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Big Blue View mailbag: Our final mailbag of the regular season

The mail’s here!

It is time for our final Big Blue View Mailbag of the New York Giants 2022-23 regular season. So, let’s open it up and see what questions spill out.

Daniel Higgins asks: Could you please do a story on Elerson Smith? I really thought he had something. He is hardly even mentioned and in today’s article it doesn’t even have him as a practice player ... What gives ?

Ed says: Daniel, what gives is that Elerson Smith is on season-ending injured reserve. He was placed there due to an Achilles/heel injury that required surgery. It has been a disappointing two seasons in the NFL for Smith, who has been nagged by injuries and played very little.

Eric Chavis asks: So exciting that the GMen finally made the playoffs. Do you think there is any chance they would go with Bredeson full time over Gates? I don’t have any stats to back it up but I feel like the offense is more successful with Bredeson on the field.

Ed says: Eric, there is always a chance that could happen. Head coach Brian Daboll is asked about that every week, and he always says both players have earned the right to play and that the coaching staff will assess that at the end of the practice week. Both are good players. Bredeson had the higher Pro Football Focus grade vs. the Colts, mostly the result of Gates being flagged for a tripping penalty.

Benjamin Lawrence asks: I am super excited with this team, especially with Schoen and Daboll leading the charge. However, many teams have experienced first year success in the past (such as McAdoo with us, Pederson with the Eagles, Reich with the Colts), only for things to unravel later. I’m curious if you think this is sustainable to a Tomlin, Carroll, and Belichick level, or are there red flags that you can see possibly coming to life in a couple years?

Ed says: Benjamin, you are getting way ahead of yourself if you are believing Brian Daboll will have a run with the Giants comparable to that of Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh, Pete Carroll in Seattle or Bill Belichick in New England. Everyone can hope for that — it’s what you want to have happen when you hire a coach — but it’s too soon for that.

I do believe that what the Giants have done this year is more sustainable than what they did in 2016 with Ben McAdoo. I have said that before. That was built on the backs of a free agent spending spree, and McAdoo actually had little to do with it.

McAdoo’s biggest failings were not really building solid relationships with the players, and not really trusting the coaches around him or relying on their input. Daboll has hired a great staff, and has let them do their jobs. See allowing Mike Kafka to be the play caller. His greatest strength is also relationship building, the opposite of McAdoo. Finally, the roster is currently built on a shoestring, far different than 2016.

Edwin Gommers asks: The Giants currently sit at 23. It’s draft day, R1, you’re on the clock and 2 of the 5 CBs are still on the board (Ringo, Smith, Branch, Porter, Gonzalez) and 2 of the 4 WRs are still on the board (e.g. Addison and Hyatt, assuming Smith Njigba and Johnston are long gone). What would you go with and why and what do you think the Giants will do?

Ed says: Edwin, it is the first week in January and I am guessing that you — and just about everyone who had read these mailbags for years — knows exactly what answer you are about to get.

The Giants are still playing. That is where my concentration is. I have not studied more than a couple of players who are draft eligible and I honestly don’t even know who some of the players you mentioned are at this point. That’s Chris’s department, and his passion.

Even if I knew these players at this point, I’m not sure that is a question that has an answer. Both are positions where the Giants need more talent. They know that. How they approach free agency will tell us a lot about the eventual answer. Do they spend at one of those two positions? I know some will accuse me of not answering the question, but to me it doesn’t have an answer until we know what happens in free agency.

ctscan123 asks: Next year’s free agent wide receiver class is not everything one might hope for. I was wondering about Davante Adams ... the only reason he’s on the Raiders is because of Carr who is ostensibly no longer on the Raiders. If he demanded a trade and they were willing to deal him, would you be interested? At what compensation?

Ed says: CT, I love the player and I would be interested. But not at the price he would likely command. It cost the Raiders a first-round pick plus to get him, and that’s likely what they would want in return. Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown all went for first-round picks, or first-round picks plus. No way I would pay that. The Giants are in no position to pay that.

Ron Corcillo asks: I might be getting ahead of myself by talking about the offseason already, but I’m wondering what you think about the possibility of a Leonard Williams trade after the season is over. Williams is a great player, but he’s due to make $32 million next season, which is an awful lot for an interior D-lineman who’s not named Aaron Donald. Trading him would incur about 20 million in dead money, but the Giants would still net a savings of $12 million against the cap. That money plus maybe a Day 2 pick for Williams doesn’t seem like a bad deal to me. Thoughts?

Ed says: Ron, trading Leonard Williams seems like a really bad idea to me. He is a really good player, and the Williams-Dexter Lawrence tandem is the heart of the Giants’ defense. What I would like to see happen is a contract extension, even if it is only for a year, to drive that cap number down. I don’t want to be tied to Williams for another five years, but I would have no issue with the Giants adding a year to his deal.

Jacob Willett asks: My question is regarding captain Cam Brown and the special teams. With all the shuffling at the bottom of the roster the GIANTS have done this year the “gumbo” Coach McGaughey has produced has often times been less than desirable. One key ingredient that has remained constant is Brown. We heard all about how he has prototypical size and high potential as a special teamer but I do not recall any impact plays from him this year. Have you seen his play fall off or plateau this year? Or is he just doing the quiet work that doesn’t generate stats or mentions?

Ed says: Jacob, this has been a quiet year for Cam Brown statistically. After being in on 10 total tackles a season ago, he has been in just five this season, per Pro Football Focus. Brown made a couple of splash plays last year, but I can’t recall him making any of those this season.

I am not one who can break down the intricacies of special teams play to tell you if his play has declined this year. In general, I think the Giants have been inconsistent on special teams. The return game has been adequate, at best, and there have been occasional coverage breakdowns.

Chuck DiLeo asks: What can be done to improve the defense against the run? Teams are getting 4-5 yards on runs on first down. It makes it very hard to get off the field when offenses are ahead of the sticks. First down defense is very important. It sets things up for more creative blitz packages and pass defenses.

Ed says: Chuck, at this point probably not a lot. We are in Week 18 of the regular season, and the Giants are what they are. Their personnel isn’t going to change. You are correct about first down defense, and the run defense overall. It has been a problem that the Giants have tried to work around all season. It is a big part of why the Giants keep shuffling inside linebackers. Wink Martindale has talked about this quite a bit and I know it’s a point of emphasis, but I don’t see it changing significantly at this point.

Seth Friedman asks: From my eye, Schoen, Daboll & the NYG Pro Personnel Dept have done a great job at building up the bottom of the roster. Players like Pinnock, Hodgins, Moreau & others have helped bring this team closer to contention. How much has the talent gap closed between the Giants and teams like the Eagles, Cowboys, 49ers, etc? Will 2023 free agency close the gap further?

Ed says: Seth, in-season waiver claim, pickups off practice squads and the addition of guys who are out of jobs don’t generally do a whole lot to move the needle. Isaiah Hodgins was a huge get for the Giants, and they have gotten a lot of mileage out of in-season pickups. I have addressed that on multiple occasions. It will be the work the Giants do over the next couple of offseasons, though, that will really determine how much they close that talent gap.

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