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Big Blue View mailbag: Brian Daboll, Kayvon Thibodeaux, wide receiver, more

The mail’s here!

It is time once again to open the Big Blue View Mailbag. So, let’s do that and see what New York Giants-related questions we can answer.

Spencer Gross asks: I would like to know your opinion if the Giants now are set up for success with the current leadership or will we be tossed into turmoil again. I remember the hope of Ben McAdoo after his first season only to fail miserably and the same fiasco after hope from Joe Judge’s first season.

Ed says: Spencer, reality is that turmoil will come again. Someday. That’s just the cyclical nature of pro sports.

Now, to really answer your question. This is a topic I have broached previously. There is a massive difference between Brian Daboll and both Ben McAdoo and Joe Judge. Daboll builds relationships with everyone — players, coaches, groundskeepers, secretaries, media members. Ben McAdoo didn’t know how to do that, and when things went south in his second year he had no allies. Judge could have done that, but he was too wrapped up in doing things his way — the New England way — and with surrounding himself with buddies on his coaching staff who would agree with him rather than challenge him and open him to new ideas.

With both McAdoo and Judge, the other reality is they were not hired on the same cycle as the general managers they worked with. Ownership hired those men with entrenched GMs, and specifically in the case of Judge and Dave Gettleman we are finding out as time goes by that the relationship between the two wasn’t good.

Daboll has surrounded himself with great people, and he listens. Plus, he and GM Joe Schoen were hired together. The coach and GM on the same page, the same cycle, functioning as a team is important. They will succeed and fail together, and will have a better chance of working their way through the down times because of their trust in each other.

Robert Wengrzyn asks: I was curious your thoughts of using KT as a linebacker? Last year he was all over the field in defense, and I liken him to have speed and power somewhat like LT. Just curious if you think that is a spot Wink could play him in and if you think he would be successful in that role. I am assuming the main question then is who would be the end DE that could take his place on the line?

Ed says: Robert, I think you are confused. You compare Kayvon Thibodeaux’s skill set to Lawrence Taylor’s and then wonder why they don’t play the same position. But, they do play the same position.

In Taylor’s day, that position was called outside linebacker. Today, it is called edge defender. Now, occasionally Thibodeaux will put his hand in the ground like a defensive lineman. Usually, though, he is the standup defender on the edge of the defense. Just like Taylor was. I don’t really agree that Thibodeaux moved around a lot. Pro Football Focus has him playing 829 of 859 snaps as an edge defender.

The term “linebacker” is now generally used for the inside linebackers, not the players who line up on the outside edges of the offensive line.

Michael D. Yablonsky asks: MetLife Stadium installed FieldTurf Core surfaces this year. Now that the players have worked out on the new practice field, what’s the feedback on it?

Ed says: Michael, the players have not worked out on the new MetLife Stadium turf. They do not practice in the stadium. They practice across the parking lot at their own facility, the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

The outdoor practice field at Quest are grass. The Giants’ indoor facility does have the new turf, but we have not seen a practice yet on that surface, nor has anyone asked players about the surface. We have only been around the players once since OTAs began.

The time to ask players for their thoughts on the new surface will be this summer when they play an exhibition game there, or when they work out there for the annual FanFest. Not now.

Robert Biggerstaff asks: My impression is that for a quarterback to be truly great he needs at least one superstar WR. Hasn’t Schoen limited Jones by not giving him one? Wasn’t it possible to get one this year? Does this mean the team still thinks it can win with a primary emphasis on running?

Ed says: Robert, aside from the short period of time he had Randy Moss how often did Tom Brady work with a true superstar wide receiver in New England? For much of his time with the Patriots, the best receiver he had was tight end Rob Gronkowski. I would argue that worked out pretty well. The Kansas City Chiefs do fine with tight end Travis Kelce as their go-to guy.

Superstar wide receivers don’t just fall out of the sky and land in your lap. Where was Schoen supposed to get one? I don’t recall one changing teams this offseason. The top wide receiver on the free agent market was Jakobi Meyers and he isn’t close to being a superstar. He is a good player, nothing more. The Giants never had a realistic shot at D.J. Moore, traded from the Carolina Panthers to the Chicago Bears to allow Carolina to move up to No. 2 in the draft.

Four wide receivers went in the draft before the Giants chose Deonte Banks, and GM Joe Schoen seemed to make it pretty clear Banks was higher on their board than just about any receiver other than maybe Jaxon Smith-Njigba. And none of those guys is thought to be the next Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson.

The Giants added Parris Campbell. They added Jalin Hyatt. They will get Wan’Dale Robinson back. And they did actually acquire a No. 1 receiver — Darren Waller just happens to be a tight end.

I know DeAndre Hopkins is currently available. The Giants, though, are unlikely to be able to afford Hopkins.

Schoen did the best he could in a down receiving market, and he did improve the playmakers around the quarterback.

Joel Friedberg asks: I think you are totally correct and Barnwell is way off base. His only correct point is that they overpaid for (Bobby) Okereke. I think for that money they could have gotten Edwards and another pretty good ILB.

Your thoughts?

Ed says: Joel, maybe the four-year, $40 million contract the Giants gave Okereke will prove to be an overpay. Maybe it won’t. We’ll see.

When you say Edwards, I think you are referring to T.J. Edwards, who signed a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Chicago Bears. Yes, the Giants could have taken the ‘volume’ approach and signed a couple of players at the inside linebacker position. The money they paid him, though, makes it obvious that the Giants really wanted one impact player at that level of their defense, and they felt strongly that Okereke was the player they wanted.

Here is something else to keep in mind regarding Edwards. Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown, thought to be a future GM, was a highly-regarded pro personnel man with the Philadelphia Eagles before coming to the Giants. He was in Philly for three of Edwards’ four seasons, and knows the player inside and out. If the Giants paid Okereke more than twice as much as the Bears paid Edwards, what does that tell you regarding Brown’s opinion of Edwards?

A few seasons from now we will know if the Giants were right.

Jeff Marx asks: This is sort of a continuation of a question last week regarding roster spots and special teams. With an average of right around 60% touchback rate in 2022 if the new rule increases that substantially going forward, in your opinion, how much might this effect roster building in years to come? I realize players with multiple skill sets will always be prioritized but is there any other criteria other than what’s basically used now during the draft process and an individual team’s “perceived” needs?

Ed says: Jeff, I think we first have to see if the rule become permanent or lasts jut a year. There will always be a need for special teams players, though I think we will see guys who are returners first and don’t offer much value elsewhere being phased out. That might be the big change, but I really think that is already occurring.

The shame of the whole thing, for me, is that an exciting, difference-making element is being phased out of the game. That also means fewer opportunities for young players or veteran hanging on to jobs to make impacts on special teams.

James Stoll asks: Ed, one of the personal games I play between the draft and the announcement of the “first” final-53, is to see if I can guess which, if any, of the undrafted rookie free agents will make that 53. Last year I fixated early on Tomon Fox and proved prescient. The year before I actually identified correctly Ray Johnson III. Luck and luck I suspect, but since I am on a roll I am going to go all in on Dyontae Johnson, the ILB from Toledo. My reasoning is essentially that he’s an interior linebacker, and until the roster actually sprouts two really good ILBs, we need more candidates there. I thought McFadden looked overmatched last season and I’m putting him on the roster bubble. The only thing that keeps Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin on the roster is special teams ability, and I suspect that can only continue for just so long and time has run out. I see them both getting the axe this year. The other UDFA is Troy Brown but he looks entirely too small (~220 lbs) to man the middle. That leaves the one true starter, Okereke, the promising, if now damaged, Beavers, and the journeyman, Davis as locks. I assume the final roster will include at least 4 ILBs, maybe 5. If only 4, Johnson will likely battle McFadden; if 5 he’s got a much greater chance.

Of course all of this assumes he shows up and impresses in camp; that’s TBD. But my question for you, is there any of the UDFAs that you have your eye on right now, before they strap on pads and prove anything, and say “that guy, he’s my dark horse”.

Ed says: James, I really don’t have anyone I would call “my guy” at this point. Two OTAs with just 7 on 7 action is hardly enough of a sample size for me to draw any conclusions, and I really don’t know the undrafted guys in great depth.

What I will say is that I will be recording a podcast with Emory Hunt next week and the UDFAs will be the focus. Hunt knows those players better than anyone. Hopefully, that will help you.

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