This is the first post during the 2020 season. There is a reason for probably the longest period of silence on this blog in the 14 years we’ve been writing. It is called REBUILDING. Twitter followers keep seeing the same #Rebuilding hashtag on a regular basis because that is the story of the season. Finally we have some good news to discuss… a 2 game win streak, 3-7, Joe Judge leadership, and some bright spots coming together for this team.
THE GIANTS HAVE FINALLY TURNED THE CORNER.
Patrick Graham and the Giants Defense are doing really well. They are keeping the team in most games. They have the 11th ranked defense and the ranking would be even better if it was adjusted by the Offense. As an example, the Offense is ranked 30th, dragging down Defensive measures via time of possession. Offensive turnovers are 26th ranked, but Defensive Turnovers are ranked 4th in the NFL, starkly showing the disparity. Xavier McKinney will likely come back after the bye; Giants Nation eagerly awaits what they will look like when he adds that dimension of speed and game awareness to an already good unit. Remember that one of the reasons why McKinney will help the Defense is that he can be used in so many ways. Down the road, that will aid unpredictability, making the Defense even better than it is right now. That is exciting. The Defense will be one edge pass rusher away from being a total monster. That is extremely exciting.
James Bradberry has been the best player on the entire team. What a Free Agent signing! He is almost a shutdown corner, having a tremendous year. PFF has 13 Cornerbacks who are statistically ranked above him, but that is irrelevant to me because Bradberry is taking away half the field.
Let’s go right to the crux of what determines Giants failure and Giants success… The Offensive Line. We have been arguing it over and over till we are <Blue> in the face that this Franchise has been horrible because of the reactive response to this problem. The time for being proactive was 2010-2012. Reese missed that opportunity, and the Franchise has been behind the 8-ball ever since. Even when presented with a gift in 2016, the falling Tunsil (whom we had as our #2 ranked player in the entire Draft), Reese never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Enough of the past, let’s discuss the present…
Andrew Thomas is beginning to improve. He is still ranked near the bottom of all NFL Tackles, and the worst of the 4 “elite” prospects. But he is beginning to execute. He had only one miscue vs the Eagles. Think about that when you think about Ereck Flowers, who had ~1 miscue each series.
OL Coach Marc Colombo, before his firing: “(Thomas) has a new air of confidence. The past couple weeks he has played really well. His timing has been better. His pass sets have been better. His run blocking has been better. We just have to keep growing. I’ve noticed a more confident Andrew the past few weeks.”
Shane Lemieux is subbing for Will Hernandez, who has missed 2 starts due to Covid. I am not sure if it is confirmation bias, but I like what I see from Lemieux. PFF does not. But Baldinger is excited about the same things I am.
#BigBlue is back. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/2YhSfJX22U— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) November 16, 2020<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>.<a href=”https://twitter.com/Eagles?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Eagles</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/Giants?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@giants</a> on 4-2! This is the play where you take control of the NFC East. No one is laughing anymore. When you convert this; it’s far more than a 2 yard TD run. It’s a “Cultural Change”.
There are less miscommunications on assignments with Lemieux in the rotation. Stunts and pass offs seem to happen more smoothly. So Lemieux may not yet be the best pass protector (lol, he is statistically the worst), but at least he is on a body.
Gates is being dissed by PFF. But he is moving up slowly in the rankings, as he is improving the last few weeks.
Matt Peart will be taking Fleming’s job soon enough. If you unclick the minimum snaps toggle for Offensive Tackles, Peart is ranked 15th in the NFL given only 107 snaps. He is obviously being groomed. So far so good.
The Giants need to keep throwing Draft resources at this group. Do not leave it to chance. NUKE IT. Have depth for crying out loud. We are sick and tired about being sick and tired. Challenge or replace Hernandez, Fleming et al with better players who will give Jones more confidence under Center.
A few days ago there was the big news item that OL Coach Marc Colombo was fired. As details have emerged, the story is that Judge got more hands on with the OL over the past few games, because he believed the players were not getting taught proper technique from Colombo. (There are conflicting reports indicating Colombo did help Thomas.) Judge brought in an assistant Dave DeGuglielmo (whom he worked with in New England) to help with the coaching/teaching of technique. Colombo resisted and was fired. There are a lot of things here. (1) The OL improvement was accelerated when Judge got involved. (2) The young OL can improve if given proper coaching. (3) Joe Judge is a Head Coach who has the necessary leadership to get the Giants to the next level. These three things are all huge. By hook or by crook, Judge is going to get a good teacher for this young OL and get them where they need to be. That is enormous. Judge is building a house, and the foundation of that house is the line of scrimmage. The OL is the key to better QB play. Everything will flow for the team once the OL is playing effectively. We see from the Colombo switch how valuable instruction is to the development of the unit. Time will tell if improvement continues. There is a competing narrative about Judge micromanaging the OL, but I read the past 3 weeks as having a positive implication for the OL and for the entire team. Judge has prioritized the improvement of the OL. He will not be passive about this crucial part of the team.
Let’s look at the pattern of Judge’s actions as Head Coach. He cuts Baker loose. He sits and disciplines his veteran WR Golden Tate. He fires an assistant Coach who does not put the team ahead of himself. No one is questioning Judge’s authority. And no one questions his willingness to do everything he can to win.
We started writing this blog post before the Colombo incident. And 2 days after we got the cherry on the cake for perspective on this turnaround… the words from Bill Parcells himself, confirming what we are seeing.
“I’m fired up about them,” Bill Parcells told Newsday from his home in Florida. “They’re getting better. They’re improving. I like their coach. I just know he has established some law and order, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Remember, the turnaround for Parcells came in 1984, after a 3-12-1 rookie HC season, when he was resolved to do it his way with his players. Veteran instigators like Gary Jeter were shipped out and Parcells let it be known he was in charge. Law & Order. The Giants went 9-7 and got to the playoffs. The rest, they say, is history.
Parcells likes what he sees from the Defense and he likes Daniel Jones too.
Speaking of Jones, it is impossible to imagine the Giants succeeding without a Franchise QB. The 3 core foundational elements to succeeding in the NFL are QB, Protect QB, Rush the QB. It is not an accident that Daniel Jones did not turn the ball over in the last 2 starts, and the Giants won both games. Can he stop hemorrhaging the ball? To this blogger, he is a Franchise QB if he protects the ball, and he is a replaceable starter/backup if he cannot. In the first 8 games, he averaged over 1.5 turnovers per game, turning the ball over 2X per game in 5 games and once per game in 3 other starts. Tying some of this back to the lack of protection he has received from the OL, Jones has been sacked an AVERAGE of 3X per game. He has the 3rd most sacks in the NFL and is similarly the 3rd highest sacked QB per pass attempt. So two things need to get better- more consistent QB protection AND more deliberate ball protection.
Get. It. Through. Your. Head. Throw the ball away. Take the Sack. Less is more.
So where are the Giants if
The OL comes together?
Daniel Jones protects the ball?
They get a pass rusher?
The Giants can be fairly competitive. They have hung in games against teams with winning records, like the Rams and Bucs.
Notice how things are slowly coming together WITHOUT Saquon Barkley. Running backs are hood ornaments. Someone asked on Twitter where the Giants would be with Barkley this year- my answer was 3-7. Gallman has quietly scored 5 TDs in the last 4 weeks. RBs need to block for the QB and catch passes in a passing league. Passing is what is driving this league.
Just because the Giants are getting on track does not mean that Gettleman should continue to be the GM. He makes mistakes and bad decisions regularly. The team should have been here, rebuilding in 2018. He blew 2 years on “adult” Pat Shurmur. He blew 2 years trying to win now. He blew 2 years before drafting Thomas, Peart and Lemieux and finally going after the unit that was responsible for the decade of misery. Deandre Baker was cited as having red flags with “questionable attitude” before the Draft, yet the Giants GM traded UP into Round 1 for this risk. Between wasting picks on Barkley (yes, a waste) and Baker, blowing an early Round 3 pick on Leonard Williams and then having to tag him, signing a bunch of FAs in 2018 who were duds, and a series of other bad moves, Gettleman must move on. The Giants must move on. Reese never traded down in 11 years as a GM. Gettleman has never traded down in 8 years as a GM. Is this the guy you want making these decisions? I do not believe he puts the franchise in the best position to be successful.
Cincinnati can be a win. The Giants play 4 teams after that with a combined winning record of 25-13. So do not get too high if they are 4-7 and do not get too low if they are 4-11.
Judge and Graham are building. The franchise is finally rebuilding. Hold onto the ball, Jones. Protect Jones. Keep investing in the OL. Get a pass rusher in 2021. The Giants are on the way back. They have turned the corner. This is how you rebuild. We see it. Parcells sees it. Judge is putting them in a position to compete. Between developing a lot of young players and adding a couple more, this team will be in a position to start winning. NY Giants football is back.