SEA 27 NYG 13

I’m going to keep this recap fairly short. I don’t want to spend 4 hours fact checking and spooling through the highlight film.

The season of injuries finally caught up to the Giants. They missed Daniel Bellinger IMMENSELY. Please do not misinterpret this- Myarick and Hudson have the grace of Gerald Ford on ice skates. The Giants came into this year with zero at Tight End. They hit gold, 24k solid gold, with Bellinger. As a rookie, he’s been terrific. He catches, he understands his route concepts, and he likes to block! Giants Nation got a huge gift this week when we got word that not only is Bellinger ok, he’ll be back in probably 4-6 weeks. That eye injury could have potentially ended his career. So let’s be grateful for his return to any football, let alone what could be a meaningful career in blue. But back to Seattle, without a credible TE, the wheels simply came off.

Wide Receiver has been a cosmic joke this season. Between injuries and the nightmares of Golladay plus Toney, Kafka made lemonade out of lemons by weaving in Bellinger and the TEs as receiving options. Without Bellinger it was just too much to shoulder. Seattle’s DC stopped Barkley and Jones from running, but there just wasn’t enough WR beyond Slayton.

The Giants called me earlier this week and asked me to suit up this weekend at WR. I have work on Monday morning so I had to decline. So they went to their next option and tapped WR Lawrence Cager. I honestly never even heard of Cager until his name was called on television. He was an undrafted Free Agent who is now on his fourth team in 3 seasons. The Giants added him to their practice squad 12 days ago. He was added to their roster yesterday. This is what 2022 looks like.

The Giants have been making gourmet meals out of spam all season, a testament to great coaching and inspired play from a ton of players who have stepped up. They were 6-1 because they played smart football and did not turn over the ball.

Today they turned over the ball twice on Special Teams. Did Richie James have a concussion on the second hit? That would be another huge gaffe for the Giants and NFL given the lack of protocol followed w Tua earlier this season.

Too many injuries. 2 awful turnovers. The Giants came back to earth. It was great, winning while rebuilding. Today the team had to rebuild with a loss. 6-2 is still awesome. Let’s get healthy. The Giants would really prefer not to have to call me again to suit up.

Kadarius Toney Traded

Another Round 1 Wide Receiver bites the dust. Don’t say we did not warn you. Round 1 Wide Receiver does not stick around your franchise.

Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll moved on. They jettisoned the jet WR. Toney was oft injured. In ~1.5 seasons, 24 games, Toney started 4 times, collected 420 yards but only suited up for 12 games. In 2022, Toney surfaced for 2 games, saw extremely limited snaps, got hurt again, and got traded.

Frustration.

Kadarius Toney’s start in blue began with the wrong-sized cleat in his first rookie OTA. There were questions about how much of the playbook he knew in both 2021 and 2022. He had hamstring injuries in both 2021 and 2022. There were questions about effort.

Listen to the second tweet below, the excerpt from Breaking Big Blue podcast…

More from Raanan today: “Have spoken w/former + current coaches about him over past few months. Talent undeniable. Previous coaching staff thought he was fine when in building. Problem was- could they trust him to put in work when not under their supervision.”

In trading lingo, the Giants took their losses. They gave up and moved on. They will get a Round 3 compensatory pick from KC along with (most likely) a Round 6 pick. Dave Gettleman’s legacy of screwing up on DeAndre Baker and Kadarius Toney, two Round 1 picks taken despite red flags, is now sealed. It is pretty stunning to watch a Round 1 asset fizzle in literally a year and a half.

Some argue that the Giants needed to keep Toney because they desperately needed WR and needed to patiently wait for his return. Apparently, Schoen’s and Daboll’s patience ran out. They were on the front lines. The Toney that Daboll cursed at in practice, the player who did not know the playbook, who was oft injured, and who could not be trusted, was not worth a future in NY.

So what of Toney’s future in KC? Or thereafter? It does not matter. Do not attempt to match his results on any team other than NY with his results had he remained with the Giants. We have told the story of Cris Carter, how his time in Philadelphia was never going to work out for him. That Carter went to the HOF via Minnesota does not mean he could have stayed in Philadelphia and achieved the same result. That ship sailed. And so too does that ship sail for Toney in blue. Do not look back. Move forward. Schoen and Daboll have moved forward. Onward. To Seattle.

The Giants Go to 6-1

That last minute of clock was a torture chamber. At 5-1 on the verge of 6-1, we are invested in this underdog season. To possibly somehow blow that win at the end, after such incredible grit along the way, would have been too much to take. Longtime blog readers know that we subscribe to the Bill Walsh theory of close games- that you have to aim for 10+ points victory margins to minimize the variance and stupidity of the officials. The officials almost ****ed us today but the team slipped through. FANTASTIC! Superlatives don’t do this win (or this season) justice.

Saquon Barkley did not stay inbounds on TWO separate plays. I rechecked the first play at 12:21 on the highlights video, and it is very clear that you have already gotten the first down many yards ago so your job there is to cut back to keep the clock running. There are 3:30 minutes remaining, the clock goes down 35+ secs each down, your opponent only has 1 remaining timeout, and it is all about first downs AND clock. The second play, he is trying to give himself up but does not get it done there either. Terrible. Daboll admitted after the game that the Giants made it harder on themselves than it should have been. Good. I like that kind of honesty, responsibility and accountability… especially after a win. The Gmen are so well coached, but they can always get better.

There is actually a 3rd play on that same drive at 12:15 on the video where Barkley can do better to stay inbounds. I am not as tough on this one, but when looked at with all 3, it is clearly not acceptable. His job is to get the first down and then stay inbounds.

It’s like Groundhog Day every Sunday afternoon. The Giants are underdogs. They get outplayed during chunks of the game. They bend, but don’t break. They get some key stops or good fortune. Justin Tucker misses a FG. And then in the 4th quarter they turn it on and win games by the hair of their chinny chin chin.

It is time to talk about Daniel Jones. This is now his 5th consecutive terrific game. He is doing it with Moe Larry and Curly out there blocking and catching balls for him. Next man up? It’s more like next waterboy up. Neal, Bredeson, Bellinger and Robinson all got hurt. Neal may have an MCL, but early word from Jordan Raanan is that both his and Bredeson’s injuries are not expected to be serious. Bellinger could be the most significant story. Sorry Giants fans, but I spoke with an opthalmologist Giants fan after the game and he said that 2 of the 3 outcomes for Bellinger could be career-ending. I won’t go into all of the speculation because obviously those comments come from a television a thousand miles away, but the point is that a lot is at risk. Hopefully he is ok.

Back to Jones, yes, he lost his shifty rookie WR Robinson. He lost Bellinger. (We needed a mainframe computer to keep track of all the dropped passes.) He had backup backups blocking for him and he put the team on his shoulders. He is doing it every week. Maybe it is the coaching, I am not sure what, but he seems to have a better clock in his head re the pocket pressure, because he is actually beginning to step up in the pocket when he should. He is making so many good passes and going through progressions very well. He is making reads on his runs brilliantly at times. Simply stated, he is leading this team and taking care of the ball. The boneheaded plays are gone. They have been replaced by composure and order. The trend is fantastic. Both he and the coaching staff deserve tremendous credit. If the trajectory continues, he will earn himself a long term contract.

Back to the game. On the final drive, when the Jaguars have 38 men in the box (okay, I exaggerated, it was actually only 10) for an inside clock killing run by the Gmen, Jones fakes the handoff (12:36 on the video), goes right, and then runs a naked bootleg to the left side and there is no one there. Except Jones. 16 yards later he has converted a 2nd and 8 and makes sure to stay inbounds. This was the playcall I was yelling for near the end of the ATL NE Super Bowl (the 28-3 game) where Matty Ryan needed to do this for a wide open clock killing dagger against the cheaters (er I mean patsies). The Jones run should seal the win, except for the insanity that would follow. What gets me so excited is that we have the Offensive Coordinator who has the wherewithal to make this call. Just fantastic.

A reminder about media hype. Please by all means celebrate the resurgence of this franchise. The coaching is what is repeatable and that has me the most upbeat. The players will get upgraded and the young ones who are playing will get better with experience too. As far as this season is concerned, there are too many breaks that have broken the Giants way that we can get too enamored about the outlook. Missed FG by Tennessee. Special teams mishap vs GB but the ball finds its way out of bounds before any of 3 GB players can claim it. Lamar Jackson turnovers in Q4. Etienne fumbling into the end zone. Stopping the Jags on the final play at the half yard line. Winning teams win these games. This is great on-the-job training. The law of averages says this streak of good fortune cannot last forever. If just a few things go wrong the entire season, the Giants could easily be a 3-4 or 4-3 team, and that would not take a single thing away from where they are trending.

Wonder: “If you would have told me that the Giants and Jets would be a combined 11-3, I would have asked you what mental hospital you are receiving treatment at.” We will finish with Bill Parcells- you are what your record says you are. The Giants are 6-1. Enjoy it. I certainly am.

Do NOT Re-sign Barkley

See the picture above? It is not Saquon Barkley. It is someone you have never heard of. His name is Isiah Pacheco. He is the reason you cannot re-sign Barkley. Pacheco is the punchline to this joke of paying RB, and I save the best for last.

The unit I like the most this season is ironically the least important unit on the entire roster- running back. I am super bullish on Saquon Barkley here in 2022. Breida and Brightwell are good depth.

UltimateNYG, 9/10/22 Season Preview

Yah, no one, least of all me, saw 5-1. But the call on Barkley’s stupendous comeback speaks for itself. Saquon Barkley is back and he is leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage. He is a fantasy owner’s dream. But he will be a cap nightmare.

The NFL General Manager does have a fantasy component to it. He has to allocate cap dollars the same way a fantasy drafter needs to distribute resources to players who will deliver points over cost. So what is great for the Giants in 2022 is going to be bad for ANYONE who signs Barkley to his next contract in 2023. You are not going to get #1 in the NFL yards. He will invariably get hurt. Barkley is healthy this year. Yet all we have to do is go back to last game, watching Barkley grimacing in pain in between plays against the Ravens due to a banged up shoulder, to be reminded that

RUNNING BACK GETS INJURED

We have talked about this before. In February 2020 we wrote the Running Back Manifesto. I have requoted it on Twitter, and it literally stops the debate in its tracks. The truth is hard to swallow. Yet the facts are incontrovertible.

Let’s supplement one of the many arguments since the writing, that RB scraps helps you win Super Bowls. (1) Tampa Bay won the next Super Bowl with a former Round 1 pick who was essentially a wasted pick at Jacksonville, overdrafted at 1.04 overall and discarded for literally zero by the Jaguars on the eve of his 4th season in the NFL despite two good seasons in Year 1 and Year 3. Year 2 he got hurt (sound familiar?). The Jags declined his 5th year option (another tell). And no one would trade anything for Fournette, so he was released to waivers, with a $6M cap hit on a stupid rookie-1.04-overall-RB contract (sound familiar2?). Tampa Bay picked him for next to NOTHING, paid him $2M, and won the Super Bowl with him. Textbook.

(2) Los Angeles won last year’s Super Bowl. In the final 3 playoff games, the Rams ran 82 times for 186 yards en route to a title. Yucch. Stafford and Super Bowl MVP WR Cooper Kupp (Round 3 gem) carried the offense. The patchwork RB corp of Sony Michel (another discarded late R1 pick), Cam Akers (back from injury) and Darrell Henderson got them through. Akers was a RB we liked out of the Draft (Wonder had him ranked 33rd on his board, taken 52nd overall) but his return from an Achilles injury (RB, injury, are you seeing a pattern yet?) had him at less than optimal output.

It is time to finish the argument with the whole reason for the post in the first place, Isiah Pacheco. We wake up this morning to this tweet:

Are you kidding me? The blueprint for the modern 21st Century Offense, the Kansas City Chiefs, is starting a skill player taken in Round 7, 251st overall?! Welcome to the world of the NFL Running Back in 2022. When given 31 snaps thus far, he is averaging 4.8 yards per rush. More importantly, he can block… well enough for a rookie to start. Pacheco’s cap hit is $0.7M. I am surprised it is that large, but that only tells me the cost of re-signing Barkley is going to be ginormous, ~20X near $15M per yr, if some NFL team is stupid enough to pay that. The problem for these second RB contracts is they are a cap suck. Elliot is 6 yrs $90M. McCaffrey is 4 yrs $64M (and Carolina got out of that quickly enough). The takeaway is simple- every dollar you blow at this position, you have less to pay the Left Tackles, the Edge Rushers and the Quarterbacks. You can get 80-90% of Barkley for 10-20-30% of the cost. Aren’t the Breidas ($1M cap hit) and Brightwells ($0.7M) in your own backyard proving that? Isn’t Andy Reid, the coach of one of the top 3 contenders this year, proving that?

Is Barkley part of the future? No. I believe Schoen will be smart enough to not blow cap on RB by resigning him. If you could get Barkley for a good price (single digit millions, like 6-7M, sorry, not sorry) after a really good 2022 campaign, I’d say yes. But I’m betting he’s going to attract enough free agent interest elsewhere (despite his injury history) to make that impossible. Schoen, unlike Gettleman, will not bite. Discipline.

UltimateNYG, 9/10/22 Season Preview

So, be careful what you wish for, Giants fans. We love Saquon. Team player, great teammate, great ambassador for the game, leader, face of the franchise. If you want a title, it is going to be harder to do it with him than without him. Running back is plug and play. This is not your father’s NFL.