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Big Blue View mailbag: Kadarius Toney, Landon Collins, Dave Gettleman, more

The mail’s here!

It is time once again to open up the Big Blue View Mailbag. This is another full one with an array of questions. Let’s get to it!

Let’s start off with a pair of Kadarius Toney questions. I will give one answer.

Spencer Gross asks: After last year’s bizarre beginning from a one-cleat practice, being injured consistently to supporting a former NFL player who happened to kill someone I’m really starting to wonder what if anything will come from Toney’s time as a Giant. I know it’s only Year 2 but this is a consistent problem. Yes, there was one good game against Dallas but he was also thrown out of that game for not being able to keep his composure. The guy has talent but I believe him always being injured or plain immaturity will keep him from ever fully grasping it. I wanna be wrong but I fully believe he was a terrible draft pick and won’t even finish his rookie contract with the Giants. Thoughts?

Jerry Panza asks: The Kadarius Toney story is exhausting. Is there any chance the Giants can cut bait on this character and just trade him and get a seventh-round draft pick for him?

Ed says: Spencer, Jerry, yes, the Kadarius Toney story is exhausting. It is frustrating. It is unfortunate. It is a lot of things, including not good. For Toney or the Giants.

I have seen enough locker rooms and watched enough players come and go to understand that there is a difference between being in the NFL and truly being a professional football player.

I honestly do not think Toney is a bad guy. I just wonder — and I don’t have any inside information to back this opinion up — if Toney is one of those guys who likes playing football, likes being in the NFL and all the money and notoriety it brings him, but doesn’t truly understand what it means to be a professional athlete. To prepare properly. To do the work behind the scenes to take care of your body and to improve as a player. There are a lot of marginal players who have long, successful career because they understand what it takes to be their best every day. There are a lot of really talented guys who never reach their potential, and that is often because they don’t understand the work that goes into it. Considering that so many of Toney’s issues have seemingly been preventable, I just have to wonder.

I go back to his rookie year. The coaching staff began the spring talking about how Toney needed to gain the trust and respect of the players and coaches. They ended the year saying the same things, which indicated he didn’t make much progress in that area.

Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen have said positive things about Toney. It’s fair to wonder, though, how they really feel.

Could the Giants get anything for Toney? Maybe, although I think the best way to get something in return would be to wait until the offseason. Perhaps he can get on the field enough over the next 12 games to establish some sort of value.

Jesse Sorel asks: When the season started it was known throughout the football universe that Giants were in a rebuilding year. Getting rid of players that were to expensive, not part of the coordinators scheme’s, or just not the coaches type of guy. Then figure out what player’s they would keep moving forward with, and winning games maybe wasn’t the top priority compared to figuring out QB position. Maybe behind closed door Giants and Joe Schoen never thought they would be 4-1. They have been making moves for next year and beyond. With that being said do you think now the Giants will start try to trade some draft capital for a CB or a WR and try to make a post season run this year? What do you think those moves could look like since this was supposed to be a rebuilding year and they have no money? Are there intriguing players on bad teams (Steelers, panthers) that wouldn’t cost high draft capital?

— Ed’s answer is in the YouTube video below:

Timo Krüger asks: What do you think what Landon Collins’ role in this defense will be?

From my point of view, the three safeties we currently have on the field are doing a decent job and I honestly wouldn’t want to see Collins playing deep. He has never been a great coverage guy, but he really excels close to the line of scrimmage.

That being said I would see Collins taking on more of a hybrid linebacker role. The Giants have a lot of DBs on the field many times though.

What do you see him playing once he is fit and up to speed?

Ed says: Timo, I think the Giants likely see Collins as more a replacement on the roster for someone like Austin Calitro than they do part of their rotation of deep safeties. I was not at practice on Wednesday, but word from the facility was that Collins practiced at least some with the inside linebackers. He did the same when I was there on Thursday. Collins has always been better in the box as a blitzer/run defender than he has playing deep as a cover guy/center fielder.

The problem has always been that the hybrid linebacker role is one he never really wanted to embrace. Maybe being out of a job during the first part of the season has changed Collins’ thinking.

Carol Stone asks: Who has the final word on who is cut from the team and who gets a contract? Do the Giant owners have a right to stop cuts? Can they override the choices of the general manager?

Ed says: Carol, John Mara and Steve Tisch own the team. If they want something to happen, no one can overrule them. That said, final roster decisions are made by the general manager.

Joe Schoen has the final call on which players to draft or sign in free agency. That said, MAJOR decisions like, oh, trading Saquon Barkley, are things ownership has to sign off on. Schoen’s not going to have a job if John Mara wakes up one morning and sees an alert on his phone that Barkley got traded to the Buffalo Bills. Or, if Mara sees that the Giants signed Daniel Jones to a 10-year, $50 billion contract he didn’t know they were even negotiating.

Ownership is informed and consulted on all major decisions. Now, they are not going to care whether Player A or Player B is elevated from the practice squad. But big ones, controversial ones, expensive ones they are going to want to be informed about and will always have veto power.

Ownership was in the meetings with head coach candidates, for example. They signed off on Schoen’s decision to hire Brian Daboll but were part of the process.

Mara was asked about this back in January. Here is what he said:

“All personnel decisions in this building – and this has always been the case – have been made by the general manager and the head coach. When they agree on a personnel decision, they come to me with it and as long as they’re both in agreement, I okay it. The only times I would possibly not do that is if there was an off-the-field conduct issue ... The personnel decisions have always been made and will always be made by the general manager and the head coach. If they agree on a draft pick, on a UFA, then I’m going to okay it 99.99 percent of the time. The only time I will raise an issue about it is if there is a conduct issue. I’ll question them about it, I’ll make them defend their positions and I’ll make sure that they’re on the same page, but at the end of the day if they’re in agreement, then that’s the decision we’re going with.”

As an example of Mara making a conduct-related decision, he flatly ruled out the Giants trading for DeShaun Watson back in January.

Jacob Willett asks: I’m probably going to be ripped to shreds for being a Gettleman apologist but I truly believe that he was not that bad. Make no mistake, I’m not saying he was good and I fully supported him “retiring” but I feel like his awfulness has been overrated by the media, especially in regard to the draft. It’s looking like the last two Hog mollies he drafted have pro bowl potential (Dex and Thomas). An argument can be made that McKinney and Ojulari could have a similar ceiling. The 2020 draft looks like it could be the Giants’ best overall draft in a long time with Lemieux, Holmes, Brown, and Crowder also all playing equal or above value for their draft slots. Jones was the best QB in his draft class and it’s not even close. And for all of the Saquon hate, through 5 games he is an MVP candidate while Darnold and Baker have washed out. Josh Allen was a miss but most of the teams in the NFL also missed on him. The media loves to point out what the colts were able to get in that draft with Nelson and Leonard but how much has that impacted winning for them especially since both are now among the highest-paid at their position? I feel like no GM is batting 1.000 in the draft. For as great as Ozzie Newsome was that man couldn’t draft a WR if his life depended on it. Check Belichick’s draft record over the past 5 years too. So was Gettleman closer to average than the media portrays?

Ed says: Jacob, if you have not yet read Tony Del Genio’s piece this week about Dave Gettleman, please do that. It covers a lot of this territory and does so exceedingly well.

That said, you can’t call Gettleman “closer to average” as a GM. The record is what the record is, and 19-46 (a .292 winning percentage) is awful.

In totality, Gettleman did not do a good job as Giants’ GM. That’s not breaking news. Too many free-agent mistakes. Too many bad contracts, and too much salary cap mismanagement. Too many missed opportunities to maximize the value of the assets he had at his disposal.

Now, as Tony did so well, you can make the case that there are several players Gettleman spent Day 1 and day 2 draft picks on — Barkley, Daniel Jones, Andrew Thomas, Xavier McKinney, Oshane Ximines among them — who have been big parts of the team’s success thus far.

What Gettleman did was not all bad. His job, though, was to make the Giants a better team. During his time as GM he couldn’t do that.

Bob Donnelly asks: 4-1 is a lot of fun!

As I look at the way they have accomplished this wonderful start it occurred to me that several DG-drafted players are contributing in meaningful ways and seemingly more so than in the past. This begs the question:

How much of the past disappointing seasons were the function of poor coaching/scheme/game plan vs. poor player selection?

Ed says: Bob, we have pointed it out many times here on the site, on podcasts, and on YouTube — quality coaching makes a huge difference.

Pat Shurmur was a great guy, but not head coach material. The biggest indicator? In my view, he had very few top-tier assistant coaches on his staff. No one was banging down the door to come and work with him. Joe Judge hired a coaching staff filled with his college cronies. It had very little NFL experience, and that showed.

Brian Daboll? He hired a few guys you might call “cronies,” like offensive line coach Bobby Johnson — who happens to be good at his job. Daboll, though, didn’t know Wink Martindale. He didn’t know defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson. He didn’t know Mike Kafka, Thomas McGaughey, or some of the other coaches he hired.

He sought the best people and has hired a staff filled with veteran NFL coaches who know what a good product is supposed to look like and how things are supposed to operate, and he has let them do their jobs. It shows.

Solo Writer asks: What is the status of the contracts for the offensive and defensive coordinators on the Giants? No matter how the Giants finish this year, I fear both Wink and Kafka could get head coach opportunities. Are they locked into their contracts?

Also, I don’t understand the media’s love (he’s such a great coach!) of our previous defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The record for the teams he has coached from 2020 through the first five games of 2022 is 11 wins and 27 losses. That’s the same record for the same time that just got Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers fired! Isn’t one’s record the ultimate determinant of your effectiveness? I think we dodged a bullet with his leaving for Las Vegas and our acquisition of Wink Martindale. What do you think?

Ed says: Solo, there is no database we can turn to that lists contract details for coordinators. When Wink Martindale was hired, reports were that his contract with the Giants was for three years. I have not seen anything detailing the length of Kafka’s contract.

Thing is, the length of those deals doesn’t matter. If they are asked to interview for a job that would be a promotion, and head coach from coordinator is a promotion, they are free to do that.

My $.02? Stop worrying about it. Yes, Kafka or Martindale might get a head-coaching opportunity. That is a good thing, though, because it almost certainly means that the Giants have been doing well. Teams don’t hire coordinators from bad teams to be their head coaches. Trust that GM Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll will hire good replacements. You know, Ken Dorsey is doing pretty well replacing Daboll in Buffalo. As good as Kafka is, does Patrick Mahomes look crippled by his loss?

As for Patrick Graham, the guy is a really good coach. He is much different, much more technical, and more “bend, don’t break” than Wink Martindale. Graham wants to play chess. Martindale just brings a bulldozer. Shoot, Graham is a Yale grad. Martindale is a former trucker. So, yeah, different backgrounds and personalities. Both approaches can and do work if you have the right players.

You can’t put a won-loss record on a defensive coordinator. That’s on the GM and the head coach. Graham is smart. He’s well-spoken. He cares about players. His players responded to him. I think “dodged a bullet” is way too strong, but there is no doubt Martindale is tremendous at what he does.

John Raggio asks: There are a lot of comparisons to Daboll and the previous regime. However, I’m curious what you think is the biggest difference between Daboll’s staff/style vs. McAdoo’s in their 1st year, before the wheels fell off in year 2? I’m curious because the Giants had a good year then too (11-5) and there were plenty of good vibes then which happens when a team is exceeding expectations, but this staff feels more foundational than that one. Coach’s hairstyles aside.

Ed says: Brian Daboll vs. Ben McAdoo? John, this is not going to turn out well for McAdoo.

Brian Daboll has people skills. Ben McAdoo did not. Daboll relates to all of his players and everyone in the Giants organization. McAdoo was a glorified offensive coordinator who had no relationship with his defensive players. When things went sideways, the locker room did not respect him and when he suddenly tried to discipline players, especially defensive players, that led to an open revolt and he lost the team.

There is another essential difference. Brian Daboll has been willing to listen to a variety of ideas. He has melded systems with Mike Kafka. He has hired coaches from varied backgrounds, many of whom he did not previously know. He is willing to and capable of making adjustments. McAdoo knew one system, the 11 personnel heavy Green Bay offense. He did not know how to adjust and didn’t want to adjust. McAdoo just kept doing the same stuff and hoping it would get better. He thought he had the answers.