Category Archives: Giants

Good Draft?

If you object to the NFL holding a draft right now, you won’t get an argument from me.  If you object to the NFL trying to frame that draft as a way to help the economy and beat this virus when they have taken almost $5-billion in public money to build stadiums, you will get a standing ovation from me.  But let’s face it, we don’t matter, and I’m sure ESPN played a big part in the decision to hold the draft.

I didn’t watch, and I am getting settled with the Giants’ picks, so here is my thinking about all that happened for the team I hope to root on in some better future (but probably from the comfort of my couch)

I’ve said it before, but it is worth repeating.  Draft grades are stupid and all you can do when you evaluate a draft is decide if they have tried to address their biggest holes.  I think the Giants did that.  Let’s review what they needed to do in order.

1- Improve the offensive line

2- Improve the defense- outside of the defensive line

3- Build depth at wide receiver.

So here’s how they allocated their ten picks.

1- 3 offensive linemen

2- 3 defensive secondary players

3- 3 linebackers

4- 1 edge rushers

The only thing I can argue with is the lack of a wide receiver.  Golden Tate is old, Sterling Shepherd is concussion prone, and the only depth behind them is Slayton.  This was considered a great draft for wide receivers, so not getting any is a demerit.  But, they clearly addressed the two biggest needs,  They have three linemen in their top five picks so they tried to address that hole. Every other player they drafted was for the  back 7/8 of their defense (depending on the set) so they met that need. I can’t argue with the individual picks because I’m not informed enough to do so.  The Giants addressed their two biggest needs and that’s a win in my book.

Eli Retires

Eli Manning will officially retire Friday at a press conference.

I’m not surprised as he has won two titles and earned the most money to date of any NFL player.  The only question that remains is if he makes the Hall of Fame, and unless he found a team that could win a Super Bowl next year, and wanted him to start, I don’t think he could improve on the case his career has already made, and he probably would have hurt it.  Joe Namath is in the Hall of Fame and I think Eli should be too.  He’s one of five players to win multiple Super Bowl MVP’s- Tom Brady, obviously not yet eligible, is the only one besides Eli not in the Hall of Fame.

I’m not sure, Giants fans ever really got Eli.  He did his job, week after week, and did it well.  He made over 200-straight career starts, which looks even better when you consider the fact that Daniel Jones couldn’t make even ten-straight. When the pressure was on, he delivered.  He is the best QB this franchise ever produced, and outside of LT, probably it’s greatest player.

Yes, he wasn’t as good as his brother, but how many QBs were?  (I would say Peyton is in a class with Brady, Montana, Unitas, and Marino) For 16 seasons the Giants had an answer for the toughest job in sports and Eli handled it with class and humility.  The Giants and New York will really miss him.

 

A Good Start

Joe Judge was very impressive in his introductory press conference. He checked all the boxes you would want and I thought some of his answers were very good. I especially liked his comments about how you have to understand that all players learn differently and it is your job as a coach to figure that out. You could see why Judge is on the cusp of a PhD in Education.

But this is also the third time we have seen this in four years. McAdoo, Schumer, and now Judge. Judge sounds good, but he has a long road ahead of him. He needs to assemble a staff, help hit a home run with the #4 pick, and figure out how to get the best out of the rest of the players. Maybe he does it, maybe he doesn’t. Let’s see a couple of seasons of actual football before we evaluate him.

They Have to Nail This

I was going through the list of NYC-area head coaches in my mind today trying to figure out which of the nine has the longest tenure. The Giants fired their coach last week, and the Devils and Knicks did the same in December. The Mets just hired Beltran and the Jets only hired Adam Gase last year. I knew the Rangers and Islanders had hired coaches close to the same time in 2018, so that left the Yankees and Nets in the running. Aaron Boone amazingly is second in tenure after two seasons to Kenny Atkinson, who could be in trouble with a 16-18 record. I can’t remember another period in NY sports where the coaching turnover was so in sync.

That brings me to the Giants who had just moved on from Tom Coughlin when Atkinson got the job in Brooklyn. Over the last four seasons we have seen two coaches come and go and now we are about to see the fourth coach in six seasons get the job. That’s a damning indictment for a team that claims to be about stability. And it ramps up the pressure for this next hire.

Consider the state of the team, not ready to contend, but under a ticking clock. Rookie contracts are the great bargains of the NFL and the Giants have their most important skill players still on theirs. They need to take a big step forward next year, and become a legitimate contender in 2021 before Saquon, Jones, Lawrence, Baker, and others reach the end of their rookie deals. That means the next coach has to have a system that will maximize those talents and the GM has to be smart with the draft and the $70-million or so of cap space he has to work with.

It’s a tall order. There are only nine head coaches in the league with five or more seasons in their current job. Turnover is the norm and guys like Belichick (2000), Peyton (2006), Tomlin (2007), and Carrol (2010) are the exception. But the Giants can’t keep doing this. They went from twelve seasons of Coughlin to utter chaos. Choose your next coach wisely, Mr. Mara.

This is a Disaster

Remember when the Giants were 2-2? It was September, so you probably forgot. They’ve now lost eight-straight, one short of their franchise record of nine set in 1976, and they have been officially eliminated from the playoffs. (Chuckle)

The most concerning thing is the utter lack of progress this team has made under Pat Shurmur.  Name one second year player who is having a better year this one than he did last? You can’t, and while Daniel Jones continues to impress, he isn’t enough to save Shurmur’s job. What could save him?  I would say at least two more wins this year, but that is a big ask. Two of the remaining games are against Philly, not what they once were, but much better than the Giants. The other two games are against Miami and Washington, who both have one more win than the Giants currently have.

And when I say at least two more wins, I mean it still might not be enough. The Giants hate to fire coaches, but it is really hard to claim progress if you follow up a 5-11 season with a 4-12 one. Three-straight seasons of double digit losses.  Five of six seasons with double digit losses. This isn’t the 1970’s, but unless something radical happens, it soon will be.

An Offensive Defense

Here are my takeaways from the fourth-straight Giants loss.

 

First, the problem is the defense.

Second, no matter what Daniel Jones does, they aren’t going to win without fixing that defense.

Lastly, they might need a new coach

Jones was really good today and he has been really good when he has a reasonable number of weapons to use  His worst game came when he was missing his top two running backs and top two receivers.  I’m not saying the guy is headed to the Hall of a Fame, but it seems like he is going to be at the very least an average QB in the league for awhile

But no matter what Jones does, the defense has to get a whole lot better.  They give up big plays like candy, don’t come close to putting consistent pressure on the QB, and never get a big stop.  There are some promising players on the front 3, but the eight guys behind them need a lot of work.

And that brings me to the coach who continues to disappoint.  Last week the Giants played a close game after falling behind 17-0.  Today the same thing happened today after falling behind 14-0.  That’s two weeks in a row the team wasn’t ready to play when the game started  Beyond that, he makes bad in-game decisions.  He went for two with over four minutes left in the third quarter and his team down 24-19.  They didn’t make it, and they could have used that extra point when they had an easy field goal on 4th-and-long down 31-19.

But far worse than that was the fourth down decision with just over three minutes in the game, two timeouts left, and a 12-point deficit  They threw a deep ball to the end zone, and a flag was thrown for defensive holding or interference.  But then the refs picked up the flag and Shurmur didn’t challenge.  At that point, the value of the time out you might lose with an unsuccessful challenge, is nothing compared to the value of getting the call made and the ball on Detroit’s 1-yard line.  You have to throw the flag!  Shurmur didn’t and he saw his career record fall to 17-40.

 

 

Let’s Enjoy This

I still don’t know if Daniel Jones is the next coming of Eli Manning or Dave Brown, but I don’t care right now. For one day he captivated us and gave us a reason to believe that the future could be a great one. Let’s just enjoy that and worry about the other stuff tomorrow.

It’s Jones

The Giants made it official, Daniel Jones is starting this week.

Like I said yesterday, I can’t argue with the decision, but I do find the timing odd. All summer long we heard about how Eli was the quarterback and then they pull the plug after two games. Why not go with Jones right from the start then?  Or why not let Eli go this past offseason and save the $17.5-million he will make this year? One of the concerning things about the Giants is they seem to repeatedly misjudge their talent level as a whole. That could be a big issue heading into next season when they will have gobs of salary cap space.

But let’s focus on the past and the present for now.  First, the Giants need to find a way to make Eli happy. If he is happy backing up Jones for the rest of the year and retiring a Giant, then that’s great. If he still wants to play, the Giants need to trade him and not worry about what they get in return. Eli has been one of their greatest players in history and they should treat him as such.

As for Jones, this will be exciting. People are making way too much of the idea that he isn’t ready or won’t have a chance to succeed.  The guy was the sixth-overall pick in the draft, he should be ready!  And if he fails, and that could certainly happen, the Giants will have to jump into the QB pool again next year. Fourteen games will give the Giants a good idea of what they have in Jones and that’s a great thing because the faster they get their QB situation settled, the faster they can get back to winning.

One thing Jones can’t do is play defense. The Giants aren’t going to win a lot of games unless that defense makes some big improvements. Let’s see if the rookies and second-year guys can make the leap.

Sinking

For the sixth time in seven years, the Giants are 0-2. Sunday was a depressing demonstration of a defense that simply can’t handle anyone and an offense that has one true weapon. Some might say that the 2007 Giants rebounded from 0-2, but that team actually had a defense. So what happens now? Well the coach gave a hint- “Eli has been the starter to this point” This is something and there are two ways to parse it.

1- The coach has lost his mind and just wants to cause problems.

2- Daniel Jones is starting Sunday

While I absolutely think 1 is in play, I think 2 is the answer. This season made no sense with Eli taking all the snaps unless they were winning. They are not. And while Eli shouldn’t shoulder all the blame for that, he clearly isn’t elevating his supporting cast. If the Giants want to make the change now, I can’t argue with it.

But here’s the thing, what if it’s 1?  The coach has opened a bad door and if he starts Eli Sunday and they lose, it’s going to get nuts.  And if the answer is 2, they need to get Eli out of here. Would the Saints, Eli’s home town, take him on with Brees hurt?

I don’t know, but the Giants have to cut the cord when they decide to move on. If Eli is the past and Jones is the present, it’s best to get Eli out of here.

When?

In 2004 the Giants got out to a great start at 5-2, but after two consecutive losses, Tom Coughlin decided the future was now and rookie QB, Eli Manning replaced Kurt Warner. It didn’t go well. Manning was terrible and the Giants won only one game the rest of the season. But, not a single Giant fan would change a thing about that decision because it helped to shape the QB who would lead the team to two championships.

Now it is time to transition to the next QB and the Giants will have an easier decision to make. If Eli wins, Jones will stay on the bench until next year. If Eli loses, the transition will happen this year.

The schedule favors Eli.  Week 1 in Dallas is tough, but home against Buffalo, on the road in Tampa, and home against Washington, give the Giants the chance to get off to a solid start. But if they don’t, the cries for Jones will build and after expected losses to Minnesota and New England, there will be a huge upswell for the Arizona game to be Eli’s farewell performance. That game comes about a week before the trade deadline and I could see a 2-5 Giants team try to steer Eli to another club rather than risk humiliating him with a benching.

No matter what happens, the future belongs to Jones. I’m still amazed they took him with the sixth pick, but he hasn’t given us any reason to complain. He’s been great in games, humble in interviews, and worthy of more opportunities. If he succeeds, a lot of people, including me, will need to admit our mistake.

I would be thrilled to do so, but we can’t decide either way until he plays in a game that matters. When that happens is all that this season is about.