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Big Blue View mailbag: The Daboll-Martindale divorce, offensive line, defensive coordinator, more

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Bob Donnelly asks: The revolving door of O line coaches continues.

  • Bobby Johnson - two years
  • Rob Sale - one year
  • Marc Colombo - one year
  • Hal Hunter - two years
  • Mike Solari - two years

That’s five coaches over eight years.

Carmen Bricillo is the next in parade.

Why should we have any confidence that he will finally be the one that turns things around?

Ed says: Bob, let me be honest. I did not know who Carmen Bricillo was until he interviewed for the offensive line job and was hired by the Giants.

There is, obviously, no guarantee Bricillo will have the magic cure for the line. I’m intrigued, though, for a couple of reasons. First, Bricillo had some exposure with the New England Patriots to Dante Scarnecchia, the great Patriots’ offensive line coach who is now retired. Second, because a non-descript Las Vegas Raiders offensive line outperformed expectations in each of the past two seasons with Bricillo coaching that group.

The Raiders’ offensive line was ranked No. 10 by Pro Football Focus in each of the past two seasons. Left tackle Kolton Miller was a 2018 first-round pick (15th overall). He is the only truly early pick.

Guard Dylan Parham is a third-round pick, center Andre James and guard Alex Bars are former UDFAs, right tackle Jermain Eluemenor is a journeyman fifth-round pick, Greg Van Roten is a 33-year-old journeyman guard and swing tackle Thayer Munford is a seventh-round pick. Along with Miller, those are the players who have played most of the snaps the last two seasons.

On paper, not an impressive group. Yet, in PFF’s words, the group “played well above expectations,” even when Miller was injured.

That is why I have optimism about the hiring of Bricillo.

Scott Merrick asks: I was never a big fan of Daniel Jones, but I believe his time in NY is just about up. Clearly he’s not going anywhere after this year due to his cap hit in 2024, but I wonder if there is an opportunity to mimic what Green Bay has been able to do with their QBs. I don’t believe they will be able to get a top 3 QB in the first round having the sixth selection, but I do think they should heavily consider grabbing a QB with a Day 2 pick knowing he can sit for at least a year to learn and develop behind Jones. With the success that Jordan Love is having and the NFL being a copycat type league, do you see more teams going back to developing QBs slowly instead of forcing them into a starting role right away? Thoughts?

Ed says: Scott, I would have no issue with the Giants drafting a quarterback early, letting Jones start for all or most of 2024 and then moving on after the season. It’s what the Kansas City Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes and Alex Smith. Of course, the Chiefs had the luxury of knowing they were already a playoff team — a luxury the Giants don’t have. Still, I would be fine with that. For what it’s worth, the NFL Mock Draft Database currently has quarterbacks Michael Penix Jr. and J.J. McCarthy going 43rd and 44th, respectively. The Giants pick 39th. Now, I don’t expect either of those quarterbacks to last that long, but that is the current projection.

As for slowly developing quarterbacks, no I don’t see the league moving back in that direction. There is too much money involved. Too much impatience from owners and fans. Too much desire to get the shiny new toy on the field, especially if you draft him in the top 10. Also, the reality is that coaches around the league know that for the vast majority of them the leash is short. They need to win games to keep their jobs, and development can and does take a back seat.

The Daboll-Martindale divorce

There were so many questions dropped into the Big Blue View mailbag this week that I could not come close to getting to them all. Many of them dealt with the Brian Daboll-Wink Martindale divorce. I answered those the best that I could on Friday’s ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. The YouTube version of that is below.

Brian Sheitman: I listened to Schoen’s end of year press conference and was surprised with his endorsement of Darren Waller’s future with the Giants. This is the 3rd year in a row he has missed significant time with an injury , he is over 30 so no reason to think this will get any better, and his performance in the regular season reminds me more of a tall, thin slot receiver than a star tight end. For 2024 his cap hit is $14 million, with salary plus bonus 11+ million. That seems like a lot for his skill set. I think Barkley or McKinney would be a much better value. I did see there is about 7+ million in dead cap space in 2024 for Waller.What are your thoughts on Waller and do you think the dead cap space is related to Schoen’s wanting Waller back?

Ed says: Brian, Joe Schoen did not say definitively that Waller would be back with the Giants next season. He defended the decision to trade for him.

Here is what Schoen said when asked about the Waller trade:

“I would do it again. I would do it again with Waller. I mean, you guys saw him this spring, you saw him in the summer. Unfortunately, he had the injury before the Dallas game. Again, he was still a productive part of our offense when available. I would do that again every day of the week.”

Schoen did say his “expectation” is that Waller will be back. He added, though, that conversations about Waller and other players would be held internally.

Waller carries a $14.458 million cap hit next season. As a post-June 1 cut, Waller would provide $12 million in cap savings with a $2.458 million cap hit.

Waller, who will be 32 next season, is still a productive player when healthy. He caught 52 passes (4.3 per game) for 552 yards and a touchdown in 2023.

There is a chance the Giants move on, but I think they would want to replace Waller first.

Richard Repasky asks: You mentioned that Joe Schoen went to a number of college games to scout players. Is there a limit to the number of games NFL scouts and management can attend in order to scout players? If so, does the clock reset once the regular season ends and the post-season starts?

Ed says: Richard, there is no limit on the number of games that can be scouted. It’s simply a matter of how many games can you get to. That’s why teams have scouting departments.

Henry Mildener asks: Do you think it likely that the Gmen will hire a DC that employs a defense similar to Wink, high pressure, rather than a read and react guy like Patrick Graham? It was certainly entertaining watching our guys pressuring opposing QBs.

Ed says: Henry, you might have been entertained but the Giants were 29th in the league in sacks in 2023 and 18th in pressure percentage despite blitzing 45.4% of the time, second-most in the league. To me, that speaks more to personnel deficiencies than Wink Martindale’s scheme. Still, it’s not like the Giants’ defense was constantly terrorizing quarterbacks.

What I think is that the Giants would prefer to stay with a 3-4 or ‘multiple’ base defense because that suits the front seven personnel they have. As for the rest of it — a heavy blitz scheme vs. a more passive approach — I think it is more about getting the right person. Getting a person who can teach, who can motivate, who can lead, who can scheme to put offenses at a disadvantage is more important, in my view, than focusing on exactly what style of defense he will run.

WesinSC asks: Giants’ ownership is responsible for the team’s fall from NFL stalwart to also-ran. Mssrs. Mara and Tisch could show they are accountable to the Giants’ fan base by making management and infrastructure improvements. Some ideas include: (1) hiring a President & CEO with a proven pedigree provided with full control over football operations while appointing themselves “Non-Executive” Co-Chairmen of the Board; (2) upgrading the Giants’ field, locker room, and practice facilities to best-in-class to make the organization a more desirable destination for coaches and players; and (3) reimagining Meadowlands Stadium and game-day activities to make it a higher energy, dynamic “home field” rather than a “generic” place to play (Jets could reciprocate). Your thoughts?”

Ed says: Wes, my first thought is that fans have been complaining about Giants’ ownership for decades now. That will never change.

Point 1 — The organization basically just did that by finally going outside their bubble and hiring Joe Schoen. Maybe he isn’t who you have in mind. As for the fancy “non-executive” title, c’mon. It is the Mara family business. Ownership will always have a say in major decisions. For better or worse, owners always have a say. It’s their money.

Point 2 — The practice facilities are pretty darn good. The locker room isn’t the fanciest place, but it’s a functional place where guys shower and throw sweaty clothes on the floor. Maybe it could be bigger, but it’s a locker room. The building has a drab, brick exterior but I don’t see how that matters. Everything the players need is there. Players gave the facility a B+ last year in the NFLPA Player Team Report Cards. Overall, the organization ranked eighth of the 32 NFL franchises. That’s pretty good.

Point 3 — I’m not sure what you would have them do. The stadium is generic because it is shared with the Jets. That’s unfortunate, but can’t be changed right now. A better team would create a higher energy home field. The rest of it is just window dressing that, to me, doesn’t make a difference. Buffalo probably has the worst stadium in the NFL, but that is a raucous, crazy place. Mostly because the Bills are good.

Chuck Ransford asks: When it comes to a defensive assistant being promoted to defensive coordinator, is there a position coach that you feel has a leg up on what it takes to run the defense as a DC? I’m not speaking of individual persons, but rather whether being a DB coach, LB coach, DL coach, etc could give someone any kind of advantage in transitioning to DC.

Ed says: Chuck, the position or positions coached don’t matter. Many of these coaches are capable of coaching multiple positions. My preference is for guys who have had a wide variety of experience. Guys who have worked for multiple teams, multiple head coaches. Guys who have experienced different systems and have developed the ability to do things in more than one way.

I always thought the biggest issue with both Ben McAdoo and Joe Judge as head coaches is that they only knew one system, one way. McAdoo only knew the Mike McCarthy offense. Judge only knew the Nick Saban/Bill Belichick method.

The more things a coach has been exposed to, the better.

Christopher White asks: Can you unravel for us the mystery of Mark Glowinski? Whenever he did play, he consistently outperformed (PFF) his offensive line mates but still saw relatively few snaps even with all the injuries. I think he only started the last game(?). Granted he’s not destined for the Hall of Fame, was just better than almost all of his current Giant peers. I’ve seen it written that he had to be benched because: a) he was horrendous in the first game against Dallas (Who wasn’t? If that’s the criterion, no one would be left on the field); and b) coaches/management wanted to give other young players (Ezeudu, McKethan, Lemieux, etc.) the experience (even when they were desperate for bodies and wins). What’s the reality?

Ed says: Chris, the Mark Glowinski situation was definitely a strange one. Aside from Week 1, when he might have had the worst game of his career (three sacks and nine total pressures allowed, a PFF pass-blocking grade of 1.0), Glowinski played reasonably well. The only Giant offensive lineman with a better Pro Football Focus grade was Andrew Thomas.

So, why did Glowinski start just six games? Why was he used only when the Giants seemed to have no other choice?

The Giants did not tell us why, but I do have a theory. Glowinski was signed before the 2022 season as a stop-gap. He has no more guaranteed money on his contract heading into 2024. The Giants could cut him with a cap savings of $5.7 million and a $1.5 million cap hit.

I think that is what will happen. I also think that was the plan long ago. I think the Giants knew Glowinski was not in their plans beyond 2023, and used that terrible Week 1 game to move on and see what else they had at the position. They could easily have turned back to Glowinski the way he played when he got chances, but they made it clear that ship had sailed.

What I don’t know is whether that was a coaching staff decision, or if it came from the general manager.

Paul McPhillips asks: It seems like Wink Martindale’s defenses are like the shiny car with fancy buttons but are not really as efficient as other cars without the shiny buttons. His coaching seems to be over-rated compared to where his defenses are rated by the numbers. Somebody once said you are what your record says you are. His defense was ranked 27. Thoughts?

Ed says: Paul, I don’t think the Giants’ defensive ranking (26th overall in points allowed) was about Martindale’s system. I think it’s about not having enough players. Double-digit sacks and all, the advanced stats tell us Kayvon Thibodeaux was one of the least efficient edge pass rushers in the NFL. There really wasn’t anybody else. Leonard Williams got traded to Seattle. The best cornerback they had was a rookie who was just figuring it out.

There are other teams running that system, and Martindale is going to end up with a good job next season. His defenses in Baltimore were ranked near the top when he had the right players. When the Ravens had a spate of injuries in 2021 they were middle of the pack. You have to have the players to make any system work.

Douglas Mollin asks: Saw this from The Athletic:

“The Raiders have been the model of consistency over the past 20 seasons in one category: bad defense. From 2003-2022, they ranked 31st in points allowed per drive (2.54). This season, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham performed a minor miracle.

The Raiders spent the second-least amount of money on defense and their second-highest-paid player, Chandler Jones, didn’t play a down for them. Yet, Graham engineered arguably the best defense the Raiders have had in the last two decades. They finished 12th in points allowed per drive and eighth in defensive DVOA.”

Any chance there’s a reunion with the Giants?

Ed says: As of last week, the Raiders had been blocking Graham from interviewing for defensive coordinator jobs as they considered what to do at head coach. Now that they have hired Antonio Pierce, we will get clarity on whether Graham will stay in Las Vegas.

We know that Brian Daboll initially hoped Graham would stay as the Giants’ defensive coordinator. Graham, who was close to Joe Judge and had interviewed for the Giants’ head-coaching job, chose not to. Perhaps he felt awkward about the situation, I don’t know.

Stylistically, Graham is different than Wink Martindale. He employs more of a back to front approach that uses coverage to try and confuse quarterbacks, rather than just blitz the daylights out of them. He is, though, a very good coordinator.

Another question is whether or not any bridges were burned when Graham decided to move on.

Seth Weissman asks: I know it’s still early, but virtually every mock draft and article I read about the draft has the Giants taking either a QB or WR with their first pick. I am of the belief that they need to get more talent on the offensive line so whoever is playing QB has time to actually throw to his receivers. What are your thoughts about the direction they should go?

Ed says: Seth, I am really in the early stages of evaluating players. So, I don’t have full knowledge of the class. The more I learn, though, the harder it is for me to see the Giants passing one of the top three quarterbacks or wide receivers if available.

Offensive line would obviously be justifiable. But, there are a couple of things to consider. The draft is supposed to have 8-10 tackles who are graded very closely, and some of those will slip to Day 2. If the Giants determine they want to give Evan Neal one more chance at right tackle, they are not taking either or the top two tackles (Olu Fashanu or Joe Alt) in the top 10. There are no guards in that top-10 discussion, so that puts them into Day 2 or Day 3 looking for interior offensive line help.

The other consideration is that new offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo did an excellent job building a largely no-name offensive line into a good unit with the Las Vegas Raiders. Maybe the Giants will try to capitalize on that by not seeking the shiniest toys or the biggest names in free agency or the draft.

James Stoll asks: Ed, We’ve reached the happiest time of the year for perennially bad franchises such as the NY Giants. This is the time of year where fans get to pretend that ownership and the front office will actually make smart roster decisions and players selected in the draft will actually become solid to great NFL players. But it is hard to even pretend given the state of the Giants roster and the comments coming out of management and the portion of the press that is management’s mouthpiece, not to mention the myriad reporting of the dysfunction centering on Brian Daboll. It all looks pretty bleak. So here is an assumption and a question based on the assumption. Assumption: Daniel Jones is a bottom-tier NFL starter talent who will hold the Giants back so long as the offense is structured with him at its center; but with a $47M cap hit in ’24 that is how the offense is going to be structured and thus the Giants are likely looking at another season where they finish at the top of the draft order (okay, maybe more than one assumption). In light of that fact, do you see Schoen and Daboll surviving the ’24 campaign?

Ed says: James, I am not making any assumptions about the 2024 season before it happens. If you want to assume that, fine, but I won’t. I’m not assuming Daniel Jones will be awful, the team will be awful, or that Brian Daboll will be fired. It’s January. There are almost eight months to go before games are played. Let’s see what happens.

I will say the upcoming season fees like a critical one for Schoen and Daboll. They have had one surprisingly good year and one disappointing year in which a lot of miscalculations seem to have been made. Which direction is their tenure going to go in? I think we learn a lot during the upcoming season.

That’s as far as I will go.

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