NFL Medley

Lots of items to note in no particular order. NFL Playoff Fool’s Gold, Giants GM search, Dallas’s early exit and dismantling the perception of the NY Giants as a “class organization.”

1) False Narrative. There is this false narrative about needing “2 scores” at the end of a football game. Here is the situation. It is late in the 4th Quarter, and the team is down by 10 (or 11) points. So it needs a FG + TD to tie (or an unlikely 2 TDs to win). Obviously there is going to be variability in the setup- the precise amount of time left on the clock, the number of timeouts they have, how powerful the Offenses and Defenses are etc. Announcers use this crutch about the “2 score game.” So when the Raiders are down by 10 points and they drive down to the Bengals 10 yard line with 3:34 left, only 1 timeout left, and it is 4th & 3, what do you do? The popular “2-score” narrative says get one of the scores (FG) and come back on the next possession to collect the other (TD). This implies that FGs are interchangeable with TDs. We all know they are not. The narrative treats them equally, since you need both. But when you are too close to the end zone, that is the time to get the TD, leaving the easier FG for later. As it turned out in this example, the Raiders took the 3, got the 3 & out, and got extremely fortunate to get a 15 yard personal foul call on the final drive, enabling another credible opportunity to get a TD. Typically it is far more difficult. LVR still failed and lost.

2) 17 games. When the NFL expanded to a 17 game season, we railed against the unnecessary greed of ownership in milking the lengthier regular season. Did anyone feel that they needed an extra week to see who was playoff worthy? No. I am sure there are plenty of players who did not need an extra week’s abuse to their bodies.

3) Playoff Worthy. More NFL greed delivered it’s second season of 14 out of 32 teams qualifying for the playoffs. Were you one of the fans duped into the excitement of 6 games this weekend? How many of them did you watch? How many of them did you watch all the way through? I’m willing to bet not as much as you would have expected. Here’s the dynamic most are not discussing- that extra set of 2 teams making the playoffs is facing the #2 seed. That is an elite team with ~one of the best 4 records in the NFL. So instead of the 2 top seeds getting a bye and then seeing 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5, we see only the top seed getting a bye and the 2 seed playing the new 7 seed. This 7 seed exposes what I refer to as the “soft underbelly” of the NFL, a team good enough to feast off of the NFL dregs, but not really worthy of a playoff berth. The result? Blowouts. Consider that TB put on a clinic, running the score to 31-0 before 7 seed PHL got a TD late in Q3 and made it a final score of 31 to 15 lipstick-on-a-pig points. Consider that KC throttled PITT, running the score up to 35-7 before some fluff in garbage time made the game appear slightly more competitive at 42-21. So some of the scribes put out the reckoning of these 2 vs 7 matchups as “73-36.” Awful. But it was far worse, really 66-7. And when we remind ourselves that the lone 7 points was a botched handoff from a Running Back ran in for a defensive score, it is really a 66-0 total wipeout. Why? Because Philadelphia and Pittsburgh had impressive seasons, frankly overachieving, yet neither really deserved to be in the playoffs at 9-8 and 9-7-1. I am sure we will see some 7 seeds make the playoffs with losing records. What is the regular season worth? What are the playoffs worth? This year, the Eagles and Steelers beat ATL, CAR, DET/tie, DEN (2x), NO, NYJ, WAS (2x), NYG, SEA, CLE(2x), CHI, and BAL(2x). (The only victory vs a playoff team was when PIT beat an injury-ravaged TEN team playing without AJ Brown, Derrick Henry and Julio Jones.) So when you look at who those wins were against, it is the precise definition of the soft underbelly. Is this what the NFL wants its playoffs to look like? Money for nothing and the chicks for free? Don’t be the chump thinking you got an extra week of football and 2 extra playoff games. It is Fool’s Gold. You got nothing except uncompetitive football. Generally speaking that is what most of these 2 vs 7 matchups will look like. If you think the NFL will ever go back to 6 teams to defend the quality of its product, I have a bridge to sell you.

4) External GM. The Giants are casting a wide net, interviewing many people from around the NFL. Contrast the 2017 Accorsi search of 3 Giants cronies (Gettleman, Ross and Abrams) + one outsider (Riddick) with this one. They have interviewed 7 candidates from 5 different franchises. This is what we wanted.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

Abraham Maslow

All 7 candidates are scouts. I do not mind hiring a Scout as my next GM. I mind only looking at ALL scouts as my prospective slate of candidates. Yes, right now we are thrilled that we aren’t getting the Giant crony show anymore. We still want to look at other NFL Executives who are not necessarily from just one mold.

5) Over and done. Dallas has been to the playoffs 11 times since winning the Super Bowl in 1995. They are 4-11 in playoff games since that time, without ever making it past the Divisional round. Yesterday’s loss was filled with so many blunders; it would require a lengthy blog post to chronicle them all. 14 penalties. 14! Many of them were pre snap. But let’s talk about just one boneheaded play… late in the game, DE Randy Gregory was blocked and couldn’t seal the edge. The RB ran wide, and the play was effectively over for Gregory. But what does Gregory do? He grabs the blocker and tackles him! Defensive holding, automatic first down with 1:38 remaining. Instead of 3rd & 9, it is 1st & 10. You think that an extra 2 downs, 5 yards, and 1 minute of clock could have helped the Cowboys? Insane. The only thing more insane is that there were many other bonehanded self-destructing plays along the way.

6) Class Organization. How many times over the last number of decades did we hear that the NY Giants are a class organization? The consensus has been for decades that the Gmen run things properly with respect for all people. Well, we have been chronicling the dysfunction of the organization over the past decade, and it is worth another look. Consider:

(a) Callous treatment of employees. Tom Coughlin walks by John Mara without shaking his hand. Maybe a Head Coach who was with the organization for 15 years as a Head Coach + WR Coach, and was a part of 3 Super Bowls, should not have been mishandled by Mara. He was forced out. It was icy cold. Coughlin has taken the high road but he did not like the way he was treated on the way out.

(b) Divisiveness. NY Giants Director of Scouting Chris Pettit sidled up to Mara nepotism crony Tim McDonnell to provide cover and protect his job. How many others are politically maneuvering inside those walls, with casualties? How is there meritocracy? How are employees supporting one another when one of them is selfishly protecting himself with cover from a family member? John Mara indignantly rejected ideas of nepotism, but Pettit’s self-serving behavior is not what you expect from what should be a ‘class organization.’

(c) Financial F***ery. Former TE Scott Simonson was given the shaft from Gettleman.

(d) Medium Pepsi-Gate. It is almost ridiculous comedy of ‘life imitating art’ when the cheap ****s at the Giants can only spare themselves a Medium Pepsi for the PSL patrons during Fan Appreciation day. Then they pull back the offering by limiting the 30 cents of sugar water to only the PSL purchaser and not his/her other PSL seats.

We have to put this in perspective. Let’s say there are 15K PSLs. That’s ~$5K in free soda. OH golly, if they gave that freebie to the other 3 seats that the PSL owner held, that would be a whopping $20K! But the Giants can’t afford it because they are only getting ~$400MM per year in revenue. Hey, they have to pay off those extra millions in contracts to Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge, c’mon things are tight.

(e) The Eli Manning memorabilia scandal. The firings of Giants equipment personnel was quietly handled but nonetheless a black eye for the “class” organization that was tarred with impropriety.

(f) Domestic violence. Re-signing Josh Brown and the uncovering of what was known when he was re-signed is another reminder that this organization is no longer one of ‘class.’ Clueless Mara was hit with fan outrage at his passive support of Brown.

(g) Mara scapegoating of Reese and McAdoo for the Eli benching. Class organizations take responsibility. Mara was part of the decision, and would have been wise to take the heat. Instead, the owner ducked and then fired them.

(h) Gettleman’s handling of Landon Collins. If you do not want to re-sign a former All-Pro, isn’t he worth a 5-10 minute meeting to tell him personally that you are going in a different direction? Classless. Then again, Gettleman’s arrogance was well known before being hired as GM. But arrogance they wanted, arrogance they got.

(i) PSL guise. We have discussed ad nauseum how John Mara emptied the trust between the fans and ownership. PSLs forced family rites to be mortgaged. Goodwill to decades of loyal customers was destroyed in a few months. The nosebleed high cost of PSLs forced out many who could not afford it, wiped out a 15+ year waiting list, pushed many fans out of preferred seats, and reduced much of the paying membership to corporates who disintegrated the energy of the crowds. Worse, mismanagement of the team has made licenses effectively worthless. Stories abound of fans surrendering the licenses back to the Giants just so that they can rid themselves of the ball & chain obligation of seeing losing season after season. Eventually this bear market will end and sunnier skies will return, but is undeniable that the generational traditions of Giants customers were tapped dry.

Go ahead and call the Giants a class organization. I am sure that Tom Coughlin, Scott Simonson, Landon Collins, former/PSL owners, former/employees and others have different ideas.

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