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Big Blue View mailbag: Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, Brian Daboll, more

The mail’s here!

While we wait for kickoff of Sunday’s critical New York Giants-Washington Commanders game, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what topples out.

Doug Mollin asks: How much of Saquon’s success (or any RB for that matter) is dependent on the quality of the OL?

Is it that a great RB like Saquon can only be great with a high quality OL? They’re average with an average OL and below average with a below average OL?

Are there analytics about first improving the OL and then play any reasonably talented RB behind that OL? Make the RB fungible in a sense.

Or, would a great RB be “unlocked” behind a solid OL? Bringing out what we’ve seen from Saquon at his best.

Obviously it’s not realistic to say Saquon and Gary Brightwell would have the same stats behind a great OL.

I just don’t quite know how much any RB can do without a quality OL. Which, in turn, begs the question — do you pay your OL or do you pay your RB?

Ed says: Doug, hopefully this is the answer you’re looking for. I honestly don’t have much in terms of numbers/stats for you. There has long been an argument about the value of running backs. About whether or not you need a great running back to be a great running team. What has been shown again and again is that the run blocking is more important than the running back. It’s nice to have the great runner who can turn 6 or 8 yards into 36 or 38. It is not necessary to have the great runner to be an efficient running team. Conversely, great runners still need a hole in which to get started. They can’t do everything on their own.

Look at Saquon Barkley. There has been a massive difference in his production between the first seven games and the last four — when tight end Daniel Bellinger has been out and the offensive line has been in flux week to week because of injuries. To make magic, he still needs a chance to get started.

I don’t know if there is a direct statistical correlation that proves/disproves the point. Football Outsiders DVOA stats might be the best.

Scott Coghlan asks: Please settle a difference of opinion with my son. I say Daboll’s sideline demeanor has become increasingly stressed out as the season has progressed. Early in the year, I recall him being very calm, comfortable and smiling, even in high pressure situations, which were common with all the close games. Lately, he seems really stressed out and he’s had a few blowups. My son says he’s been the same all year, more similar to the last few weeks. I’m wondering what you have observed, both on the sideline and off. Is the pressure of increased expectations starting to show?

Ed says: Scott, I don’t think Brian Daboll has changed at all. He was raw and short with media immediately after the loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but I had no issue with that. He’s an emotional man, and that was a difficult day.

Daboll always talks about being consistent, and he has been. He isn’t afraid to let his feelings be known — immediately and loudly — on the sideline. Giants fans might recall that Bill Parcells was like that. He has been the same — friendly, even-keeled, sometimes funny and off-the-cuff — in his dealings with media all year. He was that way when I saw him on Tuesday.

Daboll and the Giants have acknowledged that they know what time of year it is and what’s at stake. Daboll, though, hasn’t changed. As an aside, the locker room seemed pretty loose on Tuesday when I was in there. That’s probably good.

Paul Miller asks: Are there any stats that show how teams that lose a Thursday night game fare in their next game with the extra prep time between games?

Ed says: Paul, I looked around and was unable to find anything recent that I thought really addressed this. It is, though, a good question. There are some post-bye week stats, but they aren’t really applicable. If anyone can find something recent that provides data on this, please feel free to drop it into the comments.

When thinking about this in the context of Giants vs. Washington Commanders, what I believe is that this Sunday is the game in which the Giants have an advantage. They are at home having had extra time to prepare. Two weeks from now, Washington will be at home coming off a bye and having had three solid weeks to focus on the Giants. New York will be on the road coming off a game against the Philadelphia Eagles — and playing their fourth straight NFC East game. I really don’t like the Giants’ chances in two weeks.

William Ridley asks: Appreciate this might be a dumb question because I am from New Zealand and my knowledge of anything NFL comes from your website and playing Madden.

My question is about players declaring for the draft or getting into the NFL in general.

Is there a rule about players HAVING to go via the draft to make the NFL?

When Eli [Manning] was in the draft (before I followed the NFL) I understand it was clear he was a number one prospect but publicly did not want to go to the Chargers. Is there a rule which prohibits him from saying “Hey Giants, I like you, you like me, can we agree to a free agent contract with similar terms to being the number one overall?” and essentially forego the draft, go to his preferred team (that wants him) and allow the Giants to still use their No. 4 pick?

Ed says: William, appreciate the love from all the way over in the South Pacific Ocean. Let me try to help you.

There is no free agency BEFORE the draft. Players cannot make deals prior to going through the draft to get to a “preferred” team. They must go through the draft process. If that type of free agency were allowed, there would be no draft.

From NFL Operations, here is the lowdown on player eligibility for the draft:

To be eligible for the draft, players must have been out of high school for at least three years and must have used up their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season. Underclassmen and players who have graduated before using all their college eligibility may request the league’s approval to enter the draft early.

Players are draft-eligible only in the year after the end of their college eligibility.

Players who go through the draft process and are not chosen, can then sign with teams as undrafted free agents. Those players make far less money at the beginning and have a much slimmer chance of actually making an NFL roster.

Christopher Keller asks: This week on BBV it’s been mentioned that there are only about 8 QBs (not counting Brady/Rogers/Wilson) that deserve to be paid large contracts. The rest of the 20 or so starting QBs you could put in a hat and draw and they all could win with the right coaching and team and they all could look like bums at the other end. None of these QBs are worth $20-30-40M per year. None of them are worth over $10M. There are currently 14 NFL QBs with an AAV of over $29.5M/year (Tannehill being the 14th). Why do teams pay $10-30M for mediocrity? Look at what Geno Smith and Heinicke are doing? Could Tyrod Taylor do this next year? The elite QBs should be paid elite contracts but the overspending for mediocrity is absurd. Do you feel that Schoen and Daboll feel this way concerning next year’s salary cap allocation for the QB position?

Ed says: Christopher, I don’t think the issue is paying mediocre quarterbacks middle of the pack quarterback money. The New Orleans Saints are paying Jameis Winston $28 million over two years. Marcus Mariota is making $19.75 million over two years with the Atlanta Falcons.

The issue is when teams pay top-tier money to quarterbacks who don’t deserve it. Like Kirk Cousins making $35 million per year, Jared Goff making $33.5 million per year, or Carson Wentz making $32 million per year. When teams pay middle of the pack quarterbacks elite money that is when there is a problem.

Now, could Tyrod Taylor do for the Giants what Taylor Heinicke has done in Washington or Geno Smith is doing in Seattle? Maybe. Truly, though, what evidence is there? I have always thought Taylor was partially a security blanket for 2023 in the event the Giants move on from Daniel Jones. Still, it feels like Taylor playing in 2023 would be a step backwards.

My position has been the same as the season has unfolded. I don’t know that GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll are yet 100 percent convinced Jones is the guy. We haven’t heard about contract extension talks for Jones, while we have about some other players.

If they do bring him back, which I think is more likely now than it might have been before the season started, I don’t see the Giants being willing to give him Goff-Wentz money. I can see two years, maybe three, at somewhere between $15 and $20 million annually. I don’t have inside info on that, it’s just what I think is fair.