Big Blue View Mailbag: Daniel Jones, Aaron Robinson, more

With OTAs on the books and the only mandatory mini-camp remaining in the New York Giants off-season program, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what questions we can answer.

Jeff Bergman asks: –On contract options, it seems like everything I see written suggests that if the Giants keep Jones, the choices are a long-term deal or the franchise tag. Is there a middle ground between “just” start-up money with a short-term “prove it” element? (Not all NBA players get a max deal) Are there any examples you can think of where a QB got something with guaranteed start-up money in the first year with options that allow the team out if he wasn’t the guy and the player compensated as a starter if he runs?

– What if Jones turns out to be competent but not elite? And if he’s ranked above the league median but not first – good enough to make the playoffs but not a superbowl. Do you think the Giants would look to move on?

Ed says: Jeff, let me take them upside down.

If you put stock in Ranking Chris Simms’ 40 Best Quarterbacks, Daniel Jones is already not far from this classification “above the median of the league”. Simms has Jones ranked 21st. With a better offensive scheme, a better offensive line and healthy point guards, it’s not hard to imagine Jones ending up in the top 15 starting quarterbacks.

Honestly, what the Giants would do at that point is a gray area and I’m not sure. Hopefully Jones makes it easy by being really good or really bad. We know the 2023 NFL Draft is supposed to have multiple first-round quarterbacks. We also know the success rate of first-round quarterbacks who turn into first or Pro-Bowl– quarter calibers are around 30%. With those numbers, would the Giants want to leave Jones if they think he’s a mid-level guy and take a chance on someone new?

I suspect they would, because of the money and the fact that they inherited Jones rather than choosing him. I think, however, that we need to let the year unfold to get a better read on this.

As for the price, there are 12 quarterbacks earning $30 million or more a year and three others earning at least $25 million. That’s 15. So that puts the median quarterback price at around $25 million a year. In a year, that could be $30 million a year.

There are options in many contracts, but more and more quarterback contracts are guaranteed, sometimes the full amount. If the Giants are still unsure about a long-term deal with Jones after this year, the organization would have to decide whether to spend more than $30 million to use the franchise tag or start over. For me, there is a good chance that they will start again.

David Matuozzi asks: While the defense should benefit from Wink’s aggressive scheme as well as the addition of Kayvon Thibodeaux, our CB situation and specifically the starting gig against Adoree’ Jackson is concerning. I’ve seen opinions from some writers suggesting our entire defensive effort could be sabotaged by the lack of an established starter at CB2.

I initially thought the outlook for this side of the ball was bleak for that reason as well. But then I remembered two years ago when we started Isaac Yiadom and we still had a top 10-12 unit. Is Robinson really that much worse than Yiadom, or is Wink’s philosophy so much more reliant on CB play than Graham’s, that it would be unrealistic to expect our defense to be any good without an upgrade to CB2?

Ed says: David, who says Isaac Yiadom is a better player than Aaron Robinson? As far as I know, the answer to this question is nobody. The Denver Broncos had Yiadom and threw him to the Giants. After a year, the Giants dumped him on the Green Bay Packers. He has played seven games, achieved a Pro Football Focus rating of 31.0 and is now a member of the Houston Texans. He has a career passer rating of 114.3.

Yiadom played because there was no one else around, and Patrick Graham worked around his shortcomings by playing plenty of soft zone coverage that allowed Yiadom to keep the ball in front of him. His passer rating against this season was a career-worst 126.4.

Robinson is a developing player with a chance to start in the league. He has yet to prove this, but there are reasons for optimism.

As far as philosophy goes, Wink Martindale’s defensive scheme is arguably more dependent on the quality of man-to-man covering cornerbacks than Graham’s was. Graham is a great defensive coordinator, but not incredibly aggressive when it comes to pressing. In 2020, when the Baltimore Ravens were healthy and Martindale could call the defense any way he wanted, the Ravens led the league in blitzing 44.1% of the time. The Giants blitzed 26.9% of the time.

Martindale needs cornerbacks — as well as linebackers and safeties — who can withstand men’s coverage unaided. Graham liked to use the secondary as a coordinated unit in an effort to disguise coverage and fool quarterbacks.

Jim Moriarty asks: Do me a favor on this one. Do you think the Giants would still have Gettleman (and Judge) if the one thing we’re praising him for (the first-round trade last year) hadn’t happened? Instead, he drafted Rashawn Slater, who most of us wanted after the receivers left? Slater has become a stud and would have helped last year’s line immensely, whether at RT or LG. Would Getty get credit for fortifying the line? How much better would the offense have been? Wouldn’t there be “Clown organization” comments or 2 sneaks in a row by Judge? Of course, we’ll never know, but I wonder…

Ed says: Jim, let me try to take the Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge parts of your question separately. I honestly think these are two separate circumstances with common denominators.

I don’t think there’s a single decision you can look at and say “who cost Gettleman his job”. You have to look at the accumulation and the total lack of progress. Four straight double-digit losing seasons, culminating in the 2021 4-13 season. Failures with two coaching teams, although those hires were made by ownership. A roster with no top talent. Example after example of where the Giants, under Gettleman, failed to maximize value when given opportunities.

I would always say the Giants did the right thing when they traded a year ago. For perhaps the only time in Gettleman’s tenure, maximizing value. Yes, it would have been nice to have Rashawn Slater on the offensive line or Micah Parsons on defense. Yes, we still don’t know if Kadarius Toney will prove to be the right choice at No.20.

But here’s what that trade has brought the Giants when you put all the pieces together: Toney, Aaron Robinson, Evan Neal, Daniel Bellinger. With this foursome, I would say the Giants are absolutely winners for getting this deal done.

Gettleman lost his job due to the Giants losing too many games and it became clear the Giants needed new ideas. Not because of a single decision.

As for Joe Judge, I absolutely believe the last thing John Mara and Steve Tisch wanted to do was fire him. When the Giants were 4-7 after being the Philadelphia EaglesI would have told you there was no way that would happen.

Then Daniel Jones was injured, we saw how truly incompetent NFL quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm were, how woefully understaffed the Giants roster was, how badly the Giants were coached with a staff made up largely of Judge’s college pals, and finally, Judge exposed to the world how little faith he had in his players.

Giants ownership, after firing Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur after two seasons, promised the judge a long leash to change the Giants. They desperately wanted to give it to him.

The judge, however, made himself. answer in six minutes to a question I asked in mid-December showed a desperate coach. Both quarterbacks’ sneaky embarrassment of a game that featured an obvious ‘minimize the ugliness’ game plan against the Chicago Bears showed a coach who had clearly lost faith in his players. His post-game response in 11 minutes showed a trainer who had clearly lost his way.

If Judge had given Giants ownership something to believe in rather than letting the second half of the season go to the point where the Giants were embarrassing, he would have stayed. The Giants reportedly hired a general manager aligned with Judge and moved forward on that path.

Instead, they knew they had to step out of their comfort zone and find a CEO with new ideas. They knew that the presence of Judge, who had become the target of ridicule in the national media, would handicap this search. So they moved on.

The head coach really left them no choice.

Bob Donnelly asks: Given today’s NFL economy as well as the supposedly deep QB class on the horizon, I wondered if your odds of him being a giant next year were way too high.

There are a few converging factors.

First, there is the level of performance that must be achieved for the new GM/HC/OC to consider him the starting quarterback in 2023.

Second, as a free agent, Daniel having proven himself to be a good NFL QB, has a say in where he will sign for 2023. Checking the first box above means he will have options. It is possible that another team offers him a contract (Dollars/Years/$ guaranteed) beyond what the Giants would meet.

Finally, if Jones were to reach this level of play, pitting his value (defined as a cost/performance type ratio as well as lifespan) against that of the possible replacement is tricky. Drafting his replacement may provide a lower salary, but it may also result in organizational talent depending on the Giant’s 2023 draft position and any travel costs to get the franchise’s next QB. Yes, the franchise tag is an option, but may just kick the box one more year with the same circumstances, but even more expensive solutions.

So it may be a very narrow window that sees Daniel Jones as a giant in 2023. Underperforming giants pass from Jones. Stellar performance and Jones leaves the Giants.

Your thoughts?

Ed says: Bob, short answer to a long question. If Jones underperforms, the Giants move on. Stellar performance, there’s no way they’re letting it get away with it. If they come out of 2022 believing he’s a franchisee – which I’ve said before, I think the odds are against – they’ll pay him as such and keep him.

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