Dec 152017
 
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Game Preview: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, December 17, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
At this point, I suspect everyone would like to fast-forward to January in anticipation of the intrigue surrounding the selection of the new general manager and coaching staff. But we have three torturous games left, including the Giants’ annual humiliation at home by the Philadelphia Eagles. This one-sided “rivalry” gets worse with each passing year. The Eagles have won an astounding 15 of the last 18 games dating back to 2008. Last year was the first time the Giants had won a home game against the Eagles in 10 years!!!

The Giants-Eagles decade-long mismatch is perhaps one of the best indications that this franchise needs a cultural shift… a spiritual enema if you will. Steve Spagnuolo can’t and shouldn’t be the next head coach. We saw more of the same in his inaugural game as NYG head coach last week. His defense – which was second in scoring defense last season – is DEAD LAST in yards allowed in 2017. And it sucked before injuries started hitting that side of the ball. And this isn’t the first time his defenses have been dead last in the NFL and among the worst in NFL history. It’s time to part ways. Nice guy. Not a consistently good coach.

The bigger issue is what to do at GM. Most expect Dave Gettleman will get the job. Those calling for dramatic change – a cultural shift – are uneasy about that prospect because of Gettleman’s long ties with the existing organizational (group think?) structure that dates all the way back to 1979. Hiring Gettleman would be the “safe” move. And it would probably allow for a Gettleman-Kevin Abrams marriage that would eventually morph into Abrams taking over when the 66-year old Gettleman is ready to retire. If this occurs, one would suspect that most (if not all) of the scouting staff would retain their jobs. The key figure to watch in such a scenario would be Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross (really Director of College Scouting). If Ross stays, that would be a major red flag to many.

There are those who argue that it can’t get worse than it is now and that the whole thing should be blown up and completely new faces introduced. The problem is it can always get worse. There is risk with staying the course and there is risk with changing things completely. The important thing is make the right decisions and not be terribly wed to how dramatic the change is or isn’t.

Let’s cut through the bullshit. The Giants need to recognize one important thing: IT ISN’T WORKING! This team hasn’t been right in six years. It’s been poorly constructed. Drafting is always a bit of a crapshoot, but you have to hit on more than you miss. And it is quite telling that very few Giants players drafted are re-signed when their initial contracts are up. Rather than building a roster, it feels like the Giants are constantly trying to fill holes because of crappy drafting and poor free agent decisions. The team has not been able to put together a viable offensive line despite spending significant resources in that area (including three premium draft picks). The Giants are not mentally or physically tough. They are a finesse team that is annually plagued by injuries. They can’t pick up an inch in short-yardage. They can’t run the football. They can’t rush the passer or create enough turnovers. They can’t stop the opposing team when it matters. They start and end games poorly. And special teams are an annual disaster.

If the Giants can’t see this, then the franchise is in real trouble. It’s becoming more and more clear that 2017 was an iceberg that was slowly approaching that the Giants couldn’t see. But it was an iceberg created by their own mismanagement of the roster and coaching staff.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Roger Lewis (ankle – questionable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring – probable)
  • WR Travis Rudolph (hamstring – questionable)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (finger – probable)
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger – probable)
  • DT Damon Harrison (not injury related – probable)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (ankle – probable)
  • CB Brandon Dixon (heel/hamstring – questionable)
  • S Landon Collins (ankle – doubtful)
  • S Nat Berhe (hamstring – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
If you asked me what I want the next version of the New York Giants offense to be, I would answer with one word: TOUGH. I’m tired of finesse. I want to turn back the clock and have a team that may not have a lot of pretty highlight plays but will physically hurt the other team and be able to run the football. That’s not the direction the game is headed, but I’m a dinosaur and a contrarian. I can’t stand having a team that you know can’t pick up an inch on 3rd-and-short. The Giants have four rushing touchdowns this year, and one of those are by the quarterback. They had six rushing touchdowns in 2016. Those stats are ridiculous.

Other than sentimental reasons and possibly as a transitional bridge to the new quarterback, it makes little sense for Eli Manning to remain with the team much longer. New GM, new coaching staff, needing a roster rebuild. Soon-to-be 37-year old, declining quarterback? The longer they hold on, the longer the rebuild is going to take. Excuse my French, the Giants fucked up the last six years of Manning’s career here. But they can’t go back in time and fix it. It sucks but dwelling on it won’t make things better. You have to move forward.

Some other quick roster thoughts:

  • As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, Davis Webb hasn’t played because they Giants never gave him enough reps to get ready. This goes all the way back to training camp. I hope he plays in the last two games but he hasn’t been prepped correctly and it’s too late to learn anything of note that will affect the 2018 NFL Draft. Another screw up.
  • As I’ve mentioned for weeks, the Giants are wasting snaps on Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen. Neither will be with the team in 2017 (if they are, another major red flag). The Giants need to know what they have in Wayne Gallman and Paul Perkins. Too many snaps have been wasted here on guys who are not part of the future. Screw up.
  • Other than Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard, there isn’t anything at wide receiver. And Beckham’s future contract status is a major question mark and Shepard has been hot-and-cold (and a bit injury-prone).
  • Tight ends are good.
  • I don’t think the Giants can re-sign the injury-prone Justin Pugh. If he leaves, there is another hole. Time to part ways with guys like John Jerry and Bobby Hart. Tough call on Weston Richburg but I’d offer him a prove-it type deal. I still see more upside with him than Brett Jones, who I don’t think is a starting-caliber center. If the new coaching staff wants to run the football, bringing back D.J. Fluker and Ereck Flowers makes some sense. Long story short – this aspect of the team is still a shit show despite three premium draft picks. That alone was reason enough to fire Jerry Reese.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
In terms of personnel decisions, the biggest issue other than quarterback the Giants face is what to do with over-priced, under-performing Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon? If they are going for a major rebuild, it might be best to take their medicine, swallow the painfully expensive cap hits, and clear the decks more for 2019 and 2020. JPP is a coach killer. There was a hope/thought that the fireworks accident may have woken him up to take the game more seriously, but whether it is his physical limitations or his mental approach, he’s just a guy out there who teases. Vernon is a tougher call because when healthy, he’s played well. But he seems to be nicked up a lot and isn’t as effective when he is. What we do know is that the Giants are not getting the pass rush they expected out of him. The offensive line may have been reason #1a why Reese was let go, but his free agent decisions on JPP and Vernon are a close second.

  • Damon Harrison is the kind of football player you can build around. He was Reese’s greatest free agent decision. The Giants can win with Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson at defensive tackle.
  • The help wanted sign is out at linebacker. This unit needs a complete rebuild. The only two the new coaching staff may consider retaining are the injury-prone B.J. Goodson and the smart, versatile, but athletically limited Devon Kennard.
  • Landon Collins is a very good STRONG safety – please note the word strong. Darian Thompson has had an up-and-down season in what basically is his rookie year. They need better depth here.
  • Corner is going to be an interesting area to watch. Janoris Jenkins has All-Pro ability. Much depends on how the new coaching staff feels about his personality. Same with the aging and somewhat fragile Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Then there is Eli Apple. Many fans think he isn’t a good player. When his head is screwed on right, he is. Apple has shut-down ability. But the fucker needs to grow up and stop acting like an entitled little bitch. Football careers are short and momma isn’t going to be around to pick up the pieces at some point. Grow up. Football is a job. Good news is that Reese may have stolen Ross Cockrell from the Steelers.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I suspect this game will be the final nail in the Tom Quinn story.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
(What Steve Spagnuolo says at this point really doesn’t matter. He’s a place holder).

THE FINAL WORD
This “rivalry” has become a one-sided joke. Nothing changes on Sunday.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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