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Big Blue View mailbag: Draft, quarterback ... and Wink Martindale

The mail’s here!

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John Knopf: Our family has been following the progress of the Giants rebuild (Schoen) vs. the progress made by the Bears (hometown native Ryan Poles). The Bears seem to be a little further along.

Any thoughts on the Poles vs. Schoen team building approach, as both were considered for the Giants GM job.

Ed says: John, are the Chicago Bears really farther along than the Giants? Poles and Joe Schoen have been in their jobs for two years. Here is the breakdown:

Bears: 10-24 (3-14 in 2022, 7-10 this year)
Giants: 15-18-1 regular season (9-7-1 in 2022, 6-11 this year; 1-1 in the playoffs

Using the ‘you are what your record says you are argument,’ over the two years the Giants have been more successful. At the midpoint of this season both teams were 2-6. The Bears won seven games, the Giants six. It’s really hard for me to say one team is that much farther ahead of the other.

The Bears do have the advantage this offseason of putting themselves in position to have the first and ninth picks in the draft, and a quarterback in Justin Fields who could bring a decent return if Poles decided to trade him.

It is a critical offseason for both franchises. Let’s see if one of the two teams takes a step forward in 2024.

For what it’s worth, I thought Poles would have been a good hire for the Giants had they gone in that direction.


Harold Tolchinsky asks: According to what I have been reading (1) Tyrod Taylor is performing better than Daniel Jones and (2) Tommy DeVito throws outside the lines while Daniel Jones does not. We also know that Jones is susceptible to injury. Why wouldn’t we draft a promising quarterback in the first round if available ( or even later rounds) rather that commit to Jones?

Ed says: Harold, who says the Giants won’t draft a quarterback in the first or second round? The Giants are committed to having Jones on the roster in 2024. The fact that it would cost them $69.315 million in dead money to get out of the contract this offseason says they have to be. Beyond that? Everything is on the table, including using their first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft on a quarterback.


Alex Kalb: Sort of a process question rather than a straight football question:

With anonymous Martindale/Daboll reports coming in hot this season, how do you approach reporting on those types of situations? How do you assess the quality/reliability of the information and any motives behind leaking information like that so that you’re balancing newsworthy information of interest to fans with your own professional/reporting standards?

Just curious about your process.

Ed says: Alex, first of all I never want to use information that doesn’t come from sources I don’t trust. There are several Giants beat writers I trust who I know have solid, correct information when they write.

Secondly, I don’t pretend to have the sources that some of the people from major newspapers or online outlets have. I try to confirm what is reported by others when I can, but I often can’t do that. I have access that I use as much as I can. I have some people who can help me understand things. I have eyes and ears. I try to use all of that. I try to use what I know, what I see, what I hear to parse the reported information and give you guys the best, most honest, truthful analysis that I can.


Rob Ranalli asks: Just a thought for the mailbag regarding the Giants mock drafts, etc. Seeing a lot of QB and WR (positional value), but no one is talking about how bad the run defense has been and how the pass rush disappeared this year. Azeez is often injured and hasn’t looked good this year (he’s up-and-down), Thibs seems to be either really good or non-plus, and Ward was Wink’s locker room guy more than a player. Shouldn’t they be thinking some EDGE/IDL guys to rectify that? No one in particular, but DJ last year and Tyrod this year shows the offense can help guys get open and move around.

Ed says: Rob, of course they should. A reminder that the draft is seven rounds, not one. Everybody likes to focus/obsess over the first pick, and that is what all the chatter is generally about.

There is also free agency. The Giants know they need to add talent in the areas you mention, as well as other places.


Chris Hynes asks: Now that the season, and its time to reflect on the season, what is your opinion on how Schoen and Company addressed the trade deadline? At the time the Giants were 2-6, and Jones was on the shelf with a neck injury. Do you think they should have been more aggressive working the phones. Do you think they should have seen the value they could have received for Barkley? A. Jackson? McKinney?

Personally I wish they had followed the path of Washington and the NY Mets, where is you are going to sell at the deadline, you SELL at the deadline. Just seemed like a half-hearted attempt.

Ed says: Chris, the Giants weren’t trying to conduct a fire sale at the trade deadline. I’m also sure there were more discussions than we know about. There always are.

Let me touch on the three players you mentioned.

  • Saquon Barkley — Head coach Brian Daboll was adamant Barkley was not going to be traded. I advocated for a Barkley trade before all the contract stuff started. Now? Why would they trade him midseason when they still thought there was a chance of keeping him for at least another year or two? He’s still their best offensive player. Maybe if teams had been banging on the door offering first-round picks for Barkley they might have moved him, but I don’t think teams are or were willing to offer close to that.
  • Adoree’ Jackson — I think the Giants might have traded Jackson, who is heading to free agency, if they could have. Remember, though, he was hurt at the time of the deadline. He also did not play well the first half of the year.
  • Xavier McKinney — McKinney played much better the second half of the season — after the trade deadline — that he did the first half. The impression that I get is that McKinney wants to get PAID this offseason. BIG-TIME PAID. Was he looking like a guy at the mid-point of the season worth giving up draft capital for and handing a big contract? I’m not sure of that. He is a good player. Maybe the Giants can keep him, maybe they can’t. I’m not sure there was a market for him at the deadline.

Chris Zardavets asks: I like many have agonized over the Giants offensive issues for the last decade. And just when we (well some of us) thought Daniel Jones was the answer, he underwhelms at the beginning of the season and then gets hurt again. So, for 2024 we still don’t have a definitive answer on him as our franchise QB. But I now have an answer. DJ may be or may not be the guy, no idea who is there in the draft and if they can even play in NFL, and our O-line is still a weakness. Why not sign Jake Browning in the offseason, let him compete with DJ and have the best man win? I believe he’s a free agent next year Use draft to find more offensive linemen.

Thoughts?

Ed says: Chris, Jake Browning is not getting away from the Cincinnati Bengals. Browning is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA). That means the Bengals control him. Here is the definition of an ERFA:

Any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If his original team offers him a one-year contract at the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams.

The way Browning played in place of Joe Burrow, and as important as backup quarterbacks were shown to be this season, there is no chance the Bengals don’t keep him on that one-year minimum contract.

Now, the Giants could choose to add a veteran. GM Joe Schoen did say they would like to have someone on the roster they feel can win games at the beginning of the season if Jones is not ready. I don’t think they believe Tommy DeVito or Jacob Eason is that guy. It’s going to be tricky, though, because I don’t think the Giants are going to want to spend a lot on the position.

It is going to be fascinating to see how it plays out.


Larry Jamieson asks: Now that the Giants quickly hired Carmen Bricillo for the O line, when can he actually start to work with and evaluate the players the Giants have? Under the rules these days, will he get to work with them before the draft?

Ed says: Larry, Bricillo can begin to work immediately. He can dive into film of the 2023 offensive line. He can evaluate college prospects. He can evaluate and give his opinion on potential free agent signings.

What he cannot do is work with players. He can’t do that until the offseason program begins. By league rule, that doesn’t begin until April 15. So, yes, technically prior to the draft. On-field work, though, does not begin until several weeks after that.

Even if players want to come in and work with him, they can’t. That’s just how the rules are.


Peter Smyth asks: My question is in two parts: 1) Do you trust this Giants management to make the right decision in the upcoming draft? (I do despite the possible miss on Evan Neal) and 2) would them trading down make sense if they are not getting a QB? I can argue they need a lot more pieces than one high profile one (OL, receiver, edge rusher). Would it make sense depending on the offer? Your thoughts?

Ed says: Peter, I have no reason not to trust Joe Schoen. Sure, I have written about how I questioned many of the decisions that were made this season. Yet, I also understand that there are a lot of factors that went into many of those decisions that I will never know. And sometimes you make the right decision and it still turns out wrong.

Joe Schoen puts in the work. He travels to and scouts more games in person than Jerry Reese did in his final years as GM, and more than Dave Gettleman ever did. He has a talented staff with a former GM (Dennis Hickey) and a probable future GM (Brandon Brown) on it.

Have they gotten every pick right? Every decision right? Will they get every one right in the future. Of course not. No one ever does. Whatever they do, I believe they will have a well-thought out reason for it. That is really all you can ask.

As for trading down, I have said for years that trading down is usually a better strategy than trading up and giving away assets. Yes, they need more than one piece. The thing is, if you are trading down — especially early — you have to understand what you might be giving up and be willing to live with that.

The Giants need difference makers. If they think wide receiver Malik Nabers of LSU is a difference maker, or that Olu Fashanu of Penn State or Joe Alt of Notre Dame are 10-year starting tackles, and they trade out of a spot where they could have selected one of them, they have to live with that.

Dave Gettleman also used to warn about the potential consequences of trading down. Then, he finally did. You know what happened. He left Micah Parsons and Rashawn Slater on the table and ended up with Kadarius Toney and other assets.


Kölnerbigblue asks: Ed, I need your help. I remember Daboll being chosen as COTY last year. I think I remember people saying last year that he was a people person and that we were a good place for players.

This year, it seems at least to me, that all hell has broken loose. Is this a case of winning/losing changes everything? Can you help me out?

Ed says: Kölner, folks have probably noticed by now that I’m not answering a lot of Wink Martindale-related questions this week. The reason for that is the majority of the ones that came in were received before Martindale was officially gone and before the fantastic reporting by Paul Schwartz of the New York Post laid bare what had really been going on between Martindale, the Wilkins brothers and Daboll.

Daboll makes an effort to connect to players. I watched him stand in the Giants’ locker room on Monday morning and give player after hugs that were reciprocated and express his feelings toward them as they prepared to leave the building for the final time this season. I have been at a lot of what we refer to as “Baggy Days” and I don’t recall seeing that before.

Still, not every player — or every coach — is going to love him. Daboll isn’t going to like everyone, either. That’s just the nature of being human.

Daboll is a screamer. You’ve seen it on television. I have seen it on the practice field. A lot of that screaming is aimed at coaches. Dan Duggan of The Athletic has more on Daboll vs. Martindale, and how there are times with him where you simply have to deal with the ranting and let him simmer down.

There was never a close relationship between Daboll and Martindale. You could see that in how they usually kept their distance from each other on the practice field. During games you would often find them separated by about 40 yards on the sideline.

Schwartz is perhaps the best reporter on the Giants’ beat, and one I know who has no agenda other than to do his job. What happened here is that you had a coach in Martindale and his underlings in the Wilkins brothers who apparently felt they reported only to each other and to John Mara, not to Daboll.

Martindale, to my knowledge, did not want to hear any of Daboll’s defensive suggestions. Connect the dots in Schwartz’s reporting and you can surmise that the reporting about Daboll’s inability to get along with coaches came from someone in or representing the Martindale-Wilkins camp and was meant to undermine the head coach.

Daboll is a volatile, emotional guy. I’m sure he’s not easy to work for. I’m sure he yells at coaches behind the scenes. I’m sure coaches, many of whom are alpha personalities with their own egos, don’t like being yelled at.

Yes, when you are winning and things are going well things tend to get smoothed over. When you are losing, conflict tends to come to the forefront.


Derick Gross asks: Hello Ed. Some of the reporting recently suggested that the Wilkins brothers were fired as outside linebackers coaches purely because of their relationship with Wink Martindale. But the Giants’ edge play was far from dominant- Kayvon T. played like a #3, maybe #2, and for the most part no one else looked like they belong on the field for a good defense. I would lose some respect for Daboll if he did remove them just to send a message to Wink, but it’s not hard to believe he fired them because they weren’t getting the job done. Thoughts?

Ed says: Derick, have you been reading the reporting this week from Paul Schwartz of the New York Post and Dan Duggan of The Athletic?

The Wilkins brothers, and eventually Martindale, were let go because they were circumventing the head coach. They were operating as their own entity, what Schwartz called a “fiefdom,” ignoring the head coach and acting as though they reported directly to John Mara.

No employer is going to want employees who operate in that manner.


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NOTE: There were a ton of good questions this week. I know I haven’t gotten to them all.