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Big Blue View mailbag: Brian Daboll, Daniel Jones, offensive line, much more

The mail’s here!

The New York Giants are off to a distressing 1-3 start, and the Big Blue View Mailbag is full of questions from alarmed fans. Let’s get to some of them.

Hank Driscoll asks: What do think of Brian Daboll showing up Daniel Jones, by screaming at him on the sidelines in front of a national audience? I think it was disgraceful and classless, considering the fact that the offensive line that Daboll and his assistant coaches are responsible for are unable to provide Jones with a reasonable amount of protection, and that in the same game Jones is diving head-first into hard contact to get first downs. I’ve lost a tremendous amount of respect for Daboll because of it. Granted, Jones didn’t play well. But I think it’s impossible to fairly evaluate him with this offensive line; no quarterback could play well under those circumstances. Maybe Jones should ream out Daboll and the offensive line coach when he comes off the field - “How about getting me more than two seconds to get rid of the ball? How about having some holes for the running backs to keep the defense honest? Give me a chance, for crying out loud.” I know that the offensive line has had injuries, but every team the Giants have played has had injuries to their offensive line too (especially Seattle), and yet they put a professional product on the field, playing against what was supposed to be an excellent Giants defensive line. Daboll and his coaches have been abject failures in coaching the offensive line. Yet, instead of maintaining his composure and reviewing the play with Jones, or even getting angry with him after the game in the locker room, Daboll threw Jones under the bus when he’s getting criticized everywhere and could have used from his coach, if anything, a little protection. Before Daboll repeats that shameful behavior again, as coaches like to say, he should look in the mirror. I’m very curious to hear your thoughts about it.

Ed says: Hank, I don’t think it was a good look for Daboll. We have seen coaches and players yell at each other before. Bill Parcells and Phil Simms used to scream at each other all the time. I did think Daboll’s tablet flip was unfortunate. That’s your franchise quarterback — a guy who played his guts out and helped make the Giants a playoff team a year ago. A guy who has been getting pounded mercilessly for most of four weeks, thanks to poor offensive line play and some questionable play-calling. He made a bad decision and a worse throw.

I do think Daboll regrets that. I hope we don’t see it again.

Dan McKnight asks: I’ve gone from being optimistic about the future of this team to utter despair. You guys have been so positive about Schoen, Daboll, and the rest of the coaching staff. What’s happened? Is it even remotely possible that Evan Neal becomes a better player?

Ed says: Dan, I think Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll did great work in helping the Giants make last year’s unexpected run to the playoffs. I think the first four games of this season have been disturbingly bad and I am troubled by a lot of what I have seen. It is still, though, four games. Let’s see what happens.

As for Evan Neal, I am not ready to give up. If he is improving, though it is at a snail’s pace and that isn’t going to cut it. Especially after his rant at the fan base.

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Matt Totaro asks: Was the Seahawks a must win game in Week 4 for Daboll and now on the hot seat? Ben McAdoo made the playoffs in year 1 and then was fired after the second season, Shurmur made it 2 years, Joe Judge lasted 2 years and now Dabs is in year 2…. Does Mara have his two-year itch now or will he let Daboll and Schoen stay on, regardless of this season’s outcome and continue on their rebuild and win (?) plan.

Ed says: Matt, I think it is way, way, way too early for this ‘Daboll on the hot seat’ stuff. Daboll won Coach of the Year a season ago when he and his coaching staff were a major part of the reason the Giants made a surprising playoff appearance.

No one, the coaching staff included, has performed up to expectations so far this season. I think there have been mistakes made and I do think in my interactions with players there have been some hints that players haven’t agreed with everything that has gone down. Still, the coaches don’t block, run, tackle or throw.

The Giants have to get off the two-year cycle of head coaches, and they know that. There were valid reasons for moving on from Ben McAdoo (complete loss of faith by the players and the organization), Pat Shurmur (no real plan, not really head-coach caliber), Joe Judge (loss of faith by players and the organization, just not ready for the job).

I have said in the past that I thought Daboll was better equipped to handle adversity because he has built better relationships than McAdoo or Judge ever did. There are some troubling signs, but I still believe that we won’t see things fall apart the way they did with McAdoo and Judge.

Scott Herrington asks: I have to admit that I’ve never been a big Daniel Jones fan, but I figured that the professionals on the Giants staff knew what they were doing when they signed him to his new contract. What I can’t figure out is why so many people (including other NFL players) seem to have such a visceral hatred of Daniel Jones? I mean, it almost seems personal, He did what almost anyone would do and got the best deal he could get when he negotiated his new contract. How could another NFL player have a problem with that? What has he ever done to engender this sort of animosity?

Ed says: Scott, I wish I knew. I don’t understand it, either. Jones doesn’t trash talk. He doesn’t show up other players. He just works and tries to do his job. The kind of stuff that came from Arik Armstead of the 49ers the other day was classless and unnecessary.

Matt Smith asks: Here’s a simple one for the mail bag… What happened to Jordon Riley? Seemed so promising, yet to be benched in favor of particularly Nacho hurts his development, one would think? Not to mention, he made some great plays against the run in week one.

Ed says: Matt, Riley hasn’t been benched in favor of Rakeem Nunez-Roches. The choice for the past few weeks has been to have second-year defensive tackle D.J. Davidson active rather than Riley. To his credit, Davidson has played well.

Defensive line coach Andre Patterson, a veteran coach with a long track record of successfully developing players, said a week ago that the Giants feel like the best thing for Riley in the short term is to sit and learn. Pointed to Danielle Hunter in Minnesota sitting for several weeks at the beginning of his rookie year before the Vikings turned him loose. Said Riley’s time will come. It might be soon.

Wayne Mirsky asks: This is just as short as I can make it.

When is it time to blame Schoen, Daboll, Johnson, Martindale, etc. for the miserable performance by this team this season?

Ed says: Wayne, I think everyone has a hand in it. Nothing has been good. I think there are probably things Joe Schoen might do differently, but he was widely praised for his offseason. I have question about a lot of the decisions the Giants in terms of how they prepared for the season, and some of the play-calling and personnel usage during the season. There is plenty of blame that needs to be shared by players, too.

Daniel Albro asks: Well Ed, I guess this is the question I never wanted to ask. Has Brian Daboll lost this team?

The incident with Jones on the sideline, some comments from the players, like Waller, we have the players, no idea what is happening here.

Are you seeing anything, or hearing anything from the players or coaches that Daboll is losing this team?

Ed says: Daniel, no, I don’t think Daboll has lost the team. I think there is some confusion. I don’t think players are happy. I don’t think coaches are happy. No one expected things to go this badly. I keep saying it, but there is blame to be shared at every level.

There is potential for things to go sideways, and some of the players who have been part of years where things have gone sideways know it. I don’t think they have, and I would be surprised if things reach the McAdoo or Judge level of dysfunction.

Jay B. asks: I don’t want to get mixed up with the whole fans against Evan Neal stuff. He’s obviously very frustrated and young and we should all get that. My question is this seems to be really playing out similarly to Eric flowers and shouldn’t the organization learn from that and maybe do things a little bit differently? I know most of people that with flowers are not even with the organization anymore, but still. And why not Neal at the guard position? Wasn’t there a sense before Neal came out that he might actually end up being a much better guard than tackle in the NFL? Let’s remember the giants tried to force flowers to be a tackle and refused to admit that maybe that wasn’t the correct position for him. He ended up leaving the team and becoming a fairly good guard, so why not try that? Has anybody asked the Giants why it hasn’t been tried? The Giants have problems at guard as well if he could become a really good guard is that a bad thing? I think that’s still a win.

Ed says: Jay, you simply can’t say “shouldn’t the organization learn from Ereck Flowers?” That was two general managers, four heads coaches and a bunch of offensive line coaches ago. It has nothing to do with it.

The Giants drafted Neal No. 7 overall to be their right tackle. To this point, they have not and are not willing to give up on the idea that he can be that. Who plays right tackle if you move Neal? The best option is probably Josh Ezeudu, and he’s playing left tackle because Andrew Thomas is injured. And Ezeudu is really a guard. The organization obviously doesn’t believe in Matt Peart. Justin Pugh isn’t a tackle at this point in his career. So, right now you really don’t have a viable option.

If Neal doesn’t show improvement soon there will come a time when the Giants have to make a decision — bench him, move him to a different position, trade him. The clock is ticking, but I don’t think all the sand has drained from the hourglass yet.

Joseph Rivage asks: Simple question but probably a complicated answer. Despite the issues around him, is it time for the Giants to start to think about moving on from Daniel Jones? It just doesn’t seem like he can overcome his environment or the scrutiny he’s dealing with from all directions. It’s almost as if everyone wants him to fail and at this point it might be best if they just moved on from him.

Ed says: No. They guaranteed him $80 million over this year and next year. That’s the road they chose. Four games into that is too soon to move on. It’s not time to play Tyrod Taylor. It’s time for the Giants coaching staff to take a hard look at the situation and honestly assess why he’s playing poorly and if they are giving him the best chance to succeed. I think some things about how the Giants are playing offense have to change for that to happen.

Now, if the season goes completely off the rails and the Giants end up with a shot at Caleb Williams of USC or Drake Maye of North Carolina that’s a different conversation. We’re not there yet.

Brian Kilgore asks: I’m in the camp that it’s nearly impossible to separate the Oline from the QB play.

After the beating DJ took against Seattle, is “seeing ghosts” a real thing? These are professionals, but also, even professionals don’t want to be leveled every down.

Similarly, how hard is it to shake off a game like this? I can’t imagine he’ll have any faith in his line against Miami.

You also hear the term “quicksand” (thanks Shane Falco!) as a game starts to get out of reach, you take more chances to try and right the ship. Could he be pushing himself and trying to carry a team when the rest of the house is on fire?

Ed says: Brian, you hear analysts talk about the ‘internal clock’ that quarterbacks need. You also hear talk about ‘seeing the field.’

What happens, and it’s human nature, is that when you are hit/hurried/harassed over and over you start to look for it. You start to expect it. It hurts to get hit over and over by big, strong people running at full speed and trying to smash you into the ground. You want to avoid allowing that to happen.

So, what starts to happen is that your internal clock goes haywire. Rather than reading the field you just throw the ball to the first possible option because you don’t believe you have time to do anything else. We have seen Jones do that. You start to bail out of the pocket before you have because you believe it’s about to crumble — and you’re about to feel more pain. We have seen Jones do that. Basically, you stop playing quarterback and start worrying about self preservation. We have seen Jones do that. His fundamentals have lapsed and he’s not seeing the field the way he needs to.

Yes, Jones need to play better. He can’t really be expected to do that, though, until the Giants give him a real chance to do that with their blocking and their play-calling.

Patrick Morris asks: Seems like every year, the Giants have a poor offensive line with several issues. And every year they devote serious draft or free agency resources to fixing just one of the issues, and hope lower round draft picks or minimum salary veterans can pick up the slack in the other problem areas. But then the next year comes around, and the line is an issue again, and the other problem areas don’t get fixed. That’s before the inevitable injuries hit, which makes things worse.

What’s it going to take for the Giants to invest resources in multiple places in the offensive line at once? For example, going and getting 2 or 3 mid-priced vets in the $3 to $7 million a year range + perhaps a first/second round draft pick.

Ed says: Patrick, I have said this before and I will say it again. It is not the volume of resources the Giants have devoted to the offensive line in recent years. It is that too many of those players have not worked out, and it’s still too soon to draw conclusions about several of them.

Dave Gettleman drafted three offensive linemen (Andrew Thomas Round 1, Matt Peart Round 3, Shane Lemieux Round 5) in 2020.

In two drafts, Joe Schoen has selected 18 players. Four of those (22.2%) have been offensive linemen. He has used first-, second-, third- and fifth-round picks. That is a lot of draft capital. He signed a mid-level free agent in Mark Glowinski.

You can’t just pour virtually all of your resources into one position. That’s a guaranteed way to have problems elsewhere. The problem hasn’t been lack of attention. The problem is that an All-Pro lineman (Thomas) has been hurt, a high draft pick (Evan Neal) has under-performed, Bredeson — and now Schmitz — have been hurt and McKethan is learning on the job in difficult circumstances. Also, you can criticize the Glowinski signing but — as I have also said before — Schoen had no financial resources with which to pursue a higher caliber of player. He added Glowinski as a stop gap, the best he could afford at the time.

Frank Price asks: I am interested in how you operate professionally. Had Evan Neal made those comments to you one-on-one, what would you have done? Advised him not to say stuff like that? Would you have kept it to yourself? Do you try to avoid questions (or cut of responses) that solicit those types of responses? Whether you want to opine on the reporter who shared the comment is your call but you don’t seem the type out there trying to embarrass players.

Ed says: Frank, I don’t seek to sensationalize or stir up trouble and I don’t try to lead players into saying explosive things. Some media members do. However, if a player says them to me I am going to do exactly what Daryl Slater did and use them. Especially when he said them to me 1-on-1, as Neal did with Slater. The players are grown men, they know who they are talking to and they know what we do. If they say it, it’s fair game.

Doug Mollin asks: When Pugh is ready to play, where do you think he best fits? I thought having a veteran in between JMS and Neal might be helpful. Can the Giants afford to give McKethan a year of live, in-game development time at RG?

Ed says: Doug, I don’t know exactly what the Giants will do. Pugh has played left guard exclusively since 2019, and hasn’t played tackle since 2017. Coming off a major knee injury, he is a guard only.

I like the idea of putting Pugh in-between John Michael Schmitz and Evan Neal. I don’t have a big problem with putting at left guard and sliding Bredeson over to the right, either.

As for McKethan, if this is going to be a lost year for the Giants — and we don’t know that for certain yet — I have no problem letting him play. There is a lot to like about McKethan, he just needs to play.

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