Denial is a River

One of the blessings of this dreadful season for me personally is that I have given up the weekly game recaps. No longer do I have to chronicle the mishaps and regurgitate the misery of yet another season of dysfunction.

Sunday evening I read a quick story on the “anger” of John Mara. He was smart enough (ostrich) to leave the building without saying anything to the media. That is the problem with John Mara. He is just smart enough to think highly enough of his abilities, yet not smart enough to accept COMPLETE responsibility for the state of the franchise. Does he truly understand that he needs to hold himself accountable for everything? This blogger is fairly certain that Mara is in denial- it is his franchise and his decisions that have sent this franchise to this place. We will not see the kind of meaningful change that we noted here (almost a year ago to the day in November) until Mara reaches that point where he realizes his methods and his decisions have been the source of the persistent losing.

We know it is a rebuild. We have been using that word for quite some time. 2-8 should not bother me. The reason it does bother me (greatly) is that this team keeps making weak decisions and keeps underachieving on the field. It is okay to rebuild and admit you are rebuilding. It is not okay to have such poor coaching limit the development of the rookies you are trying to teach. Let’s discuss one glaring example.

The most significant problem in Sunday’s debacle to the Jets was not the loss. It was another pummeling of the heir to the franchise, Daniel Jones. He is a human pinata. People asked me if I was okay with Jones taking the reins when Eli faltered. YES, I said unequivocally! The reason why I was of such strong conviction was because he had a good enough Offensive Line not to become the next David Carr, so let’s get on with his matriculation. There is no time like the present in today’s post 2011-CBA, where winning with rookie contracts is a strategic edge. That is how you beat the salary cap. Getting Jones the experience today moves up his timetable and moves the franchise ahead. If you can lose with Manning, why not lose with Jones and get him the valuable experience he needs as soon as possible? That is the way the NFL works in 2019.

The crux to that argument is “David Carr.” David Carr was the rookie QB who was subjected to 76 sacks in his first year in the NFL. He never recovered. For lack of a better word, he became “hard-wired” to bad practices and failure. Let’s look at this list of leaders in sacks for rookie QBs. It is instructional in WHAT NOT TO DO. Do you see guys like Warren Moon and Jim Kelly up there? Pay no attention to them. Moon played for SIX YEARS in the CFL before coming to the NFL. He was no rookie. Kelly went to the USFL in 1983 and did not arrive in Buffalo until 1986. He was MVP of the USFL in 1984 and threw for 10,000 yards in that league before it folded. He was no rookie either. When you start at the top of the list and go down, it is littered with …. litter…. defunct players who never got on track. You can’t successfully develop a QB this way. But this is precisely what Shurmur is doing. Shurmur is so lost behind that playcalling sheet that he is on his way to potentially destroying the future of this franchise, Daniel Jones.

Let’s do some numbers. 76 sacks in 16 games was insane. Note how it was 20 sacks ahead of the #2 on the list. TWENTY SACKS. So David Carr was destroyed. His rate was 4.75 sacks per game. Average. Do you know the average number of sacks of Daniel Jones took the past 4 games? It is 5.5/game. If we use all 8 games he has started, it is still 4 sacks/game, a rate which would finish him at 56 sacks in a season with 2 games less than Carr. At the current spiraling rate of the past 4 games, Jones would be subjected to a total of 65 sacks. Shurmur is currently negligent in turning his rookie QB into a career-scarred pinata.

My memory of 2002 is not great, but I remember David Carr battling just like Jones is battling. That is what rookies do. They stand in the pocket longer because their bodies can take the abuse and they want to win at all costs. Those instincts are good, but only on the surface. Look at where it got Andrew Luck. Just because you “can” take a hit does not mean you want to be exposing yourself to unnecessary physical abuse. Not in a rebuild. Not in your first year. I like a QB who can hang in the pocket and take a hit. Yet I also hate a rookie who is subjecting himself to too much abuse. We already delineated why this is Shurmur’s responsibility a few weeks ago. The only difference now is that it just continues each week, week after week. No, not 8 per game. But 8 sacks, 3 sacks, 5 sacks, 6 sacks. It has gotten worse as the wheels have come off for Solder (concussion) and Remmers. When you lose whatever semblance of order you have on your Offensive Line, you need to adjust. But therein lies the problem with Pat Shurmur. He cannot see the forest for the trees because he is not managing his team. He is too busy managing playcalling. The team suffers. Daniel Jones suffers. The franchise suffers. And John Mara is angry.

Let’s discuss another example of losing the forest within the trees- Saquon Barkley. Every Giant fan could see Barkley was NOT Barkley on Sunday. He was running the ball without the cuts he is famed for, and his pass blocking was worse. Yet Shurmur had him in there and was calling his number over and over. If Barkley were making great moves and deserving of touches, that would be one thing, but this was not that day.

Quarter: Carries (yards)
Q1: 2, 3,
Q2: 0, -3, 3, 1, 2
… hello McFly …. McFly …
Q3: -2, 0, -1
… earth to Shurmur, earth to Shurmur ….
Q4: 0, -4

13 carries for 1 total yard. He was hurt. What is going on here?

Are we going to see adjustments in scheme? Does Jones get subjected to another 6 games of physical abuse? Or do we get a Head Coach who can see the forest for the trees?

Let’s go back to selecting an Outsider. Mara chose the septuagenarian insider Accorsi to select the sexagenarian insider Gettleman, who in turn selected Shurmur. The word was that Patricia and Daniels were preferred but skipped on the Giants. Why? I suspect it was because they understood what kind of franchise the Giants were. It is a franchise with too much loyalty and nepotism. Loyalty gets you Accorsi, Abrams, Gettleman and Ross in the mix for the GM position. Gettleman was a safe choice. Shurmur was a safe choice, a grown up with experience. No risk, no reward. These decisions are too safe and too familiar. I’d rather lose with a process which interviews 4 outsiders and finds one with the references that stand out. Mara is afraid of what that kind of change will do to his organization. Fans are tired of an organization that is too comfortable with losing. Shurmur is very good at losing, and Gettleman/Mara have to much hubris to face the music.

 

 

Wonder on All 32 Teams after Week 8

One liners from UltimateNYG’s draft analyst Wonder on all 32 teams

NE  Does anyone else know how to coach?
BUF Kudos to Bills organization, designing a team for the cold weather.
NYJ  Unless you are RWilson or KMurray, no QB can survive without an OL.
MIA Still tanking for Tua, but should tank for Lawrence in 2021 instead.

KC  Please Mahomes, come back, we miss you!
OAK Las Vegas fans should be encouraged about the future.
LAC Worse than an enigma.
DEN If only Elway could draft Elway.

BAL Harbaugh can coach. Jackson is undefendable.
PIT The era is over. Time to start anew.
CLE If this is a Dream Team, what is a nightmare?
CIN Time for Cincinnati to pack up and go. Oklahoma?

IND Good job by Reich to keep his players focused.
HOU Watt is done. He and O’Brien have to go.
JAC If Ramsey wasn’t an a******, and Foles wasn’t hurt, might be a 2 seed.
TEN So disappointed in Mariota.

DAL Jason Garrett must have compromising pictures of Jerry Jones.
PHL Too busy reading their press clippings from 2 years ago.
NYG Shurmur is not the answer, and neither is Gettleman.
WAS The other 31 owners should force Snyder to sell.

SF  Lynch and Shanahan have been amazing.
SEA Russell Wilson should be renamed Houdini.
LAR What happened to the 2017 coach of the year?
AZ  Kingsbury and Murray are on their way. Get ready NFL.

GB  Was McCarthy that bad, or was their Defense that bad?
MIN I can’t tell if you win because of Zimmer or in spite of Zimmer.
DET Doing better with Patricia than I would have guessed.
CHI Last year’s coach of the year is in a serious sophomore slump.

NO  Sean Payton and Drew Brees are second only to Belichick and Brady.
CAR What happened to Cam Newton and the Panthers after 2015?
TB  Winston = Loser.
ATL The D has disappeared after the first half of the Super Bowl.

8 Sacks

I just get through praising the Giants for developing their rookies after the Patriots game, and now this. The Giants went from a “Good Loss” to a “Bad Loss” in literally one game.

So why is the 27-21 loss to Arizona a Bad Loss?

8 SACKS.

It is time to quote Joe Gibbs (paraphrased) once again: “I will not throw the ball unless I can block it up.”

Or this simple quote: “We are supposed to be watching the QBs and protecting them.”

Pat Shurmur is too busy with his head up his a** calling (lousy) plays to be bothered with the Head Coaching responsibility of not killing your QB. To be fair to me now, last week I also reminded everyone that until Shurmur gave up playcalling, there would be an inability for this franchise to move forward with him at the helm. Last October, almost a year ago to the day, I called Shurmur a loser. When you sit idly by watching your QB take 8 sacks, you are now in David Carr negligence land. Wake. The. ****. Up. Help your QB. Help your OL.

A Coach cannot let a new QB get pummeled like this. I know some of you are blaming Jones for this. Jones has enough poise and enough fight that he will take 30 sacks if he thinks he can hold onto that ball a little longer to get a Win. That is the mindset of a rookie. The head coach has to know better. The reason why I supported going to Jones was because I believed that the OL would not be so bad to turn him into David Carr. Well, when you playcall and allow your QB to get sacked 8 times (and I am not counting all of the knockdowns), that is on the coach.

I think I saw one screen pass called and it was a miserable failure. Frankly, if I had to practice the screen all week (oh btw, did we mention the Giants had 10 days to get ready for the 30th ranked Defense of the Cardinals??), that would be an acceptable use of the team’s time. Let’s remind everyone, when you have a liability in your pass blocking, use

  • 3 step dropbacks
  • limited 5 step dropbacks
  • flares
  • RB/TE chips
  • max protect
  • screens
  • design rollouts
  • draws
  • MORE screens

anything to slow down the pass rush. Help your QB regain rhythm. Chandler Jones had 4 sacks by himself. Blame Daniel Jones all you want for holding onto the ball too long. He has lost his clock and needs to be helped. It is the Head Coach’s and the Offensive Coordinator’s job to help him. But those two people are one and the same Pat Shurmur.

I am not a big Francesa lover. He’s a pompous a** too often. But in this moment, because of his bias against the Giants leadership, he at least can offer a candid and brutal assessment

If you watch the coach’s press conference after another terrible performance you understand why the Giants are a gift 2-5 ( should be 1-6) and why he is a career loser. He is clueless.

Some gems from the Presser (with my comments in italics)…

Q: What has been your impression on (Jones) up until this point?

Oh really? Is that the best you got? He is regressing, you are allowing him to get crushed, and that’s what you have… yes, Mike, he is clueless.
Q: Were you surprised the offensive line had a tough time with their group?

A: I don’t know if I was surprised. We’ll go back and look at why it happened. They’ve got some really good players up front. We face good players every week.

You’re kidding right? If you weren’t surprised, then why did you let your QB get the snot beat out of him? Why did you sit idly by while he was exposed to unnecessary hits and too many opportunities for turnovers? Why weren’t you adjusting? 

Q: You’re 0-4 on those (challenges of pass interference), you know they probably won’t get overturned, so why do you continue to do it?

A: Because I think it still makes sense in situations like that, where those are large chunks of yardage to give it a shot.

Wake up. They are not overturning anything on pass interference. Are you stupid? Or just insane?

Q: Does anything about Daniel’s play today concern you?

A: No, just try to get him better on the things that didn’t go well for him, that’s all.

Just clueless.

If you think Mike Francesa or I am biased about the Giants Head Coach, let’s go to Linda Cohn of ESPN, who is certainly evenhanded and no coach-killer…

I have yet to hear Pat Shurmur admit he’s made a mistake. He’s had plenty to admit since becoming Giants head coach. Every decision he makes was the right one according to him.

Afterwards, Kimberly Jones recounts the exchange about whether Daniel Jones’ play is concerning to him, and Shurmur’s response, “No.” Nothing? “No.” To which Cohn replies: “I rest my case.”

Look in the mirror. Take some responsibility. Wake up to what you are doing to your QB. Wake up to the fact that you are hurting the team by remaining as the playcaller. Losers lose. This is a rebuilding year. Against other rebuilding teams like the Cardinals you have to beat the competition. Shurmur beat himself.

I was thinking the Jets game would be a win, but watching Darnold come back from mono and how he energized the team gives me pause. Consider that the Giants have to face DET DAL NYJ CHI GB PHL…. they may lose the next 6 games if they are not careful. Even if they beat the Jets (not a given) they would be 3-10. But that is what it is looking like when your franchise’s head coach is not a head coach.

Giants Glass More Than Half Full

There are four types of games you see from a team:

Good Win.

Bad Win.

Good Loss.

Bad Loss.

Before the Thursday Night Football game between the NY Giants and the New England Patriots was played, it had all the markings of a “bad loss.” Hell, if you didn’t watch the game and just looked at the final score (35-14), you’d be even more convinced that it was an ugly bad loss.

That would be mistaken.

This game was a Good Loss, if there ever was one. In fact, it was a Great Loss. How can losing ever be good, let alone great?? The answer is in how you compete.

Let’s roll back to the play of the game. There is 8:33 left on the clock in Q4. The Giants have the ball. They are down one score, 21-14. Of the 21 points the Patriots have scored, one TD was off of a punt block and another off of an INT from 20 yards out. The Defense, in short, was playing its a** off. This game was a far cry from the misery (bad losses) we witnessed at the beginning of the season.

So with 8:33 left the Giants hand the ball off to rookie UFA RB Jonathan Hilliman, and <poof> fumble. Van Noy scoops up the ball, scampers in the remaining 22 yds, game over. Hilliman graced the Gmen with 2 fumbles in 3 games as a backup signee when Barkley/Gallman went down. He was cut Friday. Hilliman was not part of the Giants 2019 rebuild.

Do not get distracted by Hilliman’s awful turnover or the result of the game. The Giants were without Evan Engram. The Giants were without Saquon Barkley. The Giants were without Sterling Shepard. Freak out all you want about Daniel Jones’ 3 INTs, but that’s a mistake. Jones had zero run game. He had Tate and the promising rookie Darius Slayton. That’s it. The Giants played toe to toe with the Super Bowl Champions and they competed. They fought. They forced two turnovers on downs. Even with 2 sloppy TDs allowed, they were within one score of the Pats. In all, 3 of 5 TDs allowed were not on the Defense. Since the Offense was decimated, it was all the more reason to see the effort differently, as each Unit was (theoretically) unable to help the other. Time of possession (39 min for NE) was one macro statistic which demonstrated how the loss of key Offensive personnel hurt not one but both Units. For the Giants to be in the game at the time of Hilliman’s fumble is impressive.

Rebuilding means getting rookies meaningful snaps. There was an interesting article in USA Today which runs through Football Moneyball. Great read. Shout out to Bruce R for the assist. I could spend many posts talking about the conclusions from a workup on VAMP. I will mention one here- the way the CBA works, you need to leverage your rookie contracts to gain a strategic edge in managing cap resources. Teaching, coaching, developing and playing younger players is the way to get better in a hurry. Daniel Jones (243 snaps), Dexter Lawrence (238 snaps), Deandre Baker (365 snaps), Oshane Ximines (227 snaps) and Darius Slayton (19 targets) are getting meaningful game time, which bodes well for their collective future as well as that of the Giants.

Miscellaneous random comments:

  • Dixon’s punting motion is too slow
  • Dexter Lawrence is on an incredible trajectory to become All-Pro quickly (Year 2 or Year 3)
  • The challenge for Pass Interference is a phantom reserved for Saints muggings only
  • (Barring major sustained injuries in his career) Daniel Jones is a franchise QB
  • I said it here last November, repeating, Shurmur is not the answer (give up playcalling and then we can potentially revisit that)
  • Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter were two keys to the season, and both made impact plays Thurs night (uncoincidentally, another key, Engram’s health, worked the opposite way)
  • When we pan the decision to take Barkley at 1.02 overall while he’s literally #1 on our draft board, understand Positional Value (see link above) and injuries. Love the player, love the man, but RB is not how you win titles.
  • Darius Slayton is going to be special. Despite missing a lot of camp, 3 preseason games + Weeks 1-2, he’s making a lot of plays. He got some schooling in NE, but that’s great.

Summary: Great effort, close game. The Giants fought hard w/o a lot of core personnel. The Final Score is misleading. The Giants are not going to make the playoffs this season, but they are competing. Rookie playing time augers for increased competitiveness in 2020 and 2021.