Draft Architecture

The oracle of Berra once said:

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.

He also gave us this nugget:

You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.

What is the Giants plan? When it comes to the Draft, the Patriots have a plan. Over the last 10 drafts they have AVERAGED 9 selections. It is important to understand, because right now everyone is doing cartwheels that the Giants have amassed 10 picks for 2019. This is the biggest draft for the Giants in 16 years. Let that sink in.. the Giants have a haul that is one more pick than what the Patriots average each year.

Gettleman may have screwed up Free Agency and he may have gone the wrong direction with star Saquon Barkley, but at least Gettleman is doing some good things in the draft.

How do you get more draft picks? There are typically three ways:

(1) You trade down.

(2) You do less in Free Agency.

(3) You trade away veterans.

That’s it. Jerry Reese traded up, he was busy in Free Agency and he rarely traded away veterans. Along with poor draft choices, that systematically gutted the team of youthful draft restocking.

The decision to sign Patrick Omameh ($5.6M for 8 games) was a costly Free Agency blunder. Because of the losses of Pugh + Richburg, cutting Omameh in midseason allows the Giants to get a compensatory draft pick they would have otherwise lost by formula. Good. You need those draft picks.

Just ask the Patriots.

They stopped bidding for Solder when the price got too high and they’ll take more draft compensation instead. In the 2019 draft, they’ll get more from this mechanism than anyone, tying the Rams with TWO 3rd Round picks. That’s a lot. Quality too. The Patriots haven’t been killing it with great selections but the sheer quantity helps them continually rebuild their roster without missing a step. That’s good architecture. That’s a plan.

In the past 10 drafts (Gettleman inherited the 2018 setup from Reese with 6 picks), the Giants have averaged 7 picks. That’s what the NFL gives you. So the Gmen managed to gain a net of zero selections, as whatever compensatory picks they gained was lost from trading up and never trading down. That’s pretty hard to do. Even more telling, as the Giants scrambled in later years, they only averaged 6 picks per year THE LAST FOUR YEARS. Is it any wonder that the Giants are threadbare? Reese missed on too many picks and he didn’t even give himself enough bullets to miss.

Juxtapose this- the last 4 seasons the Patriots are shooting 1.5X more often for players in the Draft than the Giants. That’s a structural disadvantage. With Gettleman’s 10 picks in 2019, the Giants are hopefully on a new path with a new plan. Respect the Draft. Rebuild.

Giant Musings From the Past

Guest post from Bruce R.:

Today, Monday, November 19, 2018, marks the 40th anniversary of The Miracle at the Meadowlands.  I was there.  While it was a catastrophic event at the time, in the long run it changed the New York Football Giants for the better.  For my sons, nephews, and Giants fans who were not alive then, here’s the larger story:

The next morning, the Giants fired offensive coordinator Bob Gibson who had called the play.  The next week, Morris (the old Jewish guy who sat behind us in Section 122 of Giants Stadium and came to the games with a blond in a fur coat) hired a plane to fly over the stadium with a banner that read “15 Years of Lousy Football.  We’ve Had Enough”.  Giants’ head coach John McVay got axed at the end of the season, only to go on to become the GM of the 49ers during their Super Bowl years.  His grandson Sean McVay now coaches the LA Rams 2.0. GM Andy Robustelli also got fired after the season.  After a power struggle between Wellington Mara and his nephew Tim (for whom a street is named in Jupiter, Florida) led to a stalemate in choosing a new GM, Commissioner Pete Rozelle suggested the name of George Young, a little-known Baltimore Colts executive.

 Young set about hiring a new coach.  Among the serious candidates were Stanford coach Bill Walsh, San Diego Chargers assistant coach Ray Perkins, Dallas Cowboys assistant coach Dan Reeves, Jets Offensive Coordinator John Idzik (whose son famously flopped as Jets General Manager), and Seahawks OC Jerry Rhome.  With two future Hall of Fame coaches in the mix, the Giants opted for Ray Perkins, who Young knew from his days with the Colts.  Perkins hired the Air Force Academy’s head coach, an unknown guy named Duane “Bill” Parcells, to be his linebacker coach.  Parcells quit before the season started.  After a year away from football, he returned as linebacker coach for the Patriots under Head Coach Ron Erhardt for the 1980 season.  Parcells then joined the Giants as defensive coordinator and linebacker coach.  After the 1981 season, Erhardt was fired by the Patriots.  Perkins hired him as offensive coordinator.  When Parcells became Giants’ head coach for the 1982 season, he kept Erhardt as offensive coordinator, a job Earhardt held through the first two Super Bowl wins.Perkins also hired a 27 year old special teams coach named Bill Belichick, who Young later passed over as Parcells’ successor, in favor of Ray Handley (for younger fans, think of Handley as an earlier version of Ben McAdoo).

There are several other interesting bits of trivia related to this event:

The guy who was supposed to carry the ball, Larry Csonka, had a stellar college career at Syracuse, where he played in the same backfield as wingback Tom Coughlin.   

The player who snapped the ball, Jim Clack, was acquiredalong with Ernie Pough from the Steelers for John “Holding, Number 74” Hicks, arguably the worst #1 pick in Giants’ history.  Hicks had been the 3rd pick in the 1974 draft.  In that draft, alone, the Steelers picked 4 Hall of Famers:  Mike Webster, Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth.  Clack later pled guilty to a federal drug crime. Nevertheless, his uniform number (#56) has been retired by the Giants.  Speaking of uniform numbers, 41 years later, the Giants selected an offensive tackle high in the first round (Ereck Flowers) and assigned him # 74.  That didn’t work out, either.

The football gods repaid Herman Edwards, who picked up the fumble and ran for a touchdown, by making him head coach of the woeful New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.  

Two guys futilely chased Edwards as he ran away from us toward the west end zone at Giants Stadium.  One was Doug Kotar (#44), who had first displayed his skill in the 1974 Jaycees Classic pre-season game at Palmer Stadium in Princeton (I was there).  The other was Gary Shirk (#87), a former World Football League player (tight end) who had attended Morehead State in Kentucky.  The Giants held the 7th pick in the 1979 NFL draft.  They hoped to pick Jack “The Throwin Samoan” Thompson from Washington State.  Sadly, he was taken by the Bengals with the 3rd pick.  The Giants were left to settle for Phil Simms from Morehead State.  Seventy-five picks later, the 49ers selected Joe Montana.  Also selected that year by the Cardinals was Jeff Rutledge from Alabama, who eventually became one of Simms’ backups for the Giants.

George Young famously said “Always hire a guy you know.”  In 1994, he hired Ernie Accorsi, who had overlapped with Young in Baltimore. Accorsi eventually succeeded Young as GM.  The Giants hired a guy he knew – Jerry Reese – as his successor.  After initial success, Reese took the Giants back to the future (that is, the 1970’s) through a parade of bad draft picks (see Ereck Flowers, above).

One last interesting tidbit.  The George Young Award is presented annually by The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum the person, Jewish or non-Jewish, who “has best exemplified the high ideals that George Young displayed.

NYG 38 TB 35

I watched patches of the game, as I was the guest of another NFL fan (Steelers/Texans) so we flipped around watching a chunk of all 3. Since I did not watch the entire game, I’m not capable of commenting comprehensively about what took place. What I will do is remark on the things I saw.

1) The Giants Offense is functioning again. Yes, it’s (SF and now) TB. But at least there are elements to build off of. Keep throwing assets/draft picks at OL. The rest will come. (QB is another matter to be discussed at length this offseason.)

2) TB/Fitzpatrick is a turnover machine. Do not read too heavily into this win. TB racked up 510 yards from scrimmage and lost again. They had a -4 turnover ratio. You can’t win games like that. That the Giants won 38-35 is a warning that better teams will not be as charitable.

3) Saquon Barkley has 1268 yd from scrimmage in 10 games. That leaves him on pace for 2000 yards in his rookie season. It’s a passing league but you have to build your entire team/identity around him. While he is here and he is healthy, you must leverage his talents. Road Graders. More road graders.

4) I did see Engram’s big catch & run to help put the game away. If he is healthy the Giants Offense will get another dimension. This is why the OL needs the resources. Wait, didn’t I say that?

Please comment, as I probably didn’t see half the plays. 3-7 is better than 1-7.

Reminder: Nostalgia post tomorrow, Monday. Drafting post this Wednesday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Random Thoughts at Week 11

The Giants are 2-7 after a come-from-behind victory over SF. They are favorites this weekend (the first time this season) against the Bucs.

I got a chance to watch a lot of the Bucs-Skins game last weekend. They are two pieces of garbage. The Redskins are a nice story in 2018, but they are the poster child for NFL mediocrity. They win because other teams lose. As an example, the Bucs went into the red zone 5 times and collected 3 points. On one of those possessions, the Center snapped the ball yards away from Fitzpatrick. The Bucs were lucky to recover the ball with a 10 yd loss. It resulted in a missed FG from 48 yds.

On another possession, Fitzpatrick overthrew his receiver at the Goal line for an INT. Another was stopped at the 12 yd line for a 30 yd FG that was missed. Another saw the RB run free into the red zone only to have the ball punched out for a Skins fumble recovery in the end zone-> a touchback. And if that wasn’t enough, yet another drive ended at the 2 yd line on a sack strip turnover when Fitzpatrick tried to do too much. He coughed up the ball at the 7 yard line. It was a remarkable implosion.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers generated 500 yards of Offense and scored 3 points. When your kicker is 1/3 and you turn over the ball 4 times, that’s going to happen. The Giants face both of these teams down the stretch and neither are particularly good. Both are good enough to beat the Giants. The Redskins win ugly. The Bucs lose ugly. If the Bucs don’t protect the ball they’ll lose, but if they do, they have more than enough offensive firepower to beat the Giants.

In the Giants remaining schedule, they have 2 opportunities for wins vs the Bucs and Cowboys. They should lose to the Eagles, Bears, Washington, Tenn and the Colts. Tennessee just beat the Patriots. The Bears are a better team. The Colts are beating bad football teams, and at home they should win… against a bad football team.

The Giants should finish 2018 at ~4-12. If Jamon Brown stabilizes the OL they may find a way to 5 wins. They can just as easily lose out and finish 2-14 if teams like the Bucs and Cowboys show up. Versus a pile of garbage opponents, the Giants are equally if not more offensive. They have a lot of holes that need to be addressed in the draft. We’ll talk about that in a post between the Bucs and Eagles games which has been scheduled for Wednesday. On Monday we’ll have a special guest post on the anniversary of a notable moment in Giants history. Out of the ashes another Phoenix will rise.