The Plain Pontificators of Positivity

Once was a time when this NY Giants blog was known as the nattering nabobs of negativity. We espoused gloom and doom for the team. We built a reputation for being critical of too many Giants moves. A decade of misery (2012-2021) unfortunately proved us correct, as our annual trashings of Reese and Gettleman were accurate predictors of underachievement. In that 10 year period, the Giants went to the playoffs once and lost. Our main criticism of Reese was that he failed to protect his franchise (Eli Manning) with an Offensive Line worthy of the QB’s many talents. Our main criticism of David Gettleman was that he made way too many bad decisions and had awful architecture. Both GMs failed. Mara’s loyalty kept them both at the helm roughly two years longer than each deserved.

This blog desperately asked for Mara to go outside the walls of his building for fresh blood. He finally did! Joe Schoen is the breath of fresh air we craved.

Schoen cleaned out the old deadwood that piled up after 10 years of rot. He showed restraint in his first months in the new job by reigning in spending and swallowing Gettleman’s poison cap pill. Discipline. Patience. Then Schoen discharged two scouts on the Monday after the 2022 Draft was over. It is still a little early to proclaim victory with new culture inside 1925 Giants Drive. Yet nearly everything Schoen has done this far is what the UltimateNYG doctor ordered. We believe in Schoen. We believe in his coach, Brian Daboll. We believe in the Giants future.

Call us the plain pontificators of positivity.

In the last post, we were very pleased with the first wave of free agent signings of the Giants. Wonder was effusive in praise. We purposefully juxtaposed this with Wonder’s disparaging remarks on three of Gettleman’s early prominent signings, calling them “overvalued”, “overpaid”, and “just a guy.” This was validated with timestamps in March and May before any of them played a snap in blue.

Part of winning is losing. There is variance in sports and life. You take chances and sometimes it doesn’t work out. But if you keep on taking smart calculated risks, you will come out ahead. In 2006, Accorsi made a move which we loved. It did not work out, but it is the kind of risk you take every time. He signed LaVar Arrington with a creative contract that was heavily incentive-laden. When you read the link on the contract, they explain that Arrington was a freelancer. It was this blogger’s conjecture that former Washington teammate Antonio Pierce (Batman) would unleash Arrington (Robin) at the line of scrimmage. Go back to minute 22:45 of the game tape of NY Giants at Dallas in 2006 Week 7, and watch Arrington time the snap and get shot out of a cannon for a sack safety. This was the upside reward of the signing, making impact plays. Who was the most excited after the play? #58, MLB Pierce. Arrington was coming into his own on this day, with so much ahead, until he literally had his career ended later in the same game by a torn achilles tendon.

How can we celebrate a new 7 year contract that ended in 6 weeks? There was only $5M in guarantees for such a lengthy deal, and an achilles tendon is part of the variance in football. You take chances, and sometimes it does not work out.

Back to 2023, Joe Schoen is doing the same thing as Accorsi. His trade for Waller is a very similar setup to Arrington. Some injuries along with Pro Bowl talent. Runway on the contract. The moon and the stars if it works out. Is there risk? Absolutely. But the reward is a star playmaker if you score. You have to accept the risk in return for having a bonafide pro bowl stud asset for Jones.

Another move we noted in the last post with great reward and low risk is Parris Campbell. The 1 year deal is particularly exciting; there is nothing like the motivation of a player to stay healthy and on the field like a 1 year “prove it” arrangement.

Since posting last week, the Giants picked up slot WR Jamison Crowder. Here is another guy who is signed for 1 year. “Prove it.” The Giants have 3 slot guys who need to prove they can stay on the field: Wan’dale Robinson, Parris Campbell, and Jamison Crowder. Slot by injury committee? Slot by hungry competition to get snaps? These 3 guys have all proven they have ability. They need to stay on the field and have the proper incentive.

There are 3 things that are in play in free agency:
(1) Ability– performance track record
(2) Availability– injury track record
(3) Age– time assessment

If you want the whole enchilada, you are going to pay. Show me a young and healthy pro-bowler and I will show you a guy who is going to get paid big in Free Agency. Depending on his position, if the GM is doing his job, that player will not see the light of day and will get re-signed before hitting the market. Think Andrew Thomas, who has ability (2nd team All Pro), availability (45 out of 51 possible starts), and the right age (24). He would score a 3 out of 3 if he hit Free Agency. Most other players are lacking in one or two of those three keys.

Campbell has 2 (ability and age). Crowder has 1 (ability). Details of Crowder’s contract have not been released beyond it being a 1 year deal. He will be 30 years old when the season starts and his availability has tapered off (12 starts in 2019, then 7 starts, 4 starts, and 0 starts in 2022). Based on a score of 1 out of 3, I want to see a skinny deal with incentives for performance.

So who are the new nattering nabobs of negativity? This plain pontificator of positivity will expose them in the next post.

2023 Giants Free Agency Part 2

We spoke with Wonder, the UltimateNYG Draft Analyst, about what the Giants have done here in Free Agency. He was nothing short of glowing. “Schoen has been unbelievable.”

“The Giants are going to be MUCH better, I mean muucchhhh better than last year. Their record may not look a lot better than 9-7-1 but they will be a much better team.”

“The Eagles will not be the Eagles this year. Salary cap casualties galore.”

“I thought Darren Waller was pretty healthy last year, but he was dinged up with bumps and bruises. That stuff can be cyclical, so I think he can just as easily be at full strength this season. For what the Giants paid, a 3.100 (practically a comp pick), that is a ridiculous price. It is a joke. It is a steal. This guy can easily become Daniel Jones’ best friend. I had him as the 3rd best TE in the NFL last year behind Kittle and Kelce. That is how good he is. If he can stay on the field, it is gigantic for the Giants,” said Wonder.

Scheme-wise, there are so many ways Waller helps your team. Wonder notes: Double TE set at Goal line, what does a Defense do when the ball can go to Barkley, or either of your two TEs (Waller, Bellinger) can slip out? That is just brutal to cover.

Onto Parris Campbell. Let’s go back 4 years ago to what Wonder said about the player pre-Draft.

16. WR Parris Campbell. So good, so fast, cuts on a dime, hands of glue. I’d take him at 1.17 if Haskins taken 1.06. (Andy’s only note here- Dread.) Good guy. Incredible feet and quickness. Not musclebound. But sleek. End arounds, bubble screens. Snatches the ball out of the air like no one I have seen. Once he gets the ball, forget it. Can put on 10-12 lbs of muscle w/o losing any speed. Insane vertical. Crazy quick. How does anyone cover this guy in the slot/option routes?! Improved every single year of college. His career is predicated on who his QB is and where he goes. Absolutely love this guy. Comparison: OBJ with less baggage.

Wonder’s 2019 Draft Board

Now we fast forward to 2023, and Campbell has been oft-injured. But here is where Schoen shines again. He pays $3M + another $3M in incentives for 1 year. It is a ‘show me’ deal. Prove it. Work your tail off to get a big contract. “Campbell played with a horrible QB who had to be benched last year. Campbell was open all the time. Schoen got him so freaking cheap. If he can communicate in the slot with Jones on 3rd and 5, he will be unguardable. Brady did this with Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. The only way to stop it is to double team it. For the money they paid, it is all upside, no downside, a helluva deal.”

Onto the new hoover vacuum cleaner Linebacker. Bobby Okereke got panned by some, who thought the Giants could have done better or gone a different direction for the money. Wonder disagrees. “He is a very good signing. Good team player. Athletic. My vibe/sense is that he is a good locker room guy who his teammates want to be around. He plays tough. I like guys who have a nose for the ball, and Okereke seems to always be around the ball. Whether it is tips, or fumble recoveries, or just being a tackling machine, I like him. I want guys like this who just make plays.”

What about overpaying for Running Back with Saquon Barkley? Wonder actually disagrees with this NY Giants blogger. “Barkley, yes, is $4M more than you spend on a RB, but he is great for the locker room, his teammates like him, he’s a hard worker, and he is talented. What they did in tagging him was ok. Emotionally he means a lot to the team. So I was ok with that tag. It’s $4M. If that is the price of locker room harmony, I am ok with it.”

They still need a WR Receiver, a Mike Evans big guy. DeAndre Hopkins in a trade? Hopkins has a lot left. Even at 31, he catches everything, unguardable. But you won’t be able to fit him into the cap. Maybe they get lucky in R2.

If the Jets release Denzel Mims 6’3 220, I’d be on the lookout for a guy like that. The Jets wasted him. If Rodgers forces the Jets to get a guy like Cobb, Mims might be had for cheap.

SUMMARY: Schoen has really done some great work in extracting value out of the Free Agent/trade market, which is not easy to do. You have to compare this to what our same Draft Analyst said about Dave Gettleman when he overpaid for players like Nate Solder, Patrick Omameh and Golden Tate. It is on the record:

These historic comments about other moves show that just because it is March does not mean Wonder is kissing the Giants ***. He is not a homer. He won’t be perfect, but he will call it the way he sees it. That is a lot better than the rest, who are either riding the fence or always sunny.

2023 Giants Free Agency+

We are not going to do any deep dives, but want to quickly share some preliminary thoughts on the NY Giants’ front office moves after the start of Free Agency.

The big splash move is signing former Colts LB Bobby Okereke. They paid $40M for 4 years, with $22M guaranteed. Wonder commented positively on the move. “Okereke is a tackling machine. The Giants got themselves a very solid player. He is a 3 down LBer who covers okay. The contract is reasonably priced.”

“The guaranteed money, at ~50% is in line with what they needed to do,” said the UltimateNYG draft analyst. Wonder noted that Okereke is better than where Blake Martinez was pre-injury. “This move fills a big need at the right price, giving Schoen more flexibility in next month’s draft.”

As the offseason began, I put out a poll on Twitter for where the Giants should go with their Round 1.25 pick.

Of course the correct answer is to Trade Down. My last choice would have been to take a Wide Receiver, given I have shown over and over what a waste of Round 1 draft capital it is for a position that is ALWAYS AVAILABLE. What other position could see elite players like AJ Brown, OBJ, DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Devante Adams all become available via trade in their prime? Please, name me another position on the field where 5 elite All Pro players are made available? My second choice in the poll, the one position of greatest need this offseason, was Linebacker. That Joe Schoen made his big 2023 splash on LBer shows what we have been saying about the new Giants GM- he is a disciplined, smart, organized leader who has a plan and knows how to execute on the plan.

And speaking about finding a receiving option, always available, the Giants may have found one…

The TE Darren Waller move is a high reward, relatively low risk play. If Waller is healthy, it is a score. Waller could easily become Jones’ best receiving target. If Waller is not healthy, he has 1 year of cap money, and the Giants will have lost a late Round 3 draft pick (the 3.100 KC Toney pick). That is the risk. I am not expecting Waller to fail his physical, but the Giants can use that toggle to their advantage in keeping the trade low/er risk. I have to imagine that the Giants would not have made this deal if Waller was a significant risk to simply burn the salary and draft pick.

Schneier and Falato talk scheme in how Waller will fit in. They are glowing in the risk vs reward. 12 Personnel! Bellinger and Waller. The coaching staff knows how to use the Tight End. If healthy, it is a gamechanger.

The re-signing of RB Matt Breida is a thumbs up. Breida can do it all. He is a quality backup who can deliver the plays for $2M. What is not to like?!

The signing of IDL Rakeem Nunez-Roches is competent roster filler. Ok player. A backup who can take some decent snaps.

The Giants re-signed WR Isaiah Hodgins. They got him for 1 year and $1M. That to me is a freaking steal. I would have preferred to get more term on that deal.

The Giants re-signed P Jamie Gillen. I was not a fan of Gillen and would have preferred the Giants go in another direction, preferably one where the punts angle properly and do not end up in the end zone for touchbacks.

SUMMARY: The Okereke FA signing is the big move of Giants Free Agency. It addresses probably the biggest need of the offseason, enabling the Giants to go in many different directions in the draft. I still prefer they trade completely out of Round 1 and get more Round 2 players, given their needs at so many positions. This makes even more sense given that they traded away 3.100 and got a major receiving threat. Round 2, all steak, no sizzle.

EXTRA: What is the best thing to have happened this offseason to the Gmen? Everyone will point to re-signing Jones. Of course that is huge. But the stroke of luck is that Mike Kafka is back at Offensive Coordinator. Getting him and Jones together for a second consecutive year is enormous for the entire franchise. Things are shaping up very well for the Gmen. If Evan Neal can make progress, this team rates to be very competitive.