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Big Blue View mailbag: Defensive line, Cam Brown, Jamie Gillan, more questions

The mail’s here!

With the New York Giants preseason rolling along, let’s open up the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what Giants-related questions we can answer.

Steve asks: Leo may be gone next year. Any logic or wisdom to keeping both Jordon Riley and D.J. Davidson (and possibly cutting Nunez-Roches) if both show something in the preseason? Cap wise or just to get younger?

Ed says: Steve, the Giants added Rakeem Nunez-Roches — and A’Shawn Robinson — because they wanted to improve the veteran depth along the defensive line. ESPN now ranks the Giants’ defensive interior as the best in the NFL.

It would make no sense to cut Nunez-Roches, regardless of what might happen a year from now with Leonard Williams. I don’t know how many defensive linemen the Giants will keep, but the way he is playing and the way the coaching staff is praising him, I would be shocked if Jordon Riley doesn’t make the 53-man roster. Davidson is off the PUP list, but he still seems limited in practice as he works back from his torn ACL. Both Davidson and Ryder Anderson (triceps) could land on the practice squad. I think both would clear waivers.

Gino Phillips asks: I seem to recall that 2-3 years ago Cam Brown was a very good punt gunner, with a unique combination of size/speed that was tough to block. Is that no longer the case? In your opinion who might be emerging as likely gunners for NY, or is it too early to tell because these might be fringe roster spots. Brown clearly is a special teams only player now.

Ed says: The Giants have used Brown, a 233-pound linebacker, as a gunner a handful of times over the last few years. That has mostly been out of necessity, as it is not a great spot for a player as big as Brown.

He is a good special teams player, but it has become increasingly obvious that he can add nothing on defense. Brown is very clearly on the roster bubble.

As for gunners, it is too early to know. Considering that the Giants are likely to get very little special teams help from their receivers if both Cole Beasley and Sterling Shepard make the roster, I think you are looking at the backup defensive backs as potential gunners.

Douglas Furth asks: Here is my preseason over the top optimistic question. What happens to the schedule if the Giants are hosting the NFC Championship Game and the Jets are hosting the AFC Championship Game this year? They clearly can’t reset the stadium to play the same day. Just considering all possibilities.

Ed says: Well, Douglas, that is certainly an optimistic question. Both games are currently scheduled on Jan. 28, 2024. Obviously, they couldn’t be played back-to-back on the same day. I reached out to the league and was told one game would be played Sunday, the other game on Monday. Which game would be switched I do not know.

John Horoski asks: I know head coaches and coordinators make a bundle of money, but I never see how much assistant coaches make, ex. Linebacker, Defensive Back, Offense & Defensive Line, Quarterback, Running Back, Tight End, Wide Receiver, etc. What is the average salary for these coaches and how does that compare to what the Giants pay their assistants.

Ed says: John, salaries for coaches are not made public the way player salaries are. Some salaries for head coaches have been reported, but there is no public database for coaching salaries. The same with coordinators. You might see reports of some salaries, but there is no database. I found one report, the accuracy of which I cannot vouch for, that position coach salaries average around $400K. I couldn’t tell you what any of the Giants’ coaches are paid.

Jeff Marx asks: Is it maybe time the team looks for a new punter? We all understand “the leg” Gillan has but how much longer can they wait for him to be able win field position with the placement of his kicks? As you said in last week’s mailbag it’s cool to watch a punt travel that far but unless you can consistently make those kicks with a 5+ second hand time what good are they? Maybe I’ve been spoiled for so many years by guys like Dave Jennings, Sean Landeta, Jeff Feagles and Steve Weatherford. Your thoughts?

Ed says: Jeff, I understand the frustration. I wondered last season why there was no competition in training camp for Gillan. When the Giants gave him a two-year, $4 million contract this offseason with $1 million guaranteed, I knew he wouldn’t have competition for the job this time.

Gillan has been frustratingly inconsistent, and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey has often said it takes young punters and placekickers a number of years to really hone their craft. Gillan, though, really is no longer a young punter. He is a 26-year-old in his fifth season in the league.

McGaughey and the Giants felt Gillan was much more consistent the second half of last season, and apparently bought into the idea he was gaining ground in the effort to place the ball better. The 67-yarder on Friday was a step back, no doubt.

As it happens, I asked McGaughey the other day about the difficulties of trying to cover a punt of that distance. Here is what he said:

“Mainly, we want the hang to match the distance. What does that mean? So, if we have a 48-yard punt, we want at least 4.6, 4.7 or more hang time. So, what happens is when the hang to distance doesn’t match, that’s when you get in trouble. If we have a 70-yard punt and a 4.5 hang, the hang to distance doesn’t match. So, when that guy catches the ball and the coverage is 30 yards away from him, we are going to have some issues. You let the guy get a full head of steam running at guys in space and it’s tough. So, we always want the hang to distance to match up.”

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