Oct 202023
John Mara, New York Giants (September 17, 2023)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

There was a pretty big seismic change in the NFC East this year when Dan Snyder sold the Washington Redskins / Football Team / Commanders. For over two decades, Snyder oversaw the demise of the once-proud franchise. How unstable did Washington become? While Snyder’s teams managed six playoff appearances since 1999, Snyder also had 10 different head coaches during his reign. The overall impression left in the minds of fans from New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas was that as long as Snyder owned the team, Washington would never be a truly serious threat in the division.

Publicly, John Mara and Steve Tisch do not engender the same creepiness of Snyder and Jerry Jones (Cowboys). But there is a danger that Mara and Tisch will now be viewed as the division’s new Dan Snyder in terms of sheer incompetence. Jeff Lurie in Philadelphia operates one of the NFL’s premier franchises. Despite all of Jones’ warts, the Cowboys usually are in playoff contention. Notably, both teams have absolutely owned the Giants for the better part of a decade. Now with Synder gone, a solid defense, and a new quarterback who is turning some heads, the Commanders appear on the upswing. They are already two games ahead of the Giants in the standings. If the Giants lose on Sunday, there is a very good chance they will finish dead last in the NFC East and be viewed as the division’s new punching bag for all three rivals.

Are Mara and Tisch the new Dan Snyder of the NFC East?


  • QB Daniel Jones (neck – questionable)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – probable)
  • RB Gary Brightwell (ankle – probable)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – probable)
  • OL Andrew Thomas (hamstring – out)
  • OL Evan Neal (ankle – questionable)
  • OL OL John Michael Schmitz (shoulder – out)
  • OL Mark Glowinski (quad/ankle – probable)
  • OL Matt Peart (shoulder – out)
  • DL D.J. Davidson (knee – probable)
  • CB Tre Hawkins (knee – probable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (neck – questionable)
  • CB Cor’Dale Flott (ankle/shoulder – probable)
  • PK Graham Gano (knee – probable)

Personally, I’ve been on the fence with Daniel Jones for the last few years. I have not been willing to commit to either side of whether he is a bust or a victim of circumstance. Despite the turnovers, his rookie season was promising. But it was offset by a lack of progress and disappointing play in 2020 and 2021. Last year, under the tutelage of the new coaching staff, it appeared Jones had turned the corner and might turn into a halfway decent quarterback. A fan base that once booed him now cheered him. Most of that goodwill has evaporated again. Fans are back arguing that he is a bust or a victim of circumstance. Complicating matters further is that Jones now has suffered his second neck injury in three seasons. He may miss his second game in a row.

Is Jones a dud or a tragic figure? Valid arguments can be made for either point of view. However, after this week, there will only be 10 games left in the NYG season. Unless Jones returns soon and then lights it up in the last 10 games, can this franchise operate under the assumption that they have a quarterback? I don’t think so. And I’m pretty darn sure Jones isn’t going to go on a 10-game run where he erases all doubt. What I’m suggesting is that this may be Jones’ final season with the team. Ownership and management gambled and lost with Jones. They’ll have to eat what’s left of the contract and move on. If they don’t, they are simply prolonging the inevitable. Jones isn’t performing. And he’s damaged goods, a running quarterback with a bad neck. Tyrod Taylor is one good performance away from sealing Jones’ fate. If Taylor fails, it reinforces the impression that the team has no quarterback.

The Giants entered the 2023 season with nine offensive linemen on the roster, most of whom are now hurt and have missed games. This week, they have made seven transactions involving the offensive line. Two were placed on IR. Three were signed off of Practice Squads. And that doesn’t even count Justin Pugh, who was signed off of his couch a couple of weeks ago. If it wasn’t so painful, it would be comical. The only positive one can say at this point is that despite massive patchwork job, the experience level has actually increased and thus, in the short-term, there might not be as many mental breakdowns and free rushers.

Regardless, this does not bode well for an offense that still has not scored a first-half touchdown, and scored touchdowns in only two of six games. The Commanders have a talented defensive front that can get after the quarterback. That said, statistically speaking, Washington’s defense has had issues, both against the run and the pass. But the patchwork offensive line has to give the quarterback, Jalin Hyatt, and Saquon Barkley time and room to operate. It’s really that simple.

In my preview last week, I talked about the defense trending in the right direction. It certainly did that against the Buffalo Bills, holding a prolific offense scoreless in the first half. However, the two long touchdown drives in the second half of the game put a damper on the performance. It showed that the defense still has a lot of room for improvement. Yes, holding a team to 14 points should be enough, but sometimes situations demand more. Last week was one of those situations.

The way I view this defense now is more about getting a good read on 2024. There are some players – given their salary situation vis a vis their overall performance – who I do not expect to be here next year. That includes Leonard Williams and Adoree’ Jackson. Don’t be shocked to see someone get traded before the Halloween trade deadline. Injury history and age will likely weed out others such Azeez Ojulari and Jihad Ward. There are players whose contracts expire, such as A’Shawn Robinson, Isaiah Simmons, and Xavier McKinney. The last player mentioned – McKinney – has not played poorly. But if he expects to get paid, he needs to make more plays on the football.

The good news here is that management was smart enough to hold off decisions on guys like Williams, Jackson, and McKinney. Previous management would have prematurely extended these contracts. The team will now have more flexibility moving forward. There is some decent youth to build around. The glaring issue is finding more edge rushers, especially with Ojulari flaming out and Kayvon Thibodeaux not providing a consistent impact. The Giants will also have to replace Leonard Williams with a decent starter.

As for this game with Washington, it’s the usual suspects with one major exception. The go-to guys to watch are still WR Terry McLaurin, RB Brian Robinson, and TE Logan Thomas. There are others at receiver and back-up running back who can make some noise. The big change is at quarterback where second-year Sam Howell looks like a 5th-round steal. Howell will hold onto the ball too long, but he’s a gunslinger who is not afraid to take chances. This could work to New York’s advantage if the secondary does a good enough job disguising its coverages and confusing Howell. But don’t underestimate him. Commanders fans are very excited about their quarterback situation.

For lack of a better description, management and coaching on the Giants have somehow lost their mojo this year. There are a number examples, including how the depth chart was handled at wide receiver. For most teams, the 5th and 6th wideouts are special teams players. Sterling Shepard is not that and yet he hasn’t played much on offense either. Meanwhile, Jamison Crowder, who flashed at wide receiver at times in the summer, was let go despite his return experience. Last week, Crowder earned “Special Teams Player of the Week” honors for his 61-yard punt return. To be blunt, keeping Shepard and letting go of Crowder made no sense given how little Shepard has been used.

Why do I get the feeling that Crowder is going to be a problem on Sunday?

I’m not posting a quote this week. Instead, just a friendly word of advice. Brian Daboll, at least publicly, has understandably appeared a bit shell-shocked and beaten down this year. 2023 has obviously been a disaster. But he’s got to pick himself and the team up and just say “fuck it” at this point. The rest of this season is more about 2024 than 2023. Embrace the challenge and do the best you can with a positive attitude. Find “your guys” and ride with them.

As strange as it sounds, had the Giants been able to pull off the upset in Buffalo (and they should have won that game), they still had a shot at stabilizing this situation with a win against the Commanders. Now this game will likely determine just how deep the abyss is. A loss here and the Giants may be looking at a top-5 pick in the upcoming draft. Given the questions at quarterback, that might not be a bad thing.

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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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