NY Giants: Post Mortem 2019

PART 1- Shurmur Out, Gettleman Remains

It is really one large cosmic joke that the Giants have not parted ways with Gettleman. The conventional wisdom (brainwashing) is that you want stability and that Gettleman needs more time. A friend, Dimitri Raitzin, counters this with correct perspective:

The problem is that Mara wants the Giants to be the Steelers, but Gettleman is no Kevin Colbert. Stability is nice when you’re competing for the playoffs every year. The Giants are annually competing for a Top 5 draft pick. That type of stability is worthless.

Therein lies the problem. John Mara is living in the past, thinking he is one fix away from getting back on track. We have noted how he needs to remove himself from this process completely, relinquishing control and stepping down as Chief Executive.

The Giants have Gettleman for at least 1 year but more likely at least 2 years, as he will now be attached to the next Head Coach’s fate. Gettleman can recognize talent in the Draft but he does not make good decisions. His Free Agency track record is awful. Gettleman chose Shurmur. He lacks fundamental understanding of what wins in the NFL in 2020. And he lacks understanding of how to make value-based decisions in a hard cap value world (as evidenced by him paying Barkley top 4 RB money on his rookie contract when the rookie contract is a key to extracting value in the post-2011 CBA order).

PART 2- Head Coach Search

Front and Center, the Giants now embark on a Head Coach search. It will be Gettleman who will conduct this search.  His due diligence on Shurmur was flawed. If one looks at Shurmur’s track record more carefully, we see that he was the Interim Head Coach in Philadelphia yet Philadelphia did not elevate him- why? We know why now, 2 years later. Note how 2 years ago the Giants wanted an “adult” post-McAdoo. Today the owners are singing a different tune, saying that they want a “leader.” Get the picture? Maybe Gettleman will get lucky this time. I prefer to make my own luck.

Mara and Tisch will sign off. Garbage in, garbage out. There are a few prominent names under consideration from this report collected by Jordan Raanan.

  1. Matt Rhule. This one can make a lot of sense. “Rhule is acceptable,” says Wonder, the Draft Analyst for UltimateNYG NY Giants Blog. “He will get them back on course. He does a good job of organizing and putting together his team. While I am not overwhelmed by him, I do like him. He is pretty solid. He is a much better selection than a retread like Ron Rivera.” And speaking of retreads, Wonder issued a very stern and sharp warning for those even mentioning the name of Jason Garrett. “If the Giants tap Garrett as the next Head Coach, all fans should just turn in their Giants card. Go on strike. Throw in the towel.” I had independently reached the same conclusion, having tweeted that Garrett does less with more, the classic sign of underachievement. I think any Giants fan paying attention to Dallas (they are, after all, in the NFC East) knows that Garrett does not make his team better.
  2. Josh McDaniels. I was a little concerned about what happened in Denver in McDaniel’s first stint as a Head Coach. It felt like major dysfunction, along with immaturity. After reading this, I would be hopeful that his next opportunity would fare much better. Wonder would be comfortable with McDaniels. Realistically speaking, I do not think it will happen, as there are rumors that Belichick told both Patricia and McDaniels not to take the Giants job 2 years ago. Wonder really likes McDaniels, and thinks he would be even better than Rhule: “I am not concerned about what happened in Denver. He may have a handshake agreement on getting the job in New England if/when Belichick steps down, so that is the reason why I am more doubtful about the likelihood of it happening here.”
  3. Eric Bieniemy. “I want no part of him,” says Wonder. “The only reason why he is being considered at all is because the KC Offense is stacked. Even I could coach that team with all the talent there,” jokes our analyst.

PART 3- Nepotism

I keep hearing about Chris Mara wanting the NY Giants GM job, be it two years ago when he was passed over, now or whenever. Is there anyone who has confidence in his abilities? There was open dysfunction between him and Jerry Reese. How do you fire your own brother?

PART 4- The Draft

The Giants have the 4th pick overall.

Mara: “The key is still the Draft, making good draft picks and you have to supplement that with Free Agency. You can’t think that you’re going to solve all of your problems in Free Agency… it just doesn’t work.”

The good thing is that I agree with EVERYTHING Mara just said there. The problem is that his GM that he supports does not understand the value of his Draft picks (or how to make good sensible FA decisions either, but let’s stay with the Draft….). No GM bringing up the rear at the trade deadline gives up Draft picks FOR the expiring contract. Gettleman blew the 70th pick overall plus a Round 4/Round 5 pick in 2021 for Leonard Williams. The key is the Draft. Mara just said it. The value is in the rookie contracts. The CBA says it. The Giants threw away critical currency for its rebuild. Gettleman did it.

Preliminary indications are that this Draft is deeper in OL. Ya think that that 70th pick overall can help throw help at that problem?? Look at the Patriots, who are competitive every year. They collect massive amounts of draft picks and let veteran players walk, in return for … compensatory Draft picks. So the answer is right in front of you. This is how to do business in the 21st Century. To be fair to Gettleman, he did move some players (like JPP, Apple and Harrison) and collected picks. Yet to go in reverse and go for Williams on the hope of signing him was not consistent with value. Williams was bait for a playoff contender who needed (injury) help with interior DL. Period. If we could somehow sign Williams to a much cheaper deal before FA, that was the only way this was paying off. That is highly unlikely.

Every part of your plan must be efficient. Bad decisions add up. You find value through a series of decisions where EVERY decision has value. Just because it has value does not mean it will work out. If I throw a coin and heads I win $2 while tails I lose $1, I want to throw that coin. I may lose with tails but that is ok. The Williams trade simply did not have value. That was not a good coin toss.

PART 5- Analytics

Why are analytics important? We talked about this at length literally a decade ago on this blog when we recommended Money Ball by Michael Lewis. My old posts are gone due to a couple of host site migrations over the years, but all you need to know is that Billy Beane figured out that by cranking the numbers you can figure out what works for assembling a winning team. It was all about VALUE. Beane was able to field competitive teams on salaries that were significantly less than his peers.

Beane got outspent because he did not have a hard cap. Imagine Beane in a hard cap sport and that is football analytics. To belittle/ignore their value is like passing on that favorable coin toss. Or worse… not quantifying what the coin toss looks like in the first place.

Imagine our amusement, when hearing this from Steve Politi…

“I’m still digesting John Mara’s press conference today, but when an owner … tells everyone that his team has a killer new analytics department that you just didn’t know about… that was weird, right?”

Maybe it is completely weird when Dave Gettleman, only a couple of years ago, waves his hands, pokes fun at the nerds and calls analytics “nonsense.”

So who are you going to believe? Did Gettleman all of a sudden wake up and figure out that he needs to change and get into the 21st Century? Positional VALUE? I’ll believe it when Politi asks Gettleman that question tomorrow and we see a 180 from the Giants GM. “People don’t change. They become more so,” said a wise sage. No, I am not expecting lightning bolts tomorrow.

PART 6- Scapegoating Shurmur

Jay Glazer called out the Giants for contradicting facts.

Did you expect anything less when they decided to keep Gettleman? We know Shurmur was a boob on mismanaging the players. We never chased after Gettleman when Shurmur under-leveraged Barkley’s skills. Similarly, we did not go after Shurmur when the Giants traded draft picks for Leonard Williams.

I thought the Reese bye week pressers were comedy. Today was a continuation of the denial. Mara on Gettleman’s Free Agency boners: “He does know that the batting average has to increase going forward.” Well, at least we got that. The last time we got a warning from Mara to his GM, Reese lost his job two years later. I sure hope Gettleman nails the Head Coach hire because we fans can’t take another 2 years of this.

NYG 32 TB 31

Other than Solder’s sacks, there is no way we could have scripted Daniel Jones’s debut any better. He’s got poise, accuracy, solid mechanics, versatility, and he’s a fighter. It’s a rebuilding year because the Defense is awful. Nonetheless, the Giants have a QB. Enjoy the win. Don’t you dare complain about the turnovers. We saw nice rookie plays/contributions from Ximines, Lawrenceville, Slayton and Connelly. And a QB named Jones.

Daniel Jones

Usually during preseason I watch a number of young players, because you get to see who flashes. This year, I frankly could care less about almost everyone on the field except Daniel Jones.

It is a QB-driven league. If you are set at QB, you can compete. If you don’t have a QB, the rest of the team simply does not matter. The days of a Trent Dilfer winning the Super Bowl are long gone. In today’s pass-happy NFL, if you do not have a QB, you are screwed.

Enter Daniel Jones. You will recall that in April we stated that the Giants “overdrafted” Jones. That was based on an evaluation of college film, and the risk vs reward at that time. Jones’s transformation from college to what we are seeing in the first two preseason games is noteworthy.

“Daniel Jones has improved dramatically since when I watched his Senior year college film,” says Wonder, this site’s Draft Analyst. “He is playing at a much higher level.”

In absolute terms:
Jones is showing understanding of the field, how to run an offense, great accuracy, and good touch.

In relative terms:
Even from Week 1 of preseason to Week 2 of preseason, there is more zip on the ball.

Wonder continues. “Jones’s footwork is much better than in college. As an example, he is pointing his foot to where he is throwing. He is using the lower half of his body, stepping into his throws and using his legs to throw the ball.

“He is not throwing off his back foot, which not only affects the strength of the throw but also its accuracy. His dropbacks are much smoother, much better than in college.

“It is pretty obvious to me that he has been working with someone to get better, and it shows. There is no comparison between his college tape and the pro tape.”

A comparison of the first TD vs the Jets and the touchdown to TJ Jones vs the Bears is night and day to Wonder. He did not like the first TD pass because it was a ball that could have been caught by both the receiver and the defender. Contrast that with the TJ Jones ball, which had perfect touch, where only the Giants receiver could have caught it. There was another pass to Cody Latimer which was also placed perfectly. Latimer used his 6′ 3″ height to get that. The defender had no chance.

“Right now, I give Jones a 9.5 out of 10. The only thing we haven’t seen is the deep ball, which I believe showed Jones to have less than capable NFL arm strength. At this point it really does not matter significantly because of everything else he has shown. He can work to improve his arm strength as well.

“Jones is showing so much poise. He found secondary receivers properly, the way you are supposed to do it, methodically, not rushed or harried. He was calm and not ruffled by the fumbles, which are a non-event. Completely correctable.

“My guy Darnold is set to explode this season if he can get an OL. He looks great but lacks help.  As good as Darnold is right now, Jones is ahead of where Darnold was last year in preseason. Darnold was not nearly as advanced, so Daniel Jones can be very very good.”

One last thing that sums up Wonder’s bullishness on Jones… “I was amazed at the amount of progress from the end of college to now. It shows how much he has worked and studied. This is indicative to me of his maturity, because the willingness to work to improve is key in being a successful professional athlete.”

When should we see Jones come in to help the Giants? Wonder is a believer that you do not throw a guy to the wolves. He prefers that the Giants ease him in sometime this season if their record falls behind, like vs the Jets Game 10 or Packers Game 12. As long as the Giants and Eli are doing fine, he’d prefer Jones keep learning from Eli this season and just ask Eli questions about what he saw on certain plays so that he can continue to learn from the veteran without getting throttled by blitzes.

The Giants may have a franchise QB. It is only 2 preseason games, but Daniel Jones has made significant progress.

2019 NFL Draft: Wonder Brandt

Gil Brandt is a talent evaluator that Wonder, generally speaking, agrees with. Wonder thinks that in past years, as he is getting older, he may be farming some of his work out and guiding the process a little more than doing a deep dive on every single player. We do not know this, but it is a sense of what we see. Click on the above Link for his Top 150 Draft Board.

Many prospects are NOT discussed because there is general agreement.

Some noteworthy differences (Brandt ranking, Wonder ranking):

OL Connor McGovern (29, 95). Fairly reliable, fairly standard journeyman OL that you can always get in R3-R5. Round 1? That is way too rich for my blood.

EDGE LJ Collier (34, 72). Some upside, does not stand out. I follow a lot of TCU guys, and this is not one of them that high.

T Kaleb McGary. (36, 80). See McGovern, just another guy you can find in R3-R5.

T Dalton Risner (42, 90). Just another guy. There are 30 of them. Can’t play LT for sure. Not sure if he can play RT either, because he may get beaten like a drum. It used to be that you could hide a guy at RT, but not anymore. Too many quality pass rushers. He has some value as a Center or Guard (per Brandt) but I am not going to draft him in R2 for that… R3-R4 fine, hence my rating, and hence why he will be overdrafted.

DE Zach Allen (43, 150). Overachiever in college. Round 5. Likes to play football, has grunted and grinded his way through. Will take up space. Special teams, fill in, second string.

RB Miles Sanders (45, 110). I do not understand this at all. Doesn’t even compare to Singletary or Montgomery (guys being discussed in the same zip code of R2).

T Tytus Howard (50, 135).

QB Will Grier (52, 125). For all Giants fans who want this guy, please watch his Combine and college tape. Too small. Doesn’t have the arm. Doesn’t appear to read the defense that well for a guy with as much experience as he has. So I do not see the upside in him. And it is even worse for Ryan Finley (58, 158). Brandt was right, he just missed by a “1” on the ranking. The best Finley can hope for is 2nd string in the NFL. That is his upside, so why is he ranked in Round 2? Finley has no talent. Other than that he is great.

DE Anthony Nelson (64, 150).  Too slow, can’t play DE in the NFL. Ridiculous.

CB Trayvon Mullen (73, 73). Shocked that Brandt agrees with me, but kudos. Everyone has this guy as a Top 5 CB in the draft. I do not. And neither does Brandt.

S Darnell Savage (87, 41). At least Brandt recognizes some value here, because most do not even have Savage anywhere, let alone 87 (or in my Top 50). Great Sleeper value.

S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (93, 19). I really like CGJ. See our Top 50.

TE (Nauta, Knox, Warring (96 97 and 98, 160) These are all R5 guys.

What are you drafting a QB for? To be a backup? Or to find a chance at becoming a bonafide starter? The comparison is stark with QB Jarrett Stidham 101 vs QB Tyree Jackson 108. Stidham has no chance to be a starter in the NFL. At least Jackson, who is lacking in experience, has the potential with good coaching to leverage tremendous athleticism. The ceiling for these 2 prospects could not be any greater. Yet there they are, 7 slots apart, which makes no sense.

I like guys like RB Justice Hill (109, 24) and RB Devin Singletary (112, 65). These are sleeper value guys.

LB David Long (151+, 29). Brandt does not even have him on his Top 150 Board. God I hope he falls to some stupid round like R4 or R5. Someone is going to steal him, and I hope it is the Giants or Jets. There is such confusion, everyone has CB David Long (who I like) ranked well, and the LBer who I love is nowhere to be found.

The Gil Brandt of 30 years ago would have never let LB David Long or CB Mark Fields slip this far to not be in the Top 150. This is why I do not think he is doing all of this work. He does have 48 others in our Top 50 inside the Top 112 spots.