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Big Blue View mailbag, Part 1: Non-Daniel Jones questions

The mail’s here!

This is a BIG day for the Big Blue View Mailbag. So many questions were received, particularly in regards to New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, that this will be a two-part mailbag. Below, questions not involving Jones. Later, a mailbag devoted exclusively to the quarterback.

Let’s go!

Casey Hamlin asks: I’m surprised the Giants retained the Special Teams Coordinator. We showed signs of poor execution in special teams in the Pre-Season and that has carried over to the regular season. When questioned about his unit’s performance last year “T Mac” stated it was a tough place to play….no kidding?…..You may recall Dexter Lawrence lining up in the neutral zone on a game winning FG attempt last year costing us a game. Last game we had numerous punts end up being touchbacks. We have not had a legit return man/game in years. I just find the performance of our special teams unit as a whole to be lackluster over a long period of time and wonder why Giants brass has accepted this mediocrity for so long?

Ed says: Casey, I’m a big fan of Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. There is a reason why he has been in that role for Pat Shurmur, Joe Judge and now Brian Daboll. He is really good at his job.

Now, I fully understand that there have been a variety of issues with the Giants’ special teams over the years. McGaughey loves to say that he makes ‘Gumbo’ every week with whatever ingredients the head coach gives him to work with. McGaughey doesn’t have any influence over the draft or free agency. He doesn’t make decisions about who is, and isn’t, on the roster.

When a team isn’t good, and the Giants have not been good for a while, that is going to be reflected in the special teams play — no matter how good the coach is. What players are on those special teams? Young, inexperienced players who, in many cases, probably don’t belong in the league. Or, veteran guys trying to hold on to careers who probably shouldn’t be in the league, either. ‘Gumbo,’ or any dish, can’t be good if you don’t have anything good to cook it with.

I have to say one other thing. I have the distinct impression that Judge, a special teams coordinator before becoming Giants’ head coach, had a lot (maybe too much) influence over special teams the last two years. McGaughey said a few months back that head coach Brian Daboll “trusts me.” I took that as a back-handed way of McGaughey saying Judge did not.

McGaughey has said a few times this year that he likes punt returner Richie James and kickoff returner Gary Brightwell in those roles, but that the Giants have to do a better job blocking for those guys. Again, that comes back to the quality of the ingredients you are mixing the ‘Gumbo’ with.

Damien Mayo asks: Do you know any info on Matt Peart and where he is related to return to play. Wondering if he (can) return this season and help out at the guard position.

Ed says: Damien, I do not know when or if the Giants will designate Peart to return this season. I have always had the impression we wouldn’t see Peart until the second half of the year, if at all. Remember, his torn ACL came right at the end of last season.

Also, remember that Peart is an offensive tackle. He is not a guard. If and when he returns he would probably be in competition with Devery Hamilton for the swing tackle role. Players like Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux could return at some point to bolster the interior of the line, or at least add depth.

Julian asks: Do you have any idea of what the Giants will have in 2023 in terms of the salary cap? Do you think they will be able to spend to up grade the team to a contender status? And what do you think their priorities would be in the draft assuming they have 7 picks?

Ed says: Julian, there is no way to know exactly how much cap space the Giants will have next season. The cap is fluid and it’s hard enough to stay current on this year. Over the Cap estimates that the Giants will have slightly more than $61 million next season. Again, ESTIMATES. So, they should be in better shape.

They have decisions to make about Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones that could potentially eat into that cap space. GM Joe Schoen has said he would like to be more aggressive and go after a higher class of players next offseason, but don’t expect some sort of wild spending spree. Been there, done that, watched it fail.

As for the draft, I’m assuming nothing at this point. I’m not even studying it yet. There are 13 games left in the season for the Giants to evaluate what they have. I’m not setting priorities now.

Edwin Gommers asks: Question about Thibodeaux. In my opinion I’ve not seen him jump off the screen compared to guys like Hutchison and Karlaftis. Now my question is how does Wink’s scheme play into this? As Wink’s scheme is more focused on creating pressure through blitzes rather than more traditional pass rush, should we see Thibodeaux be more effective because offenses have to account for the blitz or will we see more hurries and passes batted down than sacks as the focus is more on pressure than pass rush?

Ed says: Edwin, I would agree that Kayvon Thibodeaux has yet to jump off the screen. He has only played in two games, though, and 83 snaps is hardly enough to go bridge-jumping that he isn’t going to pan out, which I know some people are.

I don’t know how Wink Martindale’s scheme plays into that, though it is based on movable pieces and causing confusion, not necessarily on featuring edge defenders.

At this point, I’m just advising patience. Thibodeaux missed most of the spring with a hip issue. He missed five weeks of practice due to his sprained MCL. He is still catching up, and still has not had a ton of practice time. As he said himself, he is learning that he is not Superman and that it’s not always about him. Let’s not rush to judgment. Just see where it goes.

Gene Kramer asks: Any update on Shane Lemieux? Back this year?

Ed says: Gene, I do think Lemieux will be back this year. How soon I do not know. We saw him on crutches in the locker room Week 1. On Wednesday of this week, he was on the sideline (not practicing) watching practice with a red, non-contact jersey on. So, he is making progress. That’s all I’ve got.

Matt Totaro asks: Hey Ed, can you shed some light on the tryout process for me. With all the injuries the Giants have amassed of late, on Monday they had players ready to go for a tryout. Does Schoen and Dabs have a list of guys who are available at each position predetermined and they start calling around on Sundays and tell them be here at 0900? Do the players have to pay out of pocket to get there or do the Giants cover that and if the Giants cover that, is that considered part of the salary cap?

Ed says: Matt, the tryout process for the Giants is not any different than it is for any other team. Every personnel department in the league keeps an updated list of players who are “on the street,” as they say in the NFL. This is an ongoing process and a lot of what personnel departments do in-season. Every team has regular player workouts — sometimes those are for immediate need and sometimes those are just to “check in” on the status of players who might fill a role for them later in the season.

When the Giants held a workout on Monday, the three quarterbacks — A.J. McCarron, Brian Lewerke, Jake Fromm — were all guys who had familiarity with the Giants’ offense.

As for expenses, my understanding is that teams cover all of a player’s travel expenses to and from a workout. It is not considered a salary cap charge. It’s just the cost of doing business.

Ronald Buccheim asks: Why is Sills playing so much with so few targets? He’s had more snaps than anyone but seldom sees a pass. Why are the Giants using him so much? Is it because he gets above-average separation, according to next gen stats for the first three games? (I can’t find all four.) If so, why so few targets? Is he a good run blocker? Do the Giants really think he deserves more snaps than James? Is it because he’s the only tall receiver other than Golladay? Or is it mainly the afterglow from camp and preseason?

Ed says: Well, Ronald, if David Sills isn’t playing, then who is going to play? Yes, Sills has only 10 targets (six receptions) in four games. The Giants, though, aren’t exactly winging the ball all around the field. Daniel Jones is 26th in passing attempts through four games. Sills is playing because Jones trusts him. They have worked together for several offseasons now. The coaching staff appears to trust him, as well. Maybe it also has something to do with size and the fact that he is probably a better blocker than James for some situations.

Mostly, though, Sills is playing because right now the Giants don’t have anyone better to put out there. If that stirs up the ‘Ed hates Darius Slayton’ crowd, or the ‘what about Alex Bachman?’ crowd so be it. If the coaching staff trusted Slayton more than Sills, Slayton would be playing more than Sills. If Slayton earns the time, he will get the time. If Bachman was seen as a viable NFL player, he would have a job somewhere right now.

Jeffrey Jacobs asks: I’ve got a salary cap-related question. What are the cap ramifications if a player goes on IR? Are there any? Does the players’ salary still count against the teams cap number, or does it get shunted aside to some other category?

Ed says: Jeffrey, a player who goes on IR still counts against a team’s salary cap. Those players have to be replaced. When a player is brought up from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, his paycheck goes from a weekly practice squad salary to 1/18th of the minimum for a player on a 53-man roster, based on that player’s experience. Practice squad players elevated from a 53-man roster for an individual game also get a full game check, which bumps up how much they make. This is why teams try to leave themselves a cushion under the cap during the season. As of Friday morning, the Giants had $4.381 million in cap space. That’s not a lot, but 12 teams have less.

Robert Biggerstaff asks: Has anyone looked at KG’s Detroit games to see if he is being used incorrectly/differently now?

Ed says: Robert, you are of course talking about Kenny Golladay. Brian Daboll says all the time that a coaching staff has to know its players. I am certain that both this staff and the Joe Judge staff have studied Golladay and understand how he has succeeded in the past.

Honestly, the primary issue is — I think — Golladay himself. He’s a good guy, he works at it, he wants to succeed. I just don’t think he is the same athlete/player he was in 2018 and 2019, his two 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He had a hip injury in 2020 that limited him to five games — and the Giants gave him a massive contract, anyway. He has had hamstring and knee issues since he has been with the Giants. It’s fair to wonder if those are an after-effect of the hip issue, though I have no idea.

He was never a speed guy, and any decline in his athleticism is going to be noticeable. Injuries can also, consciously or sub-consciously, make a player just a tiny bit hesitant to go all-out to make some of the contested, physical catches Golladay made early in his career.

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