The Friday 5: Coaching Staff, Free Agency, Injuries and More

It’s time for another installment of the Friday 5 with Ed Valentine of Big Blue View. Below are Ed’s answers to this week’s questions. You can see my answers to these same questions on Big Blue View.

With Pat Shurmur’s assistant coaching staff pretty much complete, what is your overall takeaway on the staff’s makeup?

Ed says: Let’s briefly break that down into its three essential parts.

Offense — There are some who are freaked out by the Mike Shula hire. I’m not. He won’t be designing the scheme or calling the plays. He’s a veteran guy with a reputation for bring creative. As long as he adds value to the offense, that’s fine. I think it’s Shula’s work with QBs that will be the big test, especially if the Giants draft one second overall.

The hire on the offensive side of the ball that concerns me is offensive line coach Hal Hunter. It’s a critical spot and Hunter is a veteran coach, but the NFL lines (Chargers, Colts, Browns) he has coached haven’t been great. And, he didn’t have a job last year.

Defense — The Giants have to be ecstatic about the hiring of James Bettcher. He brings an aggressive, multiple style and it should be a lot of fun to see the defense unfold.

Special teams — Hey, Tom Quinn is gone. Life is good.

Give me one player you would be absolutely stunned to see cut for salary cap purposes.

Ed says: That would have to be Janoris Jenkins. I listed Jackrabbit among possible cuts when I wrote about this at Big Blue View earlier in the week. I mean, I kind of had to. The Giants could save $11 million against the salary cap by making him a  post-June 1 cut.

That said, there is too much uncertainty at the position for them to part with Jenkins. Ross Cockrell is a free agent, chances are good the Giants move on from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Eli Apple’s future is up in the air.

Whip out your crystal ball and tell me which position do you think the Giants will address in free agency?

Ed says: Well, it’s a no-brainer that this has to be the offensive line. I fully expect them to make a big run at Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell, the best lineman on the market and a guy Dave Gettleman signed in Carolina.

I would like to see D.J. Fluker brought back on a one- or two-year deal. If they can find an affordable tackle in free agency, I’m all for that, too.

One thing: I have seen the idea of re-signing Justin Pugh to play tackle floated. I guess it’s possible, but I don’t like it. You would be paying the guy a lot of money to line up at a position that isn’t his best.

We haven’t discussed season-ending injuries, so let’s do it now. Which player or players are you most concerned about potentially being ready for the start of training camp?

Ed says: I’d say that has to be Odell Beckham. Not because I don’t think he will be ready, but simply because of how much of a difference-maker he is. We have both argued that the Giants should wait to pay him, and we’re probably in the minority. But, there is no argument that he is their best offensive player. A healthy Beckham is important, and I also think it’s critical that he get as much practice time as possible in the offense being installed by Pat Shurmur.

And on that same vein, give me the one position unit that you think could be affected in either free agency or the draft because of that injury concern.

Ed says: Linebacker. I have written at Big Blue View about the importance of finally investing real resources at the linebacker spot. Injuries or not, I think this is critical. Bettcher’s defenses have been heavily reliant on 3-4 looks, and the Giants don’t have enough good ones.

Jonathan Casillas is a free agent and his neck injury could be career-ending. Mark Herzlich wants to come back, but hasn’t been a reliable linebacker for a long time. Devon Kennard is a free agent. B.J. Goodson couldn’t stay on the field last season.

Unfortunately, unless Nigel Bradham wants to leave the Eagles, there doesn’t appear to be much more than stop-gap help available in free agency. I will be sorely disappointed if the Giants don’t address the linebacker position in the first two days of the upcoming draft.