Mar 292021
 
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Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (November 28, 2019)

Kenny Golladay – © USA TODAY Sports

Teams were officially able to begin negotiating with free agents from other teams on March 15. So although it seems as if free agency has been going on for quite some time, we’re only still at the 2-week mark since it began. More signings will continue through the spring and summer, especially as players are cut. That said, the initial free agency rush is over and we can start to make some snap opinions on what the New York Giants have and have not accomplished.

The “need” level I reference was addressed in my March 12th Free Agency Preview for the team.

QUARTERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Medium): For at least one more season, Daniel Jones is the unquestioned starter. The expectation was that the team would re-sign Colt McCoy. However, the Giants surprisingly went in another direction by signing the well-traveled Mike Glennon as Jones’ back-up. Glennon is much bigger (half a foot taller) than McCoy with a much stronger arm. Both complete around 61 percent of their passes and both have started roughly the same number of NFL games. There were media whispers too that McCoy wanted more money than the Giants were willing to pay. On the surface, this appears to be a wash, although the coaches said McCoy was a very good influence on Jones in the meeting rooms. (Mike Glennon YouTube Highlights)

RUNNING BACKS (Previous Need Level – High to Desperate): Some chided my prediction that all three running backs behind Saquon Barkley may not return in 2021, but that appears in fact to be the case. As of this moment, Wayne Gallman, Alfred Morris, and Dion Lewis remain unsigned. So much of the team’s upcoming success will depend on how well Barkley returns from a major knee injury and whether he can stay healthy for a full season. It’s quite telling that the very first player the Giants signed in free agency was the relatively-unknown Devontae Booker to a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. Fan reaction was immediately negative. But it appears the coaching staff simply wanted a veteran back who was a more reliable blocker and receiver than Gallman. Depth behind Barkley still remains shaky as the only other halfbacks on the roster are NFL cast-offs Taquan Mizzell and Jordan Chunn. The Giants also added another fullback/special teams player in Cullen Gillaspia to compete with Eli Penny. (Devontae Booker YouTube Highlights)

WIDE RECEIVERS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): The Giants have significantly upgraded this position with the addition of one player to the tune of a 4-year, $72 million contract. Kenny Golladay is not only a true #1 receiver, but he fills a desperate need that this team had for a physical receiver with size. His presence also allows Darius Slayton to become the #2 and Sterling Shepard the slot receiver, roles that both are far better suited for. From Golladay’s style of play to the team’s extended wooing period to satisfy personality issues, this signing is highly reminiscent of the Giants’ signing of Plaxico Burress in 2005. And Golladay is quite capable of having a Plaxico-type impact on this team. In addition, before the Giants signed Golladay, they signed the 9th overall player taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, John Ross. While Ross did not live up to expectations in Cincinnati, he brings true deep speed to a team that desperately needs it. It would not be shocking to see Ross get cut, but it also would not be shocking for him to press for a starting job opposite of Golladay. In addition to wanting to prove doubters wrong, Ross will rejoin his old college receiving teammate, Dante Pettis, on what had been an explosive University of Washington receiving corps. Overall, the make-up of this unit is far different now than it was just two weeks ago. (John Ross YouTube Highlights)

TIGHT ENDS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Right or wrong, the front office and coaching staff appear willing to continue to hope Evan Engram develops into the player hoped for when he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. But the team decided to team him with a mentor. Kyle Rudolph has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends for the past 10 years. While not an explosive player, he can catch and block. Just as importantly, he is reliable, something Engram is not. The downside is that Rudolph turns 32 in November and is coming off a foot injury (The Athletic is reporting it is a Lisfranc injury) that required surgery AFTER the Giants signed him. Much depends on how well he recovers. On paper, if he is healthy, this looks like a major addition both in terms of helping out Daniel Jones and the offensive line. (Kyle Rudolph YouTube Highlights)

OFFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Medium): This is one area where it is debatable if the team has improved in free agency. The Giants were able to force Nate Solder to take a big pay cut to remain with the team. He will now compete against Matt Peart for the starting tackle spot opposite of Andrew Thomas. The Giants somewhat surprisingly simply cut Kevin Zeitler without approaching him about a pay cut. To fill that void, they signed right guard Zach Fulton, who had an inconsistent stay with the Houston Texans. Fulton will compete with Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux for a starting spot. Fulton does not feel like an upgrade over Zeitler. Where the team probably did get better is at back-up center with the signing of Jonotthan Harrison back in January. He is a better player than Spencer Pulley. Look for the team to continue to address the offensive line in the upcoming draft.

DEFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Low to High Depending on Tomlinson): Undoubtedly, the biggest loss the team suffered in free agency was losing nose tackle Davlin Tomlinson to the Minnesota Vikings for what appeared to be a reasonable 2-year, $22 million contract. The Giants re-signed back-up nose tackle Austin Johnson to a 1-year, $3 million deal in anticipation of the loss. Johnson will now have to start at nose tackle or the team will be forced to move Dexter Lawrence from end, or sign a veteran or draft a player. Moving Lawrence seems like an obvious option, but that would have a domino effect in that B.J. Hill would probably then become the new starter at end opposite of Leonard Williams. Thus, what had been a somewhat shaky depth situation becomes even more dubious. The team was extremely fortunate in 2020 that no one got hurt up front. The only back-ups on the roster right now are R.J. McIntosh, David Moa, and Breeland Speaks, the latter signed by the Giants in January. Speaking of Williams, the Giants were able to re-sign him to a 3-year, $63 million deal. There will be tremendous pressure on him to live up to that contract.

(Late Note: The Giants signed 6’2”, 335-pound nose tackle Danny Shelton today. Drafted in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Shelton was cut by the Detroit Lions and will help fill the void created by the departure of Tomlinson).

LINEBACKERS (Previous Need Level – High): On paper, the Giants lost one free agent (Kyler Fackrell) and signed three (Ifeadi Odenigbo, Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson). All three newcomers were relatively inexpensive, 1-year deals. Ragland will likely compete with Tae Crowder for the inside linebacker spot next to Blake Martinez. He has started 38 regular-season games in the NFL and is a former 2nd-round pick so he has a good shot to win that job. Anderson is another former 2nd-round pick who was stuck behind a plethora of outstanding outside linebackers in Washington. He is known more as an overachiever who saw most of his playing time on special teams, but he could surprise as his competition will be Lorenzo Carter (coming off of a torn Achilles), Oshane Ximines (coming off of shoulder surgery), and last year’s rookies (Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown, Niko Lalos). What about Odenigbo? Good question. He was the first defensive player the Giants signed in free agency. He played exclusively on the defensive line in Minnesota, primarily at end, but also shifting inside in pass-rush packages. However, his lack of size (6’3”, 258 pounds) strongly suggests he will be used like “linebacker” Jabaal Sheard was used by the Giants last year, that is, an edge rusher in 4-man pass rush packages. The Giants could also push him inside like the Vikings did in obvious passing situations in 4-man fronts. It is doubtful that he should be considered a true outside linebacker because he simply does not have experience dropping into coverage. Because of that, one could actually argue he should be included in the defensive line review. Also, the Giants did re-sign inside linebacker Devonta Downs, who started at inside linebacker for the Giants in 2020 until Tae Crowder beat him out. He will have to fight just to make the team however.

CORNERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Like the wide receiving position, the make-up of this position completely changed with the addition of one free agent, adding Adoree’ Jackson to a 3-year, $39 million contract after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. Opinions on his play vary, but Jackson is clearly a major upgrade over everyone else on the team’s roster with the exception of Pro Bowler James Bradberry. The former 1st rounder is a physical and aggressive press corner who plays with a lot of confidence. Depth is still a concern, but on paper, the Giants now look like they have one of the better secondaries in the NFL as long as Darnay Holmes continues to develop at slot corner.

SAFETIES (Previous Need Level – Low): While Adrian Colbert and Nate Ebner remain unsigned, the Giants still look to be in decent shape at this position with Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Julian Love – the latter two who can also play corner. Depth will be added later in free agency or the draft.

KICKERS/LONG SNAPPER (Previous Need Level – Low to Average Depending on Kreiter): When the Giants re-signed long snapper Casey Kreiter, this position was largely settled other than camp bodies. The only real question is are the Giants looking to upgrade at punter at some point.

SUMMARY: In my March 12th article, I argued this roster was a train wreck. Two weeks later, with the addition of 11 free agents and counting, it feels vastly different. It’s not just the quantity, but the quality. Keeping Leonard Williams was a big deal. Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson were two of the best, if not the very best, players available at desperate need positions.  If healthy, Kyle Rudolph could be a major addition as a security blanket for both Daniel Jones and the offensive line. Golladay and Jackson will start. Rudolph will be a quasi-starter. John Ross (1st rounder), Reggie Ragland (2nd rounder), Ryan Anderson (2nd rounder), and Zach Fulton might start. Devontae Booker is now the primary back-up behind Saquon Barkely, Ifeadi Odenigbo will add to the pass rush.

The risk? The money. While most of the deals were relatively cheap, the team did dole out $174 million on three players – Leonard Williams, Kenny Golladay, and Adoree’ Jackson. If they are wrong about any of these three, the team will be paying for it for years. We’ve seen that before and it’s one of the major reasons why the Giants have been mired in the basement of the NFL for a decade. One could also argue that the team should have allocated its resources a bit differently in order to keep Dalvin Tomlinson, extending his contract even last year.

Mar 172021
 
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Devante Downs, New York Giants (October 22, 2020)

Devante Downs – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS RE-SIGN CASEY KREITER…
The New York Giants have officially re-signed unrestricted long snapper Casey Kreiter. Terms of the deal are not yet known.

The Giants signed Kreiter as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April 2020. The 6’1”, 250-pound Kreiter was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 NFL Draft. After spending two camps with the Cowboys, Kreiter made the Denver Broncos in 2016. He made the Pro Bowl for his performance in 2018.

For a complete overview of the team’s free agent activity, see the 2021 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

GIANTS DO NOT TENDER DEVANTE DOWNS…
According to multiple press reports, the New York Giants have chosen to not tender linebacker Devante Downs as a restricted free agent, thus making him an unrestricted free agent. Downs can now freely sign with any team without the Giants having the right to match any contract offer or possibly receiving compensation if he signs with another team.

Downs began the season as a starter in 2020, but saw his playing time give way to rookie Tae Crowder. Downs played in all 16 games with eight starts (21 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 33 tackles, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery.

The 6’2”, 252-pound Downs was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings waived him in late September 2019 and he was then signed by the Giants to their Practice Squad and 53-man roster in October 2019. Downs played in seven games for the Giants in 2019 on special teams.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS ON NATE SOLDER’S PAY CUT…
The Athletic is reporting on more specifics of the pay cut recently accepted by offensive tackle Nate Solder in order to remain with the New York Giants. Solder’s base salary was reduced from $9.9 million to about $4 million, creating approximately $6 million in salary cap space. His overall 2021 cap hit was reduced from $16.5 million to about $10.5 million. Had the Giants cut Solder or had he retired before June 1st, the same amount of cap space would have been created.

The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. In March 2018, the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they signed him away from the Patriots as unrestricted free agent. However, despite 32 straight starts at left tackle for New York, Solder’s play has been inconsistent at best with the Giants.

Feb 052021
 
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Riley Dixon and Graham Gano, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

Riley Dixon and Graham Gano – © USA TODAY Sports

It is exceptionally rare for a special teams coach to become an NFL head coach. So when John Mara hired Joe Judge as the next head coach of the New York Giants, it shocked many in the media and fanbase. However, Judge quickly won over many with his fiery inaugural press conference and the composition of his coaching staff. That initial luster began to dim after an 0-5 start, culminating with a Dallas Cowboys come-from-behind victory.

Judge and the Giants began turning it around in mid-October. Their first victory came against Washington, and was followed by two very close, heart-breaking losses to the Eagles and Buccaneers in games where the Giants also held 4th-quarter leads. Then came the high-point of the season, a 4-game winning streak against Washington, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Seattle. The Giants were 5-7 and remarkably still very much alive for the division title. Judge began receiving praise from all quarters.

The emotional high of soundly defeating the Seahawks was immediately dampened by a 3-game losing streak against clearly better teams. At 5-10, the Giants needed to beat the Cowboys and pray that the Eagles would upset Washington. The Giants accomplished the former, but the Eagles laid down like dogs against Washington and the 6-10 Giants missed the playoffs.

Through all of this, the irony is that the New York Giants special teams did not improve under Judge. To be fair, the special teams unit under Thomas McGaughey had actually been the strength of the team in recent years. Judge smartly decided to retain McGaughey. The team was also left scrambling when 2018 Pro Bowl/All-Pro place kicker Aldrick Rosas was cut in July after a hit-and-run arrest. The Giants decided to sign 32-year old Graham Gano who had missed 2019 with a knee injury. Unexpectedly, Gano ended up having one of the greatest seasons in franchise history as a kicker.

Overall, the Giants special teams played decently during the first half of the season, and there was a feeling that Judge, McGaughey, and the special teams unit were improving and building to a stronger second half. The reverse occurred. Against the Bengals, the Giants allowed a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 29-yard punt return that almost cost them the game, and a fake punt conversion for a 1st down. Seattle blocked a Riley Dixon punt for a safety and Gano missed his first extra point of the season. Against Arizona, Dion Lewis fumbled away a kickoff return that set up a touchdown. Judge decided to run an odd fake field goal attempt against the Browns that failed miserably when the score was still 0-0. The Ravens hurt the Giants with both punt and kickoff returns.

Statistically, the Giants finished:

  • Field Goal Percentage: 3rd (up from 30th in 2019)
  • Kickoff Returns: 16th (down from 10th in 2019)
  • Punt Returns: 6th (down from 3rd in 2019)
  • Kickoff Coverage: 16th (down from 1st in 2019)
  • Punting: 26th (down from 23rd in 2019)
  • Punt Coverage: 21st (down from 6th in 2019)

As you can see, other than field goal percentage, the Giants were down in every other special teams category. The team was significantly worse in kickoff and punt coverage. The Giants never really replaced Cody Core, their extraordinary punt/kick coverage specialist who tore his Achilles’ tendon in training camp.

The star of the entire unit was clearly Gano. He only missed one field goal all season and was 5-of-6 from 50+ yards.

KICKERS

The Giants signed Graham Gano in August 2020. Gano had a superlative season for the Giants in 2020, converting on 31-of-32 field goal attempts (96.9 percent – second highest in team history) and 21-of-23 extra point attempts (91.3 percent). He was 5-of-6 from 50+ yards out (single-season franchise record), with a long of 55 yards. Gano converted on 30 consecutive field goals, which also was a franchise record. Thirty of his 73 kickoffs (41 percent) resulted in touchbacks. Gano spent most of his NFL career with the Washington Redskins (2009-2011) and Carolina Panthers (2012-2019). However, he missed the last four games of the 2018 season and all of the 2019 season with a knee injury. The Panthers released him in late July 2020. Gano made the Pro Bowl in 2017.

Punter Riley Dixon saw his gross (44.8 yards per punt) and net (38.8 net yards per punt) fall in 2020, with 28 of his punts being downed inside the 20-yard line and one blocked. The 6’5”, 226-pound Dixon was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He was named to the All-Rookie team. The Giants traded with the Broncos for Dixon in April 2018, giving the Broncos a conditional 7th-round draft pick.

Ryan Santoso spent 2020 on the Giants’ Practice Squad after the team signed him in early September. Santoso was originally signed by the Detroit Lions as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Lions (2018-2019), Montreal Alouettes (2019, 2020), and Tennessee Titans (2019). Santoso has only played in three NFL games, solely as a kickoff specialist.

LONG SNAPPERS

The Giants signed long snapper Casey Kreiter as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April 2020. The 6’1”, 250-pound Kreiter was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 NFL Draft. After spending two camps with the Cowboys, Kreiter made the Denver Broncos in 2016. He made the Pro Bowl for his performance in 2018.

The Giants signed long snapper Carson Tinker in early September 2020. He spent the year on the team’s Practice Squad. The 6’0”, 237-pound Tinker was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in 69 regular-season games for the Jaguars from 2013-2018. The Jaguars cut him in March 2019 and he did not play that year.

RETURNERS

The Giants did not return a punt or kickoff for a touchdown. The leading punt returner was Jabrill Peppers, who only returned 15 punts all season, but who averaged a very respectable 12.5 yards per return and came close to breaking a couple. His long return was 20 yards. On the flip side, some of his decision-making on when and when not to field a punt was questionable.

Dion Lewis did not impress on his 24 kickoff returns, fumbling three (two of which he lost). He averaged 22.4 yards per return with a long return of 48 yards. Corey Ballentine also returned nine kickoffs before he was cut.

LEADING SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS SNAP COUNT PERCENTAGE

  • S Nate Ebner: 74.27%
  • LB Cam Brown: 70.87%
  • FB Eli Penny: 59.47%
  • LB Devante Downs: 57.77%
  • LB David Mayo: 46.36%
  • S/CB Julian Love: 42.96%
  • CB Corey Ballentine: 34.47%
  • TE Levine Toilolo: 34.22%
  • DL Dexter Lawrence: 33.74%
  • LB Carter Coughlin: 33.50%

Nate Ebner had a quiet year despite playing 3/4ths off all special team snaps. The Giants signed him as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots in March 2020 to a 1-year, $2 million contract strictly to be a special teams stud. The leading special teams tacklers were David Mayo (8), Eli Penny (7), Cam Brown (6), and Devante Downs (6).

Nov 232020
 
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Oshane Ximines, New York Giants (August 22, 2019)

Oshane Ximines – © USA TODAY Sports

OSHANE XIMINES AND XAVIER McKINNEY RETURN TO PRACTICE…
New York Giants linebacker Oshane Ximines and safety Xavier McKinney, who are on Injured Reserve, have been designated to return to practice. The Giants now have 21 days to activate them or keep them on Injured Reserve for the remainder of the season.

Ximines was placed on Injured Reserve in early October 2020 with a shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 4. He had started three of the first four games of the year. McKinney was placed on Injured Reserve in early September 2020 with a fractured left foot that he suffered in training camp and that required surgery. He has yet to play in a game this year.

In addition, punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter were activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 List. They had been placed on the list last Wednesday. Place kicker Graham Gano, tight end Kaden Smith, offensive tackle Matt Peart, and wide receiver Dante Pettis remain on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

NOVEMBER 23, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: Get a little break?

A: A little bit. I got a couple days of being dad for a little bit. I saw a lot of soccer games. I thought soccer season was over. I was incorrect on that. We got to catch a lot of them.

Q: Any goals or no? Just a lot of 0-0s?

A: She was playing goalie. They had some high scores. She played alright. They won the game. It was good to see her.

Q: We have not talked to you since you made a coaching change to your staff. Looking back at that situation, I’m sure it was not something you anticipated. Is there anything you could have done differently to kind of patch this together? How unsettling was this whole thing for you?

A: I’ll just say on the entire situation, I made this clear from day one, I’m always going to make every decision what I see is best for the team. This decision was no different. Look, there’s been a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation. A lot of people have done a lot of digging trying to figure out details of the situation. I’m not going to rehash any of that. I’ll just say on the whole thing, we wish Marc (Colombo) well going forward. The decision we made was in the best interest of the New York Giants, short and long-term.

Q: As far as bringing in Dave (DeGuglielmo), how much different are the techniques that he teaches compared to what Marc has been teaching them for the last however many months? Can you implement those within such a short period of time?

A: Yeah, we’re not going to do anything to turn the offense upside down right here. We’re going to continue focusing on technique and assignments and principles of what we want to do big picture wise. They’ll be some adjustments here and there as we go. With six weeks left in the season, there is going to be a lot of continuity we’re looking to keep in place and keep improving as we go through the rest of the season. Will there be adjustments as needed throughout the season? Yes. Are we going to look to turn everything upside down? No.

Q: One more thing on Dave. He kind of has an abrasive personality, for lack of a better term. Are you concerned at all with how the offensive line room is going to respond to a new voice like that coming in at this point?

A: No, no.

Q: I’m wondering how that affects, if at all, your relationship with Jason Garrett because obviously Jason and Marc are close and Jason obviously recommended Marc to you for the job. I’m wondering how you firing Marc affects you and Jason?

A: Look, we’re all professionals here. We all have one goal in improving the team. Obviously, we’ve been working through a season. There are a lot of new guys coming from different spots. We’re all New York Giants now. We’re all working towards the same goal. There have been no effects in that nature right there. I feel good about going forward with everybody.

Q: There was a report out there somewhere that your offensive linemen were a little, I don’t know, on edge about the change. Have you talked to them at all? I know there was an elongated bye week. Did you talk to them at all Wednesday, Thursday when you made this move, or is today the first time you’ve addressed them about it?

A: No, I spoke to the entire team last week. I spoke with the offensive line, I spoke with the captains, I spoke with people both individually and collectively based on the units. Again, we’re pretty transparent as an organization. If something happens with the team, we keep it in-house, but I speak very openly with the team about it.

Q: I know part of the reporting had to do with you getting in at practice and kind of coaching up the offensive linemen yourself a little bit. I’m just curious how common is that for you in general? Do you do that around the team, like will you go in and interject and coach up guys in the way you think they should be coached?

A: Yeah, I have no problem at any point with any position stepping in and talking to a position. That being said, I let my coaches coach. I’m not going to comment too much further on the basis of the question you’re asking. Again, there was a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation out there as well. But I’m going to keep most things in-house.

Q: Separate from the Colombo thing, I know a few of your players tested positive for COVID since we last saw you. I’m just curious if you had any updates on if they have a chance of playing on Sunday or what the deal is there?

A: A couple of the guys will not based on just the timetable the league puts us in. There are going to be a couple of those guys who will have an opportunity, not just because the timetable allows them to have the opportunity. We still have to go through the week and the progression of where they are physically, how they handle the ramp up period, if the doctor clears them, all that good stuff there. The answer is yes and no. Some will have an opportunity to play, some will not.

Q: You talked about misinformation a couple of times. Is there anything you would like to get out there and clear up?

A: No. I think there are some common sense that people who want to read articles understand what does and doesn’t actually happen within a professional setting and office building. I’m not going to go out and rehash a lot of different things that were out there. This was a professional move. We made the decision that was best for the team.

Q: Were you happy with the coaching, or how happy were you with the coaching in regard to technique that your offensive line was receiving?

A: Yeah, I appreciate the question. Again, I’m going to keep most of that stuff in-house in terms of how we handle things. Obviously, we made a move and we’re all working in that direction.

Q: Have you been around a situation kind of like this where you had to move on from a coach in the middle of a season? How would you describe what the transition is supposed to be like in that situation?

A: I think everything is different based on the team and the situation that it occurs under. Yes, I have been around moves as a player and as a coach where there has been transitions in-season. I think the biggest thing for everyone to understand is just keep on moving within the direction of the head coach and trust that there’s a plan in place.

Q: Just kind of wanted to piggyback off that a little bit. At some point, you brought in Dave DeGuglielmo as kind of a consultant with the offensive line. Was there something that you saw that made you want to go in that direction and bring in another voice?

A: Look, I’m always looking to do anything that’s going to help the team at any point of the year. The decision I made was in the best interest of the team, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Q: What does DeGuglielmo bring to the group and why were you excited to hire him in particular?

A: Yeah, he brings some experience in this league. He’s done a good job. He’s coached some of the guys that are on the team already. He’s worked with a number of guys who are on staff already. There is a level of experience that carries over into that. That’s great, but all that really matters now is how each one of us coaches individually, and how he coaches now that he’s with the New York Giants. I’m excited to have him on staff with us moving forward. Obviously, we’re shifting all of our focus over to Cincinnati right now.

Q: Some of the reporting looks like it is kind of pigeon holing you together with guys you coached with in New England as Judge and his former Patriots assistants, etc. Is it alarming for you to see someone accusing you and your staff of functioning in that way? Like, for lack of a better word, like in a clique type of way? Is that one of the inaccuracies you’re discussing? How do you feel about that characterization?

A: Look, I’ve said the entire time I’ve been here, I’m not interested in any other program I’ve ever been a part of. I’m interested in the New York Giants. Everyone here has worked somewhere else at some point in time. Every player has played somewhere else at some point in time. All that matters is what we do for the New York Giants from this point forward, and that’s all we care about. That being said, if you look at the bios of my staff, you’re going to see a lot of pieces connected through different places prior to coming here. The notion that we’re concerned about anywhere else we’ve been or that we’d base anything based on where we’ve been, everyone has experiences that you draw on. That would be it. But there is no internal division or struggle or anything that’s being referenced right there or that anyone’s trying to create. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Q: I know you’ve been talking about sudden change and adapting from the beginning since you got the job, really. How has your schedule been forced to adjust from the initial test with Graham (Gano) last Monday? The way you guys have had to operate the last week or so, now not getting back on the field collectively until Wednesday, what have you done or what will you do to make sure that this team is ready to come off a bye and essentially have three and a half days on the field before you go play Cincinnati?

A: Like you said, sudden change is always an emphasis for us. That’s on and off the field. I think if you kind of live in that world of sudden change, it makes all these adjustments you had at the beginning of the year and whatever comes our way, we’re going to handle and we’re going to thrive in adjustment. Last week, obviously, we had plans to go on the field for Tuesday and Wednesday. That was changed with the news of a positive test. We got further news last week that kind of altered some of our plans for today. But we’ve taken all the precautions necessary. We’ve met virtually instead of in person. We’ll continue to meet virtually throughout the remainder of this week instead of in person. We’ll do walk-throughs and practices with all the protocols being met. We’ll stay outside as much as we can, obviously, even during the walk-through sessions of what we’re doing to make sure it’s open air, improve the ventilation. We’re going to work in some smaller groups or pods a little bit in terms of the entire team being together. Try to chop it up and keep guys spaced out. But this has kind of just become normal for us. Our guys understand that whether it’s on or off the field, we had made plans to do something, but sudden change happens. We just go ahead and we thrive on that.

Q: Can I quickly ask you about (Xavier) McKinney and (Oshane) Ximines, who you guys have designated to return. Are they close enough where they’re a possibility for Sunday? Is the shortened week not being on the field all together going to compromise your decision-making in terms of that?

A: No, I think both have a chance for Sunday. Today was the first day getting them both back out there. I’d say both moved well, both were really flying around the field today doing what we had to do. But it was mostly individual type work today. When we get into Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, kind of see them in a more team setting. Wednesday, we’ll have the pads on, see them pop the pads a little bit and see how their bodies respond to it. That will really tell the story for the weekend. I don’t want to rule anybody out in that nature. I thought both guys really came back, did a great job rehabbing with the trainers and physical therapists, and both guys moved around well today. I always want to be fair to the player and put him in a team setting before we go ahead and try to rule them in or out for a game. But I’d say based on today, they would have a chance. We just have to see where they are when we get into a team setting.

Q: Is it different with McKinney because he’s a rookie and he hasn’t had any game experience?

A: No. I think whatever role we select to play him in, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We can minimize his role a little bit and kind of get him in. Again, this is a guy that hasn’t had any experience on the field in a game setting this year. To me, in terms of him being a rookie, I’m still just looking physically how is he moving around and are we being fair to him in whatever we ask him to do that he can go out there and be successful in doing that.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Tuesday. The players return to practice on Wednesday (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Nov 182020
 
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Marc Colombo, Dallas Cowboys (November 5, 2018)

Marc Colombo – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS FIRE MARC COLOMBO, HIRE DAVE DeGUGLIELMO AS OL COACH…
In a shocking move, the New York Giants have fired Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo and hired Dave DeGuglielmo to replace him. According to press reports, Head Coach Joe Judge was planning to hire DeGuglielmo to work with Colombo, but Colombo’s reaction to that change is what led to his dismissal from the team. Ben Wilkerson will continue to serve as the assistant offensive line coach.

“We appreciate what Marc has done, but I felt like this move is in the best interest of the team,” said Head Coach Joe Judge in a written press release.

The 42-year old Colombo had previously served as assistant offensive line coach (2016-2018) and offensive line coach (2018-2019) of the Dallas Cowboys before being hired by Judge this year.

The 52-year old DeGuglielmo is well-traveled, including serving as an assistant offensive line coach for the Giants under Tom Coughlin from 2004-2008. In recent years, he has coached offensive lines with the Miami Dolphins (2009-2011, 2017, 2019), New York Jets (2012), New England Patriots (2014-2015), San Diego Chargers (2016), and Indianapolis Colts (2018).

RILEY DIXON AND CASEY KREITER PLACED ON RESERVE/COVID-19 LIST…
The New York Giants have announced that punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter have been placed on the the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Place kicker Graham Gano was also placed on this reserve list on Tuesday after he tested positive for the disease. It is not clear if Dixon and Kreiter tested positive or merely being quarantined due to contact with Gano.

NOVEMBER 18, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Wednesday to discuss the state of his team heading into the bye weekend (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: I know you don’t like the term starter, so I’ll use bulk of the reps. The cornerback opposite James (Bradberry), you’ve used a bunch of different guys. (Isaac) Yiadom, (Corey) Ballentine when he was here, Ryan Lewis. Is it sustainable to just keep kind of having a different guy there at cornerback two all the time, or do you guys need to settle on one guy?

A: No, I expect all the guys to play, I really do. There may be certain matchups that we may favor a certain guy for a skillset. There may be certain positions on the field, whether it’s red area versus backed up or in the field, that may be more of an early down guy or a third down guy. Every game brings a little bit of a different element on how you’re trying to match up the opponent. To me, I have no issue at all playing guys at any position and rotating them on through. As long as we’re getting production, we’re keeping guys fresh, we expect everyone at the game to contribute. In terms of the way I view the game, no, I have no issue with that at all.

Q: How do you think Ike (Yiadom) has played these last couple of games? He went from playing a lot to playing not much at all to now playing a lot again. How do you think he’s performed this second stint?

A: I’ve seen a lot of improvement from Ike. Yeah, that’s a guy who’s really worked tirelessly at practice. He’s really competed hard for us and shown a lot of things at practice. Then he got a shot in the game and he went out there and he’s been making plays for us. Yeah, he’s done a lot of really good things right now that have helped us. He’ll keep playing for us as well, as will (Madre) Harp(er), we get Ryan Lewis back and a number of other guys.

Q: When you made the decision to transition (Nick) Gates to center, that was probably with the thought that you’d have a full offseason, a full training camp, and preseason games. I’m curious were there any reservations about throwing him right in the way he had to get thrown in? How do you feel like he’s developed through the season?

A: I’ll start with the backend part first. I think he’s developed really well. I see a lot of improvement on a weekly basis from Nick. Look, going from playing guard and tackle into center is a completely different animal. The multiples on your plate, the command you have to have, the calls, even just the different mechanics of having to snap before you block, these are things you have to learn how to do. There’s a reason a lot of guys play center throughout their entire career up through high school, college and then in the NFL. It is a different type of position. I think he’s done a really good job of advancing in that. I see a lot of promise going forward with him. I’m pleased with how he’s playing, I see improvement every week. Now to the first part of it in terms of yes, obviously, initially we saw that as having a full offseason, full training camp. But like with everything else, that wasn’t going to waver when the pandemic hit. It wasn’t going to change our course of action in terms of how we were going to get this team ready. We just decided, hey, we’re going to adapt or die. We’re going to get ready. There are going to be some growing pains with a lot of guys, we have to move forward.

Q: On Monday, you talked about one of the things you’ve learned is to juggle time so you have enough time for your defense and offense. I tend not to be the most organized guy in the world. Why would you put yourself through that, or is that just how you have to be to be a coach?

A: I think as far as being the head coach, I have to know what’s going on with all three sides of the ball. I can’t know what’s going on without putting in the tape and time to learn the opponent on the frontend, and I can’t know what’s going on without really watching our teams at practice and studying what we’re doing and reviewing all the practice tape and the game tape, and understanding our personnel and how we’re using them. To me, it’s just part of the responsibility of what you have to do to be effective. I don’t know how I could help the team if I don’t know what’s going on. That’s just an emphasis for me.

Q: What’s your message to your players during this bye week? How do you balance staying focused and keeping the momentum going with taking a much-deserved break?

A: I’ll go back to the momentum question first. I don’t really believe that exists, to be honest with you. Nothing that we did against Philadelphia or Washington is going to help us against Cincinnati. We have to learn from what we did wrong and make corrections, but we have to come back on Monday and have a good, strong practice. To be honest with you, obviously, we’ve gone virtual this week with some of the COVID protocols going back to the intensive protocols. That’s changed a little bit of our plans with what they were going to be on the field. Initially, we were going to do more of a walkthrough (on Tuesday). Some of the younger guys, practice squad and some of the younger rookies, we’re going to have a more intensive practice when the walkthrough was over. Then today, Wednesday, would have been an on the field, padded practice for the entire team to get out there, popping around, work on some new schemes, concepts, make sure we correct some things that came up through the season. Now we’re working virtually to go ahead and have meetings and address those things right there. But we have to have a good day on Monday. In terms of the momentum, the only momentum I think we’ll be able to go ahead and transfer and create is how we practice and how we play. We have to come back next week ready to go.

Q: I’m curious 10 weeks into the season, after watching the tape of all these games and coaching through them, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about your team and what do you guys have to get better at down the stretch?

A: We have to continue improving across the board on fundamentals. I think that’s something you always have to improve on. You can never think ‘we’ve arrived’ there. I think sometimes the mistakes you make as a team as you get to a certain point in the season and it’s very scheme-oriented, and you fall away from what you worked hard on in training camp in terms of fundamentals and basics. Ultimately, that’s really what always makes the difference anyway. We talk about turnovers, penalties, mental errors, those are the things that are going to be the true deciding factors within games. In terms of our team, we hoped early on that we could develop a tough culture without knowing these players early on, and I’ve seen that with our guys. Our guys, it’s a team full of resilient guys, very mentally tough guys. I’ve seen these guys come to work week in and week out, no matter what the noise on the outside was. They come in focused, they come in determined, and they play together. I’ve seen a group of guys moving in the same direction, make a lot of improvement. I’m proud of how they practice, I’m proud of how it’s shown up on tape in games, and I think that transfers directly from how we practice to how we play.

Q: It seems like that’s really kind of taken off over the last two or three weeks, especially on defense. It seems like you’re playing a more physical brand of football than maybe you started. Why do you think that is, and do you think maybe that’s just kind of snowballing with wins and confidence beget more wins and confidence or is there more to it than that?

A: I think when you practice with good execution and you’re confident with what you’re doing schematically, you can play more aggressive. When you demonstrate across the board that you have 11 guys on the field who truly understand the schemes, the concepts and what we’re doing, then you can play aggressive by not worrying about the guy next to you and what he’s doing. I think right now, we’re at a point where our guys have really learned and progressed within the schemes and concepts that we’re working. They’ve really done a good job week by week adapting to different game plans and how they fit, and understand not only their responsibility, but how the guy next to them has to play as well. When you understand that, you can play more aggressive. That’s probably why some of that is starting to show up the way we want it to on tape.

Q: Do you look into the data, how teams come into a bye, how teams go out of a bye? This is your first time being a head coach with this. Is there something that you can do maybe better than someone else taking your team out of a bye that could give you an advantage?

A: Yeah, I think you have to look at what you do well, what you’re deficient on and what you have to improve on. I think the biggest thing coming out of a bye, other than maybe getting some guys back health wise or getting some things adjusted schematically, is you just need to come out and correct things that you’ve made mistakes on and go forward with. You may have a new wrinkle you try to work in here or there. We do look at teams coming out of byes. Obviously, the last two weeks we played teams coming off of byes. To me, it’s important to look at those teams based on what they’ve done in the past coming out of a bye. What kind of adjustments do they use? What does their game plan look like that game out of a bye? Different than it was the previous games before the bye? How many schematic differences do they have? Is it a more aggressive mindset? What do they do? You want to put all of those things into account just to anticipate what your opponent may do against you. For us specifically, I think the biggest mistake is people think when you’re coming out of a bye, you’re automatically fresher and faster and all that kind of stuff. I think that’s a myth. You have to come out and all that matters is how you play on that Sunday. You have to wake up and you have to knock off those cobwebs because the one thing is, these guys will have four solid days off without being around us as coaches or hearing our voices. Four days, again this season, is like four months. It just is. You come back, and that Monday practice we’ll have, that’s very necessary to go ahead and just make sure everybody gets woken up, knocks off some rust, has a good day on the field, and that that can transfer going forward.

Q: Coaches very often and sometimes you hear players say ‘he’s not a rookie anymore’. Are your rookies still rookies? What is that mindset? Do you subscribe to that mindset?

A: You can kind of phrase that two different ways on that. I know what you’re saying with that. I expect marked improvement from our team along the way. The so-called rookie mistakes, I don’t care if it’s a rookie making it or a vet making it, I just don’t expect to see it repeated. That’s what we’re really holding everyone accountable for. Things are going to happen, we just have to learn from them and move forward. I think at this point right now, our young players obviously have a different perspective and a different taste for the speed of the game and what goes in week by week. You hear a lot about these rookie walls. We talk to our rookies a lot about them. I’ve talked to rookies in the past about it as well. To me, it’s important to have these rookies understand that really right now we’re at a point where the college football season is winding down and about to be over. At least in a normal year, it would be. Your season is very much still going. We’ve got a lot of ball left to play. In a normal season, by the time you get to Week 8, that is a college season. That’s four preseason games. It’s eight games, you’re looking at 12. Maybe you play a bowl game after that. Go get a Little Caesar’s pizza bowl thing and go back home for Christmas and stuff. This season here, you’ve got to refuel and get going. You’ve got to make sure that you handle your routine throughout the season effectively. Physically, you don’t break down and mentally you don’t fatigue. To me, that comes into having a good established routine but then also some point in the year changing up your routine to change the stimulation. If you’re a guy that’s always watching tape mid-afternoon, okay maybe it’s an early morning thing and you get your workout in mid-afternoon. You have to change things up a little bit throughout the season not to have that monotony that kind of wears you down to the point where you think you’re being productive just because you have activity. You’ve got to make sure you’re actually taking steps forward every time you do something. We’re not writing a pass for any of guys, whether they are rookies, vets, whatever they are. In terms of repeat mistakes, we have to make sure as coaches we do a good job of eliminating those.

Q: I wanted to ask about Will Hernandez and everything he has gone through the last couple of weeks. You come into Sunday, it seemed clear you had a plan that he wasn’t necessarily going to get snaps. What did you see from Will in the game? Is it a challenge this week knowing you’re not in the building with these guys? How can you gauge how he is coming out of this weekend, first opportunity being out there on the field?

A: The best feedback we get as far as how he came out of this weekend is from the trainers and the strength coaches. We’re not in the building, but what we have done is we’re doing very small group workouts that are going to be available to our players, that they want to come and get something physically. Obviously, we’ve had to do a lot of maneuvering to make sure it’s very limited people in the field house working out or running. The field is very spread out, we’re taking precautions in that. The feedback I’ll get from the trainers and strength coaches will be the most valuable feedback I can get on those guys. What I saw when he went in the game is a guy who was ready. I saw when Will went in there, he was mentally, physically and emotionally ready to go. Obviously, two weeks off from a game, it’s a lot to ask anyone to jump right back in the swing of things and go through an entire game. When we needed him, he came through. He played well, he played tough. That’s just kind of Will’s personality. Coming out at the end of the game right there. He kind of goes in as the enforcer when we needed him right there. I was pleased to see Will at the game. It’s good to have him back in the building. He’s always a dude that makes everyone smile when he’s around. It’s just good to have him back with us.

Q: Do you feel like when you come back on Monday that the last couple weeks are behind him?

A: I think it’s still wait and see to see him on the field Monday, to be honest with you. To be fair to him, if we had practiced the last two days, if we were out there today, I think I’d have a much better view on that and an answer for that. Not being able to see with my own eyes when we put him through a practice, that’s a tough thing to evaluate and gauge. He says he’s feeling better. I don’t want to speak for the player, I guess I just did. I want to make sure that we make the right evaluation for him at all times. These guys are tough guys, they are competitive guys. Sometimes they say things and you have to make sure you really gauge it and make the best decision for them.

Q: You have a bunch of guys on the verge of returning from injured reserve. What’s their status coming off the bye. Tae Crowder, (Oshane) Ximines, (Xavier) McKinney and Ryan Lewis.

A: That falls back on Art’s (Stapleton) question. I was really counting on seeing a little bit of those guys this week. Obviously, we can’t see them on the field football wise this week. Monday will be an important day for us to kind of take a look at a lot of these guys moving around. We still have to make a declaration on a couple of these guys in terms of their clock. We’re going to have to evaluate these guys next week and see where they are going into Cincinnati. We’re optimistic we should see the majority of those guys if not all of them at some point down this stretch. They’ve all made progress, they’re all working very hard with our trainers. I know they are a lot further ahead than they were when they initially went on IR. We just have to see how close they are to game action for us.

Q: For you personally, do you decompress? Do you take any time off at the end of this week? Do you just plow through and worry about that after the season?

A: I’ll definitely structure good family time this weekend. I’ve got a laundry list of stuff right now that I am loading up on and making sure I stay ahead on. I’m using a lot of this time right now not only to self-scout and catch up on things that we’ve done throughout the season. The coaches have done a lot of really good research and reports and giving me good feedback on where we have to go going forward. That’s been very valuable. I’m trying to jump ahead on all of our opponents to get a head start which will help me down this final stretch. As far as watching some tape. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that when this weekend rolls around there is going to be a point where I have to dive in and be dad again. I’ve got to dive in with the kids and give them all my undivided attention. I’ll probably be way more worn out from that than I am from a week of game prep. It’s something we’re looking forward to. That will kind of reset the motor for us and get us moving through the final six.

Q: Have you talked to Graham (Gano)? How is he feeling? What can you tell us about (Ryan) Santoso?

A: Ryan’s a guy who has a huge leg, he’s shown a tremendous amount of improvement since he’s been here. It’s a unique skillset that he does all three, field goals, kickoffs and punts. He’s shown a lot of improvement in all three phases through being. I think Tom (Quinn) and T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) do a tremendous job of working with this guy. This guy is a mentally tough guy, too. He’s one of my favorite guys on the practice field. He kicks for us in kicking periods, obviously. He does a lot of his field goal operational work on Friday with the team. Me and him normally have some kind of side bets going on as he is kicking, kind of put a little pressure on it. I think he’s a little bit better in terms of roping that thing through the uprights when I’m talking a little smack behind him. We have a lot of confidence in Ryan. He’s definitely a developing player. I think he has a big upside in this league for a long time, I really do. I’m pleased he’s been in our program and we’ve been able to hold onto him through this point. I’m really pleased with the work Tom and T-Mac have done with him. If he’s got to go, we have a lot of confidence he will be able to go out there and do the job effectively. Graham has talked to Ronnie (Barnes) today. I touched based with him yesterday. I don’t want to speak for him in terms of how he may feel with this. I don’t know all the stages of this virus personally, so I don’t know if this is something that increases, decreases. I don’t want to speak for any of the players. I know obviously our trainers are communicating with him on a regular basis to make sure his welfare is okay. I’ll touch base with him later today like I do with most of the players.

Q: Do you expect to have him back in time for the next game?

A: There’s a timetable with that. There’s an opportunity for that, but there are some other things that go into that as well. Are there any setbacks in that time window? Where does the physician clear him? There’s a ramp up period. Him, like everybody else, we have to be fair to this guy. He’s sitting in a hotel room for a couple weeks. Is it fair to him to put him on the field and ask him to go ahead and do his job? These are all things we have to account for. In fantasy football, yeah, plug him in and we’re good to go. In reality, are we doing the fair thing by him individually and the team collectively to take someone who hasn’t had two weeks of an opportunity to prepare to put him out there to do a job?

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video/audio clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants from November 19th to November 22nd.

Jun 222020
 
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Nate Ebner, New England Patriots (February 3, 2019)

Nate Ebner – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Special Teams

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: For the second year in a row, the New York Giants special teams unit was arguably the strongest part of the team. The Giants were tied for 3rd in the NFL in punt returns (9.8 yards per return) and 10th in kickoff returns (23.5 yards per return). The Giants were 6th in the NFL in covering punts (5.67 yards per opponent return) and 1st in covering kickoffs (18.05 yards per opponent return). Cody Core (8 tackles) and Michael Thomas (7 tackles) were particularly active in covering punts and kicks. For the second year in a row, the Giants did not return a punt or kick for a touchdown and they did not allow a punt or kick to be returned against them for a touchdown. The Giants did block a punt for a touchdown.

The return game was by handled by committee. Golden Tate, T.J. Jones, Da’Mari Scott, and Jabrill Peppers returned punts while Cody Latimer, Corey Ballentine, Darius Slayton, and Da’Mari Scott returned kicks. Jones was cut during the season.

Punter Riley Dixon had a solid season, averaging 46.1 yards per punt (13th in the NFL) and 42.3 net yards per punt (9th in the NFL), with 29 of his punts being downed inside the 20-yard line. However, two of his punts were blocked.

After a stellar sophomore pro season in 2018, place kicker Aldrick Rosas regressed in 2019. Rosas was 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) on field goal attempts and missed four of his 39 extra point attempts (89.7 percent). Seventy percent of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. In 2018, Rosas made the Pro Bowl after making 32-of-33 field goal attempts, including a team-record 57 yarder.

The Giants placed long-time long snapper Zak DeOssie on Injured Reserve in late November 2019 with knee and wrist issues. He was replaced by Colin Holba for the last five games.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: It appears Zak DeOssie’s tenure with the Giants is over as he remains an unsigned unrestricted free agent. Colin Holba was cut in late April. The Giants signed long-snapper Casey Kreiter as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April.

Special teamers Cody Latimer (Washington Redskins), Michael Thomas (Houston Texans), and Antonio Hamilton (Kansas City Chiefs) signed elsewhere while the Giants added special teams ace Nate Ebner (New England Patriots). The Giants also drafted and signed a bunch of rookie linebackers and defensive backs who could significantly contribute on special teams.

Aldrick Rosas (1-year, $3.259 million), Cody Core (2-years, $4 million), and Corey Coleman (1-year, $1.1 million) were re-signed in the offseason.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: After John Harbaugh in Baltimore, Joe Judge became the second special teams coordinator in NFL history to make the jump directly to head coach. And almost all of Judge’s coaching experience is limited to special teams. Obviously, his heart and soul will likely remain with that part of the team and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he has on the unit. Judge rewarded Thomas McGaughey for his solid work as special teams coordinator under Pat Shurmur by retaining him in the same position. Tom Quinn, who has been with the Giants since 2006, was also kept on as assistant special teams coach. McGaughey’s other assistant, Anthony Blevins, was moved to assistant defensive backs coach.

A major wrench was thrown into things when Aldrick Rosas, currently the only place kicker on the roster, was arrested in June for allegedly being involved in a hit-and-run accident and driving with a suspended license. Police also report Rosas was allegedly under the influence of alcohol at the time. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that Rosas was arrested in 2016 for also driving under the influence. At best, Rosas is likely facing suspension from the NFL. At worst, he could receive jail time and/or the team may simply decide to let him go. The Giants had just re-signed him to a 1-year, $3.259 million contract as a restricted free agent.

Once again, the Giants do not have a clear-cut favorite to return punts and kickoffs. Potential candidates include WR Golden Tate, WR Darius Slayton, WR Corey Coleman, WR Da’Mari Scott, WR Alex Bachman, RB Dion Lewis, RB Javon Leake, CB Darnay Holmes, CB Corey Ballentine, and S Jabrill Peppers. The Giants could also try WR Derrick Dillon as a returner.

In the punt and kick coverage department, the Giants gave Nate Ebner a 1-year, $2 million contract simply to play special teams. Cody Core’s stellar special teams play in 2019 was reminiscent of past Giants special teams studs Reyna Thompson, Larry Flowers, and David Tyree. It will be interesting to see if he can replicate and even improve on his gunner skills.

ON THE BUBBLE: Aldrick Rosas. What a dumbass!

PREDICTIONS: Don’t discount the impact special teams can have on the win-loss record. Thomas McGaughey has done a fine job with this unit the past two years, but Joe Judge was so impressive as a young special teams coordinator that he is now the head coach of one of the NFL’s flagship franchises. A stellar special teams unit can turn a 6-10 team into a 10-6 team with timely blocked punts/kicks, big returns, winning the field position war, and the kicking game.

Even though on the surface CB Deandre Baker’s legal charges are far more serious, I think Aldrick Rosas’ roster spot with the Giants is in more jeopardy. Even in the best-case scenario, I have a hard time seeing Rosas avoiding a 4-game suspension. The NFL’s policy on “substances of abuse” includes alcohol-related incidents. If that is the case, he won’t begin the season on the 53-man roster. Do the Giants use a roster spot on him in training camp? Rosas may just have kissed $3 million goodbye.

Trying to predict who will be the primary kick and punt returners in June from among the existing list of candidates is probably an exercise in futility. But I’m going to guess Corey Coleman is the kickoff returner and Golden Tate and Darnay Holmes will split the punt return duties.

Keep an eye on Cody Core. He deserved more attention than he received last year for his special teams play. Also, the Giants added seven rookie linebackers and six rookie defensive backs. Not all of them will make the team, but many of them could form the core of the specials units.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Barring some unforeseen event, Riley Dixon will be the punter and Casey Kreiter the long-snapper. I already predicted in my wide receiver overview that Corey Coleman will make the team; if so, he has a good shot to be the kickoff returner. Golden Tate and Darnay Holmes are the obvious candidates to return punts. It’s pretty obvious that Nate Ebner was signed by Judge to lead this entire unit.

I don’t think the team’s opening-day place kicker is on the roster. I think Rosas will be suspended and may not even be a New York Giant. It depends on whether the team wants to wait out the likely suspension.

Apr 022020
 
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Kyler Fackrell, Green Bay Packers (August 8, 2019)

Kyler Fackrell – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN LONG SNAPPER CASEY KREITER…
The New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent long snapper Casey Kreiter (Denver Bronocs). Terms of the deal are not currently publicly known.

The 29-year old, 6’1”, 250-pound Kreiter was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 NFL Draft. After spending two camps with the Cowboys, Kreiter made the Denver Broncos in 2016. He made the Pro Bowl for his performance in 2018. In all, Kreiter, served as Denver’s long snapper in 58 regular-season games.

CONFERENCE CALL WITH LINEBACKER KYLER FACKRELL…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who the New York Giants signed on March 17th:

Q: What was it like for you to have a breakout year and then the Packers go out and sign two guys at your position?
A: It was obviously not ideal. I’ve said before that I definitely got better this year. I think I played better this year than I did the year before, despite not getting the numbers that I would have liked. If you look at percentages and pressures per rush, I think I had 200 less rushes but ended up with more pressures than the year I had 10.5 sacks. I think as far as the way I play and getting better as a player, I think I took a step forward this year.

Q: You are joining a pretty young pass rush, a couple of second- and third-year guys. What can you do as the veteran in the room to help them develop?
A: I’m excited to come into the situation that the Giants are in. I know there are a lot of great players there. Being the veteran in the room, I think there are some good habits and some good things like footwork and handwork. I’m sure they already do stuff like that but that’s definitely something that I think has made me better. I know that’s something I will definitely want to pass on to the guys in the room.

Q: Patrick Graham was your position coach in 2018 when you had a good season number wise. Have you discussed what type of role he has envisioned for you, is it going to be much different than it was in Green Bay?
A: I haven’t discussed specifics with Coach Graham too much. I know that he liked my versatility of being able to rush and drop. I’ll do whatever they ask me to do and whatever they view as best for the defense. I really look forward to what Coach Graham is going to do with the defense. I have a lot of trust in his ability, he is a really sharp dude. I haven’t talked specifically with him, but I will do whatever the defense asks of me.

Q: Is there one thing in particular that Coach Graham unlocked from you in your skillset that you didn’t have before?
A: Honestly, I think that the only thing I would say about Coach Graham is he is a great coach. The thing that I like most about him is just his passion and love for football. He’ll get up on the table and scream and yell if he needs to, but it all comes from a great place. It comes from him being grateful for the life he’s living and what he gets to do to provide for his family. That’s something that I always loved coming into work and working with Coach Graham. That was a big thing coming to the Giants, that he was here and the respect that I have for him.

Q: Do you know at this stage of your career what exactly you are? You had that one breakout year, you like a lot of the things you did last year even though you didn’t have the numbers. Do you have a handle on what you are and what you can be moving forward?
A: I have the utmost confidence in myself. I think that I am a very versatile 3-4 Sam outside linebacker. I love to rush, and I think I am good at it. I take a lot of pride in dropping and making plays in space as well. I think in the 3-4 defense that we played in Green Bay, and Patrick Graham runs a similar style defense, having a versatile outside linebacker is very valuable. I know that I didn’t produce the way I wanted to last year, but I think I have a great opportunity to do that this year and I’m looking forward to it.

Q:  How excited are you to play with Blake (Martinez)?
A: I’m thrilled. We came into Green Bay together and we were roommates all four years of training camp and during rookie minicamp. We have a good relationship and he’s a great player. I was really excited to hear that he was going to the Giants as well.

Q: How do you guys complement each other out there on the field skill-wise?
A: He does a great job. At inside linebacker, a big part of their job is kind of controlling everything and making calls and all that. He does a great job of that. He’s very versatile as well. He can do a lot of different things. Blitzing, there’s a lot of different things we can do, especially in those third down packages with the two of us and kind of trying to confuse quarterbacks.

Q: You mentioned how the sack numbers last year weren’t what you wanted them to be. With so much focus on those numbers, did you worry that that was going to hurt you in free agency? Do you think it did, or do you think that enough people knew what kind of player you were, even without the numbers?
A: I don’t know. I think there’s both sides of it. I know that there’s a lot of analytics and stuff that’s done. I think as far as percentages and all that, I played really well last year. Obviously, just bottom line production is probably the biggest factor. I wasn’t happy with the production that I had. As far as hurting me in free agency, I’m not sure about that. All I can really say is that I’m glad. I think I’m in a great situation. I’m very happy to be coming to the Giants. I just really look forward to getting out there and getting into the building and getting to work.

Q: How do you approach this upcoming season with a one-year contract? We tend to talk about it as sort of a prove-it contract. How do you see that working, and how do you see working under that?
A: I think I view it kind of in a similar way. I believe that I’m better than a one-sack guy, so that’s really what I’m going to try to prove. Again, like I said, I got better this last year. I think I’m a better player last year than I was the year before, and I’ll be a better player this upcoming year just with continuing to work and trying to perfect my craft. I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily any more pressure this year than there was last year, kind of going into a contract year. Honestly, I think it’s just a great situation, a great opportunity for me to be with the Giants and I look forward to it.

Q: Everybody is being affected right now, their offseason work changing. I’m just curious what your regimen looks like now with everybody social distancing?
A: I’ve reached out to the Giants. I’ve been in contact with the head strength coach, and he’s given me some really good stuff to work on. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff just trying to stay in shape. Even from home, doing what I can while also trying to be safe with all of this.

Q: Does having the familiarity you have with Blake and obviously with Coach Graham, does that give you any kind of advantage going in learning this defense with the rest of your teammates?
A: Yeah, I’m not sure. I know it’s a similar defense. It’s not exactly the same. But yeah, I think definitely having been a 3-4 outside linebacker and played in kind of a similar system, even since college, I think that’s a big advantage, especially compared to some other guys that maybe played more of a 4-3 defensive end or haven’t played at standing outside linebacker before. I think that’s going to be really huge. It’s going to be nice for me to have that familiarity. Again, I think that was one of the big things with coming to the Giants and working with Coach Graham, was that familiarity and being able to hopefully be used in that versatile way.

Q: How will you measure this season? People always talk about sack numbers, those are kind of obvious. Are there other ways that you think your season could be measured?
A: Definitely just the way that I affect the quarterback, at least as far as rushing, how often I affect the quarterback. I think pressures are a big thing, and I think the league is kind of trending towards recognizing that. That maybe a guy gets 10 sacks but he has half the pressures of a guy that maybe gets eight sacks but he’s in the quarterback’s face and he’s affecting the quarterback, getting him off the spot a lot. As a rusher, I think you’re more valuable when you can do that more consistently. Obviously, I want the sacks, I want the pressures. Ideally, those things would kind of go hand in hand. But again, I think there are a lot of things that I definitely want to improve on. TFL’s, being a little bit more of a factor in the run game as well. I haven’t sat down and set specific goals yet for this upcoming season. I’m just going to continue to work, and I’ll be able to, in the way that I work and the way that I’m able to be consistent and affect the quarterback and make plays in the run game. Those will be some of the big factors that determine whether I feel like this year was a success.

CONFERENCE CALL WITH OFFENSIVE TACKLE CAM FLEMING…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with offensive tackle Cam Fleming, who the New York Giants signed on March 18th:

Q: Obviously you have a previous relationship with Jason Garrett and Marc Colombo. Can you talk about your bond with them and how much that drew you to the Giants?
A: I think it played a pretty big factor when I was deciding to come here. I think that when you see two people that you worked closely with for two years and they get another job and they want you to come with them, it says they have some kind of confidence about your play, your attitude and all that stuff.

Q: Did Coach Garrett, Coach Colombo and Coach Judge reach out to you before you signed?
A: I was able to talk to a couple coaches before I signed. Without me being able to take visits and stuff like that, I had to communicate with the coaches somehow.

Q: They Cowboys have had one of the best offensive lines in the league. Between what Coach Garrett has run on offense and what Coach Colombo has taught, what is it about what they teach offensive linemen that makes the offensive line so good?
A: It’s hard to say what exactly they teach that makes it so good. I think one of their best attributes is teaching that mentality. In those offenses, the offensive line is a little bit more revered. Some of the best players on the Dallas Cowboys are on the O-line. You feel a little bit more of the weight on your back as an offensive lineman. Hopefully we can bring that here and carry a whole bunch of weight for the Giants as well.

Q:  How important was it to stay in the NFC East where you know the pass rush personnel on the other teams?
A: Not at all. There really wasn’t a consideration of what division I would be in when I was choosing. I was worried about staying employed and being in this league another year. Wherever the opportunity came I was going to follow it.

Q: What can you tell us about Marc Colombo as an offensive line coach? What does he bring to the table and why do you like playing for him?
A: I really like playing for him because he really does love what he does. He comes in with so much energy, so much juice every single day, week after week throughout the whole season. I don’t think there is ever a lull in it for him. I really appreciate his passion and electricity every day. He’s just a damn good coach. He helped me a lot with my technique in Dallas and I look forward to continuing working with him.

Q: Have they told you what your role is going to be here on the Giants? I know you can play both sides, but did they define for you what you’re going to do or are you just going to come in and compete?
A:  Definitely just going to come in and compete. Wherever they need me, I’ll be there. I’ll be there and I’ll try to be my best.

Q: Do you think it’s possible to re-create the atmosphere and the philosophy of the offensive line within Dallas here with the Giants, or was that more personnel-driven because of the players you had there?
A: I don’t think that’s something that we’ll want to do, even if we could. We definitely want to form our own identity of the Giants and build a culture that brings success. But we don’t want to, for lack of a better term, copy what they’re doing in Dallas. There are definitely elements that you can pick out from every team in the league, but you definitely have to build your own identity as the Giants.

Q: Remembering back to your time in New England, obviously, Joe Judge was not your position coach, but you did interact with him I’m sure for several years. What do you remember about him? And back then as the Special Teams Coach and Coordinator, did you ever foresee at all that he would ever be a head coach in the NFL?
A: I was so young back then, I didn’t even really think about all that stuff. But I’m glad to see he’s with the Giants now. I’m glad to see he’s our head coach. I know him probably not as well as some of the special teamers in New England did, but we definitely interacted. He’s a really great dude, brings a lot of intensity. I’m excited to have him.

Q: You guys down in Dallas have some experience with a young quarterback in Dak Prescott as he was coming along. What lessons can you take from working with a young quarterback that maybe you can apply with Daniel Jones as he enters his second year?
A: Whether it’s a young quarterback or an old quarterback, you’re there to make his life easier when it comes to pass protection. The more comfortable he can feel in the pocket, the more he can do what he does. That’s what I plan on doing for him.