June 22, 2021
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 crybaby 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.
Since 2017, the Giants are tied for the worst record in the NFL with the New York Jets, at 18-46 (0.281). A chart:
|Team||Record since 2017||Point differential since 2017|
In fairness, the Giants had a better point differential than the Jets, so congrats on that!
In 2020, the Giants beat the Cowboys Week 17, bringing their record to 6-10 on the season, and putting them in a position to win one of the worst divisions in NFL history, via tiebreaker, if the Philadelphia Eagles could have beaten the Washington Football Team in a nationally televised game on Sunday Night Football.
If the Giants had played in any other division in the NFL, they would have been eliminated from playoff contention several weeks prior. In fact, at 6-10, they would have finished fourth in five other divisions. But there they were, watching at home, rooting for the Eagles to keep their season alive.
You all already know the story, but for the sake of being thorough, with the already eliminated Eagles trying to get as high a draft pick as possible, they listed 10 players as inactive, in addition to the slew of players they had on IR. When the Football Team wouldn't cooperate by blowing out an already awful team made worse by playing its backups, the Eagles had to take extreme measures to lose the game by pulling Jalen Hurts in favor of Nate Sudfeld.
The Football Team would eventually win, and the Giants were pissssssed at the Eagles' blatant tanking. I would be pissed too, in the same way I get frustrated when I'm in 10th place in Mario Kart, and I get triple bananas instead of something like an invincible star. In the moment, I might yell something like, "Oh GTFOH with these triple bananas!" but I would never hold a press conference afterward to bitch about why I was entitled to the invincible star when I was the one who was responsible for being in 10th in the first place.
Joe Judge definitely bitches about getting triple bananas to his family at the dinner table.
Giants coach Joe Judge's response when asked about the Eagles benching Jalen Hurts:— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 5, 2021
“To disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything you can to help those players win, we will never do that as long as I’m the HC of the Giants." pic.twitter.com/IFQIMeb28H
I have two rebuttals:
2) If the Giants are 2-14 and they're playing a meaningless game Week 18, and they have a chance to draft a star quarterback prospect to replace Daniel Jones, Joe Judge is going to go all out to win that game. Hell, if he's 15-1 and has the 1 seed locked up and nothing to play for Week 18 with a chance to rest starters, he is going to go all out to win that game, too. Anything other than going all out to win, no matter what, according to Judge, would be disrespecting the game. He is officially on record.
Anyway, the Giants are losers (a) because they lose a lot of football games, and (b) because they got extremely heated when a division rival decided to do what was best for them (gaining a significantly more valuable draft pick even if disgracing themselves in the process) instead of trying to usher losers into the playoffs.
In his two NFL seasons, Jones leads the NFL in turnovers, with 39(!) of them, despite missing six starts. Wanna see all 39 turnovers? Of course you do!
Here's his 2019 turnovers from last year's dumpster fire post:
And here's 2020:
There's bigtime pressure on Jones to play far better in 2021, which won't be easy, because...
The Giants have a nice set of skill position players on offense, which won't matter much because the offensive line is still terrible. ProFootballFocus says the Giants' offensive line is the worst in the NFL heading into the 2021 season, and it's hard to argue with them.
While not set in stone, the starting five will probably look like this:
• LT: Andrew Thomas
• LG: Shane Lemieux
• C: Nick Gates
• RG: Will Hernandez
• RT: Matt Peart
If that's right, it will be one of the youngest offensive lines in the NFL, if not the youngest, with an average age of 24 years old. For a building team, being young up front is nice, but only if the players are, you know, good.
It's worth noting that when the team shed RG Kevin Zeitler's contract, they lost their best offensive lineman, and their lone tried-and-true veteran starter. Hernandez will likely move from LG to RG, with Lemieux filling in at LG, weakening both positions.
More importantly, Dave Gettleman spent the fourth overall pick in 2020 on Thomas, and the early returns aren't looking so great. Gettleman had his pick of Thomas, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, and Tristan Wirfs, and there's little debate that Thomas is distant fourth out of those four players, in terms of their play during their rookie seasons.
Gettleman also spent a high pick (34th overall) on Hernandez in 2018, who has been a disappointment overall in his first three NFL seasons. (The two players drafted immediately after Hernandez have a combined 5 Pro Bowls and 3 All-Pro nods, just FYI.)
The other three guys along the line are major question marks.
Barkley was incredibly talented coming out of Penn State, but the selection of a running back with the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft remains an absolutely atrocious use of resources (no slight to Barkley intended in any way here).
Unsurprisingly, Barkley was a star as a rookie. But his production fell off a bit in his second year, and in Year 3, the NFL was robbed of an extremely entertaining player when he tore up his knee.
At the time Barkley was the Giants' pick, when asked about positional value in the draft, 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 this was the press conference during which Gettleman infamously mimicked a nerd typing on his keyboard, which we'll obligatorily post here once again.
Yes, "all players can get hurt." 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. If you look at depth charts NFL-wide, there isn't a single projected starting running back over the age of 30. These aren't "analytics." They're very simple observations.
Barkley's rookie season highlight reel was incredible:
Is he ever going to look like that again after tearing his ACL and meniscus?
Yes, the quarterback hasn't been good, and yes, the offensive line looks like a mess heading into 2021, and sure, Barkley missed almost the entire season in 2020, but the Giants still had enough weapons on offense to put points on the board, which they simply couldn't do. Part of the blame for that has to be on Jason Garrett for running a bland, predictable offense.
In Dallas, Garrett didn't call plays on offense. During games, he was really only responsible for game/clock management, and clapping. Credit where it's due — he was an amazing clapper, but his game management decisions were often awful.
That led many to ponder this question:
In New Jersey, Garrett called plays for the Giants, and they put up the following stats:
|Points per game||17.5||31|
|Yards per game||299.6||31|
|Yards per play||5.0||29|
|Red zone TD percentage||46.3%||31|
|First downs per game||18.6||31|
|Third down percentage||36.4%||29|
|Yards per pass attempt||5.9||29|
Is that bad? That seems bad. And once again, for the Giants' sake, thank God for the Jets.
A commonly cited point of optimism about the Giants' 2020 season is that they played better down the stretch, going 5-3 in their final eight games after starting 1-7. I won't dispute that they played better, however, here's a quick list of all the quarterbacks they beat last season:
The Giants' win over Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Seattle was certainly impressive. The rest? Well, those other five guys had a combined QB rating of 80.7, and four of the wins over them were by four points or fewer. I mean, during that 5-3 stretch, they still had a point differential of -23.
We should also note here that the Giants lost to Mitch Trubisky, Nick Mullens, and Wentz.
To begin, I don't quite understand the selection of Kadarius Toney at pick No. 20. The Giants seemed hellbent on taking a receiver, despite already being strong at the position, and having way bigger offensive line and pass rusher needs.
After getting jumped for DeVonta Smith, the Giants made a good trade, moving back from pick 12 to pick 20 and getting a 2022 first rounder in the process. However, they seemingly just took the next receiver on their board. I can understand that skill position players tend come and go, and that they're drafting for long-term results, but there were better players available, and there were also no shortage of smallish waterbug-like WR playmakers in the 2021 draft. Personally, I'd rather have a combo of Kwity Paye and, say, Rondale Moore, than Toney and Azeez Ojulari. But whatever. Let's get back on track.
Toney skipped OTAs! I mean, really? According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, it was because he hadn't yet signed his rookie contract, even though rookies routinely participate in offseason activities sans contracts because they're covered by rookie participation agreements. From Duggan:
Rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney has had an inauspicious introduction to the team that took him with the 20th pick in this year’s draft. Toney didn’t finish either of the team’s two rookie minicamp practices, first due to an issue with his cleats and then due to an apparent minor injury.
Toney then skipped three weeks of voluntary full-team workouts, which is an unusual step for a rookie. Toney signed his contract last Friday and reported for minicamp, but he left Tuesday’s practice early after again slipping multiple times.
The good news is that Toney completed Wednesday’s practice and showed glimpses of his skill set. Jones described Toney as “twitchy and explosive,” and special-teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey referred to the rookie’s “extreme talent” and “unique traits.”
Toney’s quickness and agility stand out in practice. The issue has been keeping him on the field. He was excused from Thursday’s practice for a family emergency, according to the team.
My understanding is that Toney’s absence from the voluntary workouts was because he hadn’t signed his contract. That’s bizarre since rookies regularly participate in the offseason program before signing their contracts because they sign waivers that protect them in case of injury. Toney signed the waiver before participating in rookie minicamp, which is why his subsequent absence from the voluntary program surprised the team.
Toney missed three weeks of working with Jones to build chemistry. Toney didn’t get any reps with Jones in team periods during minicamp, working exclusively with the second-string offense.
Old friend Jordan Raanan mirrored Duggan's phrasing when he tweeted (correctly) that it is "unusual" for rookies to skip OTAs.
First-round pick Kadarius Toney signed his rookie contract. Now the expectation is he will be out on the field Tuesday for mandatory minicamp. Did not participate in the past two weeks of on-field voluntary OTAs. Definitely unusual. #Giants— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) June 4, 2021
Take a minute to read the moronic replies and quote tweets to that tweet. It's a mix of "Imagine thinking it's unusual to skip OTAs before his contract is signed," and "New York media, always gotta stir up controversy out of nothing."
Except, it's super unusual! Don't think so? Name the other rookies league-wide who skipped OTAs.
The Giants' defense was improved in 2020, but who is getting to the quarterback from the edge?
If we're counting Leonard Williams as an interior guy (yes, I realize he rushes from the edge sometimes), it's a mix of Lorenzo Carter, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Ryan Anderson, Oshane Ximines, and a couple of rookies in Azeez Ojulari and Elerson Smith.
Combined sacks from those guys in 2020: 4.5.
You probably would have, too, Giants fans, prior to the draft, but have since talked yourselves into what they ended up with. It's OK. You can admit it.
Anyway, to be determined how it all shakes out, but it's funny to me that the Eagles helped Washington screw over the Giants in the tank game, and the Cowboys helped the Eagles screw over the Giants in the first round of the draft.
There's a weird perception that the Giants crushed this offseason. First of all, do I have that right? Admittedly, since moving from North Jersey, I haven't heard Mike Francesa mixing it up with Eddie from Queens in a while.
Whatever. The point here is that I'm failing to see why this offseason is cause for jubilation. Without question, once they got jumped for Smith, their siphoning off of the Bears' 2022 first-round pick via Gettleman's first ever trade back was a good move. But they've also been praised for a spending spree in free agency that included the acquisitions of WR Kenny Golladay, CB Adoree Jackson, and TE Kyle Rudolph.
Offering more money than anyone else to free agents isn't exactly a skill, and frankly, the process of their three big signings isn't super logical.
• Kenny Golladay: The Giants signed Golladay to a four-year deal worth $72 million, and $40 million guaranteed. That now ties him with the Chiefs' Tyreek Hill and the Browns' Odell Beckham Jr. as the sixth-highest paid wide receiver (based on AAV) in the NFL. Golladay is certainly a good starting receiver, but that is elite receiver type of money.
• Adoree Jackson: The Giants signed Jackson to a three-year deal worth $39 million, with incentives that could reportedly push it as high as $44.5 million. He got $26.5 million guaranteed.
Prior to the start of the new league year, the Tennessee Titans cut Jackson because they didn't want to pay him $10.2 million for one year on his fifth year option. The Giants will instead pay Jackson significantly more, and for a longer period of time. Had they simply thrown the Titans a seventh round pick before Tennessee cut him, the Giants could have had him on a less expensive deal with a shorter commitment.
Personally, I'd have rather kept Dalvin Tomlinson and shopped in the cornerback bargain bin than spent that kind of money on Jackson.
• TE Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph is now 31 years old, and clearly on the downside of his career. Over the last four years, he has averaged 47 catches for 467 yards (9.9 YPC) and five TDs. In 2020, in 12 games, he had just 28 catches for 334 yards and one TD. Somehow, he got a two-year deal worth $12 million. There were better TE bargains out there.
But beyond that, in between when the Giants agreed upon the financials of the deal with Rudolph and when he actually signed with them, it was revealed that he would need surgery on his foot.
Gettleman on not adjusting Kyle Rudolph’s contract after his foot injury was detected in his entry physical: “We are the Giants. We’re going to do everything with class.”— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) April 20, 2021
Gettleman said the team doctors signed off on Rudolph’s foot.
Lol. Yes, "class," like when they knew Josh Brown abused his wife but kept him on their roster anyway because he was a good kicker.
Credit where it's due — Gettleman hit on a pair of free agents in 2020 in James Bradberry and Blake Martinez. But, when doling out huge sums of cash to known NFL quantities, your batting average better be really high, and over his 3.5 years as the team's GM, he has had way more misses than hits.
Let's not forget money wasted on Nate Solder, Eli Manning, Golden Tate, Alec Ogletree, Jonathan Stewart, Antoine Bethea, Patrick Omameh, and others.
Oh, and by the way, despite his poor record of roster moves over the course of his Giants tenure, Gettleman will somehow probably be back in 2022, even if Daniel Jones craps the bed and the Giants suffer their fifth straight double-digit loss season. In other words, the guy who spent three top six overall draft picks on Jones, Thomas, and a running back will likely get another crack at drafting the next face of the franchise.
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