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Big Blue View mailbag: We’re going long in our year-end edition

The mail’s here!

Our final Big Blue View Mailbag of 2022 is a long one. Grab a cup of coffee, a donut, a bagel, some of those leftover Christmas cookies, or whatever you need and settle in. There are some good questions in here, and this one might take a while to get through.

Jeffrey Camp asks: Love the way the Giants have held the players accountable this year. The exception seems to be Mark Glowinski. He has not played well for the most part but hasn’t lost any snaps. Both Feliciano and Gates have experience at G. They could even get crazy and move Neal inside (played a year there in college) and move Gates out to RT (where he initially played his 1st year) or try Peart there who didnt play great but I believe his overall rating was higher than Glowinski. Him playing because what they paid him seems counter to almost every other move they’ve made. Thoughts?

Ed says: Jeff, the reality is the Giants are in position to make the playoffs and I don’t think you will see them “get crazy” and start shuffling guys around on the offensive line at this point.

Mark Glowinski hasn’t been great, there’s no denying that. I don’t, though, think the Giants expected him to be great. They knew what they were getting when they signed him — an adequate NFL starting right guard who was a better run blocker than pass protector. To me, he’s been what the Giants expected him to be.

Of 36 guards who have played 800 or more snaps, Pro Football Focus ranks Glowinski 23rd. He’s been there every week and been adequate. His 61.7 PFF grade is down from the 70.1 he posted a year ago, but right in line with where he has been throughout his career. So, too, is the 96.5 pass-blocking efficiency score he has posted.

Here are Glowinski’s career PFF grades:

There is another factor to consider, and that is the impact on rookie right tackle Evan Neal. Andrew Thomas talked earlier in the week about the difficulty of consistently playing next to a different player — he’s played next to five starting left guards this season — and hinted that he would like to see the Giants stop rotating Ben Bredeson and Nick Gates during games.

“It’s not easy,” Thomas said. “The last few games, we rotated the left guard in different series and that’s something that’s not easy to overcome.”

Glowinski has played next to Neal all season. We know Neal has struggled in recent weeks. Making him play next to someone different at this point in the season would be, quite honestly, making things even more difficult for the rookie.

Now, I have also seen calls for Nick Gates to replace Jon Feliciano at center with Ben Bredeson playing full time at left guard. Gates is undeniably a great story and a fan favorite, and he did an acceptable job at center for the Giants in 2020. Gates had one really good game this season filling in at center for an injured Feliciano against the Dallas Cowboys, but one game isn’t proof that swapping Feliciano for Gates makes the offensive line better. Gates (59.7 in 2020) didn’t grade any better per PFF than Feliciano (57.7) has this year.

The Giants could use a long-term upgrade at center, yes. I’m not sure that guy is on the roster.

Seth Weissman asks: The loss to the Vikings was tough because the Giants did play well, for the most part. And as you’ve been saying, the team has far surpassed expectations for this year already. Having said that, given what you’ve seen this season, of the following positions, which do you think is the Giants’ biggest need: WR, CB, C, G or LB? I ask because, amazingly, it seems like they’re not that far away from being very solid.

Ed says: Seth, I always caution that teams may see their needs differently than we do. Also that just because I may list needs in a certain order doesn’t mean I would automatically draft those positions in that order. The draft and even free agency don’t work that way. You have to look at what is available and determine the best way to use the draft or financial resources you have.

Now, simply in terms of what I see as the biggest needs I would rank them this way:

  1. Cornerback — I think Wink Martindale’s defense really needs top-flight coverage guys. I believe the Giants need at least one more.
  2. Interior offensive line (especially center) — I honestly think this is a bigger issue than wide receiver. Nothing works if you can’t block it, and I believe the biggest reason the Giants have been so cautious in throwing the ball is because they don’t believe the protection can hold up.
  3. Wide receiver — The Giants undeniably need an upgrade here, and depending on how things fall in the draft I can see them going here with their first pick. I think, though, that the emergence of Isaiah Hodgins, the return next year of Wan’Dale Robinson and the possible return for one more year of Sterling Shepard might give them a little wiggle room.
  4. Linebacker — The Giants need help here, obviously. I have it lower on the list, though, because it is a position that defensive coordinators are used to working around if they don’t have that dominant every-down player. Now, if you can get one of those that is awesome. I’m not using a first- or second-round pick, though, unless I believe the player I am selecting will be on the field on every down.

Jeff Marx asks: One question about last week’s game. I watched the replay of the (Cor’Dale) Flott interception a dozen times. Unlike last week where it was obvious Holmes got away with one, yesterday I did not see any reason for that call to be overturned. I’m not sure I could even see the ball. All I saw was Flott’s arm and I don’t understand from the angles shown what the officials saw. I believe I am looking at this objectively, not as a fan. I’m guessing it’s probably the latter because no one else has mentioned it. Either that or I’m more blind than I thought. What did you see?

Ed says: Jeff, I saw a ball that clearly hit the ground. Honestly, it was clear to me that the interception had to be overturned. The ground helped Flott control the ball.

Max Bernstein asks: In 2016 the Giants, with a first-year head coach, made the playoffs in what was expected to be a rebuilding year on the backs of an excellent defense. We know what happened next. Despite my optimism I can’t help but see a lot of similarities to this year’s squad. In your opinion, what reasons are there to believe that this surprise playoff run and head coach is more sustainable than 2016?

Ed says: Max, you raise a point that is worth discussing. The Giants did make the playoffs in the first year of the Ben McAdoo era, only to watch things go completely off the rails in Year 2.

I honestly don’t see any similarities at all — other than both teams doing surprisingly well in the first year with rookie head coaches.

McAdoo was a glorified offensive coordinator who really did not coach the entire team, or build solid relationships with the entire roster. That 2016 playoff run was built on the backs of a Jerry Reese spending spree that brought in Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins and Olivier Vernon. It was built on the backs of a tremendous defense, second in the league in points allowed, that McAdoo had nothing to do with. The offense got just enough individual brilliance from Eli Manning and Odell Beckham.

This team, and this head coach, are vastly different. McAdoo was an offensive coach who had a system, and that was all he knew. He also did not have the people skills to guide a locker room or an organization.

Brian Daboll coaches the Giants team, not just its offense. Daboll hired a quality coaching staff filled with NFL veterans, and he empowers them. This team is not built on the backs of a free-agent spending spree. It’s built with leftovers from the Dave Gettleman era and spare parts accumulated by GM Joe Schoen on a shoestring budget.

McAdoo and Daboll are vastly different people, with teams constructed in vastly different ways. Now, that doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be a step back in 2023. I will just be very surprised if Daboll doesn’t end up having a fairly long run as Giants coach.

Ed Capek asks: Does the NFL record how concussions occur? Who has the most, QB, WR, lineman, etc. Is the main cause helmet to helmet contact, the ground or just wear and tear?

Ed says: I have never seen data on precisely how each concussion occurs, but I’m certain that the NFL has data that gives them an indication what type of hits and what type of plays are most likely to cause concussions and other injuries. It is one of the reasons why the league moved a few years ago to limit kickoff returns — because it is the most dangerous play in the sport because of the high rates of speed and the violence of the collisions.

The most recent study I found showed that running backs, special teams coverage players and linebackers suffered the most concussions.

To my knowledge, concussions are not a wear and tear thing. They are about the violence of the collision, the contact directly to the head, the head slamming on the ground. The danger for quarterbacks is generally the head slamming to the ground. The danger for a wide receiver is generally that violent hit — often across the middle and sometimes directly to the helmet — that causes trauma to the head.

Linemen are likely safer because they are not in the open field moving at a high rate of speed most of the time. Concussions can and do happen, and they are susceptible to getting their legs tangled in gross ways (ask Nick Gates), but studies seem to show the risk is not as great.

Here is a list of all NFL players who suffered concussions through Week 16 of this season.

Warren Joscelyn asks: My question this week is in regards to blocking on the perimeter before a pass. Sometimes it’s called a pick play or pass interference, other times it’s just a regular play. I have anecdotally taken note that the “better” teams seem to do this as a game plan and don’t get called. Tom Brady and his teams have made a living on it. The Vikings burned us this week engaging our DBs with their receivers well before the ball was thrown and plenty downfield. However, other times with “lesser” teams without the better record it draws a flag. So what is the deal? Is it legal or illegal? Is there a double standard? I find myself getting frustrated when we get burned on one and the call’s inconsistent. It certainly is a huge part of the Vikings offense. Can you clear this up?

I know it’s too late now, but was No. 75 illegally downfield on the last play before the game winning FG? I haven’t seen anyone talk about it. The screen pass. It was awful close and he throws the key block. Again, a call that seems wildly inconsistent based on which team is doing it.

As I previously inquired about the Giants don’t seem to have (effective) screens and WR bubbles in their arsenal. If they could block DBs before the ball’s out and send their lineman barreling downfield like the Vikings seem to make a habit of, that may change the equation. But could they do it or is the yellow going to fly?

Ed says: Warren, I’m not going to deal with the “conspiracy theory” portion of your question. I’m not buying the whole “better” teams get that call stuff. I think you are seeing what you want to see through the jaundiced eye of a fan who had a game turn out in a way you wished it hadn’t. I will deal, though, with the substance of what you are asking.

In the specific blocking downfield situation you reference, no Brian O’Neill (No. 75) of the Vikings should not have been penalized. Linemen are allowed to be one yard downfield, and in the screenshot you provided that is exactly how far downfield O’Neill is.

From the NFL rule book, here is the entire section:

Item 1. Legally Downfield. An ineligible player is not illegally downfield if, after initiating contact with an opponent within one yard of the line of scrimmage during his initial charge:

He moves more than one yard beyond the line while legally blocking or being blocked by an opponent after breaking legal contact with an opponent more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage, he remains stationary until a forward pass is thrown after losing legal contact with an opponent more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage, he is forced behind the line of scrimmage by an opponent, at which time he is again subject to normal blocking restrictions for an ineligible offensive player.

Note: If an ineligible offensive player moves beyond the line while legally blocking or being blocked by an opponent, an eligible offensive player may catch a pass between them and the line of scrimmage.

Item 2. Illegally Downfield. An ineligible offensive player is illegally downfield if:

He moves more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage without contacting an opponent after losing contact with an opponent within one yard of the line of scrimmage, he advances more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage after losing contact with an opponent more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage, he continues to move toward his opponent’s goal line.

As far as wide receivers blocking while the ball is in the air, that is illegal. Does it get called correctly every time? Of course not. As for pick routes or what teams like to call “rub” routes, please don’t try to tell me that the league gives more leniency to some teams than to others. That’s rubbish. Teams work incessantly on those plays. You can’t set a stationary pick like you can in basketball. The idea is to create traffic, to impede, to make a defender in man-to-man coverage have to alter his path. The rulebook says that any contact judged to be incidental is not to be called a penalty. So, the idea is to work to make any contact that does occur incidental, or to at least make it look incidental.

Warren Schuman asks: My 10-year-old son asked me a question regarding overtime rules based upon a scenario that I would consider to have less than a 1% chance of ever occurring. I’ve read the NFL rules and I do not think it’s covered, probably because no one considered it a possibility. But I promised him I’d find the answer somewhere. Hope you may be able to help.

Both teams are supposed to be guaranteed one possession in overtime unless the first team scores a touchdown, or the defense scores a safety or pick-six. So ...

What if the first team possesses the ball for the entire 10 minutes of overtime and kicks a field goal as time expires?

Given that the second team has not possessed the ball, would they be given an untimed possession?

Ed says: Smart kid, Warren. His inquiry sent me diving into the NFL rulebook and turning to Cyd Zeigler of Outsports, who has officiated at the high school and college level. The answer, as far as I can tell, is that if the first team to have possession somehow manages to keep the ball for all 10 minutes and scores on the final play — or doesn’t score at all — the game is over. In the playoffs, of course, if there is no score at the end of the first overtime play would continue until there was a winner.

Here is the applicable section of the rulebook, I believe:

There shall be a maximum of one 10-minute period, even if the second team has not had an opportunity to possess the ball or if its initial possession has not ended. If the score is tied at the end of the period, the game shall result in a tie.

David Kanter asks: I feel we aren’t talking enough about what the Giants were able to accomplish last game verse the Vikings. What they did in the passing game I feel for the first time all season makes them a complete team. As acknowledged, we’ve won games with defense, running the ball, good coaching, and not making mistakes. But this to me is the first time they brought out an aggressive offense and let Jones throw the ball. If the team that showed up last weekend makes a few less mistakes and has the ball bounce their way once or twice more in the game are we not looking at a team that can beat any team in the league?

Ed says: David, it was encouraging to see the Giants show some ability to make explosive plays down the field. They had four (16 percent) of their league-worst 25 passing plays of 20+ yards vs. Minnesota.

The Giants are not going to change their stripes. They are a run-first team that still doesn’t have enough play-making receivers and has questionable pass protection. They took advantage of a Minnesota team that defends the run well, but has a questionable secondary. It was, though, good to see Daniel Jones make some of those downfield plays.

The flip side of being more wide open was that the Giants committed two costly turnovers.

Can the Giants beat anyone? Of course. There is always a chance. There is also a chance they can lose to any team in the league. Their roster is still not as good as many of the league’s best teams, and that isn’t going to magically change at this point. They aren’t as talented as the Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers. That’s just the reality.

The Giants need to have the right game plan. They need to take advantage of their opportunities. They need to play mistake-free. They probably need to catch a couple of breaks. There is a window of opportunity against every team, it’s just an increasingly narrow one when the Giants step up in class.

Edwin Gommers asks: I’m sure I know what your answer is going to be, but if this article has any merit to it Dallas Cowboys EXCLUSIVE: Terrell Owens, 49, Calls Jerry Jones Seeking NFL Tryout - FanNation Dallas Cowboys News, Analysis and More would you have invited TO in for at least a try out? I’ve seen his videos. He’s still in really good shape and fast. With the experience he has and the lack of quality (depth) the Giants have at WR, could have been interesting to see what he still had left as well as mentor the younger ones.

Ed says: Heck, no. Why in the world would I want to participate in a publicity stunt for a guy who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2010? I don’t care what kind of shape he is in or how fast he looks, the notion that Terrell Owens could help an NFL team is ridiculous.

Mark Cicio asks: There was a time not so long ago (yeah, I’m old) when QB’s didn’t hit their stride for at least 3-4 years. They would ride the bench behind the starter and learn the game, the speed at pro level, the different defenses that were played, the way pro-offenses were ran, the way they combated the exotic defenses, and to get used to different throws when dealing with some of the very best secondary players they would have ever seen in college, how to avoid getting hammered by massive d-lineman, how to throw it away if there’s nothing there... all the things young QB’s are often victims of.

Maybe there’s a reason why so many drafted QB’s don’t make it. Maybe in this day and age of the salary cap being such a player in team’s decisions, QB’s don’t get the chance to grow and learn like they used to. Maybe there’s some great QB’s out there that never panned out because of this. Maybe that’s why we’re seeing our own (D.J.) starting to get it now in year 4. Maybe we already have the guy that will lead us to relevance again, if we are patient enough to allow it. I may be wrong, but I think we still haven’t seen the best of D.J., and that maybe he can be a top QB in this league.

I know this is more opinion than question, but do you see relevance in this little diatribe?

Ed says: Marc, of course I see the merit in your argument. Because of the way they train and the systems they run from high school on quarterbacks are coming to the NFL more prepared than ever. That doesn’t mean they don’t still have things to learn or developing to do.

Daniel Jones is a better player now than he was as a rookie in 2019. He is also in the best circumstance — a healthy Saquon Barkley, the best coaching staff, a franchise left tackle. That matters. I’m still not convinced that Sam Darnold, for example, has ever had the chance to play in a good situation.

The Giants, by the way, already are relevant again. There is a lot of work still to be done, but they are on the cusp of the playoffs and people are paying attention to them. They matter.

I have said this before, but I would be fine with the Giants bringing Jones back and seeing just how much more juice there is to squeeze out of that orange.

Taj Siddiqi asks: Could there be a scenario where we can keep DJ and SB, draft Hooker and let him sit and learn the system and NFL game. He seems like a candidate who could use some molding before thrown in to NFL games.

Ed says: Sure, Taj, that could be done. The Giants will have the cap room to keep both Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley if that is what they want to do. And, yes, they could draft a quarterback like Hendon Hooker even if they keep Jones.

I am, though, going to put my marker down right now. Apologies to BBV’s Chris Pflum, who selected Hooker in his year-end mock draft, but Hooker is NOT a player I would be drafting if I were Joe Schoen. He turns 25 in January. Most players at that age have already been in the NFL for two or three years. The Giants have 20 players on their 53-man roster 24 or younger. Daniel Jones is in his fourth season, and he is just 25 years old.

So, they would be drafting a guy who is already at the cusp of being one of the older players on the roster. Then, you have to wonder how much availability he would have in 2023 coming off his torn ACL. He probably misses all of the spring and summer as he recovers. That means he really doesn’t get true on-field development time until 2024, when he is already 26. Oh, and how much developing is a guy who is 26 really going to do?

For me, it gets interesting if Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson is available when the Giants pick in Round 1. I doubt he will be, and I’m not sold on him right now without doing more study, but he is the supremely athletic, toolsy type of of project quarterback Schoen and Brian Daboll might like to work with.

Mark P. Lynch asks: In a recent AP NFL notes column there was a quote from new Broncos CEO George Penner. He said in regards to the next head coach, ‘yes, the new head coach will report to me, which is the more typical structure in the NFL.’ My question is except for Dallas where Jones is both Owner & GM and N.E. where Belichick is both coach & GM Do most NFL head coaches bypass the GM and deal directly with the owner. Just by following NY papers I suspect that this is not the case with the Jets & Giants. I wonder how many NFL teams actually follow the new Bronco front office structure versus the standard GM/Coach dynamic.

Ed says: Mark, I haven’t thoroughly studied every front office but I think the arrangement Penner speaks of is not how most NFL teams do it. In the Penner scenario, you have a coach and GM quite possibly working on different tracks, rather than together with a shared vision. When things to wrong, you then have both running to the owner’s office and blaming the other guy.

The other problem with the Penner scenario is you then set up the potential for the owner to be running the football operation, and we know that usually is not a good idea.

The more common arrangements are strong GM with coach who reports to him or the opposite, where the coach has the power and the GM is basically there to get the coach what he wants.