Denial is a River

One of the blessings of this dreadful season for me personally is that I have given up the weekly game recaps. No longer do I have to chronicle the mishaps and regurgitate the misery of yet another season of dysfunction.

Sunday evening I read a quick story on the “anger” of John Mara. He was smart enough (ostrich) to leave the building without saying anything to the media. That is the problem with John Mara. He is just smart enough to think highly enough of his abilities, yet not smart enough to accept COMPLETE responsibility for the state of the franchise. Does he truly understand that he needs to hold himself accountable for everything? This blogger is fairly certain that Mara is in denial- it is his franchise and his decisions that have sent this franchise to this place. We will not see the kind of meaningful change that we noted here (almost a year ago to the day in November) until Mara reaches that point where he realizes his methods and his decisions have been the source of the persistent losing.

We know it is a rebuild. We have been using that word for quite some time. 2-8 should not bother me. The reason it does bother me (greatly) is that this team keeps making weak decisions and keeps underachieving on the field. It is okay to rebuild and admit you are rebuilding. It is not okay to have such poor coaching limit the development of the rookies you are trying to teach. Let’s discuss one glaring example.

The most significant problem in Sunday’s debacle to the Jets was not the loss. It was another pummeling of the heir to the franchise, Daniel Jones. He is a human pinata. People asked me if I was okay with Jones taking the reins when Eli faltered. YES, I said unequivocally! The reason why I was of such strong conviction was because he had a good enough Offensive Line not to become the next David Carr, so let’s get on with his matriculation. There is no time like the present in today’s post 2011-CBA, where winning with rookie contracts is a strategic edge. That is how you beat the salary cap. Getting Jones the experience today moves up his timetable and moves the franchise ahead. If you can lose with Manning, why not lose with Jones and get him the valuable experience he needs as soon as possible? That is the way the NFL works in 2019.

The crux to that argument is “David Carr.” David Carr was the rookie QB who was subjected to 76 sacks in his first year in the NFL. He never recovered. For lack of a better word, he became “hard-wired” to bad practices and failure. Let’s look at this list of leaders in sacks for rookie QBs. It is instructional in WHAT NOT TO DO. Do you see guys like Warren Moon and Jim Kelly up there? Pay no attention to them. Moon played for SIX YEARS in the CFL before coming to the NFL. He was no rookie. Kelly went to the USFL in 1983 and did not arrive in Buffalo until 1986. He was MVP of the USFL in 1984 and threw for 10,000 yards in that league before it folded. He was no rookie either. When you start at the top of the list and go down, it is littered with …. litter…. defunct players who never got on track. You can’t successfully develop a QB this way. But this is precisely what Shurmur is doing. Shurmur is so lost behind that playcalling sheet that he is on his way to potentially destroying the future of this franchise, Daniel Jones.

Let’s do some numbers. 76 sacks in 16 games was insane. Note how it was 20 sacks ahead of the #2 on the list. TWENTY SACKS. So David Carr was destroyed. His rate was 4.75 sacks per game. Average. Do you know the average number of sacks of Daniel Jones took the past 4 games? It is 5.5/game. If we use all 8 games he has started, it is still 4 sacks/game, a rate which would finish him at 56 sacks in a season with 2 games less than Carr. At the current spiraling rate of the past 4 games, Jones would be subjected to a total of 65 sacks. Shurmur is currently negligent in turning his rookie QB into a career-scarred pinata.

My memory of 2002 is not great, but I remember David Carr battling just like Jones is battling. That is what rookies do. They stand in the pocket longer because their bodies can take the abuse and they want to win at all costs. Those instincts are good, but only on the surface. Look at where it got Andrew Luck. Just because you “can” take a hit does not mean you want to be exposing yourself to unnecessary physical abuse. Not in a rebuild. Not in your first year. I like a QB who can hang in the pocket and take a hit. Yet I also hate a rookie who is subjecting himself to too much abuse. We already delineated why this is Shurmur’s responsibility a few weeks ago. The only difference now is that it just continues each week, week after week. No, not 8 per game. But 8 sacks, 3 sacks, 5 sacks, 6 sacks. It has gotten worse as the wheels have come off for Solder (concussion) and Remmers. When you lose whatever semblance of order you have on your Offensive Line, you need to adjust. But therein lies the problem with Pat Shurmur. He cannot see the forest for the trees because he is not managing his team. He is too busy managing playcalling. The team suffers. Daniel Jones suffers. The franchise suffers. And John Mara is angry.

Let’s discuss another example of losing the forest within the trees- Saquon Barkley. Every Giant fan could see Barkley was NOT Barkley on Sunday. He was running the ball without the cuts he is famed for, and his pass blocking was worse. Yet Shurmur had him in there and was calling his number over and over. If Barkley were making great moves and deserving of touches, that would be one thing, but this was not that day.

Quarter: Carries (yards)
Q1: 2, 3,
Q2: 0, -3, 3, 1, 2
… hello McFly …. McFly …
Q3: -2, 0, -1
… earth to Shurmur, earth to Shurmur ….
Q4: 0, -4

13 carries for 1 total yard. He was hurt. What is going on here?

Are we going to see adjustments in scheme? Does Jones get subjected to another 6 games of physical abuse? Or do we get a Head Coach who can see the forest for the trees?

Let’s go back to selecting an Outsider. Mara chose the septuagenarian insider Accorsi to select the sexagenarian insider Gettleman, who in turn selected Shurmur. The word was that Patricia and Daniels were preferred but skipped on the Giants. Why? I suspect it was because they understood what kind of franchise the Giants were. It is a franchise with too much loyalty and nepotism. Loyalty gets you Accorsi, Abrams, Gettleman and Ross in the mix for the GM position. Gettleman was a safe choice. Shurmur was a safe choice, a grown up with experience. No risk, no reward. These decisions are too safe and too familiar. I’d rather lose with a process which interviews 4 outsiders and finds one with the references that stand out. Mara is afraid of what that kind of change will do to his organization. Fans are tired of an organization that is too comfortable with losing. Shurmur is very good at losing, and Gettleman/Mara have to much hubris to face the music.