New York Giants Reader Mailbag: Preseason Edition

From the offensive line to the running game, to one of yours truly’s secret football desires, there’s a lot on the minds of New York Giants fans this week.

Jeremy Hill

Ever since head coach Ben McAdoo criticized Paul Perkins, people’s imaginations have run wild thanks to a trade suggested by NFL.com writer Marc Sessler involving Bengals running back Jeremy Hill.

Pat Says: People are jumping the gun here based on the struggles of the Giants running game in the preseason opener, failing to remember that there are still three more games to go before the curtain rises on the regular season.  If you saw the first preseason game, then you saw that the struggles of the running game were largely due to the offensive line’s inability to consistently open holes.

And let’s get something else straight: Why would the Giants trade for a running back when there are sure to be a flood of them on the open market once camp cuts are made? That could also include Hill if he’s cut by the Bengals.

In short, as of now, the argument or Jeremy Hill makes ZERO sense and I just don’t see it happening. Now if there is a rash of injuries at the position, then MAYBE I see them looking for help once roster cuts are made.

You also need to remember the Giants drafted a rookie, Wayne Gallman, to contribute to the running game.

What About Ryan Matthew?

While on the subject of running backs, apparently there was an unconfirmed rumor by a blog site claiming to have “seen” former Eagles running back Ryan Matthews at Giants practice.

(via email) Hi Pat. Can you confirm if former Eagles running back Ryan Matthews was at practice this week? Thanks, and love your subscription product! — George D.

Pat Says: What’s up George?  I have covered this team or over 20 years now and in all that time, I have never seen nor heard of an instance where they allowed any free agent to watch a practice prior to signing.

Let’s play the devil’s advocate here and say the Giants were to allow a prospective free agent to watch practice. Then let’s say that free agent signs with a division rival and spills the secrets based on what he saw? How stupid would the Giants have to be to allow that to happen when they have a coach who won’t even tell the media the specific body part of his injured players?

Ben McAdoo is super tight-lipped about everything and anything. Does anyone honestly think he’d be okay with a prospective free agent watching a practice?

Ben’s McAdoo’s Manners

Ben McAdoo is human just like the rest of us. Which means sometimes he can get a little cranky depending on his mood and the line of questions.

Pat Says: Roy, I really don’t see what calling him out would accomplish. It’s his right to choose what information he disseminates to the media. If you don’t have thick skin in this business, then maybe you should think about pursuing another avenue.

Free Darkwa!

The Orleans Darkwa bandwagon continues to grow thanks to the running back’s push for a roster spot.

Pat Says: Interesting question Anthony. I know coaches claim they’ll go with whoever gives the team the best chance to win, but when was the last time this team played an undrafted or street free agent ahead of either a high-round draft pick or a premium priced free agent?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t remember that being the case, and I really think if that’s the thinking, that needs to change if in fact they’re married to that philosophy.

Evan Engram’s Scoring Production Potential

With tight end Evan Engram shaping up to be a red zone threat, can he become the first Giants rookie tight end in franchise history to surpass Bob Tucker, who recorded five in 1970, his rookie season?

@Patricia_Traina#askpat over/under 6 tds for Engram this year? Also will we see more of Gallman with Perkins bad game.

Pat Says: Thanks for the question, Mar-Sell. While I do think Engram will be used heavily in the red zone, I’d have to go with the under here. I think six touchdowns is an aggressive goal because I still think that Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall will probably get more of those scoring opportunities.

Regarding your second question, I’m not so sure I would place all the blame on Paul Perkins or his rough start as his offensive line didn’t do him any favors. I hardly think that warrants giving the young man the hook that quickly, don’t you? Gallman will get his reps, but he first must show that he can pass protect.

Resting Eli Manning

If Eli Manning is going to play until he’s 40 years old, then he’s probably going to need additional rest along the way, right?

Pat Says: Thanks for the question Glenn. I don’t know if Jaws made that observation based on film or got that direct from Eli (my guess is the former), but I can tell you that for the last three years, Eli has attempted 600 or more passes, about 50 or so more than he had averaged. So yes, I suppose to a degree his arm might have become weary.

If I had to guess about the plan to rest Eli, I would say besides giving him time off in the preseason, maybe Coach McAdoo pulls Eli out of those lopsided games to preserve his arm strength. But I think the biggest thing the Giants can do to help “rest” Eli is to get a running game going, which is why I think they invested so heavily in that aspect of the team this offseason.

Per Pro Football Focus, Manning was 23 of 78 for 752 yards on deep balls of 20+ yards last year. Manning had six touchdowns and six interceptions on these passes, his receivers also dropped 4 passes.

Forecasting Potential Waiver Transactions

With fans concerned about the offensive line, some like Adam are trying to get a jump start on potential solutions.

Pat Says: It’s way too soon for this question Adam, since we don’t know who will be released.  Being a team specific writer, I don’t follow the rest of the NFL as closely as some do, so I have no idea who might be on the bubble from the other 31 teams to even go there.

Once that cut list is made known, I might be able to better guess if I think they might make a move. Until then, my guess is they’ll stand pat unless there is an injury warranting bringing in someone sooner.

Is this It for Mark Herzlich?

Mark Herzlich has delivered solid service to the Giants since making it as an undrafted free agent in 2011. But is the clock about to strike midnight, ending his run?

Pat Says: Thanks for the question Waylon. My guess–and I’m sticking with it–is that Mark Herzlich lands on season-ending IR thanks to that stinger he suffered.

I just don’t see them cutting him outright, but I do see them initially transitioning away from him given that some of these younger linebackers like Calvin Munson and Eric Pinkins (a safety/linebacker hybrid) have stepped up combined with Herzlich now cross to the wrong side of 30.

Tight End Projections

Will it be three or four? Who’s it going to be? Trying to sort out the Giants tight end situation, one of the most baffling units on the roster. Oh, and who’s going to be calling the plays this year?

Pat Says: What’s up Reggie? I think if the Giants keep four tight ends, which right now I believe will be the case, LaCosse makes it ahead of Tye.

If they keep Shane Smith at fullback (I still think that’s a long shot given what they paid Rhett Ellison, who can play that position), then I think they will keep three tight ends. I’m wondering if Smith might land on the practice squad if they stick with our tight ends.

And yes, I believe McAdoo will be calling the plays again this season.

The Strength of Schedule

I’ve often thought the “strength of schedule” argument is a myth when it comes to predicting how a team might fare in a coming season.

Pat Says: What’s up Rob? To be honest I never bought into the “strength of schedule” baloney because teams change from year to year to where a one-time patsy can suddenly morph into a powerhouse with no warning. This is why you line up and play every week.

Now to get back to your question, I do think there are improvements to this Giants team. My biggest concern though is the offensive line. I do see improvements there, but the questions are did they improve enough, can they be consistent, and can they stay healthy?

More O-line Concerns

Ereck Flowers isn’t the only member of the offensive line who has some Giants fans concerned.

Pat Says: What’s up, Tom? I’m not so sure you can say just yet that Richburg hasn’t regained his 2015 form of just a handful of snaps in one preseason game. Let’s see how he fares in the rest of the preseason before we conclude if there is an issue.

Roster Surprises

Every year there are a handful of roster moves that no one sees coming.

Pat Says: Great question Stan. I’m going to defer to linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who told Ed Valentine and myself on the Big Blue Chat podcast that his pick or the most underrated Giant player not getting a lot of attention but who just might have a legitimate chance at making the roster is defensive tackle Jordan Williams.

As or the surprising cut, if I had to sort this out logically–and bear in mind that I don’t want to see this happen–I think Matt LaCosse might be that guy.

Now bear in mind that I think LaCosse has had a helluva spring and summer,but as I always say, injuries are going to influence their numbers.  If roster cuts needed to be made tomorrow, I think they’d have to carry some extra linebackers, which means they’d have to steal from a spot. And I think tight end could be that spot.

Projecting the Defensive Ends

Pat Says:

Hey Denis, thanks for the question. I don’t see the Giants keeping six defensive ends. If I had to guess on the five they keep besides Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, I’d say Kerry Wynn, Romeo Okwara and Avery Moss would be the guys.

I thought maybe Devin Taylor might stick but he lost some time in camp due to an injury.

McAdoo recently said that Owa Odighizuwa has some catching up to do, so that didn’t sound too promising for him. Lastly, I’d like to see Evan Schwan hang around on the practice squad, but we’ll see.

Underrated Underdogs

Which player might come out of no where to shock the fan base?

Pat Says: Wow, tough question there Nde.  I had to really give that one some thought. My guess is Romeo Okwara. I think he’s going to win the third defensive end spot this year and he’s going to have a bigger role than he did last year if the coaching staff follows through on their plan to reduce the workloads of Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul.

Cut Now or Cut Later?

With the elimination of roster cuts from 90 to 75, how might the new rules affect the Giants decision?

Pat Says: Thanks for the question MJ. I do think teams will wait until the cut down date. Really what’s the advantage to cutting guys now? What if you have an injury at a position and you need the guy you cut back and he ends up on another team?  

Sorting Out the Cornerbacks

Who’s number, er, four among the Giants cornerbacks? As of now, it’s a guy who I’ve been touting since the spring: Michael Hunter.

Pat Says:Thanks for the question. As of now, yes, I think Michael Hunter has the inside track or the fourth corner. I’ve liked him since the spring and he’s done very little this summer to change my mind about his roster chances.

My guess is Donte Deayon has the inside track as the backup slot cornerback.

Pat’s Dream Interviews

Kudos to Felipe for picking up on how much I enjoy sitting one-on-one with players to peel back the layers. (He no doubt was inspired by my exclusive sit-down with DE Olivier Vernon this week.)

Pat Says: Felipe, I love your questions! I’ve been on this beat 20 seasons now and I’ve sat with numerous guys for interviews including some of the big stars. One guy I missed out on (because I wasn’t on the beat) but a guy who I would have loved to have sat with for an interview is Phil Simms.

As for the current crop of guys, Damon Harrison is at the top of my bucket list. Harrison, to me, seems like a down-to-earth and intelligent guy, and I suspect he’d be both entertaining and deep with his thoughts.