On this day we remember those who fought for us and paid the ultimate price so that we could be free. Freedom means everything. It gives us the ability do so many things. On this blog we have gratitude for the luxury of being entertained by professional football.
Let’s touch on a three things as we get primed for another football season.
FLEXED. The NFL voted 24-8 to flex Thursday Night Football. Greed, thy name is Roger Goodell. I know that many of you believe it is the owners doing this, but Pete Rozelle is rolling in his grave. Rozelle built a special product that the fans loved. He, as the commissioner, had a role to protect the game.
Why do fans routinely and regularly boo Goodell? Because the premium fans who want to attend a game get degraded and dehumanized by a selfish _______ who treats them like the addicted saps that they are. Apple, as an example, has a loyal following who will wait in long lines in the rain to get their hands on a new iPhone. The NFL, similarly, has a band of loyal consumers who are so in love with their team/game that they are willing to subject themselves to extra (17th) games, frigid December/January weather, flexed Sunday games, preseason meaningless games, Thursday weaker games etc because they love the sport. The latest degradation is the TNF flex game where people who will buy a ticket to a Sunday game will then be told ~11 days prior that that they are now going to a Thursday night game. Travel? Kids? Other plans? Work the next morning? Go **** yourself, says the owners and Goodell. Until these season’s tickets holders, live game attendees and suite holders say no and do not attend, Goodell and the owners will laugh all the way to the bank. Meanwhile, the rest of use will now get better teams late in the season who play with only 3 days to heal. It’s a continuation in the effort of owners to get more money at the cost of the quality of the game. Rozelle understood that without quality there was nothing. Goodell and the owners are emptying the bank of their fans’ goodwill. When these masters misstep, will the fans be there?
EVAN NEAL. After the draft, in our post 2 weeks ago recapping the schedule, I quickly remarked that “my entire team outlook changes based on the trajectory of Evan Neal in his second season.” He is the one player I believe holds the most swing in terms of the difference he can make positively and negatively to the 2023 season. Because of that heightened interest, I found some interesting comments from Howard Cross via John Schmeelk and Dan Schneier. Minute 46:
“I really do believe what John Schmeelk told us when we had him on the podcast a couple of weeks ago. Howard Cross (citing his credibility and authority as an observer)- ‘I am on the sideline every single home game and I see that Evan Neal is not healthy. He is just simply not healthy… in his lower half.’ If you cannot fire off on your lower half of your body, of course you can be bad…. he is working his a** off (this offseason).”Big Blue Banter May 18, 2023
How does this color the situation? Neal played 7 games before getting hurt. He had an MCL sprain. After missing 4 games he came back and finished the season. But the improvement that everyone wanted to see did not happen. Howard Cross’s comments give me a different lense (shared somewhat by Schneier and Falato in their relative optimism). Effectively, Evan Neal had a 7 game rookie season. Am I making an excuse here? Maybe. The point is that everyone was looking for Neal to make progress as a rookie and it was an incomplete story.
Can Neal still bust? Of course. But with that qualifier in place, the combination of
- getting healthy
- working this off-season to improve
- a block of experience
gives me more reason to be optimistic than otherwise. Assuming Neal gets better, it changes my outlook for the Giants in 2023. We will not know until a few games into 2023 how Neal is playing. While all of this is still guesswork, knowing that the second half of his 14 games was not under the best conditions allows us more room to allow for the 2023 progress we hope for.
DEANDRE HOPKINS. This NY Giants blog continually argues that Wide Receiver is always available. Over and over. Back in 2019, when the Giants traded OBJ, we noted that OBJ likely sat himself at the end of the season. We still hold to that view. Now there is a story that Hopkins also sat himself at the end of 2022. Of course this is not the only reason why WR is always available. Yet it is the nature of the position. Super high priced. Touchdown makers. These are the fantasy football players. They score the points. The fans see these gazelles and they want them more than they want a Guard or Center who anonymously holds the block on the same play. The legion of star WRs who have become available to other teams via trade, free agency, or outright release recently is a who’s who in the NFL: OBJ, Devante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins (2X!). We note in our architecture for building a Championship team from 2021:
4a) WRs are a dime a dozen. I know. I know. Better WRs have better separation, helping your team move the ball. Just click the link, because this is about availability. QB LT (and even EDGE, to a degree) are obtained through meticulous cultivation. WR, on the other hand, is a commodity exchange.UltimateNYG 7/4/2021
There is a cycle which feeds on itself, reinforcing the surplus of super WR talent that becomes available over and over again.
(1) WR sells tickets.
(2) WR generates competitiveness. (This is illusory without the other pieces.)
(3) Poorly run teams leverage highly priced WRs to juice their roster w/o other critical pieces.
(4) Well run teams leverage highly priced WRs to juice their roster for Super Bowl runs.
(5) Both poorly and well run teams [in (3) & (4) above] need to reset their salary cap after failure OR success.
(6) The WR position (via injury, commitment or otherwise) is not part of a rebuild.
(7) WR is jettisoned from the roster via trade or release.
(8) Rinse, repeat, back to (1).
Should the Giants “reach” for Hopkins? At this point, it seems that the Bills and Chiefs are the teams going after that Super Bowl piece. Schoen is architecting his roster with purpose and deliberation. I suspect this is not the moment for the Giants. Since we know WRs are always available, patience is a virtue. The Giants already have a crowded WR room. Add the receiving TE Darren Waller, and we can keep the interest disciplined.
One little tidbit for Jets fans is that with Aaron Rodgers plus a (healthy?) OL plus a terrific defense, even they could reach. Wonder: “Yes, the Jets can do it. They would need to release Corey Davis and rework the contracts for a couple of vets.” As usual, apparently everyone is pining for a star WR. Rinse, repeat.