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Big Blue View mailbag: Daniel Jones, Justin Fields, offensive line, more

The mail’s here!

It’s a Christmas weekend edition of the Big Blue View mailbag. So, let’s answer some New York Giants questions.

Jeff Fink asks: Being objective, I am not sure about Daniel Jones - maybe yes, maybe no - but I am certain of three things. He has taken a beating for the team without blaming anyone. He did not draft himself. He did not give himself a big raise. That said, why do you think he attracts so much venom?

Ed says: Jeff, I will start with the old cliche’ that quarterbacks get both too much credit when things go well and too much blame when they go poorly. There is some of that. I think the Jones thing goes all the way back to the hatred of then-GM Dave Gettleman by many fans, and the reality that many thought Jones was selected too early when Gettleman took him No. 6 overall.

Neither Jones nor the Giants have been good enough often enough during his time with the Giants. Fans were angry about the state of the team before Jones was drafted. They are still angry about the state of the team five years later. As the quarterback, Jones is an easy target. The fact that he hasn’t produced the way you hope the sixth overall pick in the draft would produce makes it even easier. To me, so does his outward lack of personality.

It’s unfortunate. Jones is a good person. A hard worker. He has guts and he puts his body on the line. The only thing he has ever done wrong is really not be good enough.

Gary Bolduc asks: While I like Daniel Jones a lot and always thought his ability to run adds so much to his game it just seems to me that the down the field play is not going to come around for him. Some QB’s see it and some don’t. With that said I do feel it’s time for the Giants to add a QB they feel could develop into a franchise QB. Looks like we’re out of the running for the top two and maybe even top three prospects in this year’s draft.

If the Bears do draft one they no longer need Fields. How would you feel about trading for him and what do you think the cost would be. I’m thinking the cost would be a second round pick.

Ed says: No, no, no. I am not interested in, or in favor of, a trade for Justin Fields.

There are just as many questions about Justin Fields after three NFL seasons as there are about Daniel Jones after five. If you are going to start over at quarterback, don’t do it by giving up draft assets for a guy another franchise has given up on. Do it by drafting a quarterback you will have on a cheap rookie contract for four years, five if you get the fifth-year option by drafting him in Round 1.

Max Bernstein asks: A lot of sports writers seem to keep pressing WR as a “need” for the Giants this offseason. Are our current corps really that bad? I think Hyatt and WanDale and Slayton, plus Waller and Bellinger, are a solid group, I think it would make more sense to focus on other positions before the pass catchers. Curious what you think.

Ed says: Max, it keeps being mentioned as a need because it is a need. Jalin Hyatt has potential to be more than he is now, Wan’Dale Robinson and Darius Slayton are nice players. Darren Waller is a talented player, but injury-prone and probably past his dominant years. Daniel Bellinger is a nice player, but not a dynamic pass receiver.

The Giants don’t have a No. 1 wide receiver. They don’t have a CeeDee Lamb. They don’t have an A.J. Brown. They don’t have a Ja’Marr Chase. They don’t have a Tyreek Hill. They don’t have a Travis Kelce. They don’t have a Stefon Diggs. They don’t have a Davante Adams.

They don’t have that player who demands a double team on every passing down. That player who can win 1-on-1 no matter who the cornerback is. That player who can and will make plays even when he isn’t open.

The Giants have some ‘nice’ players. They don’t have that one guy who changes their offense, or changes the way defenses have to play them.

Yes, the Giants have other needs. They have needs across the roster. Getting a No. 1 wide receiver who changes the offense is clearly one of them.

Edwin Gommers asks: With AT a lock at LT and JMS at C, what could next year’s o-line realistically look like with Pugh, Glo and Neal. Based on where the Giants currently are albeit likely 2 Ls ahead against the Eagles they will have to give up (more than) the farm to be in contention for the top QBs in the draft but a good WR/OT might well be available/within reach. So do you think the Giants are going to keep Glo and Pugh. If Neal is being kicked inside to G, would he be placed at LG or RG? And who would you have in mind to fill up the open spots on the line?

Ed says: Edwin, the only certainties on the 2024 line are the ones you mention — Andrew Thomas at left tackle and John Michael Schmitz at center.

Mark Glowinski won’t be back. He has no guaranteed money after this year, the Giants refuse to play him unless they have to, and they can save $5.7 million against the cap by cutting him. I don’t know if Justin Pugh will be back. The Giants value his leadership, but he hasn’t played that well. I don’t know where they will play Evan Neal. You can probably make an argument for left guard, right guard, right tackle or not in the lineup at all.

As for replacements, it’s too early to know who will be available on the free agent market. I wouldn’t, though, be surprised if the Giants spend money there. Depending on where they draft, maybe Olu Fashanu of Penn State or Joe Alt of Notre Dame is a possibility. Beyond that, I don’t know.

Seth Weissman asks: In light of the latest O-line debacle, I started thinking more about the draft and what the potential composition of the line could be next year. I would like the Giants to draft an OT and guard with 2 of their first three picks. I think Evan Neal needs to be moved to guard and clearly, they need another guard as well. For the purposes of this scenario, which current O-linemen would you see the Giants letting go? My guess is that Lemieux, Peart and Glowinski would be gone. I also have serious doubts about McKethan and Ezeudu based on what I have seen so far, but I’m guessing they’ll be given more time to show they are worthy of being on the roster. Ezeudu definitely hasn’t played like a second-round pick, though.

Ed says: Seth, I talked about Glowinski above. I also see little reason for Shane Lemieux or Matt Peart to be brought back. Both have reached the end of their rookie contracts.

To be fair to Josh Ezeudu, he was a third-round pick. He has been injured a lot, but it was discouraging that he couldn’t win a starting guard job in training camp. Marcus McKethan was a fifth-round pick, a flier. If he hits, great. If he doesn’t, he will join the great majority of offensive linemen drafted on Day 3 who drift around the league and never amount to much.

Nate Carter asks: Love what you do. Question about the offensive line. Acknowledging that 30 of 32 NFL teams have line problems (Dallas and Philly being possible exceptions) the Giants have been abysmal on the trenches since at least 2016. More disturbingly, players who have left seem to have gotten better (Will Hernandez, Kevin Zietler come to mind). It would seem there are 3 possible issues that could be causing the issues:

  1. Talent: The players are bad.
  2. Coaching: The Giants scheme and techniques taught set players up for failure.
  3. QB Play: QB’s don’t set protections and/or hold the ball too long.

Of the above 3 which would you consider the largest issue over the past decade? Thanks.

Ed says: Nate, I don’t think it has anything to do with quarterbacks. The offensive line impacts the quarterback more than vice versa. The Giants have made some mistakes in the draft (Ereck Flowers, maybe Evan Neal and Josh Ezeudu). They have made some free agent mistakes (Nate Solder, Patrick Omameh).

I think a major issue is the lack of continuity throughout the organization since Tom Coughlin left. Three general managers. Four head coaches not counting Steve Spagnuolo. The offensive line coaches since 2016 have been Mike Solari, Hal Hunter, Marc Colombo, Dave DeGuglielmo, Rob Sale and now Bobby Johnson. They have had a bunch of offensive coordinators.

How do you get the right players when the staff and the schemes keep changing? How do you develop players when the schemes and the blocking techniques taught keep changing? It’s almost impossible.

Current offensive line coach Bobby Johnson gets a lot of outside criticism. I have no idea if that’s valid. None of us do. We don’t see him work. We only see the line play badly. Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen know if he’s the right guy and just doesn’t have the right players. If he’s not the right guy, they need to get the hire of whoever follows him correct.

Chris Chianese asks: Ed, we all know Daniel Jones will be on the roster next year, Tommy DeVito is signed as well. If they draft a QB, and assuming it’s a high pick, to keep DeVito, will he need to be on the 53? If so, they’ll be dressing all three QBs next year unless they deactivate someone on game day, no?

Ed says: Chris, you would have to believe that if the Giants tried to pass DeVito through to the practice squad next season, someone would claim. So, yes, to keep Jones, DeVito and a high draft pick they would all have to be on the 53-man roster. They would hardly be alone. I didn’t look at every roster in the league, but I scanned several and there are a lot of teams with three quarterbacks on their 53.

Walker Joyce asks: I like JP, and he’s already contributed a lot to the last month of wins, but he got his ass whipped today, along with the rest of the O-line.

But WHY did he stand and look over his shoulder before every snap? He’s done this before, and today he finally got flagged for a false start, which could happen on damn near every play when he does this.

What is he doing?!

Ed says: I have had this question about Justin Pugh several times. We often see him turning to look back at the quarterback and then signaling to center John Michael Schmitz. I suspected that he is helping Schmitz in some fashion. So, I asked him. Here is his answer.

Justin says:

“It’s an indicator for the silent cadence. I look back at the QB to get the signal to snap it. I flash my hand to let JMS know it’s time. JMS gets to keep his eyes on the defense to make all the necessary calls. We only use it on the road.”

Robert Biggerstaff asks: College records show TD superior to DJ. Also, physical profiles show TD hand size much larger. Does this mean greater ball security? DJ had fumbling issue at first. If you did not know anything else would you prefer TD over DJ? Just a question for the fun of getting your response.

Ed says: Robert, you are creating a narrative in your own mind that is pure fantasy if you are going to tell me college stats show Tommy DeVito superior to Daniel Jones. Hand size? At the beginning of his career Jones had an issue with not protecting the ball well enough. That went away a long time ago.

No, if I just looked at stats and physical profiles I would not prefer Devito. Jones is almost five inches taller. He’s heavier. In three seasons he ran for almost 1,100 yards more than Devito ran for in five, which tells me Jones is a superior athlete. If I knew nothing other than their college stats and athletic profiles I would look at Jones, see far more upside, and want that.

One more note about their profiles. DeVito is already 25. Jones is 26 and in his fifth season, so Jones entered the league at 22. Those years matter, and if you are simply comparing profiles I think NFL teams would always prefer the younger player because of the development potential.

Tom Butler asks: Ed, I just don’t get the enthusiasm for Wink. Yes the players say they love him, and yes, pressure breaks pipes, but then the defense lays a total egg in New Orleans. We saw lots of twists and turns by the NO defense and it broke the Giants’ pipes; the other way around, not so much. Can you offer some insight?

Ed says: Tom, you can’t judge a coach or a player off of one game. I didn’t understand the defensive game plan against the Saints, either. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Wink Martindale is good at his job. He is very good at his job. I remember when Kevin Gilbride was offensive coordinator of the Giants. There were always complaints about this play call or that play call. But, the results were pretty good. Gilbride was really good at his job.

Players love Wink because he empowers them. When I ask them, they tell me all the time about how he seeks their input. They love Wink because he is aggressive. He’s real. He’s honest with them. No coordinator is always going to have the perfect call or the perfect adjustment every time. Even the best coordinators sometimes have defenses that aren’t very good.

Maybe Martindale will be back next year. Maybe he won’t. I have said before that I hope he and Brian Daboll can get past whatever their differences are. I would hate to see the Giants have to start over again with a new coordinator and new system.

Brian Misdom asks: Obviously this season has been disappointing, and perhaps more so because of the unexpected playoff berth last year. Do you think how the final 3 games here unfold have any bearing on how hot the seat is for Daboll and Schoen next season?

I’ve recognized from the day they were hired that this would take some time to rise above the muck of the last decade. But this season already has some calling for Schoen and Daboll to be removed.

Barring a complete disaster next season, I think they are deserving of 4 years, same as Gettleman was given. Can you see more lopsided losses - which I expect courtesy of 2 games vs. the Eagles - potentially shortening the leash?

Ed says: Brian, to me the only thing that can shorten the leash for Brian Daboll or Joe Schoen at this point is if the Giants completely and obviously quit, and the locker room implodes. I don’t believe either of those things are going to happen.

I believe that co-owner John Mara desperately wants some stability. He knows he can’t keep churning through GMs and head coaches. Making the playoffs last year earned Schoen and Daboll some equity, though the way this season has gone and some of the odd decisions that have been made probably burned a good bit of that equity.

I think ownership will want to see signs of progress next year. Does that mean making the playoffs? Not necessarily. It means not getting blown out of so many games. It means not having the worst point differential (-149) in football. It means not being able to look back and see so many questionable decisions, what I have come to refer to as unforced errors. It probably means some progress toward figuring out how to keep your best players on the field. It means having a good offseason in terms of building the roster.

I do believe there is a good chance that Schoen and Daboll are the right duo to get the Giants back to being a team that is consistently in the playoff mix, and the fact that they are a duo is part of that.

How long with they get? I don’t know, but there is an argument to be made that if they select a quarterback early in the 2024 NFL Draft they should get at least two more years to make that work.

We’ll see. I don’t think Schoen and Daboll enter next year on the hot seat. It is possible, though, that they way the year unfolds could put them there.

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