Nov 052021
 
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THE STORYLINE:
Individual fans are going to look at the meme pictured above and say, “Easy choice.” I beg to differ. In my mind, this is an incredibly difficult decision to make and it should not be taken lightly. I’ve noticed fans regularly comment that things “can not possibly get worse” only to see things get worse. Here’s a little secret…it can always get worse.

The Case for Blowing It Up: At the heart of this argument is that “the Giants’ way” is not working. Many have argued for years that John Mara is too wed to a system that is clearly no longer producing results and that he is too loyal to people who are not good at their jobs. There are some who go so far as to insist that the Mara family needs to be removed from all football decisions and hire a new general manager from outside of the Giants’ family who has final say in all football matters. Many (but not all) of these fans also believe that Joe Judge and/or Daniel Jones are not the answer, and the Giants are wasting time by not ripping off the band-aid and moving on as quickly as possible. Some feel that any new outside general manager should not be encumbered with a head coach or quarterback he did not select. Mara has been far too patient with Dave Gettleman, who he never should have hired in the first place. Injuries and strength of schedule are not sufficient excuses for yet another lost season before the midway point.

The Case for One More Year: While it sounds like a loser’s lament, there is truth in the claim that the Giants have been the victim of bad luck this season. Significant injuries to important players have sabotaged the incoming draft and free agency classes that were supposed to make a big difference. This has been especially true on offense, where the offensive line and wide receiving corps has been a walking M.A.S.H. unit, not to mention that Saquon Barkley can’t stay on the field. While all teams have to deal with injuries, once again, Daniel Jones has been surrounded with subpar players who are impacting the Giants ability to block, catch, and run.  Exacerbating the situation is the strength of schedule that the team has faced. The Rams and Cowboys are perhaps the best teams in the NFC. An undermanned Giants team was expected to get destroyed in Kansas City, but it didn’t. The Giants upset the Saints and Panthers. The other big issue that many don’t want to think about is if the Giants blow it up, they are going to have to start all over again. That means a 3-4 year roster rebuild. At best, the team won’t likely seriously compete until 2025. Mara is likely to have final say in any head coaching hire and thus far, his track record in that area has resulted in two coaches who have been fired after two seasons, and now a third who may be fired after his second season. Psychologically, fans of losing teams are pre-wired to want dramatic change. “Blow it up and start over!” doesn’t always result in a better outcome, however. Do the Giants really want to hire their fourth new head coach in eight years?

We’re basically at the midway point of the 17-game schedule, with nine games left to play. It’s premature to make any final decision yet. But we all know it’s not too early to start thinking about the options. Right or wrong, much will probably depend on how the Giants finish these last nine games. There is a lot at stake.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – out)
  • RB Gary Brightwell (COVID protocol – questionable)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (knee – questionable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (quad – out)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (thumb – probable)
  • WR John Ross (quad – questionable)
  • WR Dante Pettis (IR/shoulder – out)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee – probable)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (ankle – out)
  • S Nate Ebner (ankle – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
I think a lot of readers think I’m a Daniel Jones apologist. Perhaps. I would argue that it is foolish to ignore the significant handicaps that he has had to endure. Since he has been drafted, for one reason or another, the team has been unable to surround him with competent blockers, receivers, and runners. Lack of talent and injuries have all been issues. In my view, in the simplest terms, I thought Jones had a remarkable rookie season (except for the fumbling), took a step back his sophomore season, and has been better this season. I could go on with specifics, but Daniel Jones threads have become a boor on BBI. In a nutshell, unfortunately, I still don’t think we know what we truly have in Jones. I see people who say he doesn’t have “it.” Well, I saw “it” in the remarkable comeback victory against the Saints. I also thought he pretty much carried an undermanned offense on his back against the Panthers. He had one terrible bad turnover game against the Rams. He’s thrown two interceptions in the other seven games. He’s only lost one fumble this year. On the flip side, the issue remains that New York simply is not scoring enough points. How much of that is on Jones and how much of that is on the players who are missing at running back, wide receiver, and the offensive line is a matter open to debate. I would love to see Jones play with Barkley, Golladay, Shepard, Toney, and a decent offensive line for just 3-4 games in row. Thus far, the football gods haven’t seen fit to allow that to happen.

As for the offensive line, Andrew Thomas remains on Injured Reserve. What might have been with him fully healthy and a healthy Nick Gates is something else that preys on my mind. The good news is that the starting reps that Matt Peart is receiving – both good and bad – will benefit him down the road. I’d like to see Ben Bredeson get back into the line-up. I’m surprised he hasn’t but maybe his hand isn’t fully recovered.

Fans already know what I think about Engram. Tight end will be an offseason priority, regardless of who is coaching this team. The injury situation at wide receiver is ridiculous. Everyone is hurt. Most problematic is Kenny Golladay. He was supposed to be the #1 difference maker as an offseason acquisition. He has played only about half the snaps this year and only has 17 catches. Making matters much, much worse is Barkley, who has also missed half of the season and only has 54 carries. So much was dependent on how these two performed in 2021. They, along with Jones, were supposed to be the heart of the offense.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
After a miserable start, the Giants defense has played much better in the last two games. I am a tough grader on defense and I would have liked to have seen this side of the ball not give up those two late field goals against the Chiefs. That’s the next step forward. Get the ball back and win the game when the offense is struggling. But holding Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to 20 points on Monday night at Arrowhead is pretty darn good.

As much as folks question Joe Judge and Jason Garrett, the jury is still out on Patrick Graham too. His defenses have been too much Jekyll and Hyde his first two seasons as defensive coordinator. In 2020, he had the built-in excuse of issues in the secondary combined with the ongoing absence of an outside pass rush. But the talent was better this year and his defense was struggling even before the loss of team captain Blake Martinez. These last nine games are important for him and his unit too.

Sy’56 has already highlighted the need to address edge rusher again. He and I share the same desire to see more of Quincy Roche, something I mentioned in last week’s preview. That should happen with Lorenzo Carter still out. I wish Oshane Ximines was the real deal. He seems like a great guy, but it’s just not working out for him. I know fans are already writing off Tae Crowder. I wouldn’t just yet. He’s a former running back turned linebacker and is still learning the position. He only played the position one season in college. The good news in the secondary is Adoree’ Jackson has now played two strong games in a row, and that has made a big, big difference.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Not to pile on Joe Judge, but I have to admit that expected much more out of the special teams unit the past two years than we are getting. He was supposed to be some special teams guru and thus far it hasn’t translated to the football field. The special teams haven’t been a problem, but they haven’t been noticeably good either, especially if you take Graham Gano out the equation. I’ve bitched about our punter for a couple of years now. I still don’t know why competition wasn’t brought in to challenge him in camp.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett on Saquon Barkley missing another game:You just control what you can control.

THE FINAL WORD:
I know I’m opening myself as being labeled an excuse-maker, but I feel the team is a bit snake bit right now. This false positive fiasco had to be a huge distraction on a short week. The Raiders are also experiencing their own drama, but they are coming off of the bye. A win before the bye would give the Giants at least something positive to build upon. Then maybe they can get some of the walking wounded back and do some damage in the second half of the schedule.

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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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