It is time for this week’s Big Blue View mailbag. The primary subject, New York Giants injuries and the MetLife Stadium turf, is a hot-button topic. Let’s get to it.
Jeffrey Jacobs asks: My question is this - are the Giants actually more injury-prone than other teams, or does it just seem that way? I know that every year the team says they’ve studied the injury issue, have plan in place to deal with it, yada yada yada - but every year the injuries seem to be non-stop. I’m less concerned with contact-related injuries - it’s football and that stuff’s unavoidable, but it’s the non-contact stuff like Azeez going down today that continues to concern me.
Ed says: Jeffrey, @ManGamesLostNFL data shows the Giants as having lost the most games to injury of any NFL team since 2009.
The New York Giants were the most injured team in the NFL this season pushing them to #1 in the number of games missed by injured players since the 2009 season https://t.co/8q7ny5OjQ5 pic.twitter.com/GPCQGcV6uI— Man Games Lost NFL (@ManGamesLostNFL) January 20, 2022
Why? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does. Everyone has their theories, but I do not believe there is a single answer.
For what it’s worth, here is a graphic from NFL Health and Wellness showing a sharp rise in ACL tears in 2021.
Another noteworthy stat is that 2021 preseason data, the last I could find, showed soft tissue injuries up sharply across the league last year as compared to the 2015-2019 time period. Draw your own conclusions as to why.
The point that comes across with both of those pieces of data is that these injuries are not just a Giants problem. They are up throughout the league.
Now, let’s look at the various theories about the Giants and injuries.
Coaching? The Giants have had five different coaching staffs during that time. Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, Joe Judge and now Brian Daboll have all had different practice/injury prevention philosophies. Daboll and GM Joe Schoen are believers in sports science and come from Buffalo, where the Bills have had good luck with injuries. Still, we’re seeing more injuries than anyone would like.
Training staff/strength and conditioning program? For the umpteenth time, give me a break with this theory. As coaching staffs change, so do strength and conditioning staffs. Training staffs can’t prevent broken bones, torn ACLs, torn Achilles tendons, etc. Muscle pulls? Maybe. The other thing to remember is that players spend much of the year training away from the team.
The turf? Let’s clarify one thing. The outdoor practice fields at Quest Diagnostics Training Center are grass. The NFLPA’s preferred surface, and one proven to be safer than Field Turf. So, let’s stop with the “replace the turf at the practice facility” stuff. The only turf at the practice facility is in the practice bubble.
The graphic below is a couple of years old, but still instructive:
Synthetic turf has higher rates of non-contact lower limb injuries than natural turf across most play types, per @erinpsajdl's research. Also interesting most of these injuries come earlier in the game regardless of playing surface #HANIC pic.twitter.com/jK1mgabXXo— Keegan Abdoo (@KeeganAbdoo) May 22, 2020
Now, for MetLife Stadium. The stadium opened in 2010, so, yes, its lifespan does correspond to the injury data presented by @ManGamesLostNFL.
“It’s a terrible surface,” Kelce said. “I’m surprised the league hasn’t stepped in at this point. But I think it’s really bad. There’s a higher injury rate on that surface for years now. I don’t know if it’s because there’s two teams playing on it or what’s going on there but it’s easily the least favorite.”
The turf was last replaced in 2020. It was inspected by the league that season and found to meet NFL standards after complaints by the San Francisco 49ers. Here is a graphic covering injury rates at stadiums from 2017-2020 — only one of the seasons with the newest MetLife playing surface. It is the most recent I could find:
The turf used as MetLife Stadium is used by 10 NFL teams.
NOTE: Again, MetLife Stadium “practice” refers to the indoor bubble, not the outdoor fields. Those are grass.
I know there are calls for the Giants and Jets to install a grass field at the stadium. Considering that two teams play there, and that concerts and other events are held there I doubt that will happen. Grass would seem unlikely to hold up with the amount of use it would get.
So, yes, the Giants have suffered more injuries than other NFL teams over the past dozen or so years. Why? There simply isn’t a single answer.
Joel Millman asks: Is there any news regarding the search for a new punter for the Giants? Given the low expectations for their offense - this is a critical position.
Ed says: Joel, it would appear the Giants have their punter. Jamie Gillan has been unchallenged for that job, and has punted well. Earlier on I thought the Giants might bring in competition for him. That hasn’t happened, and at this point I will be surprised if Gillan is not the punter when the season begins.
James Williams asks: Boomer Esiason has said a number of times that the Metlife stadium turf was going to be replaced for 2023. Voted by players as one of the worst carpets in the league, is the change something that you can confirm through team officials?
Ed says: I cannot confirm that. The turf was replaced before the 2020 season.
Matthew Annunziata asks: I’m under the impression that if a player is in training camp, he signed a contract in some way, shape or form. So can you please explain the difference between a player who is “waived” as opposed to a player whose “contract was terminated”?
Ed says: Matthew, the difference is because of service time in the NFL. From the Collective Bargaining Agreement:
Whenever a player who has finished the season in which his fourth year of credited service has been earned under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan is placed on waivers between the Monday following the Super Bowl and the trading deadline, his contract will be considered terminated and the player will be completely free at any time thereafter to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any Club, and any Club shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with such player, without penalty or restriction, including, but not limited to, Draft Choice Compensation between Clubs or First Refusal Rights of any kind, or any signing period. If the waivers occur after that time, the player’s Player Contract will be subject to the waiver system and may be awarded to a claiming Club.
Jordan Akins’ contract was terminated and he immediately became a free agent because he has a full four years of service time in the NFL.
Doug Mollin asks: DJ question.
- Most agree that he has flashed some degree of talent.
- Most agree that his development has been hindered by a bad OL, lack of offensive talent, bad coaching, etc.
- All but a crazy few are rooting for DJ to ball out this season and be our long-term QB.
But, what if the OL isn’t so great, what if the WRs are injured/ineffective, what if Saquon gets hurt again, what if any number of other variables play out that impact DJ to have as good a season as possible?
Should the Giants weigh those factors and franchise DJ? Try to sign him to a short-term bargain contract?
Or do they simply move on? And we’ll never know what DJ’s NFL career could have been on a better team in better circumstances?
Plenty of NFL players (QBs in particular) never have the career you’d expect simply because of bad circumstances, bad luck, injuries, etc. I wonder if that will be DJ’s fate?
Ed says: What if, what if, what if, what if, what if, what if, what if? How about what if Daniel Jones just turns out not to be good enough?
I don’t know what is going to happen. I just know that at the end of this season Jones will be at the end of his rookie contract, and the Giants will face a serious financial decision. They can franchise tag him at an estimated cost of $31.497 million. They can sign him to a long-term deal. Or, they can use the placeholder quarterback on the roster (Tyrod Taylor), who will cost them only $5.5 million in 2023, draft another potential quarterback of the future, and take another swing.
I’m rooting for Jones, but I still think odds are against him showing enough that the Giants are willing to make a financial investment in him.
Joel Story asks: I loved how Jamie Gillan and Julian Love jumped in and performed flawlessly when Graham Gano went down in Sunday’s pre-season game, but it got me wondering. If unsung hero Casey Kreiter goes down during a game (God forbid!), who is the Giants’ emergency long snapper?
Ed says: No clue. Usually we see someone other than the primary snapper practice that at least a bit in training camp. I have not seen anyone else attempt it this summer, so I couldn’t tell you.
Glen Boshart asks: Sorry to pose a bit of a different question, but during the clips of Giants practices, music is always blaring through the loudspeakers and very loud. Is that the case throughout every practice? Is there a football reason for doing this, such as increasing players’ concentration so they are used to playing in front of loud opposing crowds? Or is it just something to listen to? And do they always play the same type of music, which appears to be mostly rap? I can’t imagine them playing country and western, but do they ever mix it up? Personally, I think I’d go nuts trying to do my job through all that noise, but I’m an old geezer.
Ed says: Yes, Glen, music blares constantly. NFL teams generally use music during stretch periods or ramp up periods early in practice, but Brian Daboll uses it constantly. I think his theory is the game isn’t played in the quiet, so the noise challenges their concentration. Plus, I think it’s just something that generation is used to. As for mixing it up, Daboll is a country music guy and they do mix it up. There is, though, a heavy dose of stuff I wouldn’t want kids listening to.