We’ve always said that it’s best to wait 3 games before making an assessment of a team’s/season’s prospects. We were excited about 1-0, and most of what we saw from that first game is still there. The coaching and competitiveness is refreshing. It’s why I am blogging. We have a story.
The Week 3 loss to Dallas brings the team back to planet Earth at 2-1. Each game this season has seen its fair share of highs and lows. Consider:
Tennessee. Trailing 13-0 at the half with little going right for the offense. Barkley explodes in the second half for a gutsy win.
Carolina. Blown opportunities on turnovers. ~60 yards of Offense in 6 drives. Then the Offense gets enough together to bring the team back for a narrow win.
Dallas. The stadium erupts as Barkley puts the team ahead 13-6, only to see Dallas get 17 unanswered and take control of the game.
What is the one constant from the Preview, from 0–1, and now at 2-1? It’s still a rebuild. To quote that eminent philosopher Denny Green, they are who we thought they were. Whether this team goes 10-7 or 4-13, it’s a rebuild. Kadarius Toney is still missing in action. Golladay is our worst fears, a bust. The Offensive Line, which did give us some reason for optimism in Week 1, has reverted to ugliness once again. The liability at LB cannot be hidden by Wink’s schemes forever. The DL suffered from Leonard Williams’s absence. And the rest of the WR corps is threadbare.
The Daniel Jones story is interesting. I still believe he is not the answer at QB. His pocket presence and lack of poise are still there. He still can’t go through his progressions and read the field as well as required by a franchise QB. Yet he showed everyone a ton on Monday night. Yes, Jones looked as good as I’ve seen him in a loss than anything we’ve gotten from him in the past 3 years. Despite having no pass protection, he did more than manage the game. He made plays. Many plays. Enough plays to actually win this game, if he had any support. We always know he can run the ball. He did that again. But incrementally, there were a few passes that were nothing short of elite. I do not believe he can do that consistently; at least in this game he showed that he can. I am not ready to change my mind on Jones as this team’s future… and certainly not with one game’s inspired play. This is why it’s a full season for Jones’s Daboll/Schoen audition.
I saved the most important part for last. Their names are Neal and Thibodeaux. It’s way too early to make any pronouncements but it wasn’t a good start. Both need time. Thibodeaux, returning from injury, playing his first NFL game ever, should not have been expected to do much. But we do want Neal to do better. Frankly, I’d almost rather see the team struggle while these two flash, but let’s give them time to find their legs. Everyone is using Andrew Thomas, who was bad his first half of his rookie season, as a template. Coach these guys up.
The NY Giants spent 5 consecutive years without a winning record. FIVE YEARS. 81 consecutive games. That is a pretty scary statistic. So when the team, a 5 point dog on the road versus a former playoff team, takes a 13-0 halftime deficit and goes out and steals the game, we better take notice.
Yes, it is one game. And we were fooled before, like when the team beat Seattle a couple of years ago. It turned out the Giants had a tell on Defense, and that is why they won. The only tells we had on Sunday in Tennessee were:
Halftime adjustments. What is this? Frankly I forgot what a halftime adjustment was as a Giants fan. Really. Not kidding. For Daboll and Kafka, they ran the ball more, and slowed down the Titans pass rush. This was important. After giving up 4 sacks in the first half, that slowed to 1 sack in the second half. This is how you become competitive.
Run blocking. What is this? Frankly I forgot what run blocking looked like. We were concerned (rightly so, swiss cheese in 1H) about rookie Ezeudu’s pass protection at Left Guard in the Preview. But we saw some very good run blocking by Ezeudu, a few blocks of which sprung Barkley for some terrific gains.
Clock Management. Near the end of the game, the Giants are down by 7 but Daboll and Kafka are calm. The offense is calm. The clock is being managed instead of the Giants behaving like headless chickens.
Discipline. Daboll giving Jones a well-deserved earful on the sidelines when the 4th year QB makes a complete meathead decision/throw for a pick in the end zone, squandering a special teams turnover. Daboll giving Kadarius Toney something to think about, playing behind 2nd and 3rd stringers with a grand total of 7 snaps. Parcells would approve.
Cajones. Yah yah yah, the 2 point conversion could have failed. But that is ok. It is a rebuilding year and it did not fail. Younger Giants fans do not remember the cajones of Bill Parcells, who would do fake FGs and fake punts (sometimes in playoff games) and perfectly timed moments when nobody was expecting it. Take it from a professional risk manager- if you are not occasionally taking calculated risks, then you are not stretching your boundaries for success and testing the other team’s preparedness for your terms. Yes, Risk is an Asset, if used selectively and purposefully.
Etc… I used to take notes during games so that I could blog the recap and not miss a lot of stuff. I probably missed a few additional points here because I was not intending to post this early in the season. But Daboll had other plans!
We nailed the Preview, despite the team surprising me and every single Giants fan by winning:
✅ Questions on availability of Toney
✅ Difference in coaching from Daboll/Kafka (see above list)
✅ back 7 weakness (Hilliard 2 TDs, defensive holding)
✅ LG weakness (sacks)
✅ Daniel Jones not the answer (meathead end zone INT, still no pocket presence)
✅ “Super Bullish” on one Giants player, who only amassed 194 yds from scrimmage, 1 TD, a 2 point conversion, and the Offensive Player of the Week in the NFL
The Giants should not be making any plans for their February 2023 Super Bowl parade yet. The Titans made enough mistakes and we will accept some charity. But the schedule is soooo soft that this is how the Giants could put up some Wins if they remain competitive.
Now let’s discuss one negative. Every regular to this NY Giants blog knows how much I hate drafting Wide Receiver in Round 1. “They are always available.” Round 1 is for QB, Protect QB and Rush the QB, which is why we were ecstatic about Neal and Thibodeaux. We also quantitatively ripped WR for not being cornerstone franchise players, as they do not stay on your roster. And then there is the Diva factor. Wide Receivers are the alpha’s alpha. These are the Touchdown makers. They are the ones mugging for the camera in the end zone while the Offensive Lineman busted his a** keeping the pocket clean so that the ball could get to the receiver properly. Give me Thomas, Ezeudu, Feliciano, Glowinski and Neal. These are the guys.
Is this (see Twitter clip above) the reason why Toney got 7 snaps? Confront the brutal facts and connect those dots. His availability is limited by injuries. We read stories about him not being up on the playbook. Now we hear and see how this WR is giving subpar effort. “That’s what exemplifies what you get from him on a daily basis,” says ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. Just remember that Parcells had Gary Jeter shipped out and the team won a title 2 years later. I want Toney to excel as a Giant. He has the talent to win games for this team. But do not be surprised if his underachievement drives Daboll and Schoen to trade him.
It’s awful to piss away a full season as a Giants fan but that’s what we have in 2022. You can’t say we didn’t warn you. We wanted Gettleman gone after the 2019 season. We saw nothing new (and forbode more wasteful ‘toys’) after the 2020 season. By the 2021 season, we were strapped into Gettleman Part 4, who was quite possibly (through selfishness) rolling the dice in a desperate attempt to save the Giants and himself. His legacy is not only failure but an inheritance of stinking rotting flesh (aka dead cap) that has straight-jacketed Joe Schoen in 2022. But there is hope in 2023 and beyond.
Schoen is already demonstrating better judgment in one offseason than what the hobbyist amassed in 4 years. Schoen is rebuilding. He’s not trying to win now and sabotage his (AND OUR) future. He’s showing remarkable discipline. He’s not chasing players. He isn’t compromising his future cap. We loved his Day 1 picks. While we aren’t crazy about the rest of the 2022 draft, he showed good judgment with the free agents and waiver wire here at the end August. As one example, he picked up G Wyatt Davis, a young player we liked out of the 2021 draft. Unfortunately, Schoen could not protect Davis on the Practice Squad and he was signed by the Saints. At least Schoen was on the right track. He grabbed Ravens LG Tyre Phillips off of waivers from Baltimore. Yes, naturally this blog was right again in wanting a sh*t ton of Offensive Line resources drafted. Shocking (not!) that 3 of the 5 guys brought in during the offseason did not even make the roster, but we warned you when we noted that no one but Glowinski had a contract beyond 1 year. So are we surprised that OL is extremely vulnerable at LG and C? Of course not. Supporters of Schoen will come to his defense and cite preseason injuries. I rebut that by pointing out that that is precisely why I want to hit OL hardER to get out of this cycle. My kingdom for Creed Humphrey. About the only significant move Schoen was able to do in the offseason was pick up Mark Glowinski, a serviceable Guard. So it could be worse- the entire Interior OL could be Swiss cheese. Schoen and Daboll will get there. But not in 2022.
The best way to understand this Giants roster is that when they ask the question: ‘which particular unit is lacking depth/talent?’
…they should instead ask…
‘which unit isn’t lacking depth/talent?’!
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.
Barkley is spry. He has some run blocking. And Daboll/Kafka will have a football IQ above 60, the prerequisite for getting this man touches in space. Daboll wants the ball in the air, so combined with the inconvenient facts that (1) Daniel Jones is not “the guy” (more on that later) and (2) the WR corps is a shell .. means a rather obvious solution- intentionally get Barkley the ball through the air. We’ve railed against Garrett’s garbage touches to Barkley via checkdowns in the past. Please, I’m begging, get this man involved in the passing game via purposed throws to Barkley while the LBers are retreating post snap.
Barkley should also benefit from better run blocking. He’s got the cuts back in his repertoire. I saw some road grader potential from Neal in preseason, although those were 2nd stringers he was playing against. Yet Neal is a rookie who should only get better w technique. So there’s nothing that makes me think he can’t move the DL off the line of scrimmage. Glowinski is a better run blocker than he is in the pass. So I think they may be able to get after it on the right side. That’s how you rebuild.
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.
Cornerback is trouble. Linebacker post Martinez is deep trouble. Tight End is trouble unless R4 rookie Bellinger comes back from concussion and then remarkably ascends quickly. Left Guard is trouble.
We are going to keep the Daniel Jones discussion short. Another overdrafted QB meets reality. People inside my circle regularly ask me about Jones. My answer is simple- if you have to ask the question, the answer is no. He can’t make the throws that stretch the defense, he will never have the requisite poise in the pocket, his decisions/progressions aren’t there, and oh yah he gets hurt. But other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln? He actually rates to have a much better year because Daboll and Kafka will be smarter w the scheme + Thomas/Neal will do him better on the EDGE. But he’s never going to be the man. If Wonder were writing this blog post, he’d say- tank it hard: Dung for Young. Avowed for Stroud. Or another QB.
Last year’s #1 and #2 are hurt. Toney and Ojulari need to contribute desperately in order to help this team this year. Toney was taken off the injury report (hamstring/knee) this past week, so he looks to start or at least see enough snaps vs the Titans in Week 1. Ojulari is out.
I’m reminded of Glenn Warciski’s warning about Toney out of the draft- he’s injury prone. Remember, the NFL is about ability and availability. This league is littered with past and present players who fail/ed to realize their potential because they couldn’t stay on the field. It’s still early in their careers but these two need to show us they can suit up 16 (er uh I mean 17) games consistently.
Two former 1’s and 2’s who learned this lesson and ascended were Phil Simms and Amani Toomer. Both ramped up their offseason efforts to take care of their bodies and were able to deliver on the field. Simms did it in the weight room. Toomer did it with karate and yoga. How badly do you want it? We know first hand that the spectrum of effort from high draft picks is very wide. Just because you got drafted high doesn’t guarantee anything. Toney’s gotten hit with 2 hamstring injuries before his second season begins. Your move.
A positive we haven’t mentioned is Wink Martindale. The DC understands defenses and I expect him to do more with less. It’ll be pretty hard to cover up a back 7 that (beyond McKinney and depending on Jackson’s matchup) is troubling but at least will do what he can.
2022 Prediction? 6 wins.
The good news first: The Giants have the easiest schedule in the NFL. With softer opponents, Neal/Thibs ascending, excellent health (which has thus far been the exact opposite), and better coaching/scheme we could get to 8-9. Our baseline assumption is 6-11. If injuries persist, 4-13. All I’m rooting for this season is for the development of young talent for next year. The tab that Gettleman ran up over the past 4 years has finally come due. Get rookies lots of snaps. The Giants will pay for that in 2022 with errors that will cost them games. But if they do it right, and stick to that plan, they will have found younger players with more experience who can be part of something much bigger in 2-4 years from now. Patience. Rebuild.