New York Giants Reader Mailbag: Back from Summer Break Edition

Hope everyone is having a nice summer break. New York Giants training camp kicks off in less than two weeks, so it’s time to take the latest temperature check to see what’s on the minds of Giants fans.

A secondary advantage? 

Though the Giants schedule is tough this year, we thankfully miss out on playing the elite QBs in the league. Many games are against good teams with questionable or unproven quarterbacks (Palmer, Simien, Smith, Wentz, etc.) Considering how dominant our secondary is at masking coverage and reading the quarterback, could this potentially give the Giants an upper-hand that other teams wouldn’t have? Thanks for taking my question! — Dan R.

Thanks for the question Dan. One thing I never understood is why fans are looking for the slightest advantage against opposing personnel during the regular season. I’m probably it he minority here, but I want to see what the Giants have to offer against the league’s best because when you get to the playoffs, that’s who you’re facing.

To answer your question, I think it would all depend on the receivers their facing more so than the quarterback. Teams can hide weak armed quarterbacks by deploying the short, quick passing game or a power running game. With that said, I would give the edge to the Giants defensive secondary with an assist to the pass rush. Still, I want to see them go against the best of what the opponent has to offer.

The return of the fullback?

Thanks for the question, John. I think we need to clear up a misconception about the fullback position. Since coming to the Giants, Ben McAdoo has indeed used a fullback–yes, even last year. Now the caveat here is that while he’s used a fullback, the guy assigned to play the role has often been a tight end, a decision likely made because a tight end gives you a more diverse skillset that most pure fullbacks do not.

Now if you’re asking, which I believe you are, if they will carry a pure fullback on the roster, that remains to be seen. During the spring, there was no contact, so we couldn’t really get a sense of how well the two fullbacks on the training camp roster, Shane Smith and Jacob Huesman, were able to block at this level.

What each needs to show to stick on the 53-man roster is an ability to block and serve as a receiver out of the backfield. If they don’t show that versatility, then I don’t think they’ll make the final cut, though it wouldn’t shock me if one of those two ends up on the practice squad.

Still looking for O-line help.

Hi Mike! Thanks for the question. I don’t know what Ryan Clady’s health status is, but regardless, I do not see him being picked up at this time. I think the Giants are going to roll with what they have on the offensive line.

Now if injuries start mowing down the depth, then yes, I see them potentially looking outside. But right now, they seem to be all in with the youth they have—Ereck Flowers, Bobby Hart, Adam Bisnowaty, Chad Wheeler and Jessamen Dunker.

I think if you add another veteran to the mix right now, you’re going to dilute the snap counts these guys are all set to get in the summer, which, if you do, means you’re unlikely to ever get a true feel for what you really have.

Who’s going to be the starting free safety?

Thanks for the question. I think what will separate Andrew Adams and Darian Thompson this summer is going to be turnovers.

Coming into the NFL last year, Thompson was more widely thought of as a ball hawk. If I recall correctly, he had double-digit interceptions by the time his college career was done. Adams not so much so, thought that could be because  he might be more of a strong (box) safety.

Now with all that said, I strongly believe that whoever doesn’t win the starting job is still going to see more than his fair share of snaps each week.

Steve Spagnuolo rarely sticks with his base defense for the majority of the snaps. Also, during  the spring he rolled out a few new wrinkles with the personnel and packages that looked intriguing, so I’m very curious to see what they keep moving forward.

Will Flowers bloom this year?

What’s your feeling on Mr. Flowers and if he will finally be an asset for the Giants at LT? –Section 101 Steve

What’s up Steve? So formal there—I love it.  Anyway, we won’t know for certain until the pads go on if Ereck Flowers has legitimately made the jump the coaches claim the see signs of.

I’m personally encouraged not only because I saw signs of him being quicker and more efficient with his movements, but also because he finally showed the initiative to put the extra work in not just in the weight room, but also in the film room.

A large part of football is mental, and that Flowers chose to skip hanging out in Miami and instead threw himself headfirst into improving is a big, big step in the right direction and one that gives me a great deal of optimism that he’ll be part of the solution this year rather than part of the problem.

Getting it “right” on the o-line.

What is the status with Right Guard and Right Tackle? There’s been a lot of talk, a lot of moving parts and a lot of what-ifs? We’ve been through OTAs and Minicamp. So, there is some Intel available to those in the know. Obviously, we are in a current time out until Camp kicks into gear. — Jaimie

Thanks for the question Jaime. You pretty much hit the nail on the head—we’re in a lull until camp starts. Not only have the coaches had time off, but the Giants executive offices were closed for a week earlier this month.

With that said, the impression I came away with after the spring practices concluded was that the Giants would really like to see Bobby Hart win the right tackle spot.

I do get the strong sense that they really like Adam Bisnowaty, who can play that right tackle role. I don’t think Bisnowaty will start this year—he might be one of the first guys off the bench in case of an injury, and will probably work in the jumbo package. But down the line, I could see him stepping in at right tackle and, if Hart is still here, Hart moving inside to right guard.

Meanwhile for now at right guard, so far it looks as though John Jerry is hanging onto the position—I wrote in the June issue of Inside Football that D.J. Fluker didn’t get any snaps with the starters. (Side note: At times I wondered if he was nursing some sort of lower body injury, something I could never really get a straight answer on.)

So, we will have to sit tight on this question until a few padded practices are in the books and we can get a better look at where things stand.

Medical check

Injury update on Thompson, Smith and Ellison. — Vette (via Big Blue Huddle)

Thanks for the question, Vette. Unfortunately, I don’t have an update for you just yet on any of the injured guys. I do have a feeling though that  we could see at least one, possibly two guys start training camp on active/PUP.

I should have a better idea on where things stand with the injured as we get closer to July 27.

The lone kicker

Do you think they will go into the season with only Rosas kicking?– afan56 (via Big Blue Huddle)

Thanks for the question. If Aldrick Rosas wins the kicking competition, then yes, he will be their lone kicker for the season as the Giants don’t carry two place-kickers in-season.

As for the preseason, which is what I think you meant to ask about, so long as Rosas makes all the pressure kicks they ask him to make and kicks well into the game, then yes, I do think they will stick with him.

If, however things get shaky for him, what I can see happening is that as position units begin to take shape, maybe they trim some excess personnel at one unit to create a roster spot for a second kicker.

Either way, I don’t expect any changes at kicker until at least after the first preseason game—and again, that’s only if Rosas shows he can’t get the job done.

Running wild.

Have you heard of any interesting activities by players in their 6 weeks off? Also, what are your thoughts on the Giants RB situation?  Do you see it better than last year? — Might Giants (via Big Blue Huddle)

Thanks for the questions, Mighty. I must confess that I can’t answer the first one only because I too took some much-needed time off in which I “got away” from football work.  So I can’t say I kept track of who did what in their time off–I suppose some of that might come out when we start getting the chance to speak with the guys.

Regarding the running game, I do have reason to believe it’s going to be much improved from last year. I think the offensive line’s projected improvement and the addition of Rhett Ellison is going to help a lot, as is having running backs with vision and the ability to gain yards after contact.

For those who plan on going to training camp this summer, keep an eye on that battle. The Giants run defense, remember, was one of the best in the league last year.

Last year in camp, they showed signs of being dominating early on, so I think that Giants run defense will be an excellent test for the revamped running game once the pads go on.

JT3’s future.

Do you believe J.T. Thomas can make the team? Also, is there an injury update on Eli Apple?–Gary M.

Thanks for the question, Gary. As I noted in response to a previous question about injuries,  I won’t have that until the players report for their physicals and take the conditioning tests.

As for J.T. Thomas III, I do think if he is healthy, he has a chance. I found it interesting that they never asked him to take a pay cut, as they did with past injured guys like Shane Vereen this year and, with Victor Cruz the year before.

Right now, who is the team’s backup inside linebacker? Keenan Robinson, to my eyes at least, is very good in coverage but I’m not sure how well he’d hold up to the physical scrum that comes with playing downhill. Mark Herzlich? Been there, done that. So unless one of the young kids steps up, I suspect Thomas, if healthy (I’ll say that a lot with him), will get a lot of snaps there.

Thomas, remember, has experience playing inside and at the weak side. He has also contributed on special teams. If his injury woes are behind him, I could see him making the team.

Hope for Webb?

What makes you think Davis Webb won’t be just another Ryan Nassib?–Philosophers (via BBH)

No one knows for sure, Philosophers, but there are a few differences I noticed right off the bat with Webb that I like, starting with his approach toward preparing and learning.

Now please understand that I’m not trying to put Nassib down. I honestly believe he is a football junkie and that he worked his tail off. However, I just get the sense that Webb is a little more invested right now as a rookie than I think Nassib was coming out of college. In fact, I wouldn’t be stunned if by the end of the year, Webb moves up to the No. 2 quarterback.

Maybe this wasn’t publicized as much with Nassib, but I like that Webb has been spending the downtime throwing with Evan Engram and keeping his nose in the playbook. I sense a greater sense of urgency and a humility coming from Webb that tells me he has a better than average chance of being successful.

Let me get back to Nassib though for a moment. He came into a tough spot from Day 1, starting with his general manager’s declaration to the press that he hoped Nassib never had to play for them. I get what Jerry Reese was trying to say, but if I’m Nassib, I’m probably shaking my head over that statement.

And if I’m Reeese, I might have said something a bit more encouraging, such as “We feel like we’re in good hands with Nassib IF he has to play for us.”

Nassib, for what it’s worth was in a tough spot. I think he was drafted way too early in Eli Manning’s career. Manning was in his 10th season when Nasib was drafted; moreover, at the time Manning showed no signs of slowing down nor did he have any health issues that might have suggested that Nassib would get a chance to succeed him.

Of course, you don’t know that at the time of making the pick, but the bottom line is that it’s tough for a young quarterback who was “the man” in college to suddenly have to take a back seat at the pro level.

I think it said quite a lot that, despite all the nice things the coaching staff had to say about Nassib throughout the years, they rarely trusted him to throw passes—he had 10 regular season attempts in four years—when games were out of reach one way or another. I also think it was quite disappointing how he took such a huge step back last year in his development playing in an offense that was supposedly similar to what he ran at Syracuse and playing in a contract year, no less.

Personally, I’d like to see the coaching staff give Webb some live reps in mop-up situations. I don’t mean just handing off the ball either–I’m talking throwing passes. I disagree with the notion that it sends a negative message to the rest of the team, particularly if the situation is a losing one.

You want your backup quarterback ready so that if heaven forbid Manning is sidelined for any length of time, and your No. 2 guy isn’t getting it done, you have options other than flushing away the season.

The OC Mystery

What do we have an OC for? What exactly is his function on this team if McAdoo is calling all the plays? AND is there the chance Mac relinquishes some of that said play calling?

Also, I would really like to know how Beckham really feels about the addition of other ‘big time’ revivers (Marshall and Engram). Sure, it will take pressure off him and defenders off him, but there is only one football and it should reduce his numbers. –Lenn G.

Thanks for the questions, Lenn. I don’t want to speak for Beckham, but if he’s sincere when he says he only wants to win, then I’d think that it won’t matter to him how many targets he gets. I think he’s still going to get a nice pay-day, especially if he produces another 1,000-yard receiving season. He just needs to make every pass target he does get count.

As far as offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is concerned, his role, as I understand it, is to contribute to the development of the weekly game plan. I don’t get the sense that he’s going to be calling plays this season. Ben McAdoo might give him a preseason game or two as was the case last year, but I would be floored if McAdoo isn’t the team’s play-caller again this year.