Friday Fan Mailbag | Grading Gettleman's Free-agent Class, The Return Specialist Role, and more

Patricia Traina

It's time for another installment of our weekly Giants Friday Fan Mailbag. To participate, please send your questions to us at and check back every Friday for a new column.

From Guy R.

Can we now grade Mr. Gettlemen's free agent selections these past two years with an overall grade of C-minus? The only one I am waiting for is Golden Tae to prove his worth. 

It can only get worse as the injuries mount. Bring in the practice squad young men and let them play since we cannot trade for anyone at this juncture.

I would have to say any hope for a .500 season is now over, unfortunately. We need two new offensive tackles + guard + linebacker.  How will we acquire them? We better steal an exec from the Colts or 49niners to help us out. Dave G is not, unfortunately, isn't building fast enough the true foundation for this football team.

What's up Guy? No, I don't think you can give Gettleman any kind of grade on his free-agent acquisitions after only two offseasons because to do so means you're looking at things in a vacuum. 

The purpose of free agency is to supplement where you are lacking the most (assuming you can't fill that hole via the draft, which always is and always will be the way to build a franchise).

If we go back to last year, the Giants had no idea if they were going to get Saquon Barkey int he draft. So they added Jonathan Stewart, a guy with whom Gettleman was familiar. 

Also, you have to remember that last year, Gettleman and this coaching staff were working together for the first time; it took a "feeling out" process to understand how the other side worked, one that I think this past offseason they had. 

You also have to toss in the salary cap equation--Gettleman had to straighten out what had become a mess of a salary cap, which he's done. So some of his options might have been limited to where he had to "settle" for second- and third-tier free agents.

Injuries are a part of the game and you can't plan for them. The advantage f bringing up practice squad players or guys who were with your team in the summer is they know your playbook and hence the learning curve is shorter. 

You claim hat any hopes for a .500 season is over. You don't know that for sure. Also, you ask about acquiring the missing pieces--give Gettleman one more solid draft and I think those missing pieces will crystallize. 

You need to remember this team didn't suddenly go to hell in a handbasket overnight; it took years of bad drafts and personnel decisions to get to rock bottom. To expect this team to return it around in anything short of three years is a bit ambitious.

From Joseph G.

Never liked the idea of using a starting player for punt and kickoff returns, starters are starters because they are the best players and you are exposing your best player to unnecessary injury. Also, I never quite got the reason for using a different player for punts and a different one for kickoffs. I feel if you can master one you can master both. That being said, why don’t the Giants get the one guy and stick to the one guy who can do both? Specialist, yes, but an extremely valuable one.

Hi Joseph. I actually had this conversation with Corey Ballentine last week and he told me there is a big difference between fielding punts and fielding kickoffs. 

Fielding punts is a lot harder given how the ball comes off the foot of a punter, given the spin, and given that you have to think a little faster  (plus you don't have the benefit of the end zone). You literally have to field a punt against your body (which goes against how football players are taught to catch balls) and that takes some getting used to.

So it's not as easy for a guy who returns kickoffs to return punts unless he keeps practicing it and develops a comfort level.

So the short answer to your question is the Giants don't have that one guy (yet) who can "master" both kickoff and punt returns. But I wouldn't be surprised if Ballentine ultimately gets that opportunity at some point down the line.

From William T.

Sterling Shepard has sustained five (NY Giants (2), University of Oklahoma (1), High School (2)) concussions in his football career. Would you be surprised if he decided to retire from professional football due to concerns about concussions and brain trauma?

William, this is an interesting question and one I'll admit I haven't thought about. My guess is any such decision would be based on the severity of the concussions and how close together they were suffered.

I can tell you that head coach Pat Shurmur was asked about this very same topic and he said, "Health is always on the front burner for us in terms of short-term and long-term. So, that’s why we are going to proceed like we are and just see where it takes us."

Shurmur also added, " Listen, we’ve got a lot of really smart people that are going to advise us on when it’s best to put him on the field. When he’s ready to play, he’ll play. Then we’ll try to do everything in our power to make sure he plays safely and has a good, long career."

So it doesn't sound like retirement is a consideration right now. 

From Adam G:

If the defense continues to struggle this year, do you see the Giants making a change at defensive coordinator before the season ends? Also with Solder struggling so much this year. Is there a contingency plan to possibly replace him even for a game or two to get healthy this year?

Thanks for the question, Adam.  No, I don't see the Giants making a coaching change at defensive coordinator in-season. I think what people have to remember is this unit is still relatively young and is starting to come together, so I don't think a dramatic change is warranted just yet. 

A for Solder, the answer is no. When you get to this point int the season, no one except the guys who are consistently inactive is ever 100%. You just try to get by with what you have and hope that Solder, as he's done in the pst, gets better as the year goes on.

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