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Big Blue View mailbag: Dead snap, Tom Coughlin, running backs, more questions

The mail’s here!

With New York Giants training camp rolling along, let’s open up the Big Blue View Mailbag and answer some questions.

We start with two questions about the ‘dead-ball’ snap.

Ridge Kennedy asks: Even before the injury to Mr. Hassenauer, I was thinking about this. You can keep an eye on it (you may need binoculars).

Early on, after John Michael-Schmitz was drafted, I saw some reporting about how he used a “dead ball snap.” Maybe there was even a story about using that style of snapping with Daniel Jones.

So — is that what he’s doing now? And are all the other people playing center using the same technique? It would seem to be a turnover in the making if different centers used a different snapping style.

I’d guess this would be something you could see on the practice field.

So, are the Giants’ centers using the dead ball snap? Related, is the same technique used when QB is under center?

David Johnson asks: I don’t believe I’ve seen reporting on whether Schmitz is dead ball snapping in camp. Is that happening? Jones taking to it well, if so? And, any sign that different snapping styles are throwing him off?

Ed says: Yes Schmitz uses the dead-ball snapping technique. And yes, he uses it on all of his snaps — shotgun and under center. It’s really just the way he holds the ball, grabbing it by the front tip rather than the laces.

This is something we spoke to everyone involved about during spring practices. Quarterback Daniel Jones is fine with it. Offensive line coach Bobby Johnson is fine with it. I believe other Giants centers have experimented with it, but I haven’t noticed any others using it in live action. As long as the snap in on-target, it’s an easy catch for the quarterback whichever technique is used. It’s a non-issue.

Ryan Perry asks: Watching Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard get franchise tagged this year gives me the feeling the franchise tag is being used to the detriment of players who play de-valued positions. Running back seems to be the most affected, as they tend to have the shortest shelf-life of all positions in football, and handing out long-term contracts to running backs is a huge risk for a front office to take. Do you think the franchise tag will come up in the next CBA, where the NFLPA will push for restricting the use of the franchise tag on a player more than one year in a row?

Ed says: Ryan, absolutely the franchise tag should be expected to be a major point of contention during negotiations for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. Unfortunately for players, especially running backs, the current CBA runs through the 2030 season. I don’t know how things change for backs before then.

Aaron Pempel asks: It was exciting to see the Giants sign the 6’9”, 320-pound Roy Mbaeteka through the NFL International Pathway Program last year. My hope was that he would develop into the next Jordan Mailata, so it was a surprise to learn that Mbaeteka is now with the Bears. Through the rules of the International Pathway Program, my understanding was that Mbaeteka didn’t count against the practice squad roster limit. Do you know what happened? Was it simply that the Giants believed they could better spend Mbaeteka’s $750K salary on other players?

Ed says: Aaron, there is apparently still confusion over the Mbaeteka situation. The Giants DID NOT sign him as part of the International Pathway Program last season, even though they discovered him that way with the help of Osi Umenyiora. They gave him a standard undrafted free agent contract, and he did count against the practice squad limit last season. That is why he was dropped and brought back several times. The team did not have a practice squad exemption for him.

Mbaeteka made the choice to go back into the Pathway Program this year and was signed by the Bears, who will have a practice squad exemption for him in 2023.

Gregg Schneider asks: From what you have observed have we done enough to be competitive in the division? 1-4-1 last year and 16-31-1 since 2015 is not a recipe for a consistent playoff team.

Ed says: Gregg, obviously the Giants have to be better in games against NFC East opponents. They can’t just beat the Washington Commanders. They know that.

The roster is better. The Giants, though, will likely be underdogs in the four combined games they will play against the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Can they win a couple of those games? Sure. They can also lose to the Commanders.

The Giants are improving, but there is work to be done, and I think anyone who is objective would look at the Eagles and Cowboys and believe they are still more talented.

Mark Cicio asks: Just wanted to say how cool it is that Tom Coughlin is up for the NFL HOF for coaching. I truly think because of his initial “hard rules” that gained many a headline, we forget that he is amongst the greatest Giants coaches in team history.

Outside of that, another article went on to write about his NFL history records of success with the Jaguars.

I won’t go into all of his accomplishments, which are amazing. I just want to say I sure am glad he was our head coach. And two of those Lombardi trophies on display in East Rutherford have as much to do with him as it does for any player on that team, just like Parcells with his two trophies.

I know it’s all guesswork, but do you see him getting in this year? I think he deserves it.

Ed says: Mark, the way I understand the process there is so much back-room discussion and bargaining that happens when it comes to Pro Football Hall of Fame voting that I would hate to make a prediction.

All I know is that Coughlin absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame. I hope the voters don’t make him wait.

Here are a pair of potential trade questions.

Matthew Annunziata asks: Just finished reading your article about Sterling Shepard and it got me thinking. We keep hearing how this is the deepest amount of “good” receivers the Giants have had in a long time and it’s going to hurt when it comes time to make cuts. I don’t know if this is a question you want to answer now or wait until it gets closer to cut downs, but my question is this: What receiver or receivers do you think the Giants could get something for via a trade instead of cutting them and hoping they make it through waivers?

Jeff Newman asks: Ed, with what appears to be a plethora of wide receivers (barring injury of course) and a lack of depth at edge rusher and inside linebacker, do you foresee a trade? If so, any ideas or possible scenarios?

Ed says: Guys, I doubt any of the ‘bubble’ guys are tradable. Those include Shepard, Cole Beasley, Collin Johnson, Bryce-Ford Wheaton, David Sills, Jaydon Mickens, Kalil Pimpleton, and Jamison Crowder.

Teams all across the league are going to be cutting players like these at the end of the preseason, so I doubt GM Joe Schoen is going to be able to get anything in return for any of these players. There is going to be an overwhelming supply after roster cuts, and I just don’t see any of these players as having enough value for the Giants to be able to engineer a trade.

I’m sure Schoen will try to deal from the surplus, if it is a surplus at the end of the preseason. If he succeeds, that’s a plus. I just have my doubts.

Doug Mollin asks: The NY Post had a story today about how the Giants won the Leonard Williams trade.

Basically, Williams turned into a much better player than he was with the Jets and the two players the Jets drafted turned into nobodies.

I know this has been beaten to death at BBV, and the Getty revisionism is in full force, but could you share your opinion on the logic/wisdom of making that trade one last time? Compared to waiting to sign him as a free agent?

Ed says: Doug, your e-mail basically dared me to answer this question. So, here goes.

Yes, the move worked out for the Giants on the field. Williams has been a very good player for them, and it is easy to argue that the Giants have gotten more from Williams than they likely would have for third- and fifth-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts, respectively.

Still, if you want to frame the debate in terms of ‘logic/wisdom,’ as your question does, this type of trade is not the way you want to build a franchise.

First, the idea of trading away draft capital you could use in a rebuild for a pending free agent defensive tackle when you have no idea whether not you will be able to keep him beyond the 4-12 season you are in the middle of is a strange decision.

Beyond that, what Gettleman had to do in order to save face and make sure Williams was a Giant for the next several years.

Gettleman had to franchise tag Williams in 2020, so he would leave — thus ending up overpaying him. Then, he vastly overpaid him on a three-year, $63 million deal ($45 million) guaranteed) that included the biggest non-quarterback cap hit (a flabbergasting $32.26 million) in the league in 2023.

I have before that Gettleman was able to identify talent. He just didn’t know how to fit the pieces together, either at valuing draft or financial capital. Williams, who could well be playing elsewhere next season, remains an example. Even though he has played well.

Vincent Moody asks: I am wondering what your thoughts are on the Giants playing their starters in the preseason games. Obviously you don’t want anyone getting hurt, but I don’t think the Giants can afford to come out of the gate slow Week 1. So how much do you think we will see the Giant starters play? If it were me I would rather they played more, risking potential injury, than come out rusty.

Ed says: Vincent, that topic won’t come up with Brian Daboll until next week. I think Daboll will err on the side of caution, that seems to be the primary approach. Make sure you get to the starting line with as many of your guys healthy as possible. I think the draft picks will play some, as will everyone competing for a role. I don’t think you will see much of Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Andrew Thomas, Dexter Lawrence, etc. — if you see them at all.

Kölnerbigblue asks: Ed, what’s going on with Isiah Hodgins? I haven’t read much about him. Is it the shiny new toys getting the attention or is he just having a Meh camp?

Ed says: Kölner, I think Hodgins has been fine. He hasn’t been a training camp star, but he hasn’t been invisible, either. As you referenced, part of it might the ‘shiny new toy’ thing. Everybody wants to focus on Darren Waller, Jalin Hyatt, and Parris Campbell — and those guys have done enough to be deserving of the attention. Training camp is also about chemistry building and experimenting with things to figure out what you have. So, Hodgins hasn’t necessarily been a focal point.

Just wait until we see what happens during the regular season before worrying about Hodgins being a half-season flash in the pan.

Lawrence Jamieson asks: We’ve been seeing a lot about Jalin Hyatt, Parris Campbell, and DarrenWaller, but I’m wondering how the rest of the receivers, like Hodgins, and a few others have looked. Any thoughts of who will make the team?

Ed says: Going beyond what I said about Hodgins in the previous answer, you have to realize there are only so many snaps in each practice. I would say Jamison Crowder has made a couple of plays, but not a lot. Collin Johnson has been quiet recently. Darius Slayton is having a pretty good camp. Not a lot to give you on other guys at this point.

Who will make the team? Beyond Slayton, Hodgins, Hyatt, and Campbell, I think it’s all guesswork. You can make cases for Shepard, Johnson, Cole Beasley, Crowder, and Jeff Smith. Maybe a guy like Bryce Ford-Wheaton has a big preseason and makes it difficult to try and pass him to the practice squad. When will Wan’Dale Robinson be ready to come off the PUP list?

Let’s see which guys make it to Week 1 healthy.

Joseph Axisa asks: Based upon the early days of camp, have you gotten a sense for which receivers may play on the outside, in the slot, or both? Where has Jalin Hyatt been lining up most frequently?

Ed says: Joseph, the Giants drafted Hyatt to play on the outside. Loosely, it breaks down like this:

  • Slot: Parris Campbell, Jamison Crowder, Cole Beasley, Wan’Dale Robinson (when he returns), Kalil Pimpleton, Jaydon Mickens
  • Outside: Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Hyatt, Collin Johnson, David Sills, Sterling Shepard, Bryce Ford-Wheaton

I say “loosely” because the Giants move receivers around so much that it’s almost a “positionless” receiving group.

Pasquale Baccarella asks: Has the new turf been installed and has there been any feedback about it?

Ed says: Pasquale, the turf was installed at MetLife Stadium and in the Giants’ indoor practice bubble during the offseason. I have said this before — the team does not practice in the stadium. They practice outdoors on grass at their own facility. We have yet to watch an indoor practice. That said, a couple of players who did offseason workouts in the bubble said they like the turf.

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