a quarterback who can competently complete a forward pass. There are a lot of problems with injuries, scheme, etc. Is Judge in over his head? I would have said no at the end of last season. Now, I’m not sure about the answer to that one.

Paul McPhillips asks: A couple of questions maybe for the next mailbag - 1. Why do we keep calling the pistol formation and a delayed handoff to Saquon directly up the middle? Have they not noticed it hasn’t worked? We called it 15 times in the Philly game. We seem to have a little success running off tackle but we keep calling the same, predictable play behind our worst offensive lineman. If I know what’s coming the defense has to. 2. Why do we run an empty backfield on third and reasonable? Wouldn’t it help our second string quarterback to have the defense think there might be some chance of a run in this situation? Both of these things boggle my mind.

Ed says: Paul, I’m not going to get into a deep analysis of specific play calls or formations. Your question, though, offers me an opportunity to ask and discuss a question of my own. Why can’t the Giants put together and actually execute a coherent game plan on offense?

When Jason Garrett was calling plays during the first half of the season I said it looked like the Giants were shooting darts on offense. They did not have an identity. Beyond an occasional designed run for Daniel Jones it looked like they had no idea what, if anything, they actually did well. Or, what they were actually trying to establish or accomplish. It looked like they were just shooting darts — throwing stuff at the wall and hoping it stuck.

I don’t think that has gotten better with Freddie Kitchens calling plays. It might have gotten worse. The Giants went from not throwing the ball to Kenny Golladay at all under Garrett to chucking it in his direction again and again no matter how many guys were covering him under Kitchens. Until last week, when the first pass Mike Glennon threw to him got picked off and the Giants forgot Golladay existed.

They supposedly entered last week’s game with a run, run, run and run some more game plan. Yet, they went empty backfield on the first play, tried to throw, Glennon was strip-sacked and Chicago had a 7-0 lead 18 seconds into the game. On their second series, they have a third-and-2, an absolutely plausible running down. Yet, they try to throw. Predictably, Glennon is picked off. The Bears turn that into a touchdown. The game was over basically 7 minutes after it began.

The Giants started the year trying to be more vertical in their passing attack. When Saquon Barkley and Andrew Thomas got hurt, they basically stopped trying to do anything on offense other than not screw up. Now? I really don’t know what they’re doing.

To me, that is why — if Judge remains as head coach — I believe it would be a mistake to just turn the offense over to Kitchens. I think the Giants need to start over on that side of the ball.

Fishhead202 asks: It seems on every article, the comments section inevitably starts getting posts about forcing Mara to sell the team. To me, this seems to be ridiculous. Am I wrong in my understanding that even a failing NFL franchise is still a money-making machine that no one would ever willingly sell? No empty stadiums or banners flown over games will convince an owner to turn off the cash cow?

It seems a fool’s errand to even debate this.

If I am correct, it would seem that the best thing we could do would be to pressure the owners to hand over the picking of the next GM to someone outside the organization. Do we, as fans, have any way to apply any kind of pressure on an owner?

Ed says: ‘Fish,’ I agree. The Giants have been the Mara family business since 1925. That’s not changing, so screaming for them to sell is just wasting your energy.

Your recourse? Use your voice, use your pen (John Mara still reads letters), use your wallet by not going to games. That’s about all you’ve got. They might be more powerful weapons than you think.

Marcus Mewborn asks: In other sports we see agents are being hired as GMs for franchises (ex, Knicks, Lakers, Mets etc). I know you mentioned casting a wider net but wondering if that’s something that could be entertained? Or are the Giants and NFL franchises in general not quite ready to hire agents as GMs?

Ed says: Marcus, that is happening with increasing frequency in the NBA. It did not work in baseball when the Mets tried Brodie Van Wagenen. Andrew Brandt has traveled that path, which has not often been done in the NFL, and detailed for Sports Illustrated why he thinks it would work in football. Brandt wrote that “the agent background was invaluable” for his role in an NFL front office.

Can an agent be an NFL GM? That probably depends on the person. Can he [or she] truly evaluate talent? Can that person separate what’s best for players from what’s best for the team? Is that person’s agenda truly about the team, or about collecting players who were once his clients and making sure they get paid?

There are a lot of questions. I’m not against it, but it has to be the right person with the right knowledge, the right priorities, the right connections and a willingness to surround himself with the best people.

John Raggio asks: Understanding that we don’t know how free agency shakes out yet, and understanding this question is highly dependent on who is on the board when the Giants pick, give me your goldilocks scenarios on the amount of draft capital the giants should use on the offensive line? What do you think is too little, too much, just right? For example if the giants decide to draft no offensive linemen, like they did in 2021, I’m guessing you would say that is way too little. Is using both first rounders, a second rounder and one of the third round picks too much even if they thought those 4 guys were “the guys” of the future?

Ed says: John, I’m not sure there is a correct answer to that question. It is absolutely obvious that the Giants have to invest capital into fixing the offensive line. No one knows how an incoming GM will approach it. Or, what the current staff really thinks of Shane Lemieux or whether Nick Gates can be relied on to be ready at the start of the 2022 season.

I have said in the past that, given the right scenario, I would be OK with using both top 10 picks on offensive linemen. What, though, if one of the two pass rushers — Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson — is available at No. 5? I’m not letting him go by. What if you do that and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton is miraculously still on the board at No. 8? I’m probably not letting him go by, either.

What if a quarterback-desperate team offers you a first-round pick in 2023 for that No. 8 pick (if that’s where it lands)? If I can stay in the middle of Round 1 in 2022 I’d probably be willing to do that, too.

Generically, I’d say one of those first two picks should be an offensive lineman. The draft, like life is unpredictable. I can see scenarios where that isn’t what happens.

Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Michigan Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Jesse Sorel asks: There was a report that came out earlier this week about the possibility of Jim Harbaugh ( Michigan University head coach) coming back to the NFL. Report says he prefers a west coach job or Giants head coach job. I know the Giants need a GM and have seem to commit to Joe Judge. What are the possibilities of Mara and Tisch going back on there commitment and throwing the bank at Harbaugh? Also what is your opinion on Jim Harbaugh being hired in Giants head coach and also being hired before the GM is hired? I know in SF him and the GM Trent Baalke not seeing eye to eye was the reason he jumped ship.

Ed says: Jesse, I have seen all the reports and the speculation. I have resisted writing one of those “should the Giants pursue Jim Harbaugh?’ posts. I have seen some of the stuff that the Giants would be a team Harbaugh would consider, but I’m not buying.

I have to admit that I’m not a Harbaugh guy, but my gut tells me any speculation floating around that he would be interested in the Giants is just out there so that he can hold up Michigan for more money or get the Chicago Bears to break the bank to bring him in. I think he’s a Midwest guy, and I find it “convenient” that he is suddenly talking about returning to the NFL when the Bears job is about to be open. I think he is coaching one of those two teams next season.

Douglas Mollin asks: Many BBVers view the current Giant roster as devoid of talent and that 2022 is a lost cause. We need to cut/trade expensive contracts, build future cap space and maximize draft capital for 2023.

I’ve seen several mock drafts where we trade down with BOTH of our first-round 2022 picks, getting extra picks this year and next.

Are you of the mind that the Giants have to tear the team down and do a (hopefully) quick turnaround for 2023?

Or do we just take the best players we can this year and hope that the talent we have is more than meets the eye? Maybe win 8 or 9 games in 2022 and be playoff ready in 2023?

Ed says: Douglas, I think that “2022 is a lost cause” attitude is a bunch of nonsense. There aren’t enough game-changing players, but “devoid of talent” is way too harsh. The Giants look a lot different if Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley play 17 games. If Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux and Darius Slayton are healthy all year. If Blake Martinez, Jabrill Peppers, Adoree’ Jackson and Aaron Robinson play a full season. That is a lot of key players to lose.

The Giants have a lot of decisions to make on veteran players to keep or cut due to their salary cap situation. I do not, though, think a complete tear down is what is needed. I think there are some solid pieces to build with, but not enough. I think you want to keep adding bricks, and I think the Giants need a few of those bricks to turn into game-changers.

That, as I think about it, is an argument in favor of keeping Joe Judge. You bring in a new GM and new coach, and you will get a complete tear down. You can probably count on waving goodbye over the next couple of years to just about everyone except Andrew Thomas and Xavier McKinney. I just don’t think that’s necessary.

I’m not against trading back with the second of the two first-round picks, especially if that trade back lands you a 2023 first-round pick. But both? I think that is silly when you are sitting there with a chance to draft at least one, hopefully two, franchise-altering players.