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Big Blue View mailbag: Kadarius Toney vs. Darren Waller, more questions

The mail’s here!

It’s that time. Let’s open another Big Blue View Mailbag and answer some New York Gaints questions.

Ben Goldstein asks: There’s been a question I’ve been thinking about with regards to Andrew Thomas’s improvement last year. Given that Evan Neal was the weaker tackle is there any evidence that teams lined up their stronger pass rusher against him, leaving the weaker edge to Thomas? It seems teams would want to exploit that weakness and putting your best edge against Neal would be the best way to get to the QB. If so would this artificially inflate the performance of Thomas or does oline evaluation take into consideration the quality of who you match up with?

Ed says: Ben, I guess that if you have access to Pro Football Focus you could go through game by game and figure out who lined up over which tackle. I’m not going through 17 games.

I will give you three. Week 2 vs. the Carolina Panthers Brian Burns lined up 20 times over each Thomas and Neal. Week 3 against the Dallas Cowboys Micah Parsons lined up most of the time over Thomas and Demarcus Lawrence spent the game terrorizing Neal. Week 14 Haason Reddick of the Philadelphia Eagles lined up 48 times over Neal and three over Thomas. No surprise there. He played 701 of his 863 defensive snaps lined up on the side of the right tackle.

Defensive coordinators will hunt matchups whenever possible, will always attack the perceived weakest link. They also don’t want their players in positions where they aren’t comfortable, so it is a balance.

I’m not buying the “artificial inflation” of Thomas’s statistics. Most teams have more than one excellent pass rusher.

Scott S asks: I’ve watched a lot of social media recently where KC fans talk a lot of smack about getting Kadarius Toney from us, and how he performed in the Super Bowl, as well as the greatness they are expecting moving forward. As a Giants fan, the trade was almost worth it to us for his contributions towards making the Eagles the loser of that game alone. But in the end, it basically boils down to a Toney for Waller trade. If one of your brethren KC beat reporters offered you the following three bets, would you take them?

Comparing Toney and Waller for the 2023 season:

  • Who catches the most passes.
  • Who scores the most touchdowns.
  • Who plays in the most games.

Ed says: Scott, since Darren Waller played for the Las Vegas Raiders and not the Kansas City Chiefs I’m not sure why a KC writer would care about this, but I will take the bait.

First and foremost, I am going to say this. The Giants are better off with Waller. He is a pro who will get every ounce of production out of his talent and his body that he can. He understands how to be an NFL player. His teammates seem to love him, and he has gone out of his way to be a team guy. He went to Arizona to work out with Daniel Jones. He showed up for Saquon Barkley at his youth camp. Toney? Just an immature ‘me’ guy who was all about himself, never gained the trust of his coaches or his teammates with the Giants, and was mostly an under-productive distraction in his time with New York.

Now, for your specific questions. I think everyone already knows how I’m going to answer these because I will believe that Kadarius Toney can be a week-in and week-out dependable NFL player when it actually happens.

  • Who catches the most passes? I will take Waller. Yes, Toney has Patrick Mahomes throwing passes and Andy Reid calling plays. He has 55 receptions in two seasons. Again, I will believe he can show up enough to top that number when he actually does it.
  • Who scores the most touchdowns? Toney has two in his career. Waller has 17 over the last four season and will be a huge part of the Giants’ red zone offense. I will take Waller.
  • Who plays in the most games? I will take Waller. Why? I simply trust Waller’s professionalism more than Toney’s. I know that Waller has made adjustments to what had been a very strenuous offseason program in recent years that may have contributed to injuries due to overwork. Toney? I don’t know how seriously he takes conditioning, working on his craft, stretching properly before practice, and taking care of his body after practice. Maybe Toney will prove me wrong, but I need to see him do it.

Taj Siddiqi asks: In my opinion DJ is Jeff Hostetler. A good backup QB. I hope and pray I am wrong. Giants will let him start the ’24 and ‘25 seasons. Keep upgrading talent level on both offense and defense. By 2026 a franchise QB is going to be needed. Either they have to trade all their draft picks to reach a slot within first five selections or to get a free agent QB. I am saying all draft picks because I believe by that season Giants will be a franchise QB away from NFC Championship and a Super Bowl. Do you agree with my opinion about DJ and do you think the scenario I painted is quite realistic?

Ed says: Taj, I take issue with a couple of your statements.

I think Jeff Hostetler proved he was far more than just a backup quarterback. He won a Super Bowl as a backup quarterback and went on to have a good career as a starting quarterback for the Giants and then the Raiders. Was he ever elite as a starter? No, but he was a good quarterback who never had a losing record as a starter in any season. A lot of teams would take that.

As for Daniel Jones, if you watched him play last season and still believe that he is just a good backup quarterback I don’t know that you understand how well he actually played. He is more than that.

Can Jones continue to ascend to become a quarterback most people would rank in the top third of starters in the league, or even a bit higher than that? That is what the Giants gave him a four-year, $160 million contract to find out.

That contract is actually a two-year deal with no fully guaranteed money after the second year. That, coincidentally, agrees with your ‘need a franchise quarterback timeline — although I think you meant start in 2023 and 2024 and need a quarterback by 2025.

I do believe there is a two-year window here. If the Giants see regression, or not enough ascension to make them believe they can win big with Jones, I think they look to move on after 2024. As a post-June 1 cut after the 2024 season, the Giants could save $30.5 million on their 2025 salary cap with only a $9 million dead money hit.

Where the Giants will be as a team at that point is anybody’s guess. Maybe Jos is the guy. Maybe they are at a championship level. Maybe they are at a point where they think the best path is a full restart, not just a change at quarterback. We will know when we get there.

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