Taking Your Losses

You’re thinking this is a post about the loss this past Saturday. But you would be incorrect. This is about a move the Eagles made two years ago that laid the foundation for where they are right now. It won’t get discussed very much (well, not until the Eagles have 2 weeks of media attention before the Super Bowl), but we’re talking about the Carson Wentz trade.

Everyone is rightly focused on this year’s moves, like obtaining Gardner-Johnson for a song, getting AJ Brown (24 years old at the time, and re-signed) for 1.18 in the draft, and picking up Bradberry at a discount when the Giants had to make him a cap casualty. Yes, these moves were all fantastic. But it would not be possible without swallowing a bitter pill first, a year earlier.

Let’s set the table. The story begins in 2016, when the Eagles traded up to 1.02 and selected Carson Wentz. Wentz did well in the NFL, and lead the Eagles in 2017 towards the playoffs (2nd team All-Pro season) before tearing his ACL late in the season. Nick Foles, his brittle backup, took over and got them to the Super Bowl title.

Things between the Eagles and Wentz were going well enough for the Eagles to exercise his 5th year option and then sign him to a contract extension as their franchise QB in 2019. The deal was 4 yrs $128M and most of it was guaranteed. This is where things quickly went off the rails.

You’d expect the commitment to Wentz to be very very strong now. Spending $108M guaranteed… guarantees commitment. But the dynamic between him, HC Pederson, and the Eagles soured. I won’t go into all of the reasons why; this article explains the divorce.

Taking your losses is risk management. It is an act of courage. It is an admission of error. Human beings make mistakes all the time. Yet many are afraid to admit error because they feel they will lose the respect of others. Those who do come clean are stronger because they face the truth. They made a mistake. They are perfectly imperfect. Admission of a mistake frees them up to move forward instead of investing in additional losses. Thankfully in football, there is a record of wins and losses. That holds those who can’t confront their mistakes accountable.

I was not in Philadelphia to hear the local media and the fan reaction, but I am sure Roseman and Company took major heat. Either the masses were killing them for making the deal, they were killing them for taking a beating on the Eagles’ future without Wentz, or they were killing them for both. Kudos to all of them, and the owner too, for pressing forward.

Here is the thing about taking losses- if done properly, it stems the bleeding on a situation that may very well go from bad to worse. “When you are in a hole, stop digging.” Well, taking your losses means that you stop digging. We see these actions by GMs and they know from the inside that they have a problem. As a former trader, we had a saying when you had a trading error- “If you want to have a big problem, start with a small one.” So the rule in trading was to cover an error asap, else it was sure to grow. Don’t ask me why. It just does. “Confront the brutal facts.” They are all part of the same reality—- the sooner you accept defeat and move on, the sooner you’ll be able to get onto a better path.

In the 2021 offseason, the Eagles moved on from Wentz. In 2022, they were in a position to acquire some missing pieces around the rookie Hurts contract. Here it is, the end of the 2022 season, and the Eagles are knocking on the door of a Super Bowl. It could not happen without jettisoning the Wentz contract to the Colts. They architected the salary cap of the rookie QB contract to plug in the pieces elsewhere that they simply couldn’t do if Wentz were still there.

One step back to go two steps forward. The lesson is in exactly what Joe Schoen has done here with the NY Giants in his first season. He had no choice but to take his losses on the salary cap and jettison some muscle (Bradberry) after all of the fat was cut. Schoen also took his losses on Kadarius Toney. There is no greater example of moving on from your losses than trading away your Round 1 pick from only a year ago. Now, Schoen has much more cap space going forward.

It’s hard to see the path after getting bounced in the playoffs. We want to believe that if we levered 2022, kept Bradberry, and grabbed a WR at the trade deadline, that the Giants could have gone even deeper in the playoffs. Schoen instead respected the plethora of holes he had and felt otherwise. Let’s celebrate the coaching hire he made, how they overachieved, and how the table is set for even more competitiveness as the cap gets cleaned out further.

Take the pain now. Live to fight another day. Roseman did it, and it became a spring board a year later. Schoen and Daboll will be able to build the team for 2023, 2024 and beyond as a result of losses taken in 2022. Great things lay ahead. One step back to go two steps forward.

PHL 38 NYG 7

I was at a wedding, so I missed the game. Fortunately I was spared what you all went through.

Schoen and Daboll have resurrected this franchise. That the NY Giants had 9 wins, that they went to the playoffs, that they won their first playoff game in 11 years… it’s a remarkable accomplishment during a rebuilding year. Yes, we wanted more from this game, but it will keep the players, coaches and front office focused on improving the team. The offseason awaits with a young roster and many ways to fill needs that couldn’t be done with a (previously) restricted cap. Stay with us for free agency and the draft. Linebacker and Offensive Line. We have a Quarterback. Onward to 2023!

Still a Rebuild

I started writing a long post which only had a short message. It’s been a great season. The coaches have done a great job. But there’s only so much they can do when player after player get hurt. Next man up is great. What happens when it’s next water boy up? Was it enough that McKinney was lost for s few games due to an ATV accident during the bye. The only serious coaching mistake was putting Adoree Jackson on punt returns. I still haven’t recovered from Aug 1998 when Sehorn went down. This is “only” an MCL sprain. Wan’Dale Robinson and 3 more got hurt too. All of this doesn’t really matter because the Giants were moving along in a rebuilding year anyway. I’ll tell you what matters.

Daniel Bellinger.

Reports surfaced about 2 weeks after surgery that he has double vision. If it clears up, great. If not, his career is in jeopardy. So wish him, and the Giants, for a 100% recovery. He is a round 4 gem.

The Giants Go to 6-1

That last minute of clock was a torture chamber. At 5-1 on the verge of 6-1, we are invested in this underdog season. To possibly somehow blow that win at the end, after such incredible grit along the way, would have been too much to take. Longtime blog readers know that we subscribe to the Bill Walsh theory of close games- that you have to aim for 10+ points victory margins to minimize the variance and stupidity of the officials. The officials almost ****ed us today but the team slipped through. FANTASTIC! Superlatives don’t do this win (or this season) justice.

Saquon Barkley did not stay inbounds on TWO separate plays. I rechecked the first play at 12:21 on the highlights video, and it is very clear that you have already gotten the first down many yards ago so your job there is to cut back to keep the clock running. There are 3:30 minutes remaining, the clock goes down 35+ secs each down, your opponent only has 1 remaining timeout, and it is all about first downs AND clock. The second play, he is trying to give himself up but does not get it done there either. Terrible. Daboll admitted after the game that the Giants made it harder on themselves than it should have been. Good. I like that kind of honesty, responsibility and accountability… especially after a win. The Gmen are so well coached, but they can always get better.

There is actually a 3rd play on that same drive at 12:15 on the video where Barkley can do better to stay inbounds. I am not as tough on this one, but when looked at with all 3, it is clearly not acceptable. His job is to get the first down and then stay inbounds.

It’s like Groundhog Day every Sunday afternoon. The Giants are underdogs. They get outplayed during chunks of the game. They bend, but don’t break. They get some key stops or good fortune. Justin Tucker misses a FG. And then in the 4th quarter they turn it on and win games by the hair of their chinny chin chin.

It is time to talk about Daniel Jones. This is now his 5th consecutive terrific game. He is doing it with Moe Larry and Curly out there blocking and catching balls for him. Next man up? It’s more like next waterboy up. Neal, Bredeson, Bellinger and Robinson all got hurt. Neal may have an MCL, but early word from Jordan Raanan is that both his and Bredeson’s injuries are not expected to be serious. Bellinger could be the most significant story. Sorry Giants fans, but I spoke with an opthalmologist Giants fan after the game and he said that 2 of the 3 outcomes for Bellinger could be career-ending. I won’t go into all of the speculation because obviously those comments come from a television a thousand miles away, but the point is that a lot is at risk. Hopefully he is ok.

Back to Jones, yes, he lost his shifty rookie WR Robinson. He lost Bellinger. (We needed a mainframe computer to keep track of all the dropped passes.) He had backup backups blocking for him and he put the team on his shoulders. He is doing it every week. Maybe it is the coaching, I am not sure what, but he seems to have a better clock in his head re the pocket pressure, because he is actually beginning to step up in the pocket when he should. He is making so many good passes and going through progressions very well. He is making reads on his runs brilliantly at times. Simply stated, he is leading this team and taking care of the ball. The boneheaded plays are gone. They have been replaced by composure and order. The trend is fantastic. Both he and the coaching staff deserve tremendous credit. If the trajectory continues, he will earn himself a long term contract.

Back to the game. On the final drive, when the Jaguars have 38 men in the box (okay, I exaggerated, it was actually only 10) for an inside clock killing run by the Gmen, Jones fakes the handoff (12:36 on the video), goes right, and then runs a naked bootleg to the left side and there is no one there. Except Jones. 16 yards later he has converted a 2nd and 8 and makes sure to stay inbounds. This was the playcall I was yelling for near the end of the ATL NE Super Bowl (the 28-3 game) where Matty Ryan needed to do this for a wide open clock killing dagger against the cheaters (er I mean patsies). The Jones run should seal the win, except for the insanity that would follow. What gets me so excited is that we have the Offensive Coordinator who has the wherewithal to make this call. Just fantastic.

A reminder about media hype. Please by all means celebrate the resurgence of this franchise. The coaching is what is repeatable and that has me the most upbeat. The players will get upgraded and the young ones who are playing will get better with experience too. As far as this season is concerned, there are too many breaks that have broken the Giants way that we can get too enamored about the outlook. Missed FG by Tennessee. Special teams mishap vs GB but the ball finds its way out of bounds before any of 3 GB players can claim it. Lamar Jackson turnovers in Q4. Etienne fumbling into the end zone. Stopping the Jags on the final play at the half yard line. Winning teams win these games. This is great on-the-job training. The law of averages says this streak of good fortune cannot last forever. If just a few things go wrong the entire season, the Giants could easily be a 3-4 or 4-3 team, and that would not take a single thing away from where they are trending.

Wonder: “If you would have told me that the Giants and Jets would be a combined 11-3, I would have asked you what mental hospital you are receiving treatment at.” We will finish with Bill Parcells- you are what your record says you are. The Giants are 6-1. Enjoy it. I certainly am.