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June 26, 2019

10 reasons the Giants will be a dumpster fire this season

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062519DaveGettleman Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com/USA TODAY Sports

Don't listen to the "narratives," Eli.

This week, all week long, we're taking a brutal look at each of the teams in the NFC East, in detail. On Monday, we started with the Dallas Cowboys. On Tuesday, we torched the Washington team. Today, we'll roast the New York Giants.

To note, we will not be talking about the positives of any of the Eagles' NFC East rivals, because, well, that's no fun. This will be 100 percent vitriolic. And yes, we'll try to light up the Eagles as well at the end of the series.

When I started writing this, my first bullet point was how awful Dave Gettleman has been in absolutely destroying this roster. By the time bullet point No. 1 was over, I was about 3,000 words deep, and points 2-10 were pretty much already covered. And that's when I realized that Gettleman has ruined the Giants at literally every position on the roster.

I think we can all agree -- Giants fans included -- that this team is an absolute train wreck joke, right? So instead of merely listing all the ways they're bad, which is already obvious, let's instead take a walk through each positional group and look at how Gettleman has dropped this franchise into the dumpster and set it ablaze, shall we?

1) Quarterback

Over the last six seasons, Eli Manning has a record of 38-57 in 95 starts, and was one-and-done in a blowout loss the one year during that span in which the Giants made the playoffs. He was never a great quarterback, but at one time he was at least a top-half-of-the-league starter, with two improbable Super Bowl runs under his belt. 

Somehow, Gettleman and the Giants as an organization continue to make excuses for him.

"I’ve really been thinking about this: The narrative around Eli for the past four years, five years, since I was gone, was really negative," Gettleman said at the Combine. "The narrative’s been negative. There’s an old saying, ‘tell a lie enough, you believe it.’ The narrative is so negative that when you take that position, most people struggle getting off that spot, most people struggle saying, ‘I’m going to look at this with fresh eyes.’ So for example, when you evaluate pro players, every year’s a new year. When you evaluate him, it’s a new year. Yes, before he was at this level, but that doesn’t mean when you look at him that he’s automatically at this level or at this level. You’ve got to take everything for what it’s worth at that time and I think that the narrative has been negative, and I don’t think it’s been fair."

Narrative, lol.

Over the last six years, 36 quarterbacks have at least 1,`000 passing attempts. Manning has been one of the worst among those 36 quarterbacks over that period. Here's where he ranks:

 Eli ManningStat Rank 
 Completion percentage62.4% 24 
 TD percentage4.2 26 
 INT percentage2.7 32nd worst 
QB rating 85.9 30 
 Yards per attempt6.96 30 


The stats aside, it's pretty easy to see on the eye test that Manning is cooked. Gettleman disagrees. 

"At the end of the day, we saw what Eli was capable of once we gave him help," he said. "He still can make big-league throws, he can still make the NFL throws, and it’s, I say it all the time, it’s the ultimate team game. It is, because 10 guys do everything perfect and an offensive lineman falls down, the guy gets whacked. So to answer your question, we looked at Eli and we feel good about him."

Here are some of Manning's big-league throws: 

The Giants could have released Manning this offseason and saved $17 million on the salary cap, but instead opted to pay him a $5 million roster bonus, thus all but guaranteeing his roster spot. I'm not sure if the Giants actually believe themselves when they say he's still a good quarterback, or if it's just an irrational loyalty they feel they owe him, but whatever it is, his $23,200,000 on the 2019 salary cap is an awful use a resources for a team that is going nowhere.

"At the end of the day, when you blow the whistle, 11 guys have to go out there," Gettleman said. "I’ve done that study and on offense you have to have a quarterback run out there. I said it in Indianapolis and I’ll say it again, you turn around and take a look at what happened last year once we got that o-line fixed, better, we’re going to continue working on that and look at what we did the second half of the year on offense. This narrative that Eli is overpaid and can’t play is a crock, I’m telling you. 

"At the end of the day, you guys have to say, ‘Gettleman is out of his mind’ or ‘he knows what he’s talking about when he evaluates players.’ That’s really what it is, that’s really where it’s at and I’m okay if you disagree with me, that’s fine. What I’m telling you is if you turn around and take a look at what he’s making right now, and look around the league and see what quarterbacks are making, if you were in my shoes, you would say, you know what, there is really not -- the way he finished the season and what he’s making -- there really wasn’t a decision to make."

What was the difference between first half of the season Eli Manning, and second half of the season Eli Manning?

• First eight games: 90.9 QB rating, 1-7 record.

• Last eight games: 94.1 QB rating, 4-4 record.

The quarterbacks the Giants beat in those four games, you ask? Nick Mullens, a combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston, Chase Daniel, and a combination of Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson.

In other words, Gettleman is at least partly basing his decision to keep Manning on the strength of four meaningless wins, three of which were against teams with absolutely nothing to play for but pride.

At least the Giants finally drafted a quarterback in the first round, except, you know, a year too late, and wildly reaching for one in the process. With the sixth pick ("Pick 6") in the draft, Gettleman took a quarterback who probably didn't belong in the first round, at all, in Daniel Jones. Why? Well...

"I loved him on film," Gettleman began. "I absolutely loved him. I loved everything about him. And then I went to the Senior Bowl and I watched him that week and I (had) decided to stay for the game. During the season, I had gone to see Dwayne (Haskins) at Ohio State, I had seen Kyler (Murray) and Will (Grier) play each other on that Friday night game (on) Thanksgiving weekend in West Virginia, so I had seen those two play each other. I saw Dwayne play in the Big (10) championship game in Indianapolis, so I’ve seen those three guys play and to me it’s really important to see quarterbacks play. Watching them on tape is one thing, seeing them in the environment is definitely, I think, very important. Saw Drew (Lock), Daniel, Jarrett Stidham, (Gardner) Minshew, (Trace) McSorley, all of these guys were at the Senior Bowl, so I decided to stay. I made up my mind that I was staying for the game and, frankly, he walked out there and I saw a professional quarterback after the three series that I watched, I saw a professional quarterback. I was in full bloom love."

So the "I must get this player" moment occurred during three series in an All-Star game? Lol.

Jones is also entering a hostile situation in which his moronic fan base is still booing him before they've ever even seen him play, and after they've had a month to let the selection of him digest. I feel for the kid, and while not a first-round talent, in my opinion, he is a nice quarterback prospect. He has good height, he throws an accurate ball with good touch (though his completion percentage was low because Duke's receivers stunk), he has some mobility, and he's thought of as a smart kid. Certainly, there are plenty of things to like about him.

Of course, in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants passed on a far superior quarterback prospect to Jones in Sam Darnold to take a running back, which feels like a nice segue into the next positional group...

2) Running back

After the selection of Saquon Barkley in the 2018 NFL Draft, when asked about positional value in the draft, Giants GM Dave Gettleman responded, "I think it's a crock. At the end of the day, a great player is a great player. (Former Giants GM) Ernie (Accorsi) and I have talked about it a lot. He's a touchdown maker. He is a touch... down... maker. He is a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball. 

"Like I said, I think a lot of that is nonsense. I think it's someone who had this idea, and got into the analytics of it, and did all of these running backs and went through their whatever. Hey, Jonathan Stewart is in his 10th year, and he has hardly lost anything. 

"I don't believe in it. I don't care who you take. They can all get hurt. Nobody is immune."

I should note that Gettleman mimicked a nerd typing on his keyboard during his brilliant analytics sentence, while a half-asleep Pat Shurmur watched his fingers:

To begin, the idea that Stewart, who the Giants signed to a two-year deal worth up to $6.575 million in 2018, had hardly lost anything was comical. Stewart looked cooked in 2017, and his yards per carry had fallen in each of the prior three years, most recently with a 3.4 yards per carry effort in 2017. 

Jonathan Stewart YPC 
 20144.6 
 20154.1 
 20163.8 
 20173.4 


Take Stewart’s rushes out of the equation and the Panthers averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2017. He was as good an example of an aging running back losing his effectiveness as anyone.

Predictably, Stewart was useless to the Giants in 2018, as he rushed 6 times for 17 yards, before getting hurt, landing on IR, and the team opting not to activate him off of IR once he got healthy. He announced his retirement in April.

As for Gettleman's assertion that "all players can get hurt," yes, that's true, but running backs very clearly have shorter shelf lives than players at other positions. The simple reality is that running backs take a pounding in the NFL. Their bodies wear down, and even the good ones rarely make it beyond the age of 30. Below is a chart of the projected starting running backs for all 32 teams, as their rosters currently stand: 

Player Age
Adrian Peterson, Washington 34
LeSean McCoy, Bills 30
Mark Ingram, Ravens 29
Lamar Miller, Texans 28
Le'Veon Bell, Jets 27
Damien Williams, Chiefs 27
Devonta Freeman, Falcons 27
David Johnson, Cardinals 27
Melvin Gordon, Chargers 26
Tevin Coleman, 49ers 26
Kenyan Drake, Dolphins 25
Peyton Barber, Buccaneers 25
Sony Michel, Patriots 24
James Conner, Steelers 24
Leonard Fournette, Jaguars 24
Derrick Henry, Titans 24
Phillip Lindsay, Broncos 24
Jordan Howard, Eagles 24
Aaron Jones, Packers 24
Todd Gurley, Rams 24
Chris Carson , Seahawks 24
Nick Chubb, Browns 23
Marlon Mack, Colts 23
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys 23
Tarik Cohen, Bears 23
Dalvin Cook, Vikings 23
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers 23
Alvin Kamara, Saints 23
Joe Mixon, Bengals 22
Saquon Barkley, Giants 22
Kerryon Johnson, Lions 22
Josh Jacobs, Raiders 21

As you can see, only two of the NFL's projected starters at running back are 30 years of age or older. The average age of the running backs above is 24.8 years old. A staggering 20 starting running backs are 24 years of age or younger.

This isn't "analytics." It's more of an easily recognizable fact that running backs wear down far more quickly than players at other positions. 

Beyond that, finding a good running back isn't like finding a franchise quarterback, a quality offensive tackle, a good cover corner, or a stud edge rusher. Good running backs are easy to find. The other positions, not so much. And the importance of the position cannot be understated. Teams can be exposed when they don't have a QB, OT, CB, or lack a pass rush, whereas teams routinely have shown they can thrive without a top-flight running back.

Barkley is already a very good player, and he paid immediate dividends for the Giants' offense in 2018, when he rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 TDs, while adding 91-721-4 through the air. This is in no way an indictment on him. He has it all. He's fast, strong, he can catch, run inside, run outside, pass protect, and by all accounts he's a good kid. It's just an atrocious use of resources to take a running back with the No. 2 overall pick. And the Giants are going to waste his talent with empty carries on a roster that won't come close to contending for the foreseeable future.

If you're a Super Bowl contender looking for an immediate impact player for the short term, then sure, go draft yourself a running back talent in the middle-to-end of the first round. If you're not realistically going to compete for a Super Bowl anytime soon and you have a 37-year old quarterback who isn't good anymore, pass rushers who can't get to the quarterback, corners that can't cover, and a crappy offensive line, then maybe you should consider drafting a player at a position of far higher importance.

3) Wide receiver / tight end

Lol. I mean... LOL. 

Gettleman thought it was a good idea to trade the team's best player... a guy they JUST gave a huge contract extension to the previous offseason... a top-three wide receiver... a Hall of Fame-worthy talent... in Odell Beckham, to the Cleveland Browns for a the 17th overall pick, a third round pick (the lesser of the Browns' two third-round picks, at that, lol), and safety Jabrill Peppers. 

That is one of the dumbest trades I've ever seen in my life, but it doesn't even end there. To make the trade, the Giants will also have $16 million in dead money on their salary cap in 2019, according to OverTheCap.com.

Why? Because of locker room culture?

Of course, in free agency the Giants promptly signed Golden Tate, a guy who fought Percy Harvin before the Super Bowl, and who is rumored to have slept with Russell Wilson's wife (now his ex-wife). To note, Tate has vociferously denied those rumors (Wilson never has), but here's a picture that was snapped of Tate shortly after receiving the Giants' offer in free agency.

062419GoldenTate

The Giants now have a whole lot of resources wrapped up in slot receivers, as Tate signed a four-year deal worth $37.5 million, Sterling Shepard re-upped on a four-year deal worth $41 million, and Evan Engram, a big slot receiver masquerading as a tight end, was a first-round pick in 2017.

4) Offensive tackle

Considering how awful their offensive line was in 2017, particularly with Ereck Flowers at left tackle, the Giants clearly felt like adding a competent left tackle during the 2018 offseason was worth the price of not having to worry about some RDE wrecking the game from week to week. And so, they made Solder, a good, but certainly not great offensive tackle the highest-paid (at the time) offensive lineman in the NFL. The deal? Four years, $62 million.

Of course, Solder is now 31 years old and by the time the Giants are good again -- which won't be anytime soon -- Solder will be long gone. He's an average short-term LT, and a long-term waste of resources.

5) Interior offensive line

Last offseason, Gettleman signed Patrick Omameh to a three-year, $15 million deal. He stunk, got cut, and will count for $3 million on the Giants cap in 2019 in dead money. Gettleman defended that signing, as well as the Stewart signing.

"One of the biggest issues we had last year that we had to fix was what? The locker room," he said at the end of the season. "And both Jonathan Stewart and Patrick Omameh are true professionals, and they were brought here for a specific purpose, they were brought here for other reasons than their play. Just understand that."

Lol.

To fix the Omameh mistake, Gettleman traded DE Olivier Vernon (we'll get to him in a minute) for Browns OG Kevin Zeitler, a good player who will certainly help fix one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Of course, Zeitler is also 29 years old with 104 games on the odometer.

Gettleman's commitment to fixing the offensive line is fine and good, but he's going about it in a ridiculous way. By adding Solder and Zeitler in consecutive years, he is dumping valuable resources into aging players who, again, either (a) won't be around or (b) won't be good anymore by the time the Giants can become contenders again.

6) Edge rusher

Whenever there's a full-on regime change in an organization, the incoming head coach or general manager or whoever will decide that the the defensive scheme must change completely. That has always been an asinine way of doing things, in my opinion.

When the Giants made major changes to their front office and coaching staff, they decided that they needed to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4, because, um, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Their players mostly fit a 4-3 scheme, but, because their coaching staff (and really, coaching staffs, generally speaking) would rather find new players who fit their scheme instead of adjusting their scheme to fit the players, rosters are overhauled. It's rampant in the NFL, and certainly isn't just limited to the Giants. 

Anyway, because they were no longer a good fit for the new scheme, Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon were both traded. The compensation in return was fine, I guess. The Giants got a third-round pick in return for JPP, but the trade resulted in JPP counting for $15 million in dead money on their cap. As noted above, Vernon was traded for an aging Zeitler, and he cost the Giants $8 million in dead money on the cap. Hang on, let me get my calculator... That's $23 million in dead money to get rid of the team's two most productive pass rushers. To note, over the last two years, the Giants have had an absurd total of $76,972,152 in dead money on their cap.

In 2018, the Giants had 30 sacks, the second-fewest total in the NFL, behind only the Raiders. Vernon had seven of the 30 in 11 games. Pierre-Paul had 12.5 sacks for the Bucs.

7) Interior defensive line

At the 2018 trade deadline, Gettleman dealt Snacks Harrison to the Lions for a fifth-round pick. Under normal circumstances, I'd say, "Older player, free up a little money, get a pick in return, team isn't going anywhere anytime soon anyway... OK, I can buy it." Except, as we'll get to momentarily, the Giants went gang-busters on adding other older guys. Gettleman wanted them, but not the best run-stuffer in the NFL? 

And then he over-drafted his replacement, Dexter Lawrence, with a major resource (the 17th overall pick) to replace him? Huh? Oftentimes it appears as though Gettleman has no plan whatsoever, and this is just another example. 

8) Linebacker

Technically, the Rams gave Ogletree his now-terrible four-year, $42 million deal in 2017 after he was a Second-Team All-Pro in 2016. He wasn't good in 2017, and the Rams were happy to trade him (and his contract) in 2018 to Gettleman for a pair of draft picks. In 2018, Ogletree stunk. He is the fourth-highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL, lol.

Note: My "lol" count in this post is now up to seven.

9) Defensive backs

In a press conference after the horrendous Beckham trade, Gettleman repeatedly referred to Jabrill Peppers as a "first-round pick," as a way to pump up the return on the trade. 

"We got two ones and a three, one of them being a player," he said.

Peppers was indeed once a first-round pick, 25th overall in 2017. Except, going back five years (three in college with Michigan and two in the NFL with the Browns), Peppers has three INTs and no forced fumbles. He has also been a mediocre-at-best returner for the Browns over two seasons. He has not been an impact player, and does not hold anywhere near the value of a first-round pick. To suggest that he is worth a first-round pick is either (a) an insult to the fan base's intelligence, or (b) yet another gross appraisal of value. 

In other safety news, the Giants also signed Antoine Bethea to a two-year deal in which he'll count for $3,625,000 on the 2019 cap. Bethea will turn 35 in July. After that signing, someone asked Gettleman why he's signing all these old dudes.

"It’s about accumulating really good football players, who are also really good folks," he said. "The culture is important, I have said it a million times, you guys know that. The bottom line is with the way the game has evolved, 65 percent of the time you are in sub. You need a guy in the back end that can get everybody lined up and make all the adjustment calls. If you don’t have that, you can’t function. 

"I’ve watched Antoine for years, you talk about a great sixth-round pick. He is an adult, he’s a professional football player. He knows what he is doing, he can still play. I have this crazy idea that age doesn’t bother me. I better because my age doesn’t bother me. At the end of the day, it’s about a good football player. Antoine Bethea is still a hell of a football player, so is Kevin Zeitler, those guys can flat play. Plus, we have 12 draft picks, we are going to be really young. It’s about building a team, it’s not about individual players in silos."

Bethea, 35. Stewart, 31. Solder, 30. Tate, 30. Zeitler, 29. #TeamAdult!

 
062519NateSolder

So to recap, positional value is "a crock," and "age doesn't bother (him)."

Lol.

10) And you know what's crazy?

You'd think that all of the above took place over, like, a half-decade or so. Nope. June 29, 2019 will be the 1.5-year anniversary of the Giants hiring Gettleman.

He's only warming up.


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