NYG 27 SF 23

The Giants bested a bad 2-7 team with a come from behind victory. The OL gave enough time for the Offense to function. Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley were able to do damage in enough spots to help the team win.

A word on Jamon Brown, who was picked up off waivers from the Rams. He certainly helped shore up a beleaguered OL. But our analyst, the same one who panned Omameh in May, gives Brown the same review. “Just a guy.” Do not get carried away with visions of grandeur. Yes, Brown was part of a more respectable effort. I don’t want this win to change the need for a rebuild.

On Defense, the Giants lacked a pass rush and the ability to cover the TE. Mullens looked good in his 2nd career start. His inexperience showed at the end, as he didn’t have enough time to win it. It should be noted that when the Giants drove down for the winning TD, the 49ers called a timeout with the play clock at 1 second left. It was a killer because that extra timeout was critical.

Eli collected his 36th come-from-behind win. He was good enough to win vs a weak opponent. But let’s not get overly excited about the win. Eli missed a wide open Beckham, whom if he hits in stride, OBJ is still running. He also missed him uncovered at the goal line in a run formation. It’s a reminder that Eli’s future is not with the Giants. The OL needs to be rebuilt and Eli will not win without a lot of consistent protection.

Ogletree and Collins had trouble in coverage. Collins just doesn’t look like the 2nd year All-Pro Strong Safety from 2016. He’s a half step too slow in coverage of the TE. He’s very good against the run (9 tackles led the team) but the Giants cannot overpay for him when his contract gets renewed.

Special Teams were mixed. They had a lot of big mistakes which were costly. One punt return by SF enabled a FG. Another out of bounds kickoff let SF start a TD drive at their 40. Still, newly acquired Corey Coleman made a great kickoff return to the 47 yd line. That field position allowed the Giants to put together a 53 yd drive for a TD to answer the 49ers and make the game 20-17.

Engram was silent until he wasn’t. He made a big catch on the final comeback drive.

Carter, sans 15 yd personal foul, had an effective game. He racked up 7 tackles with 3 of them for a loss. He’s a gamer who is part of the team’s future.

Goodson collected 2 INTs off of deflected balls. One of those two turnovers led to a TD from the gift-wrapped 5 yd line.

Eli’s still got it, against an albeit weaker team. A better opponent will have a CB who won’t get flagged to kill his team on pass interference on the final drive. A better opponent won’t have their LBer (Smith) out of position on bracketed coverage of Barkley out of the backfield. The Giants capitalized on more of the other team’s errors than the 49ers did to the Giants.

It’s a win. The Giants play another weak team, the 3-6 TB Bucs next weekend. Let’s not lose focus on getting better, and playing rookies. Rebuild.

Patrick Omameh Cut

There are many takeaways to yesterday’s news that the NY Giants cut RG Patrick Omameh. Here are 7 of them.

Some are pointing to the good news that (1) the Giants are quickly taking their losses. Yes, true, it is a valid observation that the front office is confronting the brutal facts. That is a mantra from Jim Collins’ book Good to Great which we preach regularly here on this NY Giants blog. The quicker you respond to problems the faster you will move on.

No one understands the need to take losses and move on better than a (former) trader. That was my day job in a previous life. I get it. Discipline. Next.

Nick Korte of OverTheCap.Com reports that the Giants will get a Round 4 compensatory pick for cutting Omameh (before Week 10). This is proof positive that (2) taking losses here generates something out of a bad situation.

Here’s the rub. The best analogy I can come up with is that the Giants built a dumpster fire for a house and now they are quickly salvaging it by selling the raw lumber before it completely burns down. Is it good that they are moving forward? Yes. But please (3) do not sugar coat this dumpster fire sh*t hole. It’s a dumpster fire sh*t hole.

The Giants signed Omameh for 3 years, $15M, and $5.6M guaranteed. A journeyman Guard just got $11.2/yr adjusted salary. Nice work if you can get it. I won’t link for the 30th time that in May we noted that Omameh was “just a guy, barely.” The Giants are very good lately at wasting time, money, cap dollars, draft picks and seasons with little to show for it. Maybe we should somehow be grateful that Richburg and Pugh had enough value so that the Compensatory draft pick formula yielded some 2019 help. It’s the salvage lumber from a teardown.

(4) The Giants own the distinction of having the #2 amount of dead cap space in 2019 in the NFL. Only the lustrous Buffalo Bills franchise surpasses the Gmen. Ah, the company you keep. This is another reminder of all of the mistakes Reese and Gettleman have made.

Gettleman has to take the lumber and (5) REBUILD. As big a disaster as the 2018 Free Agency campaign was, at least the GM snagged 4 very solid players in the Draft. Barkley, Hernandez, Carter and Hill show promise for the future. Be patient. Draft young Offensive Lineman. Whoever the next QB is, give him the support structure that Reese robbed Manning of in the last half of his career. That is the way out of this hole.

(6) Stop digging in the “Win-Now” Free Agency rat race. Everyone knows that FA means B players for A prices. It’s ok to grab one player here or there. But if you are feeding at that trough every year, your organization is going to bleed resources over the long haul. I’m not talking about the role players that every team needs to pick up. I’m talking about consistently buying the big splash high priced ticket items. Just. Say. No. The most successful NFL franchises don’t do this (regularly each year). Work the Draft/UFAs. Stop chasing the Omamehs and Solders. Stop dropping $3M on the Stewart’s. Reese’s failures started this Free Agency binge to fill in the holes. It’s a bad habit. (7) The most important takeaway from Omameh is not the player or decision but the failure of over-reliance on Free Agency.

Giants Review

The NY Giants are 1-7. One thing we can all agree on is that this season has gone horribly wrong. In the post from last Sunday, we quantified the 2018 records. These objective results for every team quantified relative outperformance and underperformance. The Giants and Raiders are dead last by this measure.

This past Winter, UltimateNYG’s analyst Wonder believed that #NYG needed to rebuild. We chronicled his negative reviews of Solder(‘s contract), Omameh and the decision to take a RB vs our collective stance of QB/Trade Down.

NY Giants management did not confront the deep rooted problems. Not Reese. Not Gettleman/Shurmur. A little bit later we will discuss the John Mara role.

Wonder (in the off-season) was clear about the lack of patience. He was surprised at how the Giants were trying to win now. Wonder was baffled as to why Gettleman didn’t use his very first year to rebuild. If there is any moment in a GM’s tenure that has the grace for an allotment of patience, it’s the first year. It would be completely understandable to shelve a 37 year old QB and retool.

Our analyst’s prediction of 6-10 was a not-so-polite yet objective assessment before a single snap of the 2018 season. This has little to do with why he was right but everything to do with why the Giants braintrust was wrong.

Where did the assessment fail? You have to start at the Offensive Line. After Norwell was lost in a FA fight with Jacksonville, the Giants quickly pivoted to Solder, and then Omameh. 20-20 hindsight gives us the benefit of knowing this was a disaster. Even Wonder, who panned the Solder move, didn’t see his play being this bad this quickly. But he did see Solder as significantly overpaid and he disliked the Omameh signing. At the time, Giants fans response to Wonder’s critique of Solder was uniform: what other choice was there? The answer was Wonder’s— REBUILD. This is where the Giants sold themselves and their fan base a narrative that was built to fail. The premise was that while retooling from 3-13, the Giants would be able to get competitive. In 2018! That was the error. They assumed the injuries of last year were holding the team back and that the bolstering of the OL would rejuvenate Eli Manning. Neither happened. The deterioration of the OL actually accelerated Eli Manning’s poor play.

How does one expect 5 new players (Flowers at a new position) to be solid? One of the curious moves that may have had something to do with the demise took place when Jones was shipped for a R7 draft pick. It was all about money savings but deprived the Giants of needed depth and a respectable run blocker. Remember it was Jones and Fluker who helped stabilize the OL/run blocking in the 2nd half of 2017. I’m still trying to figure out why the best/value of the OL from last season was let go. Fluker is having a better year too this year, for anyone who wants to look up that burnt bridge. Bottom line- bad selection of players and severe overestimation of the OL’s ability to do its job killed 2018 and did very little to help its future. Solder was win now. Omameh was an over-hyped plug-in. Flowers was a last attempt patch. Halapio and Hernandez were the only two players who could be groomed. Halapio got hurt, so without Jones for depth it was an aging Greco. The bottom line is that Hernandez is the only player who can (reliably) be seen making it through to 2020+.

Bad breaks? Injuries are a part of football when the quantity/nature of the aggregate are factored in. This year has not seen an egregious number of injuries and we are not seeing an excessive amount of soft tissue incidents (beyond a rash of hamstrings in preseason). The Giants are (generally speaking) not seeing anything close to the kind of injuries they saw in 2017/earlier in the decade. The only big losses were Vernon and Engram, and they are both playing right now. Engram’s ineffectiveness has hurt the Offense. But every team has experienced overall losses that are greater than this. When your starting QB, LT, RB, WR1 and WR2 are able to start every game, 2018 is not about injuries.

What is the role of John Mara in all of this? It is hard to assign blame accurately when the owner’s role in football operations is not completely clear. One thing we do know- he was the one who brought in Ernie Accorsi to head up the search for a new GM. Accorsi was a NY Giant insider, the GM from 1998-2006. He put forth 4 candidates:

  1. Dave Gettleman. Insider. Worked for the Giants from 1998-2012. He was an Accorsi guy.
  2. Marc Ross. Insider. He was an intern for the Giants out of college in 1996 and got a job with Reese in 2007. He worked for the team from 2007-2017 and was the VP of Player Personnel.
  3. Kevin Abrams. Insider. He has worked for the Giants for the past 20 years and is still the Asst GM.
  4. Louis Riddick. Outsider. He played for Belichick  and Saban in Cleveland. He was an NFL scout for the Eagles and Redskins, and also was a Director of Player Personnel for the Redskins.

The way we saw it, Ross and Abrams did not have a chance. It was either Gettleman or Riddick. And Riddick did not have a chance either because he was an Outsider. That is the fingerprint of John Mara. He went with the words of George Young, staying inside the organization with someone he knew. The problem with that analysis is that the Giants are a corroding body with a desperate need for new life from OUTSIDE the organization.

George Young was put forth as an Outsider by another Outsider (Pete Rozelle). John Mara brought in an Insider (Accorsi) to find an Insider (Gettleman). If you wanted to get meaningful change, it wasn’t going to be through this route. Why bring up Young and Rozelle? Because that was the antidote to a decade of ugly football in the 1970’s. The comparisons of uncompetitive teams from that era have a similar ring to them here in 2018. Mara thinks that the problems are incremental, not structural. He is part of the problem because he resists change.

Gettleman picked 4 good players in the Draft (Barkley, Hernandez, Carter, and Hill). But he has failed in epic fashion in Free Agency and his decision to forego QB (or trade down to retool a depleted roster) will be questioned until the Giants win another title or his tenure finishes, whichever comes first. Would it surprise you that Wonder preferred Riddick? It does not require a lot of imagination to see that Riddick would have most likely drafted a QB and had him learn under Eli this season. I’m willing to bet that whoever Riddick selected as Head Coach (doubtful it would have been Shurmur) would already have the rookie QB playing as Eli faultered. The organization set off upon a different path. We can only speculate at what might have been.  Yes, we do not know what Riddick would have done, but I am fairly certain it would have been a different path. Gettleman tried to win now. The NY Giants are 1-7 and lack the roster to compete. The GM and Head Coach have a lot of work to do. They need to rebuild.

Objective Performance Measurement

Which teams are having relatively good years? Which teams are having relatively poor seasons? By comparing each team to their Over/Under lines before the start of games this fall, we get a cleaner and clearer understanding of over and underperformance.

The strength of schedule of the NY Giants is easier in the second half of the season than it was in the first half. But they still play a lot of teams that now rate to be favored over them (SF, CHI) that were previously penciled in as Wins before the 2018 campaign began. Thus, assuming each team’s strength of schedule in its remaining games is equal to what it faced in the first ~half, we take that projection and then subtract the preseason Las Vegas win total to arrive at an objective net that encapsulates over or underperformance so far this year. As a sample calculation, the Giants have 16 games, only played 8, so would be expected to win 2 total if they replicate the 1-7 record amassed thus far. Their O/U line was 7.25, because the betting line was adjusted down via the skew one needed to lay in order to bet Under 7.5. So 2 minus 7.25 equals -5.25 wins. Let’s sort by Performance. The results are helpful in seeing with clarity who is having a relatively better or worse year than expected.

LAR +5.75

KC +5.5

WAS +4.2

NO +4

CIN +3.25

CAR +2.7

CHI +2.4

LAC +1.7

SEA +1.4

DEN +1.25

HOU +1.25

MIA +1.25

NE +0.75

PIT 0

BAL -0.25

NYJ -0.25

TB -0.6

DET -0.65

CLE -0.75

IND -0.75

TEN -1.1

MIN -1.25

DAL -1.4

AZ -1.75

BUF -1.75

GB -2.25

PHL -2.25

ATL -2.4

JAC -3.25

SF -4.7

NYG -5.25

OAK -5.25

The NY Giants and the Oakland Raiders are bringing up the rear. It’s more revealing to look at this in order to see that teams like CLE and BUF are not a significant downside surprise. Any team +/- 2.4 wins is within 1 standard deviation of normal. That makes a great deal of sense too from the perspective that 1 win or loss would throw the result by ~2 games, hence the error in this mid season evaluation.

From this lense of a hurdle of +/- 2.4 net performance, the Giants are beyond that measure. Whether the Giants were 1-7 or 2-6, they would still be having a bad season, as defined by this preseason objective criteria. Additionally, with the Giants tied with the Raiders for dead last, it shows how disappointing the team has been versus expectations. It objectively quantifies the underachievement of Gettleman and Shurmur in putting together a product that they believed could win now.