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Mailbag: NFC East rivalries, pass-first offense? 


Dave in Colorado: Do you think the NFL will ever look at a map and switch Dallas and Carolina? Carolina is clearly in the East and would be a great close rival. Dallas is clearly in the South. While it's a valid statement that they are both southern states, Carolina is north and east of Texas, so … ?

John Schmeelk: Giants-Cowboys, Eagles-Cowboys, and Washington-Cowboys are all traditional and heated NFL rivalries. Despite the geographical factors, maintaining those types of rivalries is more important to the league and franchises in the NFC East than where the teams are located. During the last divisional realignment, Arizona was moved from the NFC East to the NFC West to accommodate geography because they didn't have equally powerful rivalries with the rest of the division.

Kevin in New York: Everything the Giants have done this year has pointed to stopping the pass and being a pass-first offense. Joe Judge even changed course this year in saying it's important to note that the NFL is a passing league. So why wouldn't the Giants open up the offense with the pass?

John Schmeelk: This all comes down to your definition of "open up." Last season, the Giants were 16th in the NFL in pass play percentage, throwing 62.5% of the time (according to Pro Football Focus). There were seven playoff teams ahead of them. Washington and Buffalo were only 1.7% and 1.8% ahead of them, ranking 12th and 13th in the league. Chicago was 2.3% ahead of the Giants.

If this is your definition of "open things up", then maybe that's possible. What stands out, however, are some of the other teams ahead of the Giants. The Cowboys, Falcons, Jaguars, and Texans were in the top 11 of the league in pass play percentage because they were constantly trailing in games and forced to pass to come back, skewing their numbers. The Giants shouldn't be playing from behind nearly as much this season, which should keep their pass numbers down.

The best teams with the highest passing rate were the Chiefs at 67.1% and the Steelers at 66%, followed by the Seahawks and Bucs. What do those four teams have in common? They have veteran quarterbacks with track records of high-volume efficiency. Daniel Jones has progressed in his first two NFL seasons, but does not have a track record to match of Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, or Russell Wilson.

Then there is the matter of the Giants' offensive line, whose strength, at least for now, is run blocking. Finally, there is Saquon Barkley, who needs to have the ball in his hands. Jason Garrett's offenses going back to his time in Dallas have a history of focusing on running the ball successfully and building an explosive passing game off of it.

Mark in Illinois: Do you think in some ways the Eagles moving ahead of the Giants and grabbing DeVonta Smith was actually beneficial to New York, which got extra draft capital in a trade and still drafted a speedy receiver?

John Schmeelk: If Giants fans don't realize the benefit of the trade back, they certainly will next season when they are sitting there with additional first- and fourth-round picks and Kadarius Toney is going into his second season. Hoarding picks is NEVER a bad idea.

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