This week, all week long, we're taking a negative look at each of the teams in the NFC East, in detail. The first target was the perpetually over-hyped Dallas Cowboys. Today we'll tackle the 4-12 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. And yes, we'll torch the Eagles as well at the end of the series.
1) The Giants have become one of the worst franchises in the NFL in recent years, and their badness is becoming a norm
Over the last six seasons, the Giants have lost at least 10 games five times. Over that span, they have compiled a record of 35-61 (0.365), and a point differential of -311. They're 3-9 against the Cowboys, and 1-11 against the Eagles. Thank God for the Washington team, who the Giants have beaten 8 out of their last 12 meetings. Actually, take away those Washington games, and the Giants are 27-57 (0.321) over the last six years.
That 35-61 overall record is better than the following teams:
Buccaneers: 34-62 (0.354)
Jaguars 32-64 (0.333)
Browns 24-72 (0.250)
That's it. Over the last six years, the Giants have a better record than the Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Browns. 🎉
A year ago, it was so obvious that the Giants were going to be very, very bad that we didn't even bother listing 10 reasons the Giants would be bad. Honestly, we could have done 20. Instead, we basically just pointed out over the course of over 4000 words how general manager Dave Gettleman was destroying the roster. That was fun. It's obvious again that the Giants will still be bad in 2020, but we'll go back to listing 10 reasons why this year, and yes, "They're just losers now" is No. 1.
2) Daniel Jones hates possessing the football
Despite only becoming the starter Week 3 and missing two games late in the season, Daniel Jones tied for second in the NFL with 23 total turnovers (12 INTs, 11 fumbles lost on 18 total fumbles), behind only Jameis Winston. A look at his turnovers, game-by-game:
Week 1 - Cowboys
Week 3 - Buccaneers
Week 4 - Washington
Week 5 - Vikings
Week 6 - Patriots
Week 7 - Cardinals
Week 8 - Lions
Week 9 - Cowboys
Week 10 - Jets
Week 12 - Bears
Week 13 - Packers
Week 16 - Washington
Week 17 - Eagles
As you can see, Jones had at least one turnover in every game he played, with the lone exception being a Week 16 game against Washington. He even had three fumbles in the preseason, two of which he lost.
Wanna see all of Daniel Jones' turnovers from his rookie season? OK!
There's no blaming Rueben Randle anymore for those INTs, Giants fans. Those are either bad decisions, bad throws, or a combo of the two. And his fumbling issues have to be extremely concerning, especially considering that his carelessness in that area goes back to his time in college at Duke, where he lost 13 fumbles in 36 games.
3) Their highest-paid player is done
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 a decent (not great by any stretch) LT in Nate Solder, who was one month away from turning 30 at the time they signed him, the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL. The deal? Four years, $62 million.
What a mind-blowingly stupid contract. It was easy to see the Giants weren't going anywhere in 2018, or likely anytime soon. By the time any sort of rebuilding of the roster was to take shape, Solder would be deep into his 30's, and likely in decline.
Solder is now 32 years old, and he stunk 2019. ProFootballFocus had him down for 11 sacks allowed in 2019, third-worst in the league, according to them. Out of curiosity, I watched every Giants sack on the season, and how PFF arrived at only 11 Solder sacks allowed is beyond me. He was partly culpable, by my count, for at least 19 sacks last season, and seven (!) forced fumbles, shown here:
We could debate how many of those sacks should be given to Solder, but he sure as hell should be credited with more than 11.
By the time the Giants will be good enough to compete for a Super Bowl -- which doesn't appear to be anytime soon -- Solder will be long gone. In 2020 though, he'll be the Giants' left tackle at a whopping $19,500,000 on their cap, because it would cost more to cut him than to keep him.
Next offseason, he'll count for $6.5 million in dead money when they release him. What a huge waste of money.
4) The rest of the offensive line remains a problem
Solder aside, the rest of the offensive line is likely to be a problem in 2020:
• LG Will Hernandez: Promising as rookie, struggled in Year 2.
• C Spencer Pulley: Replacement-level guy starting out of necessity.
• RG Kevin Zeitler: Still a good NFL starter, but now 30 years old and has 119 games under his belt.
• RT Andrew Thomas: Rookie first round pick (4th overall), and a very good prospect, but, you know, a rookie, who will likely face the following edge rushers in 2020:
Demarcus Lawrence twice
Some combination of Chase Young and Ryan Kerrigan twice
Brandon Graham twice
Some combination of Arik Armstead and Dee Ford
Good luck, kid.
5) They (still) don't have anything resembling a pass rush
The following is the Giants' projected starting defensive front, with their sack totals from a year ago:
• EDGE: Lorenzo Carter: 4.5 • DE: Dexter Lawrence: 2.5 • NT: Dalvin Tomlinson: 3.5 • DE: Leonard Williams: 0.5 • EDGE: Oshane Ximines: 4.5
Three NFL players had as many or more sacks on their own:
Shaquil Barrett: 19.5 (h/t to Nate Solder)
Chandler Jones: 19 (h/t to Nate Solder)
Cameron Jordan: 15.5
Gettleman could still sign free agent Markus Golden, who had 10 sacks for the Giants in 2019, I suppose, but "They could still sign Markus Golden!" isn't exactly a super-compelling argument.
As long as we're on the defensive front, I would be remiss if I didn't make fun of the Leonard Williams circus.
After consecutive losses to the Cardinals and Lions last October, the Giants were 2-6, and their season was basically over. So what did Gettleman do? He traded a third-round pick (which became the 68th overall pick) in 2020 and a fifth-round pick (that could become a fourth-round pick) in 2021 to the Jets for Williams, essentially for eight games. Lol.
At his year-end press conference, Gettleman faced a line of questioning about the Williams deal, that went like so:
Q: I know previously you spoke to a team employee about the Leonard Williams trade. Can you talk about the thought process of trading a top seven pick and multiple other draft picks to bring Williams in when he was going to be a free agent at the end of the year?
Gettleman: Basically, you know, it was a three and a five. If we sign him it moves up to a four. The thought process was, I really believe that as much as the style of play evolves, there are basic truths— you have to run the ball, you have to stop the run, you have to rush the passer. If you are seriously deficient in any one of those three areas, it makes it tough. It's going to be tough sledding. By bringing in Leonard, we looked at it, we obviously evaluated the film, by bringing him in, we felt he could be a disruptive force inside. And, he has been. He has been.
Q: Couldn't you have gotten him at the end of the year?
Gettleman: Well, that's hypothetical. I understand what you're saying, I really do, but at the end of the day, we felt good about him, he did what we wanted him to do, and he wants to be here.
Q: Why not wait until free agency?
Gettleman: Because now we know what we have, and we were willing to do that.
Q: So, you were willing to give up two draft picks, whether it's three, four, or three, five, in order to get that information?
Gettleman: Exactly. We felt we needed him. Again, we felt good about it and we feel, and he's proven, he's disruptive in there. He improved our rushing defense with him in there, he buzzes around the quarterback, we've just got to get him to finish now. But, the bottom line is we felt it was worth the deal. The juice was worth the squeeze.
They couldn't get a long-term deal done with Williams, and since the loss of a pair of draft picks for a team that went 4-12 the year before would have been wholly indefensible, they compounded their mistake by franchise tagging him. He'll count for $16,126,000 on the Giants' cap in 2020.
It's amazing Williams took over a month to sign the tag. If I were his agent, I'd have gotten a signature on that immediately and would have been screaming at the fax machine to hurry up before the Giants changed their minds.
6) Meanwhile, the back 7 is slow
The Giants' defense, particularly their back 7, just looked slow a year ago. Out of curiosity, I took a look at their 40 times at the Combine, and yes, confirmed, they're slow.
Giants back 7
CB Deandre Baker (if even available)
CB James Bradberry
Slot CB (?) Julian Love
S Jabrill Peppers
S Xavier McKinney
LB Blake Martinez
LB Ryan Connelly
Measuring 40 times isn't the end-all, be-all in determining a player's athleticism, obviously, but when you can only point to one back 7 starter (Peppers) who has ideal speed for his position, that's not great.
No pass rush + no speed on the back end = Bad.
7) We should probably mention Deandre Baker too, right?
Baker was the third of three Giants first round picks in 2019. The Giants traded fourth- and fifth-round picks to move up from pick No. 37 to pick No. 30 to select him. They need him to be a good player. As a rookie, Baker played in all 16 games, starting 15, and he struggled, to say the least. According to pro-football-reference, opposing quarterbacks had a 116.2 quarterback rating when they targeted Baker, completing 54 of 88 pass attempts (61.4%) for 850 yards (9.7 YPA) and 6 TDs.
In May, Baker turned himself in to police in Miramar, Florida, after an arrest warrant was issued for him, stemming from an incident that occurred in which Baker is being accused of committing armed robbery with a firearm, as well as aggravated assault with a firearm.
Baker's lawyer has said repeatedly that charges against him will eventually be dropped, but so far, that has not happened, and the Giants have told Baker that he need not participate in virtual team meetings.
“He’s handling it outstanding,” Patel told NJ Advance Media in May. “He wants to be Ray Lewis, not Ray Rice. That’s the key to this kid’s future. Asking for forgiveness and asking for an opportunity to prove himself. This is the first time he’s ever really done anything. He’s never been in trouble before, he has no history of anything like this.
“This kid is not the typical troubled person,” Patel continued. “I’ve seen a complete change in his attitude, facial expressions, exposure. The kid is scared straight as far as I’m concerned.”
So to recap, Baker's lawyer says that he expects charges to be dropped, yet he's also acknowledging that Baker screwed up badly in some way, going as far as to compare him to a player who, at an absolute minimum, obstructed justice in a double murder? Uh, alright.
8) Oh, and their kicker got arrested, too
Aldrick Rosas, a 2018 Pro Bowl selection (he wasn't as good in 2019), was arrested for an alleged hit-and-run. Details via TMZ:
Law enforcement officials say witnesses saw the 25-year-old -- who made the Pro Bowl in 2018 -- going around 100 MPH and driving erratically at around 8:25 a.m. in Chico, Calif., when he allegedly failed to stop at a red light.
Cops say he plowed straight into the side of a pickup at the intersection ... but kept on driving, despite disabling the vehicle he struck.
Cops say Rosas' black Chevrolet SUV broke down shortly after the crash ... but claim witnesses saw the NFL player exit the ride and run.
Law enforcement officials tell us when officers arrived on scene ... they launched an investigation -- and say they eventually found Rosas walking near the crash site.
According to cops, Rosas' hands, legs and bare feet were covered in blood when they stopped him for questioning.
😬. There was a time when your kicker could go on a "Grand Theft Auto" type of rampage, and you could just cut him, knowing that there were a surplus of available competent kickers. In 2020, the NFL is no longer flush with excess kickers.
In 2019, 14 teams made less than 80 percent of their field goal attempts. Here's how that compares with recent years:
Number of teams making less than 80% of their FGs
So what? What does that mean? Well, one might conclude that there are more teams in 2020 in need of good kickers than there were over the last decade or so, meaning that it's the wrong time to need a kicker. The fact that kickers were waived or released 11 times during the 2019 season backs up that premise. They were:
Kaare Vedvik, Jets
Cairo Santos, Titans
Mike Nugent, Patriots
Matt Bryant, Falcons
Chase McLaughlin, Chargers
Cody Parkey, Titans
Nick Folk, Patriots
Kai Forbath, Cowboys
Chase McLaughlin, 49ers
Brett Maher, Cowboys
Ryan Santoso, Titans
And then already in 2020, two more kickers were released by their teams:
Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
Ryan Succop, Titans
And then there's Adam Vinatieri, who is 97 years old, has an expired contract, and remains a free agent.
What do all of those guys have in common? Well, as noted above, the teams they all played for in 2019 don't want them anymore, despite a shortage of kickers, league-wide.
Yes, we have officially droned on way too long about kickers as this point, especially for a team whose season will be ruined by dozens of other things before it's ruined by bad kicking. It would just be funny if the Giants somehow were a surprise team in 2020, had a chance to make the playoffs, and then lost a game or two because of their kicker.
9) Joe Judge...
Yes, there's the infamously poorly performing Bill Belichick coaching tree, on which Judge is the 10th branch:
Belichick coaching tree
Judge certainly isn't destined for failure because past Belichick disciples have failed as head coaches at the pro level. That said, one theory about Belichick tree head coaches that makes sense to me is that they tend to attempt to rule over their players with an iron fist, but without first establishing the credibility and cache than Belichick himself has over two-plus decades.
There are already hints of that with Judge. For example, he refused to say Daniel Jones' or any of his other players' names for almost four months after the Giants hired him. While I respect the stubbornness, that is some "High School Harry" nonsense, lol. People like when you say their name.
When asked about individual players, even when lobbed softballs about the clear starting quarterback, he'd give these crazy answers that would only raise more questions, like this gem from the Combine:
Question: "You’ve had a little more time the last month to evaluate the film from last year. What did you see from Daniel Jones?"
Judge: "I’ll be very upfront with everyone right now in terms of how I’m going to deal with analyzing specific players. I want you to understand this because it’s important to me. Every one of our players is going to come here with a blank slate and be able to compete from the ground up from day one.
"I’m not going to establish any kind of status or hierarchy within the individual players or position groups by spending a month talking about individuals. That’s important to me, and I want you guys to understand my reason for that. I can’t tell everyone that they have an equal slate and they show up on April 7th, and I’ve spent a month talking about a specific player. Everyone is going to have the same opportunity on a daily basis to compete.
"So, I respect the question about the individuals. Trust me, we’ve analyzed everyone top to bottom, inside out. We’ve talked about it. Coaches, scouts, personnel, player development, team security. We’re getting to know everything we can possibly know about who we have on our roster, as well as everyone we’re looking to bring in and join our roster as well. But my reason for not going into individual players at this point is it’s important that our players understand, the only thing that’s going to be relevant is how they perform from day one moving forward. That the past is irrelevant."
Lol what? Joe, my man, just say, "He's smart, and we like the way he does X, Y, and Z," and be done with it.
Anyway, maybe the players will respond. Maybe they won't. Who am I to say? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What I will say is that a 38-year-old first-time head coach (at any level) trying to get his team on the same page during one of the worst pandemics in the history of the planet feels like a tall order. By comparison, the Eagles will be heading into the fifth year with the same head coach, defensive coordinator, and starting quarterback, and while the Cowboys and Washington both have new head coaches, they hired guys with 13 and 9 years of head coaching experience, respectively.
10) Dave Gettleman...
It's stunning that Gettleman was able to keep his job this offseason. It's even more surprising to me than if Jason Garrett (now the Giants' OC, lol) had been able to keep his head coaching job in Dallas.
Forget the fact that he drafted a running back second overall. That's the least of his transgressions. Gettleman hasn't even been the general manager for 30 months yet, and the amount of money that he has flushed down the toilet on players who were either not worth their pay, or old (and thus useless for a rebuilding team) is unreal.
Eli Manning. Nate Solder. Jonathan Stewart. Golden Tate. Patrick Omameh. Alec Ogletree. Antoine Bethea. And coming soon, Leonard Williams and Blake Martinez. And then the dead money he was willing to take on when trading guys like Odell Beckham, Olivier Vernon, and Jason Pierre-Paul. I could go on.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm sorry, Giants fans, but your general manager has no idea what he's doing, and your franchise is going to be a disaster until your ownership realizes the mistake they made in hiring him.