NFL Growth + Safety

Jerry Jones just weighed in again with the old NFL greed initiative to cut preseason games down to 2 games and increase the regular season to 18 games. We have a better idea that (1) gets more revenue (2) protects from dilution (3) increases competitiveness and (4) increases player safety. It’s called 11-10.

11-10 refers to an additional bye week where all of the teams that play Thursday Night Football (TNF) get 11 days off prior and 10 days off after their game. Playing Thursday night on 3 days rest? Gone. Healing and recovery would be back, morale from players would return, Thursday night games would be energized, and road teams wouldn’t be disadvantaged.

11-10 takes one game away from preseason and adds a week to the regular season via an additional bye week. The 16 game schedule is not diluted with additional unnecessary contests that lengthen the regular season and put additional injuries/risk on the players. Because players are allowed to recover 10 days instead of 3 days before playing on Thursday night, they’ll all be “ready for some football.” The animosity of players who hated playing on such little rest would be gone.

Poopfest. That is the watered-down word for the way one All-Pro NFL player refers to TNF. Read that link to understand the depths of disgust that players have for the current contests. If owners and fans think that current TNF quality of play is up to the standards that vaulted the NFL to the top of professional sports, well, I have a Bridge to sell you. The current TNF is Dilution 101.

“But your body just won’t have as much to give as it would have had on a full week’s rest… That’s why the quality of play has been so poor on Thursday nights this season. We’ve seen blowouts, sloppy play and games that have been almost unwatchable — and it’s not the players’ faults. Their bodies just aren’t ready to play.”

We have blogged on this topic more than a few times over the past ~12 years. TNF is dilution. An 18 game season is more dilution. Here is one post from UltimateNYG a while back which quotes (now formerly active) players on why they will NEVER agree to an 18 game season.

“What’s in it for us? If we’re going to give you two more games, two more games of wear and tear on our bodies, two more games of potential career-ending injuries, two more games of concussions, blown-out knees, elbows, whatever you want to call it, then what’s the price you’re willing to pay for us to give that to you?”

It is pretty clear that NFL owners are living in Fantasy Land if they think they are getting growth via more regular season games. But they can get growth via another week, while simultaneously lifting TNF quality and ratings. That is a 2 for 1 deal.

With 11-10, competitiveness of Thursday night games would return. Noted lopsided affairs would be reduced, as both teams would be ready instead of just one. Overworked coaching staffs would have normal turnarounds to install a new weekly gameplan, instead of incomplete adjustments given only 2 days of prep time. Road teams have a distinct disadvantage under the current system because one crucial day on such a short week is lost to travel. According to the data cited in the link, through 2014 the Home team had a 5% better chance of winning on Thursday night than would otherwise be the case. Logistically, from coaches to players to equipment managers and Strength & Conditioning, it turns a bad idea (TNF) into something that will work.

Roger Goodell and NFL owners are all about the money. The 11-10 plan generates another week of NFL games and revenue.

The NFL Players Union has always been against more regular season games. The 11-10 plan heads that off and increases healing between games, allowing the Union to accept the enhanced schedule.

The Fans get better Thursday night football games. If it was up to me they’d get rid of TNF altogether. It is dilutive. Giving teams adequate preparation time will make both teams ready and raise the quality of the contest up to the same standards we watch on Sundays.

OBJ Deal Extension & Other Related Developments

Lots of big news items for Giants fans. They are all important:

1) Odell Beckham Jr. and the NY Giants agreed to a 5 yr record extension for a WR. The word “record” has been used so many times that it is meaningless. It’s $19M/yr with $65M guaranteed. The contract was always going to be a record WR deal. Given that Mike Evans signed for $16.5M/yr with $55M guaranteed, it was going to be sick money. Who would you rather have- Evans and $2.5M/yr or OBJ? It’s not even close, so in that sense I actually think the Giants did “relatively” well.

The moment Evans signed that deal, the bar was raised and it was going to be an expensive contract. How expensive? This all goes back to how you architect your team. Name me the last time a “diva” star WR won a Super Bowl? The answer is 15 yrs ago, with Keyshawn Johnson. His circumstances prove the point even further, because it was Parcells who taught him in New York how to be a professional, and the fingerprints were barely on that TB trophy before his diva ways got him suspended, sending the rest of his career in a downward spiral. It’s really hard to sink that kind of money into a WR and get (the rest of) it done.

OBJ has been well behaved this offseason. No boat trips. No suspensions. No sideline hysterics. His word is that after being hobbled by a serious ankle injury and having to literally crawl on his hands and knees to bed, that he has been transformed. Is he finally a little more mature? Attending training camp went a long way in my book. He would have pissed me off to no end by holding out. Some argued there was zero chance he’d show up. Yet he did. That is leadership. Is he mature enough to keep his head down and lead the Giants to a championship? Or once the bonus check clears his bank account, will he be back to fighting with Cornerbacks who know how to press his buttons? We are all hopeful that he’s the one who chose camp. But we weren’t born yesterday either.

Wonder would have traded OBJ for tons of picks and rebuilt.

I am happy that OBJ will be a NY Giant, but as a business, the fan MUST acknowledge that a deal that is this large hurts the rest of the team in terms of available cap resources for the ultimate goal of winning Super Bowls. This was why Reese’s (and McAdoo’s) bungled attempts with the OL while Beckham was on the cheaper rookie deal was a sin of huge proportions. Regular readers of this NY Giants blog know we have referred to this dynamic many times. It’s in the past now. Gettleman will have to be that much better/efficient with his cap. That means not blowing many millions on the likes of Omameh and Stewart. Every remaining dollar counts when OBJ is running at $19M per.

SUMMARIZED: Given how insane Mike Evans’ contract was, I’m pretty pleased with the money, RELATIVELY speaking. In absolute terms, we need the follow things to happen to get a title: (a) OBJ has to lead by example with continued maturity (b) the GM has to be at his best on cap space to keep making the roster work (c) if the Giants can hit lotto with Webb or Lauletta, the cap could work again for a few years.

1a) We speculated on Twitter that OBJ and his agent made a deal with the Giants: We’ll show up at camp and won’t holdout but we won’t play any games (and risk injury) until a deal is done. Now that a deal is done, I’m expecting to see OBJ take a few snaps vs NE on Thursday night.

1b) Locker Room Party with Sterling Shepard, OBJ and Cuba Gooding Jr celebrating.

2) DE Olivier Vernon has a high ankle sprain. That could be many weeks. It’s always possible that if it is not too bad that Vernon could be back sooner.. but how effective will he be? We’ll get a better idea in coming days just how serious it is.

3) Yesterday TE Evan Engram was back on the field. I believe it was individual drills, but that’s still a very good sign it was not a big concussion. It’s possible he could be back for Jacksonville if it’s mild enough.

4) The Giants traded C Brett Jones to Minnesota for a Round 7 pick. It’s basically designed to free up $2.9M in cap space because Halapio was taking his job as a starter. We prefer the depth of Jones on the roster for OL unless the Giants had some leverage to use that cap space on something (A LOT) more dynamic…

5) What do the Giants do with 2.9M cap space and $3M more freed up with the OBJ signing? Hmmm. There were reports that the Giants were in the hunt for LB Khalil Mack. With no cap room it was a pipe dream. But poker gets a little more interesting with $5.9M in chips. It’s still a fantasy, but we are talking the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, the guy who beat out Landon Collins. So feel free to fantasize.

NYG 30 DET 17

Q Davis Webb looked totally different. He was much more in control, with far more accuracy. If last week was confounding then this week was uplifting. Of course we will need to see that level of play more consistently. Last night was a great start. Webb looked the part. Good decisions, good throws. One person asked- why throw to those covered by Slay, but that isn’t what is happening in preseason. And in the regular season, OBJ (who didn’t play) will be torching Slay anyway, just like he was in the scrimmages earlier this week. Big thumbs up for Webb.

Carter has that burst on the edge. Yum.

Gallman is very capable. He’s where we thought Perkins (IR) would be by now. No matter. Gallman’s a very good runner with good pass catching skills who provides plenty of depth.

Flowers is one large liability. We are all praying that in real games they scheme to help him. We assumed that last year and McAdope was McAclueless. Shurmur should know better. Repeat after me, 2+2 = 4… if Flowers can’t block, we help Flowers (or get an older vet RT off waivers who at least can try).

On the overturned fumble that was ruled a forward pass, both Omameh and Flowers caved in pass protection.

Stewart shows very little. The twitterverse is wondering wtf happened to that $3.5M in guaranteed $ that went poof when it was needed for..

A porous pass defense. They did better last night but will be undressed in the regular season.

The run defense is stingy. Too early to tell but so far it looks very good. The DL is controlling the LOS and gap control is there.

Evan Engram is going to be a nightmare for other teams. He’s too big, too fast and too strong for defenders. When you throw in OBJ, Barkley and Shepard into that mix, opposing teams are just going to have to pick their poison.

Kerry Wynn is a playmaker on Specials. He’s going downfield at full speed at 265 lbs and it’s too much too handle because he’s a DE that moves like an OLB. Oh, and he got a sack off the edge.

I’m a big Landon Collins guy, but on the big play where Ogletree got roasted by Riddick, so did Collins.

BJ Hill flashed last night. Undressed the OLman covering him.

Olivier Vernon beat not one, not two, but three defenders on his way to a sack.

Lauletta continues his work as QB understudy. The upside potential is there. His bootleg scamper for a TD was just awesome.

One really important point to make that has nothing to do with the Giants… The “leading with the helmet rule” is going to be the death of football. Or maybe the death of me. They called back a Carter sack because of a flag on Herzlich that was at BEST a phantom and at WORST the incompetence of a horrible rule + horrible officiating. Blah blah blah the NFL wants to make the game safer. F*** you NFL. You are destroying what’s left of this sport. Can you really tell me the difference between lowering the shoulder (everything that is FUNDAMENTAL to sound tackling) and leading with the helmet???!!! Maybe we need to pay Goodell another $40M per year to figure that out, because the first $40M ain’t doing it. If they don’t figure this thing out fast it is going to RUIN the game.

Summary: The Giants hit 30 points for the first time in forever. Webb was unrecognizable from Preseason week 1. Flowers, Stewart and pass coverage are the sore points in an otherwise impressive game for the Giants. The new NFL rule is madness.

Davis Webb

Much has been made of Davis Webb’s performance in the first preseason game this past Thursday night. Giants fans, myself included, have been part of the debate all offseason to draft a QB or take Barkley. Some are already looking at the grass in the neighbor’s yard and seeing Darnold + Mayfield flashing. It’s safe to say that the first, second and third picks have all “hit” on the requisite talent. All 3 showed they belong on the big stage. Can the Giants get their heir apparent at QB?

Webb’s problem is his accuracy. Right now it looks like he has enough command for many of the other parts of the game. I’m not worried about the clock running out at the end of the first half. As long as my coach isn’t Andy Reid, that shouldn’t be a problem. It’s the accuracy. Can that be corrected? Maybe. Maybe not.

There once was a time when it took many years for QBs to find their way in the NFL. Then Dan Marino came along and broke the mold. As the years went on, QBs made more progress earlier, benefiting from playing Pro-style offenses in college. We want QBs to make the jump faster and faster. It’s a question whether Jim Harbaugh, who took ~6 years to get his groove, would make it today.

Webb’s mechanics look better. He was “just” too high and too far on his WR throws. When he checked down to the RB, he was better. Not great. Better. Can he get the accuracy? Bulls are on Twitter saying be patient, it’s his first game in a year. Bears are saying that he should have been much further along. I’ve got a little of both.

Can accuracy be found? Troy Aikman, like him or not, has said that that is what you scout in college. I’m in agreement. Wonder wants the arm, believing that good mechanics can be taught, which will bring requisite accuracy. He explains that a strong arm plus good mechanics enable a QB to make throws with better accuracy over time. I want to see that natural accuracy. There are QBs who have it and everyone else does not.

It’s very early, but it looks like Mayfield and Darnold have that “natural” accuracy. We put that in quotes because anyone who watched Montana would know he had that, but that Bill Walsh would make his players practice the intermediate throws incessantly in the “West Coast Offense” so that the timing/accuracy was there. He strived for perfection because he knew that that delivered the YAC. Can accuracy be found in practice? Absolutely.

QBs like Eli Manning and Phil Simms won Super Bowls. Neither were naturally accurate. They practiced over and over. And then 4 years later Manning hit Plaxico in Green Bay and he looked the part. And then Phil Simms hits Bobby Johnson on 4th & 17 and he looked the part. I’ve never seen a more perfect pass ever than the one to Mario Manningham on the left sideline that set up the go-ahead score to win XLVI.

Davis Webb will either get accuracy in time or he will not. The good news is that Pat Shurmur is the QB whisperer, so if anyone can help him, it’s the Giants head coach. The great news for Giants fans is that Webb still has time. This is what Wonder refers to when he talks about being drafted to the right team. Webb has the right situation here in NY to develop. Patience and time are required. He has both because he plays behind the human gumby.

Kyle Lauletta has accuracy. He looked good. For all of this talking about Webb, Lauletta had greater ease at finding his receiver. We will have to watch that as well.

Gettleman has chosen the roster’s path. The one thing I know I am right about is this: if you give a mediocre QB a solid OL, he’ll be able to play, and if you give a good/great QB a bad OL, he’ll struggle. Keep building that OL and good things will happen. Blake Bortles is a reminder that if you protect your QB you can get it done. The Giants have enough right now at QB. They need more at OL. Maybe, just maybe, by the time Manning is done, Lauletta or Webb will be ready along with an OL that is ready to help them. (It’s really a shame how many years of Manning’s prime were wasted without adequate help up front. That’s a discussion for another day.) For now, Webb has the luxury of time to find his accuracy. I think Manning will have two more years (18 and 19). Webb needs to find his accuracy in that time.