Giants mailbag: Pass rush hinges on Lorenzo Carter improvement

You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Giants.

(Presuming) DeAndre Baker gets a 2-4 game suspension but sticks, (Andrew) Thomas and (Xavier) McKinney are solid starters, (Blake) Martinez and (James) Bradberry turn out to be above-average additions, what is the one move you would make to ensure a 5-7 win team becomes a 7-9 win team and, more importantly, solidifies the foundation for a playoff run in 2021? — Mike Shapiro

There is a lot to unpack here. Giving the setup you offer, I think the one missing ingredient most glaring is a proven pass rush. This is why I would do everything I can to light a fire under Lorenzo Carter. He has the physical goods to be a strong pass-rusher, but something seems to be missing. This is a new coaching staff, and that is a good thing for Carter, as he needs someone new in his ear. I hope new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham gets after Carter hard, challenging him to turn his immense length and speed into something special. This is exactly where the Giants too often have failed recently, getting high mid-round draft picks to flourish. Carter’s development can make a big difference on a young defense. If Carter takes a big step forward, Markus Golden returns (it looks like he will), Oshane Ximines develops and free agent Kyler Fackrell returns to his 2018 form with the Packers, maybe the Giants will have a legitimate pass rush.

Lorenzo Carter
Lorenzo CarterRobert Sabo

Do you think Joe Judge will be open to using backup quarterback Colt McCoy in more than just mop-up duty this year? Perhaps give him a start if Daniel Jones is suffering through a three-game slump; or insert him into a game when the offense is ineffective? — William Kreudl

Well, William, the scenario you ask about was never in play when Eli Manning was the starting quarterback, up until his 16th and final season. It is difficult to anticipate how novice head coach Joe Judge will handle this. There was no quarterback movement witnessed by Judge during his eight years in New England — as it was Tom Brady’s job morning, noon and night. Daniel Jones is not Tom Brady. I do not anticipate Judge having any sort of quick hook with Jones. Part of the reason why the Giants’ job was so attractive to Judge was the opportunity to work with and help develop a young quarterback. McCoy has shown himself to be a career backup, nothing more. He should be serviceable for a quarter or a half or a game or two. Unless Daniel Jones looks overmatched on the field for a stretch, I do not see McCoy being used as a pick-me-up.

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Do you think Joe Judge finishes his five-year contract with the Giants? — Robert Schwartz

So, we’re projecting into 2025 now, are we? Well, co-owner John Mara vowed he will be more patient with Judge than he was with Ben McAdoo (who did not make it through two seasons) and Pat Shurmur (who was fired after two seasons). What this means is Judge does not need to win right away, and he is not on the clock. Patience only goes so far, of course. At 38 years old, Judge has never been a head coach at any level, so a few growing pains are expected. My sense is Judge is in the right place at the right time, at the controls of a very young team with a very young, promising quarterback. Everyone can grow together. The Mara-Steve Tisch partnership craves stability and is pained by what has gone down since Tom Coughlin was forced out. I will go out on a limb and say Joe Judge gets a contract extension after year No. 4 and is with the Giants past 2025.

Who is a candidate for a better second year: Ryan Connelly or Kaden Smith? — Joseph Michael

Interesting question. I think you smartly grouped two players together who are somewhat similar, in terms of where they stand in team hierarchy. Connelly was doing some excellent things early last season when he broke into the starting lineup as a rookie. He had interceptions in back-to-back games and looked as if he had a nose for the ball from his inside linebacker spot. Tearing his ACL was a real loss. Smith was one of the most unexpected bright spots coming out of the 2019 darkness. He really showed a knack for getting open and inhaling the football, and his 31 receptions for 268 yards and three touchdowns were impressive. I’m not sure he will ever be a big-play tight end, but he certainly looked reliable. Given that Connelly has to prove he is back to full health coming off serious knee surgery, plus the free-agent addition of Blake Martinez and the re-signing of David Mayo, I would say Smith is better-positioned for a more impactful season.

Football news:

Brunu has scored 11 goals in 20 games for Manchester United. 7 of them were penalties
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Konstantinos Tsimikas: Liverpool is the biggest club in the world. I supported them as a child
Marotta on the match with Bayer: I am very optimistic. Inter wants to win the Europa League
Manchester United are unhappy with the way Borussia was leading the negotiations for Sancho. The Germans did not want to communicate directly
Liverpool have announced the purchase of defender Tsimikas from Olympiakos
Bordeaux appointed ex-assistant Blanc Gasse as head coach