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Big Blue View mailbag: There is a lot on the minds of Giants’ fans

The mail’s here!

The 2022 NFL season is over for the New York Giants. The team’s fans, though, are busy, and that means this week’s Big Blue View Mailbag is loaded.

There are a ton of questions I did not get to this week. Don’t despair if one of those questions is yours. I will be using many of those ‘left overs’ in upcoming ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcasts or as the subject of future posts here at Big Blue View.

So, keep the questions coming and keep reading/listening. The answer to your question might still be coming.

Mark Cicio asks: My question has to do with Azeez Ojulari. There’s no doubt this young man has great potential (I’m a big fan of his), his time on the field shows as such. I’m not sure of his run defense, but it seems each season he has been with us that, once he gets a few games under his belt, he becomes a force in the pass rush. But the injuries just derail his impact with the Giants each season.

Now I know he is fairly cheap and under team control for the next two years, and for that reason is worth keeping. But what do you make of him as a resource for the team? Has he just had bad luck, or are these injuries he’s had lead to even more often long term stints in the IR? Would you (if you were a voice in the front office) look at his position as a need due to his unavailability? How much patience should the team have?

Ed says: Mark, it is highly unfair to say that injuries derail Ojulari “each season.” As a rookie in 2021 he played in all 17 games. There were no injury issues. He had a pair of quad injuries and an ankle injury in 2022.

I think Ojulari is a terrific talent, and I’m not writing him off because of an ankle injury and a soft-tissue issue. That’s silly. Ojulari is a big part of the Giants’ future. Would I like to see the Giants add more depth on the edge? Sure, but they have a lot of other more pressing needs.

Robert Adolph asks: I had mixed emotions about rooting for the Eagles on Sunday but I feel good about it because it suggests the Giants were beaten three times by a darn good team. If the Birds clobber the Chiefs I will feel even better. After being a Giant fan 72 years or an Anti-eagles fan that long I don’t like saying this but the the Eagles may be in a class of their own, big, fast and strong. What say you?

Ed says: Robert, I say you can’t root for the Eagles. It would take utterly extreme circumstances, like an Eagles’ victory getting the Giants to the playoffs to even consider it. That’s about it. Otherwise, rooting for the Eagles in unforgivable.

Yes, the Eagles are a very good team. Maybe the most complete team in the league. GM Joe Schoen recently acknowledged the “talent gap” that exists. Philadelphia is the marker that the Giants have to shoot for, it’s really as simple as that.

Simon Hines asks: Do you think Schoen made an error in not picking up DJ’s fifth year option? The cost I believe would have been around $18M, which is a lot lower than $32M project franchise tag cost for QBs. I appreciate hindsight is 20/20, and Jones may have flamed out this year. However I look at what the Jets got for Darnold (2nd, 4th and 6th round picks) and wonder if Schoen should have simply picked up the option and then traded Jones if Schoen/Daboll/Kafka were not sold on him. What do you think?

Ed says: Absolutely not. The cost for Jones’ fifth-year option would have been $22.38 million. Robert, do you really think it would have been smart for a rookie head coach and GM to commit that money to a questionable quarterback for 2023 before they had even gotten him on the practice field in 2022 and begun to see if he was a guy they could work with? That would have been dumb. As it worked out, Jones had his best year and Schoen-Daboll-Kafka seem to love the guy. What if it had blown up? Then the Giants would be stuck with a $22.38 million cap hit next season, a quarterback they didn’t want, and a quarterback mess they couldn’t really begin to clean up until 2024.

Yes, it is now going to cost them more in 2023. Still, they 100 percent did the right thing by declining his fifth-year option.

George Sawicki asks: Can you please clarify the positional difference between “off-ball linebacker”, “linebacker”, and “edge rusher”. Previously, linebackers were classified as “inside” or “outside”, with the outside linebackers classified as “weak side” (WILL) or “strong side” (SAM).

Ed says: George, the terminology has changed. Let’s try to clarify if we can. I will stick with a 3-4 base defense, since that is what the Giants use.

Inside linebackers can still be called ‘inside linebackers,’ but the cool kids use the term ‘off-ball linebackers.’ Those are the two linebackers in a 3-4 who line up inside and a few yards back — a few yards off the ball. For the Giants, Jaylon Smith, Jarrad Davis, Tae Crowder and Micah McFadden filled those roles. Sometimes Landon Collins and Tony Jefferson played those spots in sub packages.

Outside linebackers in a 3-4 are called edge players. The cool kids says edge rushers. I much prefer the term edge defenders and that is mostly what you’ll see here at Big Blue View (except when someone writes ‘rushers’ and I don’t catch it). I like ‘defenders’ because these players have to defend the run and the pass — they don’t just rush the quarterback.

You will at times see these edge defenders with their hands in the ground like a defensive end, and at other times they will stand up. There is a strong side (SAM) edge defender who usually lines up over the tight end and a weak side edge defender, who might be called a variety of things depending on who is running the defense.

I hope that helps.

James Kadamus asks: There was a recent question about bringing Evan Engram back to use as a TE/WR hybrid receiver. You threw cold water on that idea, but seemed to like the hybrid concept in the Giants offense. A rookie on the practice squad, Dre Miller, seems to fit that profile, a WR in college turned TE. After flashing in some games, he broke his arm in pre-season and was put back on practice squad later in the season. He was passed over for other tight ends even when Bellinger was out. Any chance he might be a answer for that hybrid role in 2023?

Ed says: James, the fact that the Giants brought Miller back to the practice squad during the season and have signed him to a reserve/futures contract for 2023 tells you that they are intrigued enough to want to continue working with him. The fact that they didn’t promote him to the 53-man roster tells you they thought he wasn’t far enough along in the transition.

Could he be part of the solution? Maybe, but I wouldn’t expect the Giants to count on it. They will add competition to the position, and if Miller makes it he makes it.

Rich F. asks: Not a Giants question per se. I’m wondering what your thoughts are of Comeback Player of the Year. Geno Smith (an ex-Giant) won it this year. He had an outstanding and surprising year. I liked him coming out of college but he never made a major impact. Probably lots of reasons for that. He had team player issues with the Jets. With the Giants he was stuck behind Eli and unfairly maligned because of McAdoo’s decision. Maybe he was never given a fair chance. But I’ve always viewed comeback as someone that has made a return to a level they reached in the past. It could be overcoming a horrific injury (Alex Smith, anyone, or Nick Gates). Or rebounding after one or more poor seasons. But I’m not sure that Geno ever was anywhere to deserve comeback player. Is the thought that he overcame adversity? Maybe they should have a perseverance award instead.

Ed says: Rich, I have no problem with Geno Smith winning the award. It ends up being performance-based too often, and Smith saw his career come to a standstill after leaving the New York Jets in 2014.

I have said this before, though. For me, the comeback player of the year is Nick Gates. No one overcame more than he did to simply play in 2022. That was a come back.

Gregg Wanlass asks: Ed, If ever there was a year where the “best player available” mantra needs to be applied for the upcoming draft in order to fill many needs, I do feel that there is one area that stands out to me as needing to be fixed (not just improved), whether it’s through the draft, free agency or trades — that being inside linebacker. While many mock drafts and pundits talk about wide receivers, to be fair to the guys who played this year, they were at least competent professionals, if not stars who took the field. Same at cornerback, maybe some games they struggled but they had their positive moments as well. But, to me, the inside linebackers were exploited and abused by opposing offenses in every game. It’s impossible at this point to figure what avenue Schoen will take to address this, but do you agree that this is one area that needs to be prioritized ahead of some of our other needs?

Ed says: Gregg, I fully agree with you, BBV’s Nick Falato, and everyone else who thinks the Giants need an overhaul at the off-ball linebacker spot. That said, I say every year that you cannot pre-determine that you are taking a player at a specific position in Round 1, a player at a different position in Round 2, etc.

The Giants have needs on the offensive line, defensive line, tight end, cornerback and maybe other spots. They can’t draft a linebacker at No. 25 if they have a higher grade on a cornerback, a center, a tight end or whatever. That is how you make mistakes in the draft. You take the best players you think fit your overall needs, scheme, culture and you hope that the draft board matches up with as many of your needs as possible. You can’t select a linebackers because, well, the linebackers were terrible when there are better players available.

Now, if pick No. 25 comes up and the Giants think a linebacker like Trenton Simpson of Clemson or Noah Sewell of Oregon is the best player then they will take him.

James Patton asks: What do you think the chances are of a reunion with James Bradberry? It seems that one of the Giants’ top offseason priorities should be finding a solid man coverage corner to play opposite Adoree’ Jackson, and Bradberry looks to be one of the top CBs to hit the market in 2023. Any chance of a reunion here, or is that relationship frayed beyond repair?

Ed says: James, I would say slim and none. From some of what I have seen and read I don’t think Bradberry would have any desire to return to the Giants. But, that is just me speculating. The reality of it is that the Giants will have some financial flexibility, but probably not the kind of financial flexibility it would take to sign Bradberry.

The Giants are already paying cornerback Adoree’ Jackson an $11M base salary for 2023 and he carries a salary cap hit of $19.076 million with bonuses. Spotrac estimates Bradberry’s market value at $51.584 million for three years, $17.1 million annually.

I doubt the Giants have that kind of money to allot to the cornerback position. Plus, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be handing a big-money, multi-year contract to a cornerback who will turn 30 before the 2023 season begins.

Paul Miles asks: Do you feel that the Giants gave up on Kenny Golladay too soon? Seems to me he could have helped them a lot down the stretch---particularly in the Philadelphia Eagle games, taking coverage pressure off Hodgins. James, etc. It also would have increased his market value.

Ed says: Paul, no I do not. I honestly don’t know how anyone would feel that way. He had all of last season to establish himself. He did not. He had the beginning of this season, and it did not happen. He got surpassed by players who were more productive. Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka aren’t stupid. They want to win. They want to put the best players on the field. If they thought Golladay was one of them he would have been playing.

As for Golladay’s market value, that’s not a consideration. No one is trading for that contract.

Eric Chavis asks: Can the Giants sign their own free agents before the March, or do they have to wait for free agency to open? Just wondering if we may see a Saquon, DJ, or Lve deal coming soon.

Ed says: Yes, teams can sign their own free agents at any time. They would, in fact, like to do that to prevent them from reaching the open market.

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