It’s time for this week’s Big Blue View mailbag. The main topic, New York Giants injuries and MetLife Stadium turf, is a hot topic. Let’s go.
Jeffrey Jacobs asks: My question is, are the Giants actually more injury prone than other teams, or does that just seem to be the case? I know every year the team says they’ve studied the injury issue, have a plan in place to deal with it, yada yada yada – but every year the injuries seem to not stop . I’m less concerned about contact-related injuries – it’s football and that sort of thing is inevitable, but it’s the non-contact things like Azeez dropping today that continue to concern me.
Ed says: Jeffrey, @ManGamesLostNFL data shows the Giants have lost the most games to injury of any NFL team since 2009.
Why? I do not know. I don’t think anyone does. Everyone has their theories, but I don’t believe there is just one answer.
For what it’s worth, here’s a chart from NFL Health and Wellness showing a sharp rise in ACL tears in 2021.
Another remarkable statistic is that the 2021 pre-season data, the latest I could find, showed a big increase in soft tissue injuries league-wide last year compared to the 2015-2019 period. Draw your own conclusions as to why.
The point that emerges from these two data is that these injuries are not just a Giants problem. They are in place throughout the league.
Now, let’s look at the various theories about the Giants and injuries.
Framing? The Giants have had five different coaching staffs during this time. Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, Joe Judge and now Brian Daboll have all had different philosophies when it comes to practice and injury prevention. Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen believe in sports science and come from Buffalo, where the Bills have been lucky with injuries. Yet we see more injuries than anyone would like.
Staff training/strengthening and conditioning program? For the umpteenth time, give me a break from this theory. As the coaching teams change, so do the strength and conditioning teams. Workout staff cannot prevent broken bones, torn ACLs, torn Achilles tendons, etc. Muscle pulls? Maybe. The other thing to remember is that players spend a large part of the year training away from the team.
The grass ? Let’s clarify one thing. The outdoor training grounds at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center are grass. The NFLPA’s favorite surface, and one proven to be safer than Field Turf. So, let’s stop with the “replace turf at the practice facility” stuff. The only grass in the training center is in the training bubble.
The chart below is a few years old, but still informative:
Synthetic turf has higher rates of non-contact lower extremity injuries than natural turf in most types of play, for example. @erinpsajdlthe research. Also interesting, most of these injuries occur earlier in the game, regardless of the playing surface. #HANIC pic.twitter.com/jK1mgabXXo
—Keegan Abdoo (@KeeganAbdoo) May 22, 2020
Now for MetLife Stadium. The stadium opened in 2010, so, yes, its lifespan matches the injury data presented by @ManGamesLostNFL.
This offseason, Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles has trashed the MetLife turf.
“It’s a terrible surface,” Kelce said. “I’m surprised the league hasn’t intervened at this point. But I think it’s really bad. There has been a higher injury rate on this surface for years now. I don’t know if it’s because there are two teams playing there or what’s going on there, but it’s easily the least favourite.
The turf was last replaced in 2020. It was inspected by the league that season and deemed to meet NFL standards after complaints from the San Francisco 49ers. Here’s a graph covering stadium injury rates from 2017 to 2020 – just one of the seasons with the all-new MetLife playing surface. This is the most recent I could find:
The turf used as MetLife Stadium is used by 10 NFL teams.
REMARK: Again, MetLife Stadium “practice” refers to the indoor bubble, not the outdoor grounds. They are grass.
I know there are calls for the Giants and Jets to install a grass pitch at the stadium. Considering that two teams play there and that concerts and other events are held there, I doubt that will happen. It would seem unlikely that the grass would hold up to the amount of use it would get.
So yes, the Giants have had more injuries than other NFL teams in the last twelve years. Why? There is simply no single answer.
Joel Millman asks: Any news regarding the search for a new punter for the Giants? Given the low expectations for their attack, this is a critical position.
Ed says: Joel, it looks like the Giants have their punter. Jamie Gillan was unchallenged for this position and did well. Earlier, I thought the Giants could bring him some competition. That didn’t happen, and at this point I’d be surprised if Gillan wasn’t the bettor at the start of the season.
James Williams asks: Boomer Esiason has repeatedly stated that the turf at Metlife Stadium is going to be replaced for 2023. Voted by players as one of the worst turfs in the league, is the change something you can confirm from league officials? ‘crew ?
Ed says: I cannot confirm it. The turf was replaced before the 2020 season.
Matthieu Annunziata asks: I feel like if a player is in training camp, he signed a contract one way or another. So can you please explain the difference between a player who is “waived” versus a player whose “contract has been terminated”?
Ed says: Matthew, the difference is due to NFL service time. Excerpt from the collective agreement:
Any time a player who has completed the season in which his fourth year of credited service was earned under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle plan is placed on a waiver between the Monday following the Super Bowl and the deadline for negotiation, his contract will be considered terminated and the player will be completely free at any time thereafter to negotiate and sign a player contract with any club, and any club will be completely free to negotiate and sign a player with that player, without penalty or restriction, including, but not limited to, compensation of draft picks between clubs or rights of first refusal of any kind, or any signing period. If waivers occur after this date, the player’s player contract will be subject to the waiver system and may be awarded to a requesting club.
Jordan Akins’ contract was terminated and he immediately became a free agent as he has served four years in the NFL.
Doug Mollin asks: DJ issue.
- Most agree that he showed some talent.
- Most agree that his development has been held back by poor OL, a lack of attacking talent, bad coaching, etc.
- All but a few crazy people want DJ to perform this season and be our long-term QB.
But, what if OL are not so good, what if the WRs are injured/inefficient, what if Saquon gets injured again, what what if a number of other variables play an impact on DJ having as good a season as possible?
Should the Giants weigh these factors and the franchise DJ? Try to get him to sign a short-term contract?
Or are they just moving on? And we’ll never know what an NFL DJ career might have been like on a better team under better circumstances?
Many NFL players (QBs in particular) never have the career you expect simply because of bad circumstances, bad luck, injuries, etc. I wonder if this will be the fate of DJ?
Ed says: What if, what if, what if, what if, what if, what if, what if? What if Daniel Jones just turns out not to be good enough?
I don’t know what will happen. I just know that at the end of this season, Jones will be at the end of his rookie contract, and the Giants will have to face a serious financial decision. They can award him a franchise for an estimated cost of $31.497 million. They can sign him for a long-term contract. Or, they can use the fictional quarterback on the roster (Tyrod Taylor), who will only cost them $5.5 million in 2023, draft another potential quarterback from the future, and take another swing.
I support Jones, but I still think the odds are against him to show enough that the Giants are willing to make a financial investment in him.
Joel Story asks: I loved how Jamie Gillan and Julian Love stepped in and performed perfectly when Graham Gano went down in Sunday’s pre-season game, but it made me wonder. If unsung hero Casey Kreiter goes down during a game (heaven forbid!), who is the Giants emergency snapper?
Ed says: No idea. Usually we see someone other than the main snapper training at least a little at boot camp. I haven’t seen anyone else try it this summer, so I couldn’t tell you.
Glen Boshart asks: Sorry to ask a slightly different question, but during the Giants practice clips the music is still blaring through the speakers and very loud. Is this the case in every training? Is there a reason for football to do this, such as increasing player concentration so they are used to playing in front of loud opposition crowds? Or is it just something to listen to? And do they always play the same type of music, which seems to be mostly rap? I can’t imagine them playing country and western, but do they ever mix that up? Personally, I think I’d go crazy trying to do my job through all the noise, but I’m an old geezer.
Ed says: Yes, Glen, the music is constantly sounding. NFL teams usually use music during stretching periods or ramp-up periods at the start of practice, but Brian Daboll uses it constantly. I think his theory is that the game is not played quietly, so the noise challenges their concentration. Also, I think it’s just something this generation is used to. As for the mix, Daboll is a country music guy and they mix it up. There is, however, a heavy dose of stuff that I wouldn’t want kids to listen to.