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.

Quotes from Peter Drucker

The NY Giants are in complete disarray. Consider:

  1. Failed Architecture
  2. Poor Personnel Decisions
  3. Poor Drafting
  4. Poor Coaching
  5. Injuries
  6. Excessive Loyalty
  7. Nepotism
  8. Overconfidence Bias of Ownership
  9. A Metaphor

We have discussed many of these items ad nauseum, so part of this will be reviewed/linked to past discussions and other parts will be expanded upon.

  1. Failed Architecture. We have dedicated full blog posts to how to build a franchise. QB, Protect QB, Rush the QB. Read it and (Giants fans) weep. I will throw in one more little nugget from a completely different angle… professional bettors. Which positions move the point spread for the people betting the games? QB, obviously. And that is consistent with what everyone knows. The difference? Go to minute 14. “All you running back fans, that means zero in NFL betting… The bettors really key on Offensive Line problems… Offensive line play has a direct correlation to offensive production. It just shows you how strong that the wiseguys believe in Offensive Line play. It is a huge thing and essentially goes unnoticed. The media and the public just like the star names. They don’t care about Linemen, and that is what the true gamblers care about.”
    What has this NY Giants blog been preaching for literally 12 seasons? Drafting Offensive Line to replace Diehl, Seubert, O’Hara, Snee and McKenzie. And it still has not been done. Money talks. It is GMs making Offensive Tackles the second highest salaries of any position. It is professional bettors watching Offensive Line. This should tell you all you need to do know about what drives success, and conversely what has been driving the Giants failure the past decade.
  2. Poor Personnel Decisions. Apologies for a quick regurgitation here of some of the lowlights….
    Nate Solder, Leonard Williams (cost), Omameh, Stewart, Martin, win now in 2018, no offseason OL depth coming into 2021 preseason and then reactively scrambling, All-in on 2021 w massive cap hangover coming, Baker (study) risks, separating from Zeitler/Tomlinson. And we did not even touch on Reese.
  3. Poor Drafting. Our previous post documented with Twitter timestamps a comparison of the Giants selections vs the UltimateNYG blog selections. While these were the Round 1 high profile names, we hit on 9 of 11. The Giants hit on 4 of 11.
  4. Poor Coaching. We need to show you 2 plays. The first play is from Week 11 vs the Bucs. FUGLY.The second play is from Week 16 vs the Eagles. Loss of 4 yards. FUGLY.You can make up all the excuses you want. Instead of competitive football, this is an embarrassment. If it is one player, like DeAndre Baker not learning his assignments, you can blame it on Gettleman for ignoring the (league-wide) knowledge of his risks coming out of college. In this case, it is bad coaching, because at least 2 out of 3 players on offense are running the wrong route, and all 3 route runners are making bad blocks/assignments. While there was more dysfunction with McAdoo (players disrespected him) and Shurmur (not a Head Coach), Judge just seems to be in way over his head and players are checking out. See #8 below for the cluelessness of ownership with regard to the Head Coach.

    One more little side nugget for evidence of season-long coaching failure… the Giants have been outscored 76-0 in the last 2 minutes of the first half. You can forget about injuries, amplify poor clock management, factor out meaningless garbage-time points, and that is what you are left with when the chips are down in crunch time.
  5. Injuries. This website author was the premier NY Giants blog for correctly arguing that the malady of injuries from 2013-2015, three successive years of dead last injuries, was not just bad luck. To once again finish in dead last in injuries in 2021 is a symptom of continued dysfunction of the coaching/medical staff. Gettleman bragged how Ronnie Barnes (more on him next) cleared the signing of offseason Free Agency signings with injuries/risk. Also, Glenn Warciski of New York Giants Underground pointed out that Kadarius Toney had an injury history in college. So when we see a pileup in ManGamesLost, it is not a complete coincidence. Note also the comparison between the Titans, Ravens and Giants, in terms of wins versus mangameslost. Vrabel deserves to be Coach of the Year for this alone.
  6. Excessive Loyalty. Mara does not like it when he goes through Head Coaches & GMs like a race car goes through tires. The Maras love Ronnie Barnes. Barnes is at their beck & call seemingly 24/7/365. Antonio Pierce joked about how much juice Barnes had. Juice… as in, power. It goes way past tenure. Barnes reports directly to ownership. This means the only one who can touch (fire) Barnes is essentially John Mara himself. If I am the GM and Barnes gives me the green light to draft Toney and sign Golladay, and both players miss a lot of football, at what point is there accountability from the medical side? How can there be any accountability? Barnes has been through 4 GMs. When does this loyalty end and responsibility to performance begin. No, Barnes is not the Strength & Conditioning coach. But when you are dead last in injuries 4 times in the past 9 years, that is 2 S&C coaches, 2 GMs, and 1 SVP of Medical Services. During these 9 years, the Giants have had 1 winning season. Where is the accountability for the product?
  7. Nepotism. Chris Mara and Tim McDonnell are 2 of the 3 highest ranking members of the Player Personnel department. They are also Maras. There are 23 people in this department. I am sure some are good, but more are not delivering. They could get rid of most of them and hire our Draft Analyst. When you are 22-58 and you have rot without accountability, how can it be any worse? Frankly, given how we documented the outperformance we were able to deliver, in our Round 1 selections vs this franchise, it starts at the top with Chris Mara, whose ascendency to the top post of SVP of Player Personnel took place… when?…. in 2011, right when this Franchise (between Reese AND Gettleman) started tanking big time in the Draft. Connect those dots.
  8. Overconfidence Bias of Ownership. We have seen the latest genius of ownership with the proclamation that Judge is coming back, no matter who the GM is. Given just 2 plays we selected in #4 above, wouldn’t you logically want a Professional General Manager (ie one who does not do this for hobby?!) to make that determination? This is putting the cart in front of the horse. Frankly, we have stated this before but it needs to be emphasized— ownership has only proven one thing over the past 10 years— it is not doing anything to help this franchise and is actually outright harming it on a regular basis with its input. It needs to get out of the way and let an OUTSIDER make ALL of the decisions.
  9. A Metaphor. The eight items above are serious notes. The erosion of trust from the fanbase, the loss of any semblance of home field advantage, and the prostituting of PSLs have completely bankrupted goodwill. When the Giants decided to give PSL owners a free medium Pepsi, the derision from the fanbase went to a whole new level. If you thought it could not get any worse, it did…. PSL owners found out that the promotion was only good for the owner himself, not for the other seats s/he licensed. I was reminded of the line in the movie, Trading Places, where the rich commodity barons give the servant a $5 Xmas bonus. “I can go to the movies. By myself.” There are simply no words left for this organization. We will leave fans with some words on what they are searching for.

Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.

What gets measured gets managed.

Leadership is defined by results not attributes.

Most leaders don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.

Of all the decisions an executive makes, none is as important as the decisions about people, because they determine the performance capacity of the organization.

Peter Drucker