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Big Blue View mailbag: ‘Invictus’, Daboll-Martindale, Mike Munchak, Cam Brown, more

The mail’s here!

The New York Giants are off this week, but Big Blue View is still here to talk New York Giants every day. Let’s open the Big Blue View mailbag and answer some questions.

Kolnerbigblue asks: Ed, given that it is the bye week, how about a non-football question. Have you heard from Invictus? How is he doing? I think I can speak for many BBVers and wish him all of the best.

Ed says: I’m turning this one over to former Big Blue View contributor ‘Invictus’ himself. He writes:

“Firstly, you have no idea how deeply appreciative I am that after this many years, there are friends that remember me and remind me that our BBV community really is akin to family.

“I am doing great. On a personal note, life has gotten very busy, especially with a mini-me running around now and another NYG fan on the way.

“Still heavily (and probably unhealthily) invested in our New York Giants. Still cheering (and crying... it’s mostly crying) every week. While life has taken me away from the blogosphere, I still tweet about the team a lot! And I am always happy to talk football with my BBV friends on Twitter (@KSIXI).

“I often miss my time as a front page writer for BBV, but so happy that the community that’s been built there has continued to thrive. There’s nowhere like it. Cheers to brighter times ahead and Go Giants!”

Scott Coghlan asks: I’m curious as to your thoughts on some recent articles about Daboll that came out this week after Jay Glazer’s initial story.

The Athletic and Jordan Raanan both ran stories after getting a text from an alleged source inside the Giants. Podcaster John Middlekauff says he also got a text. He claims the source describes Daboll as a screaming lunatic who is despised by other coaches.

I’m always a bit suspicious when sources are not identified but it appears at least someone inside the Giants is reaching out to media. I’m wondering if this is one malcontent or is there a major problem between Daboll and his staff? Frankly this seems to contradict everything we read about Daboll last season and offseason.

And do you think this person reached out to other reporters who chose not to run the story?

Ed says: Scott, I have no idea who this source reached out to, or if it is multiple sources. I know this person did not reach out to me.

I also know that I always put credence in Jay Glazer’s reporting. No one is better connected. I think it is appropriate to play the clip from John Middlekauff here. I don’t know Middlekauff, where he gets his information, or how accurate it is, but his remarks are a good basis for this discussion. So, here goes:

Here is what I do know. There has been tension between Brian Daboll and Wink Martindale. It probably came to a head when the Giants have up 640 yards in that 49-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Wink had no answers for Dallas in that game, and I think we could see from what was happening on the sideline that Daboll wanted some.

Do I think this has been simmering for a while? Absolutely. I have said it before, but these are two very different men in terms of how they handle media and how they comport themselves on the sideline. They are both alpha males who believe in what they are doing. I think it is very possible that the Giants being successful a season ago smoothed some things over.

I’m not sure that I buy Middlekauff’s assertion that the coaching staff “despises” Daboll. I think Daboll is hard on coaches. When I think back to the spring and summer practices I watched this year, I remember that a surprising amount of the yelling I heard from Daboll (which wasn’t a ton, but it was there) was directed toward coaches — often for personnel mix-ups in 7 on 7 or 11 on 11 situations. There are a lot of assistant coaches on the staff who had never worked with Daboll before. Hiring those types of assistants won Daboll a lot of praise, but it is also possible that some of those personalities don’t mesh. Maybe that is the case with Daboll and Martindale.

Daboll won’t like this if it gets back to him, but I’m not sure his game ball for Martindale last week was genuine. The timing and the cameras made it seem contrived. Martindale has said again and again during his tenure how much he loves the Giants franchise, but it won’t shock me if he’s not back next season. It also won’t shock me if that is his choice.

Jeff Bergman asks: How come with the same offensive line and the same receivers Taylor and DeVito seem to be able to get the ball down field but Jones can’t?

Ed says: Jeff, that is a question a lot of people have. You can look for all sorts of reasons, and I do think there are shades of gray in the answer, but the reality is the Giants’ offense has been better with Tyrod Taylor and Tommy DeVito running it than with Daniel Jones.

DeVito has had the benefit of Saquon Barkley and Andrew Thomas being in the lineup. And he has played the Commanders and Patriots rather than the Cowboys, Seahawks and 49ers. The offensive line has also been better in recent weeks. Jones was pressured on 45.5% of dropbacks, second-most to Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears. Devito has been pressured 40.1% of the time, some of those pressures of his own making. I’m not buying Pro Football Focus’s assertion that DeVito has been responsible for only 3 sacks and 5 pressures. It is way more than that.

Here is a graphic that shows another way in which Jones faced more pressure than DeVito or Taylor has. It also shows the arc of improvement of the offensive line:

Whatever, it is impossible to deny that Jones did not play well early in the season. I don’t know why, but the Giants need to figure that out and address it if he is going to play for them next season.

Brian Reilly asks: With Mike Munchak’s contract as the Broncos O Line coach not being renewed, have the Giants reached out to him to coach the O Line since he’s publicly stated he misses coaching?

Ed says: Brian, Munchak is a Hall of Famer and one of the best offensive line coaches in the business. He is currently out of coaching to take care of some physical ailments, and does want back in from what I understand.

I don’t know if the Giants have reached out to him. If they move on from Bobby Johnson after the season, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to ask. Munchak will have suitors if he truly wants back in, and there is no prior relationship I can find between him and Brian Daboll. I would think him coming to the Giants would be a long-short, but I certainly couldn’t blame the Giants for looking into it.

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Scott asks: Curious on your thoughts on the Cam Brown special teams tackle versus NE. After almost taking the head off of [Demario] Douglas, he only cared about celebrating his tackle. Watching the replay, it appears he could/should have seen the fumble - but he celebrated instead of going after the ball. Do you know if teammates hold each other accountable for things like this (not playing to the whistle, putting themselves first)?

Ed says: Scott, this play was a bad look for Brown. First of all, it is an egregious hit to the head/neck area that obviously should have drawn a flag. Second of all, getting so wrapped up in your desire to celebrate that you don’t realize a) the play isn’t over and b) your hit was illegal and the player you ‘tackled’, is down on the field and injured shows a lack of awareness.

Even though he wasn’t penalized, I will be stunned if the league doesn’t reach into Brown’s wallet for a donation this week.

As for the reaction, I would think that this play will be one that generates a good bit of discussion when the Giants watch the film (I’m not sure if they did so before breaking for the bye week).

Louis Liberatore asks: I am seeing Tyre Phillips consistently take a pass set that puts him in DeVito’s lap by the time he engages to the point that DeVito needs to move out of the pocket. Is Glowinski so deep into the dog house that they couldn’t move Pugh to RT and Glowinski to his G position? I see Justin Pugh struggling in pass pro at G, so maybe that shift could help. I also think that Phillips’ pass set should be an easy fix for Coach Johnson, but so far, no improvement.

Ed says: Louis, I don’t mean to be curt but I’m not sure what you are looking at. Phillips hasn’t been great, but he’s been OK in pass protection. His 95.2 pass-blocking efficiency score is 60th out of 84 qualifying tackles, per PFF. He’s an OK fill-in. Phillips’ run-blocking (47.5 PFF grade) is what has really been sub-standard.

As for Justin Pugh, he wasn’t good playing left tackle. At 33 and still working back from a major knee injury, he no longer belongs at tackle. I have talked to him, and he knows it. The Giants know it. Pugh did the best he could, but he was only there when Andrew Thomas was hurt because the Giants didn’t have an alternative. He doesn’t belong at right tackle, either. A guy who struggles at guard isn’t going to be better at tackle. Look at what happened when the Giants tried to play Josh Ezeudu, who couldn’t win a starting guard job, at left tackle.

What is going to happen is that Evan Neal is going to play right tackle as soon as he gets healthy. The Giants need to make a long-term choice this offseason whether Neal is a tackle or needs to move to guard, and they hope to get a four- or five-game sample size at the end of the year to help them make a determination.

John Foti asks: We all know the Giants have an O-Line problem and I believe it started after the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2012. Kareem McKenzie retiring was the beginning. The next season I remember local writers criticizing the Giant running backs and thinking that they were being unduly criticized. I saw an offensive line that couldn’t get any push against the D-Line, couldn’t open holes and I saw the backs getting hit far too often behind the line of scrimmage. They also could not handle twists and stunts. I see the same thing now and I’ve seen it all the years in between. So, the question is why? Is it coaching, drafting, or the way they evaluate offensive linemen? Do they not value run blocking enough?

Carl Banks recently said that the offense can’t be fixed until the line is fixed and I agree with him. All the focus is on the protecting the QB but this also hurts Saquan Barkley which in turn hurts the QB by creating so many 2nd and long and 3rd and long situations. I’m hoping that when Joe Schoen’s pick comes up in the 1st rd that the best player on the board is an offensive lineman, a genuine people mover and I’m hoping that one or two of the top five QBS are still on the board in round 2. Tyrod Taylor’s contract is up so I’d get DeVito as many reps as possible the rest of the season and draft another QB.

What are your thoughts?

Ed says: John, I feel like I have answered the bulk of this question at least 100 times. The long inability to fix the line comes down to a combination of many things. Ignoring the line for too long, making some bad choices with linemen they picked (like Ereck Flowers) and ones they didn’t (Evan Engram instead of Ryan Ramczyk), some poor free agent decisions and poor coaching.

As far as this year’s draft, the offensive line has to be a priority. Banks is right, and I have said for many years that I prefer building a team from the inside (from the lines) out. That doesn’t mean the first pick has to be a lineman. It could be a quarterback, a wide receiver, an edge defender, a potentially dominant interior defensive lineman. What the Giants need with their first pick is a game-changing player — like Dexter Lawrence, Andrew Thomas, Kayvon Thibodeaux or Saquon Barkley. That’s what you want in the top 10.

The Giants could address the line in free agency. They could address it beyond Round 1 in the draft. We’ll see.

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