Friday Fan Mailbag | The Coaching Staff, Free Agency and More

Patricia Traina

The month of February is flying by and before we realize it, we'll be at the combine and then into free agency. So let's go ahead and open up the mailbag to see what's on people's minds. 

Joe, I agree. You don't go creating a hole just for the fun of it. With that said, you also don't go overspending on a contract--and heaven knows the Giants have done this a lot in recent years. You can't overvalue a player.

If you're the Giants, you have to look at what the player can do, where he's going to fit into the grand scheme of things, how many snaps on average you think you're going to get from him, and is there a less expensive but just as effective option if you move on from him?

To borrow a quote Dave Gettleman likes to use, you can't make these decisions in a vacuum. Lastly, while I do believe Leonard Williams will be re-signed, as of right now, I don't feel as confident about Golden re-signing.

From David in Bayside:

Maybe you can shed some light on the concept of being "multiple" on defense. Do the Giants currently have players on both DL and LB units that can play both 4-3 & 3-4 schemes? It seems like our current DL would mostly play DT in a 4-3, though not sure about Leonard Williams.

Hi David. I do think the Giants have players who can fill roles on a 3-4 base and a 4-3 (and I believe Leonard Wiliams would make an excellent 3-tech in a classic 4-3, by the way).

The idea behind being multiple is to use different combinations of personnel, which can be used to create stunts and blitzes aimed at catching offensive linemen off guard. For example, if you look back at some of Markus Golden's sacks from last year, he started as an outside defender only to loop inside on a stung where he was able to penetrate and disrupt.

I'm very much interested in seeing how Patrick Graham is going to put all this together and if trends begin to emerge on how different players are used. I'm reasonably sure there will be some additions made to the defensive front, so be surer to stick around as I'll see what I can pick up from the voluntary minicamp and the OTAs.

Great question. I look at a variety of things like where guys are lining up and how they're being used. Sometimes this can give you a hint as to what to expect later on. Another critical thing to watch, especially with a new coaching staff, is how the coaches are interacting and teaching. Are they hands-on? Yellers? Are they animated? How are they correcting mistakes? 

On the whole, how is the practice structured? What is the tempo? What gets emphasized? Are they spending just a couple minutes per session on the fundamentals, or are they doing more work with that?

I can't speak for Williams, but I can't see why the transition tag would be a problem for any player. Teams can still go out and sign free agents who have the transition tag on them; the only difference is that the original team has the right to match it. 

The franchise tag, meanwhile, discourages potential suitors that limit the players' potential market. In your question, you're asking about two different tags with different rules, so no, I highly doubt using the transition tag would ruffle anyone's feathers.

Hey Oscar, thanks for the question. Let's start with the fact that the Dolphins won three out of their final games (including one against the Patriots) despite having a gutted roster, especially on defense. And in one of those two losses, the difference was one point.

I think when you look at any facet of a team, you want to see improvement from Week 1 to Week 17. And I think the Dolphins defense showed that improvement.

Now I can't speak to why Miami head coach Brian Flores parted with Graham just as I can't say how much of the Dolphins' defenses was Flores' system. Like you, I like the Graham hire because I remember when he was with the Giants as their defensive line coach how his players raved about him as a teacher. I also remember how he got the most out of those guys in 2016.

As for Bettcher, the biggest problem I had with him was that I always got the impression he was pushing a system that worked for him once before and that he didn't always have a plan on how to adjust accordingly.

For example, I think Bettcher counted on Olivier Vernon to become that Chandler Jones type of contributor, but injuries got in the way. So how did Bettcher rebound from that setback? He didn't.

I screamed about this last year--and I think my concerns proved to be correct--but I didn't like they were bringing in so many former players who had been with him in Arizona. I saw that as a shortcut. Rather than develop a system around what he had, to me, it looked like he was trying to recapture the past.

The good coaches earn their money by improvising, not clinging to the past. I'm not convinced that Bettcher improvised enough.

From Bruce F.

Nate Solder had a terrible year, finishing near the bottom as graded by PFF for left tackles. Thanks to Dave Gettlemen's contract restructure, he now has a dead cap hit of 13 million for 2020. If, say by the first third of next season Solder doesn't rebound, and he continues to allow sacks at last year's untenable rate do the Giants bench him? 

Hopefully, they see the light and draft the next left tackle who will be given the opportunity to move into Solder's spot. In other words, if Solder continues his downward spiral do the Giants pull the plug even though his contract is likely to cause a major headache in cap space and salary?

Bruce, first, while PFF's information is valuable, I'm not sure how in-depth it gets regarding questions like what the protection call was, which would tell us whose fault a sack or pressure was.

Second, if you're going to bench the guy, what is your replacement plan? This team needs two tackles, IMO, including its franchise left tackle of the future. I wrote about this in the Offensive Line installment of my Roster Building Series--you draft a left tackle, flip Solder to the right side, use the cap space to upgrade the defense, and you develop a right tackle to replace Solder behind the scenes.

If you don't have that guy, then maybe you look at free agency next year. The important thing, as you noted, is that the Giants give some long and serious consideration to drafting their next franchise offensive tackle.