Written by: Tony “The Prophet” Yantosca
This is my 6th year of writing my Prophet’s Pulpit on the NYGunderground. Takeaway, the 2016 season, the Giants have had too many lean years. But the “Decade of Malaise” for the Giants which I coined in my 2020 Preseason Manifesto is over. The Giants have hit bottom and they are on the way up! They have had the worst record over the last 3 years, it is putrid 12-36. They may have to wait one more year as the schedule is brutal and the team still has holes. I predicted in my manifesto that they would win 6 games. There were no OTA’s or preseason games. You have a completely new coaching staff that communicated only through Zoom for months. They are at a major disadvantage vs teams that have coaching and veteran continuity,
Here are the major factors for 2020 for the Giants as we enter this unique season:
The Giants have a new coach, Joe Judge. I like the coach. He brings “The Patriot’s Way”. That is everyone is accountable, no days off, create competition and “Do Your Job!” He had no names on the uniforms in camp. He had players and coaches doing laps for mistakes and mental errors in camp. Just this past Thursday he restarted practice after 30 minutes because he was not happy with the effort of the team. The last coaches like this Parcells and Coughlin. We all know what the results were with these two coaches.
The $16.1 Million Dollar Man, Leonard Williams, needs to have a good year. This is the biggest Gettleman debacle of his recent tenure at the Giants. He gave up a 3rd and a 5th round pick for an underachieving player who was drafted 6th overall. The icing on the cake is that he was going to be a free agent at the end of last year anyway. Williams refused to sign a long-term deal and he thinks he is worth $20M/year! Meanwhile the best Giants pass rusher was made to wait months to get signed for a bargain at $5.1M. He had 10 sacks last year and Williams had 1 (0,5 Giants, 0.5 Jets). In the most famous Gettleman saying, Dave said about Williams, “the juice was worth the squeeze”.
This was the first draft in 12 years that didn’t send me to the asylum based on more horrific picks than good ones. The Giants doubled down on the offensive line by drafting Andrew Thomas, (I’m on record saying I would have taken Wills) Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux. After years of ignoring it, there is finally some depth. The Giants made a great pick in the 2nd round by drafting safety, Xavier McKinney. He was the best safety in the draft. Unfortunately for the Giants, he got injured in camp and will miss this year.
The Giants did pick up Logan Ryan at cornerback. This is a brilliant move! He has played under Belichick and Vrabel so he will know the Joe Judge terminology. He will be a fast learn. At least at corner the Giants will have some stability after the Baker debacle with Bradberry and Ryan. Holmes will be the nickel corner.
The 53-man roster was missing 2 key players. The first is Corey Coleman. I thought the former 1st round pick by the Browns was a bust and he was done. I thought it was a bad move to bring him back. However, he was the best receiver in the Giants’ scrimmages and they cut him. The other is Ryan Connelly. He got hurt after 4 games last year but he made his mark in those games. The pickup of Martinez and Fackrell from the Packers made him expendable. The Giants would rather keep 3 linebackers, Coughlin, Brunson and Crowder (Mr. Irrelevant, the last person drafted in the 2020 draft) for special teams at the league minimum and thus saving cap space. Don’t get me started about The King of Dead Money, Dave G. We will put that down today. Connelly quickly got picked up off waivers by the Vikings. The rich get richer.
Speaking of the scrimmages, the best players were: Lorenzo Carter, Corey Coleman, Wayne Gallman, Darnay Holmes, Saquon Barkley and Graham Gano. Gano never missed a field goal (even the long ones) and there were many as this team stalled several times vs their own defense. I am giving the Lazarus Award for coming back from the dead to Wayne Gallman and the aforementioned Coleman. I would have cut Gallman after last year.
OK now we get to the game. The Giants couldn’t have opened with a worse opponent. The Giants have 2 chances to win slim and none. The Prophet is betting on the latter. The Steelers led the league in sacks with 54. I am predicting at least 2 if not 3 Daniel Jones turnovers. Remember he had 22 turnovers last year. There could have been 6 more because the Giants recovered 6 of the fumbles. In the scrimmages Zo Carter had 3 sacks in a short period of time. Andrew Thomas who everyone thought would play RT is now the LT with Solder opting out for Covid. He will get his baptism under fire vs Bud Dupree. The game script does not look good if the Giants get behind and have to throw. The Steelers only gave up 194 yards a game passing last year! You may see more Dion Lewis on passing downs. The only weakness Barkley has is pass protection. We will find out if he got better protecting this year.
The Giants only kept 5 WR’s on the roster and they have 4 stiffs on the practice squad. Bachman may be the best of the group. God forbid one of the starters goes down like Tate who is questionable. In 11 personnel you would have Board or Ratley. We will see if Engram can stay on the field this year. He missed 8 games last year and 13 games the past 2 years. Is he the next Jordan Reed, IR King?
Teams tell you what they want to do with their roster decisions. They kept 4 TE’s. So, I think you will see more 12 personnel (2 tight ends) because they want to have one more blocker to cut down on the turnovers. They will take some deep shots off play action like Garrett used to do in Dallas. The Giants game plan is to control the clock as much as possible with Barkley and then passing for first downs. They cannot get behind by more than a touchdown is this game if they expect to win.
The Steelers on the other hand want to get the lead so they can make the game one dimensional. Ben says after the surgery his arm feels the best it has been in 14 years. Ben has his plethora of weapons. He has JuJu Schuster (who I am down on after last year, albeit he had bad QB play), Dionte Johnson, who I think will break out this year. He has James Washington and Eric Ebron as a red zone threat at tight end. Ebron is the best tight end that Ben has had in 5 years since Heath Miller retired. Ideally for them they can run out the clock in the second half with Conner, Snell, and Samuels.
One advantage that the Giants have is that the Steelers usually play man coverage. We have seen that Jones does better with it because it is easier to read. Jones has struggled with zone coverage. Remember the Steelers playoff game vs the Patriots several years ago. Tomlin never got off man coverage and Brady and the Patriots tore them to shreds. Tomlin may have to make more adjustments.
However, in the end, the Giants have a new coaching staff and a roster where Sterling Sheppard is the most senior player. With no preseason this game will not be easy for the Giants. There will be no fans in the stands and the Giants for the past 3 years have played better on the road anyway. This one is not pretty vs a veteran team. I am calling this one, the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 and the Gmen 16. Steelers will have the lead 31-10 and the Giants score in garbage time and miss the 2-point conversion. How’s that for detail! The line moved from Steelers -3.5 to -6 and it stayed there. As long as it is under 7, Pittsburgh laying the points is a lead pipe, stone cold lock! Your welcome in advance. Please come back to nygunderground.com after the game to read what happened in the “Prophet’s Point After”. And check out my new youtube channel too.