Written by: Glenn Warciski
Will the 2020 Giants take one step forward or two steps back? With the NFL season underway, the Giants open their 2020 campaign on Monday Night Football hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nevertheless, the Giants have disciplinarian head coach Joe Judge at the helm along with some new faces, and at this moment, there is optimism around this new and improved Giants team. Although GM Dave Gettleman made changes to the roster, will the new players plus a new coaching staff bring more wins?
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Gettlewatch: Black Monday
After the 53 man roster was revealed, my first reaction, grab the Tums. There is one star player on the team which is running back Saquon Barkley. As we have pointed out here on the NYGunderground, in today’s NFL, smart teams do not build their teams around a running back. This is a bygone era. Meanwhile, the Giants are selling their fan base on the notion, it was not talent but a coaching problem which produced NINE wins over two years. Despite winning FOUR games in 2019, a silver lining to a forgetful season, was beleaguered rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. As the season progressed, Jones improved his play. This was a major takeaway. But what overshadowed his progress was the ignominious statistic of 18 fumbles in 13 games. Clearly, this put a damper on an overall good rookie year. As Jones embarks on his second year, he reported to camp putting 10 pounds of muscle. Thus, a big strong guy got stronger. An uptick. Plus the talk of the fumbles has been a point of emphasis. During the offseason, the coaching staff worked with Jones to minimize his fumbling woes.
All of the aforementioned improvements about Jones is welcoming, however, did GM Dave Gettleman improve the talent around Jones?
I say NO! The wide receiver corps is atrocious. Outside of Slayton, they have no one. Veteran Shepard is one concussion away from his career being over. The other veteran is Golden Tate. Tate’s best days are behind him. The other guys are just guys.
2017 first round pick TE Evan Engram cannot stay healthy. Then after Engram, it is just guys. As my collegue Tony the Prophet calls them JAGs. (just another guy).
Regarding the offensive line, which unfortunately has been an eyesore over the last SEVEN years, Gettleman did draft and acquire players in order to bolster a weak unit. Tackles Thomas and Peart are building blocks. Even with the two new tackles, the offensive line is still a work in progress. Third year starter Wil Hernandez is back, but other than Hernandez, the Giants do not have a formidable line. Indeed, veteran right guard Kevin Zeitler is returning along with newly acquired right veteran tackle Cam Fleming. These guys are hold the fort guys. Both are serviceable. And most likely, both will not be returning in 2021. As for the center position, the plan is to start converted undrafted tackle Nick Gates to start at center. This is letting us know they do not have a quality center on the roster.
My take about OC Jason Garrett and his offense. They will struggle all season long. Why? With Covid-19 curtailing off season preparation, there will be more thinking about new offense than going out and playing. Additionally, there will be more soft tissue injuries. So with more players out, this Giants roster is already thin. It will become much thinner. Be prepared to see Jones and Barkley out for an extended period of time.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants did NOT get any better. Yes, Gettleman did draft and sign new players. But they do not have any stars on the defensive side of the ball.
The defensive line is loaded with run stoppers. Tomlinson, Williams, and Lawrence are stout against the run. But they do not provide consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The linebacker unit is a work in progress. I do not see a standout linebacker on this team. Another year and not much production from the linebacker corps.
The secondary is dreadful. This secondary is going to rival the 2009 Giants defensive backfield. Recall, this unit was constantly getting burned time and again. Can’t Cover Brown. Yikes.
This is how I foresee the Giants season unfolding: They will lose their first FIVE games. A plethora of injuries will plague this team. Opposing teams will throw early and often on the Giants suspect defense. Getting early leads and cruising to victories.
Being behind will force the Giants to throw the ball more than they intend to. This will affect Daniel Jones. He will get battered around and get injured at some point in the season.
I think this team is a THREE win team. Yes, worse than last year. If this is the case, I hope this will open up Mara’s eyes even more about the approach to build a team in the 21st century. What do I mean? The NFL is a passing league. One has to leverage team around a quarterback, offensive line, defensive backs, wide receivers, and pass rushers. The Giants have talent but not enough talent to compete with other teams in the league. Moreover, Gettleman’s approach on winning in the NFL is wrongheaded. He believes in run first, stop the run, and pass rush. He is completely wrong. What else is he wrong about? Discarding mid round draft picks as fungible goods and replacing them with more expensive retread veterans. A team’s midround picks is your foundation of a NFL franchise. These players are inexpensive controllable assets. The middling free agents are patches and not long term solutions. So Gettleman blows up the salary cap on these retread veterans to cover up his misguided thought process. He eschews analytics because he thinks he is invincible because he had a modicum of success at Carolina. A comparison can be made in American history. The native American Indians of the southern plains-Comanches ruled the plains for hundreds of years and stopped expansion of the settlers in the United States. They blunted expansion of the American west up until the late 1870s. How did they do this? They were exceptional mounted horse lords who were experts at war. Other Indian tribes fought on foot against the “Bluecoats”-the American army. So it was an uneven fight. But when the US army attempted to fight the Comanches it was a lopsided affair. Mounted Indians on horse with expertise of using a bow against Americans on foot using a Kentucky rifle was a mismatch. For back round, a Kentucky rifle was a cumbersome piece of equipment meant to be used against stationary targets. It was not up until the Americans sobered up and fought on horseback with repeating revolvers and rifles. This made it a fair fight.
What does this have to do with the New York Football Giants? The Giants management must acknowledge the error of their ways. They have to adapt to the modern NFL. The philosophy of pass first and stop the pass is the new NFL. More importantly, acquire players to fit into this new way of operating.
Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas is no longer on the team. I am claiming his personal problems affected his play in 2019.
I roasted Gettleman here. The pick for Baker tells us two things. First. He coveted Baker. It illustrates the Giants do not use analytics to make smart decisions. Secondly, he gave up a fortune to get his coveted guy.
Markus Golden: A mistake to resign him. Fans and some experts point to the sacks. He accumulated 10 sacks on a 4 win team. None of the sacks came in big spots. More importantly, with James Bettcher gone, Golden will be learning a new defense. He is not going to be effective at all this season. A waste of 4 million dollars.
Joe Judge: If John Mara did not pick up the phone to call him in January, Judge was headed to Mississippi State. He was an under the radar hire. Desperate to save face, due to Matt Rhule spurning them, Judge was hired immediately. A former Saban and Belichick disciple, Judge brings a disciplined approach as opposed to Shurmur’s pathetic and ridiculous bullshit leadership. Without question, Judge brings a different kind of attitude. His way of doing things harkens back to the tough task master Ray Perkins. Remember, Perkins took over in 1979. The Giants franchise was in shambles. He brought back Giants pride. The hope is Judge will do the same. Recently, the Ringer.com wrote a piece about Judge’s perhaps over the top way of conducting business. His idea of players running laps as a form of punishment caught the ire of some people in the media. Former Giants VP of Player Personnel Marc Ross on Judge:
Ross, now an NFL Network analyst said in a recent radio interview that the hiring of Joe Judge as the head coach over more qualified candidates (such as Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy) it was an “out of the blue” move by the Giants.
“When Joe Judge got hired over a guy like that, it was definitely a shock and a surprise with the limited resume that Joe Judge had,” Ross said on The Zach Gelb Show. “But I guess that’s what the Giants were trying to find in their culture, the tough-guy image that they’re trying to portray this year in the 2020 season.”
My take: The Giants desperately needed an autocrat as head coach. Judge is going to need more time to get the Giants back on track.
For context, I predicted the collapse in 2017. I was correct about the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Sadly, 2020 is going to be another wretched season. In 2021, with a new GM and Judge, the Giants should have prosperity in future years.
Tony will have his Prophet Pulpit ready on Monday.