The New York Giants have shut down quarterback Daniel Jones for the rest of the season after placing the quarterback on IR due to a neck injury.
Jones finished the season completing 232 of 361 passes (a career-high 64.3%) for 2,428 yards, 10 touchdowns, and seven interceptions for a passer rating of 84.8. Jones also rushed for 298 yards and two touchdowns.
The third-year quarterback was decent this season, and at this point, New York has to decide about Jones’ future going forward. New York will have to determine if they will pick up his fifth-year option after the draft, which would guarantee him $21.3 million.
According to Giants head coach Joe Judge, Jones has done enough, but the front office has to decide what’s best in terms of the contract.
“Yeah, I’ve seen enough growth from Daniel to tell us that he’s a guy we want to go ahead and play with,” Judge said earlier this week. “In terms of the business aspect of it and different things, I’ll let different departments of this organization handle that stuff. I’ll coach the players.”
New York will lose 10 or more games for the fifth straight season, and Jones knows next season the Giants have to be better.
“Well, I think as we go forward and into next year, we’ve all got to do a better job,” Jones said. “Like I said, we didn’t win enough games… I’ve spoken to Joe, and we’ve had conversations about that, but like I said, I think there’s things that I need to improve on. There’s things he expects me to improve on going forward. I understand that and obviously take that very seriously. That’s kind of my approach.”
Injuries have been an issue for Jones. Plus, when healthy, his play has been up and down. In addition, the front office will probably look a little different next season as it is expected that Senior VP and GM Dave Gettleman will likely be replaced, so a new GM could mean a new direction at the quarterback position, which could make this situation very interesting.
If you pick up the fifth-year option, you guarantee Jones’s contract for the next two seasons, and that’s a gamble. Jones is 12-25 as a starter and has thrown 45 touchdowns with 29 interceptions and 20 lost fumbles, so that’s a lot of turnovers.
In fairness to Jones, New York has never fixed their offensive line issues, and they have struggled with injuries on the offensive side of the ball this season, so it’s not all his fault.
It might be in New York’s best interest not to pick up the fifth-year option and let Jones play out the rest of the contract and see where he stands after next season.
For the New York Giants, a team that has had a lot of success over the years, including two championships in the last 20 seasons, the past four years have not been so good. Last season, the Giants were 6-10, but because they were in the NFC East, they finished one game behind the first-place Washington Football Team.
Over the last four seasons, the Giants are 18-46 and have not made the playoffs since 2016.
On Tuesday, Giants president, co-owner, and CEO John Mara addressed the media, and according to Mara, he would like to start winning at a high level again in New York.
“I want to see us make progress and become a winning team again,” he said. “We’re overdue on that, and we spent a lot of money in free agency. I think we’ve had a couple of really productive drafts; now it’s time to prove it on the field.”
On paper, Mara thinks New York is better than last season.
“I certainly think we’re a lot better on paper; I’d like to see us show that on the field now and win more games and make the playoffs,” he said. “I mean, that’s my expectation every year coming into the season. Obviously, we’ve fallen far short of that the last four years, but I think on paper, I’m pleased with where we are, but I want to see us win some games.”
This is GM Dave Gettleman’s fourth season with the team, and during Gettleman’s first three seasons in New York, the team has won only 15 games. When asked if Gettleman is on the hot seat, Mara said the following.
“We’re all on the hot seat, with our fans in particular,” he said. “We’ve given them too many losing seasons; it’s time for us to start winning. But no, I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say that’s an accurate statement…
“Let’s see what happens, let’s see what happens during the season. Let’s see what kind of progress we’ve made. Let’s see if we’ve won some games, and we’ll address that after the year.”
New York is still trying to determine if QB Daniel Jones is the guy to lead the team beyond this season. For Jones, who is entering his third season with the Giants, the first two seasons have been a mixed bag. You saw some good, and you saw some bad, especially with the turnovers. However, Mara still believes in Jones.
“Obviously, we want it, we need to see more wins, but I do have a lot of confidence in Daniel,” Mara said. “One of the things that gives me that confidence is the way that the coaches in this building feel about him. They love him. They love everything about him; we just have to win some games now. I like everything that I see on the field with him. I like his leadership; I like his work ethic; I like the way the players respond to him. We just have to win some games now.”
The Giants were solid near the end of last season, especially on defense, and entering his second season, head coach Joe Judge appears to have a plan. However, there are still questions, mainly on the offensive line and at the quarterback position. Based on what Mara is saying, it appears the pressure is on Jones and the whole organization to make the playoffs this season, and in the NFC East, that could be possible. However, that won’t matter if the Giants are not better in 2021.
The Giants waited until they were on the clock Thursday night before executing their most significant draft day trade since they acquired Eli Manning 17 years ago.
They sent their selection at No. 11 in the first round to the Chicago Bears for a package of four picks, including two in the current draft (No. 20 in the first round and No. 164 in the fifth), plus first and fourth-round choices in the 2022 draft. The Giants selected Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. Chicago moved up to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
“Obviously, it was too good an opportunity (to pass up),” general manager Dave Gettleman said. “It added too much value, and we felt very comfortable with where our board was and we felt comfortable with who would be there, who would be available in that slot. So, we made it. We did it. We added a one and a four next year. Another pick for this year and another pick for next year. We were very pleased we were able to make the play.”
The key component of the trade for the Giants was the Bears’ first-rounder next year.
“It was very important to get the first-round pick next year,” Gettleman said. “As I told you guys (reporters) at my pre-draft presser, there’s a lot of unknowns here with this group (of players in this draft) and plus a lot of kids went back and took advantage of the NCAA giving them an additional year of eligibility. That obviously played into our thinking.”
The trade also enabled the Giants to recoup the fifth-round choice (No. 154) they sent the Jets in 2019 to acquire defensive lineman Leonard Williams. It gives them seven choices in the seven-round draft; one in each of the first five rounds and two in the sixth. They received an extra selection in that round from Arizona in a trade for linebacker Markus Golden. The Giants do not have a seventh-round selection after sending it last year to Denver for cornerback Isaac Yiadom.
For the first time in the eight NFL drafts he has run – five with Carolina and three with the Giants – Gettleman executed a trade to move back…not just in the first round, but in any round.
Gettleman initiated the trade by reaching out to Chicago general manager Ryan Pace.
“What happened was we had called around and … I had spoken to Ryan Pace, and I had heard he was interested in moving up,” Gettleman said. “So, I called him. When I spoke to him, he said, ‘Yes, we’re very interested.’ And then the conversations begin.
“I spoke to Ryan today before the draft and I spoke to him again. He called me again somewhere around the seventh pick, somewhere in there, and then we got on the clock and from there, (assistant general manager) Kevin Abrams took over and finished off the trade.”
It is widely thought the Giants were interested in Alabama wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and cornerbacks Jayce Horn of South Carolina and Patrick Surtain of Alabama. All were selected in the first 10 picks.
Although it was a surprise each of the four players were taken so early, the Giants are always ready for the unexpected in the draft.
“We had really talked this through, me, Joe (Judge), Chris Mara, Tim McDonnell, Kevin Abrams and Mark Koncz, we had all discussed thoroughly, really looked at our board,” Gettleman said of the team’s personnel experts. “We had a lengthy meeting on Monday and we followed it up with another meeting on Wednesday and so we really – we knew what we wanted. We knew where we wanted to go, and we knew at which point we would consider a trade back and that’s where you get the other piece of it where we’re calling teams behind us.
“And then we met again at 6 o’clock tonight to just constantly review and talk it through and it was a great group effort and we all felt very – we all felt very together on the decision. And we made it.”
It was the Giants’ first such move in the opening round since general manager Ernie Accorsi traded with Pittsburgh 15 years ago. The Giants moved from No. 25 to the 32nd and final choice in the round and added third (No. 96) and fourth-round (No. 129) picks. The Steelers took wide Santonio Holmes and the Giants selected Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka to close out the first round. With the later round choices they received from Pittsburgh, the Giants selected linebacker Gerris Wilkinson and offensive lineman Guy Whimper.
Of course, Accorsi executed the franchise-changing trade for Manning on April 24, 2004. After the San Diego Chargers selected him first overall, Manning was traded to the Giants for quarterback Philip Rivers (whom the Giants had taken with the fourth pick), the Giants’ 2004 third-round pick, and 2005 first and fifth-round selections.
Via: Michael Eisen/giants.com
Dave Gettleman believes in Daniel Jones as strongly as ever and is excited about the prospects for the Giants’ offensive line. He is also dissatisfied the team averaged only 17.5 points a game in 2020.
Because of that, the general manager today had no reason to be coy regarding the franchise’s objectives as it enters a critical offseason.
“At the end of the day, we need to find playmakers,” Gettleman said during his annual postseason news conference on Zoom. “That’s all there is to it. I’m not sugarcoating it. If you talk about philosophically doing roster building, it’s the Q (quarterback), it’s the big men who allow you to compete. On offense, it’s playmakers. We have to be very conscious of it. We’re going to find the right guys to help Daniel get us over that hump.
“We’ve got great leadership. We’ve got a young club, a new, young team. I understand that. At the end of the day, this is an important offseason, roster building offseason, for us. We’ve got some solid pieces. We’ve built up the lines. We’ve done some things. We have to continue to get good players and part of it is getting playmakers, because that’s what you’re referring to. This is a goal of ours, obviously, for the offseason.”
On his own Zoom call with reporters, team president and chief executive officer John Mara expressed a similar sentiment.
“I think we certainly need to help our offense a little bit this offseason, be it free agency and the draft,” Mara said. “I think we need some more pieces there. Part of the problem that we had is we had a brand new offensive line with new guys playing new positions. They had never played together before, we had no offseason, we had no preseason games for them to get to know each other and get the feel for playing with one another, and they struggled, particularly early in the year, no question about it. I thought they started to play better in the second half of the season. But there’s no question that we need to help our offense going forward and add some more pieces. That will be a priority for us.”
The Giants were 6-10 and NFC East second-place finishers in 2020. Despite the record, they would be preparing for a postseason game as division champions had Washington lost to Philadelphia Sunday night.
Gettleman acknowledges the roster must be upgraded before the 2021 season begins. But he strongly believes the Giants have the two elements most critical to any improvement with Joe Judge as coach and Jones at quarterback.
“The bottom line is, with Joe, is his big picture view and then the follow up on the attention to detail,” Gettleman said. “That’s what’s really critical. He starts at A and gets to Z. That is huge, that is really huge. Obviously, he is a very bright guy. That’s what really sticks out in my mind. Just the big picture and the attention to detail. No detail is too small, the old saying, ‘The devil is in the details.’ He and his staff, he is really tuned into that.”
Gettleman selected Jones sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft and he’s more convinced than ever that it was the correct decision.
“Obviously, he flashed last year,” Gettleman said of Jones’ rookie season. “He had some big games and played well. Then he had games that weren’t so great. This year, early in the season he was struggling with his ball protection. We all know that. The second half of the year unfortunately he had that blip with the hamstring (and missed two games). He finished the season very strong. He played well against Baltimore despite getting chased all over the place to a degree. Made some big-time throws.”
In the season-ending 23-19 victory against Dallas on Sunday, Jones completed 17 of 25 passes for 229 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a season-best 106.9 passer rating. That would have put the Giants into the postseason had the Philadelphia Eagles defeated Washington that night.
“Really and truly, it may sound trite, but obviously the last game of the year was a playoff game for us, it really was,” Gettleman said. “We have to win that game to force Washington to win their game. Daniel played very well. He made a couple of big-time throws. Protected the ball for the most part. The one pick was off of Evan’s (Engram) hands. He’s done a lot of really good stuff. He’s made of the right stuff mentally and physically. Again, we’re talking about a young quarterback who has had two different offensive coordinators in the NFL. Two different systems. Obviously, he had a different one at Duke, so he got three different systems in three years. I thought he got beyond the hamstring the last two games and he played well. We have complete confidence in him moving forward.”
Upgrading the offensive line has been one of Gettleman’s priorities since he arrived. This year, the group had three new starters in left tackle Andrew Thomas (the team’s 2020 first-round draft choice) left guard Shane Lemieux (a fifth-round selection) and center Nick Gates, a third-year pro who had never before played the position. Communication and continuity are considered critical for an O-line and as Mara noted, this group (which early in the season had Will Hernandez at left guard) had to develop a rapport via virtual meetings and training camp practices.
“We’ve got some really nice, young pieces,” Gettleman said. “Nick Gates stepped in there. He’d never played offensive center before. We drafted Will (Hernandez) and Shane Lemieux. You have (Kevin) Zeitler and Andrew Thomas who acquitted himself very well when he had that rough patch and then he got himself rolling again. I think this offensive line can compete. You can cherry pick here, cherry pick there, in terms of which game you want to pick and how the offense did. The offensive line showed very good progress. They’re big, they’re young, they’re strong and they’re tough and smart. This O-Line has a chance to be pretty damn good.”
The defensive line already is, most notably Leonard Williams. Gettleman was roundly criticized at midseason in 2019 when he sent three and fifth-round draft choices to the Jets for Williams, a first-round draft choice in 2015. Williams was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice following two of the final five games, including after his career-high three-sack performance against Dallas. He finished the season with a team-high and career-best 11.5 sacks.
“Leonard deserves a lot of credit for how he prepared this year,” Gettleman said. “Sean Spencer working with him as the D-line coach, the scheme that (defensive coordinator) Pat (Graham) had for him.. There was a reason that (Williams was the sixth overall selection in the draft). Leonard did a great job. He did a great job of working his fanny off. Again, the atmosphere for our players – one of hard work, you can have fun, you can enjoy yourself and Leonard did a heck of a job and his position coach, Sean Spencer, Pat Graham and Joe. The bottom line is he thrived in our atmosphere. I’m ecstatic. It’s like I tell players all the time, ‘I only want you to be successful and I want you to make me cry when it comes to negotiations.’”
While the Giants have numerous promising pieces on offense and defense, growing pains are always difficult to endure. Aside from perhaps Mara, no one has felt them more acutely than Gettleman.
“Of course, it’s disappointing,” Gettleman said. “It’s disappointing not just for me personally, but I’m disappointed for the organization. I’m disappointed for the players and the fans. Sure, it’s disappointing. Listen, last time I double checked, it’s about winning. I’m very disappointed. I guess the best thing I can say is – John said in 2018 we didn’t have a stellar year, didn’t have a stellar roster building season, it’s affected us. We’re on the right track right now. We’ve done some really good stuff the last two years. We’re going to fix this. We are going to fix this.”
Gettleman is a cancer survivor who turns 70 next month. But he is determined and motivated to lead the fix.
“I feel good, I feel strong. I had my 24-month review with my lymphoma doctor. He says you’re as healthy as a horse. Let’s just keep moving, so I’m ready to rock.
“It really is dependent upon the Lord how long I stick around for. We’re all day to day, by the way, in case anybody missed that point. I feel fine, I feel good, I’m excited. I just want to keep going. I don’t know where this retirement stuff came from. I have no idea what that’s all about. There are probably some people that… at the end of the day, I feel great. So, let’s keep going.”
Six of the seven players the Giants acquired on the final day of the NFL Draft play defense, but the team’s primary goal went deeper than simply replenishing one unit.
“The theme of the day for defense was speed,” general manager Dave Gettleman said after the seven-hour marathon that was the final four rounds. “We really feel like we improved our team’s speed and that was what we were trying to do.”
“Dave hit this off the bat, the theme of the day was speed,” coach Joe Judge said.
The Giants believe they significantly upgraded theirs, which is vital in today’s up-tempo, no-huddle, let’s-score-quickly NFL.
Another theme is versatility, as many of the players selected will get a look at multiple positions.
The Giants’ third-day selections were defensive backs Darnay Holmes of UCLA and Chris Williamson of Minnesota; guard Shane Lemieux of Oregon; outside linebackers Cam Brown of Penn State and Carter Coughlin of Minnesota; and inside linebackers TJ Brunson of South Carolina and Tae Crowder of Georgia.
“We had a good day today,” Gettleman said. “I’m very pleased with what happened.”
The players secured on Saturday joined the threesome selected in the draft’s first three rounds: tackle Andrew Thomas from Georgia, taken with the fourth overall selection; safety Xavier McKinney of Alabama, chosen fourth in the second round and 36th overall; and tackle Matt Peart of Connecticut, picked in the third round, 99th overall.
By position, the Giants chose three offensive linemen, one safety, two defensive backs, two outside linebackers and two inside linebackers. The Giants drafted 10 players for the second straight year.
This is believed to be the first draft ever in which the Giants selected four linebackers. They chose three offensive linemen in one draft for the first time since 1989 – when the draft was 12 rounds. That year, the Giants chose center Brian Williams from Minnesota in the first round, guard Bob Kratch from Iowa in the third and tackle Dave Popp from Eastern Illinois in the seventh.
A look at the Giants’ third-day selections:
*Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLA, 5-10, 198, fourth round, No. 110 overall
Holmes was a three-year starter for the Bruins, for whom he played in 35 games with 33 starts. His career totals included 121 tackles (89 solo), eight interceptions, 28 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also averaged 23.1 yards on 38 kickoff returns, including a 93-yard touchdown in 2018.
Like many of the Giants’ young defensive backs, Holmes will initially work at several spots.
“He’s a corner, he plays the nickel,” Gettleman said. “He will come in and compete for that spot right away. He’s a tough kid, he can run. We’re excited we were able to get him.”
“Darnay is definitely a guy that jumps out at you,” Judge said. “He’s got good speed, he’s got real good short area quickness. He’s contributed on the defensive side of the ball, he’s had impact in the kicking game. He plays with a good edge, shows some nasty. You can see he definitely plays bigger than his size. He’s a guy that jumped out at us at the Senior Bowl. His tape backed up what we saw down there. I’m really happy we were able to add him today.”
Holmes earned a degree in African-American studies in three years. His father, Darick Holmes, rushed for 1,769 yards and 11 touchdowns for Buffalo, Green Bay and Indianapolis from 1995-99. His older brother (Darick Jr.) played wide receiver at Arizona from 2015-18.
“I’m going to be an asset, I’m not going to be a liability,” Holmes said. “I’m just going to play my part and maximize my role, for sure. … I can’t tell you where I’m going to play, I’m just ready to contribute. Wherever they put me, I’m going to maximize that role and I’m going to make sure that I understand that role. That’s my main thing is understanding it and grasping all the concepts.”
*Shane Lemieux, G, Oregon, 6-4, 310, fifth round, No. 150 overall
Lemieux was an iron man who started 52 consecutive games for the Ducks at left guard. He was a two-time first-team All-Pac 12 selection by the Associated Press and second team by the league’s coaches. In 2019, he was selected as a first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated and second team by the AP. Lemieux helped Oregon finish as one of seven FBS teams with at least 35 passing touchdowns and 25 rushing touchdowns. He was also a team captain.
“This is a tough kid who plays mad,” Gettleman said. “He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s a pretty good athlete. We’re excited to add him to the mix.”
“He plays with nasty,” Judge said. “You turn the Auburn game on and right from the first snap, he’s tossing bodies around. You can’t help but watch him. In a lot of crossover tape he jumps out at you as well. He’s a guy that’s going to have interior swing value. We’re going to cross train him at guard and center. It’s something he has been working on out at Oregon and we’re going to keep on building with that as well.”
*Cam Brown, OLB, Penn State, 6-5, 233, sixth round, No. 183 overall
Brown played in 51 games with 26 starts at Penn State, including starts in 12 of 13 games in each of his final two seasons. He concluded his career with 199 tackles (99 solo), including 15 stops for loss; 5.0 sacks; 11 passes defensed; four forced fumbles; and two fumble recoveries. Brown had a career-high 72 tackles (28 solo) as a senior and a career-best 41 unassisted stops in his junior season.
“(He is) a big, long kid out of Penn State,” Gettleman said. “He’s 6-5 and change, he’s 230, he runs well. Cam and all the young men we took in the seventh round, we think they are players with good developmental qualities and tools. They all can run, every one of these guys can run. We’re excited about that.”
“Physically, he’s got good length,” Judge said of Brown. “He’s got a frame to fill out and play. He plays with good energy. He plays aggressive and downhill. He’s going to be bring versatility on the edge as well as a little bit of stack backer value. He brings impact in the kicking game with us.”
Sean Spencer, the Giants’ defensive line coach, spent the previous six seasons at Penn State.
“(Spencer) has spoken very highly of Cam since he got here,” Judge said “He’s also a guy that when you talk to other guys on Penn State and you hit them with who the leader on the defense is, without hesitation they all said Cam Brown. That stuck out to us. He’s been an alpha dog in the locker room and that brings the attitude we really look for on the field.”
*Carter Coughlin, OLB, Minnesota, 6-3, 236, seventh round, No. 218 overall
Coughlin played in 49 games with 39 starts – including starts in each of his final 38 games – in four seasons with the Golden Gophers. He was selected second-team All-Big Ten as a junior and senior and was an academic all-conference selection in each of his last three years. Coughlin finished his career with 159 tackles (107 solo). He is third in school history with 22.5 sacks and fourth with 40 tackles for loss. Coughlin also forced seven fumbles and recovered one. He is part of an athletic Minnesota family. His father, grandfather, uncle and cousin played football, and his mother played tennis for the state university. In addition, he grew up a few doors down from Ryan Connelly, a linebacker the Giants drafted last year, and they were teammates at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota.
“He’s a guy that gives us more speed on the edge,” Judge said. “He brings some length with him. He plays with a high motor and a lot of aggressiveness. He was productive in Minnesota’s scheme and with the way we are going to play guys on the edge in different packages, he’s someone with a lot of value. He will come in here and compete.”
*TJ Brunson, ILB, South Carolina, 6-1, 220, seventh round, No. 238 overall (choice obtained from New Orleans)
Brunson played in 49 games, including starts in each of his last 38 contests for the Gamecocks. He totaled 283 tackles (164 solo), including 21.0 for loss and 6.0 sacks. Brunson also had one interception, seven passes defensed, one forced fumble and four fumble recoveries. As a senior in 2019, he finished second on the team with 77 tackles (44 solo), including 6.0 tackles for loss and was a team captain. Brunson graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.
“He’s fast, he’s really athletic, he’s got good instincts,” Gettleman said. “He’s just a little bit on the small side, but he plays at about 230. We feel like he will be a really good fit and also has a lot of special teams value.”
“He’s a guy you see making tackles sideline to sideline,” Judge said. “He’s also a guy in South Carolina’s scheme, and (coach Will) Mushchamp’s scheme down there isn’t the simplest. Guys have been challenged mentally being down there. They’ve been coached hard. It’s very similar to the guys we talked about playing at Georgia and Alabama. Very similar schemes, very similar cultures. He’s a guy that was out there making a lot of calls, so you can see the communication element with him on the field as well as the productivity on the field.”
*Chris Williamson, CB Minnesota, 6-0, 200, seventh round, No. 247 overall (compensatory selection)
Williamson began his collegiate career at the University of Florida, where he played in 14 games in 2015-16. He transferred to Minnesota and after sitting out the 2017 season, he played in 24 games for the Gophers, including nine as a starter last season. He recorded 57 tackles (37 solo), including four for loss and 2.5 sacks, broke up three passes and intercepted one pass that he returned 43 yards for a touchdown against South Dakota State.
“Good-sized kid,” Gettleman said. “He’s long, he can run, and he’ll hit you.”
“This is a guy who’s going to have some combination corner to safety,” Judge said. “We call it the star position, that nickel position as well. He’ll bring some position flexibility in the defensive backfield. He’s got a good size and speed combination. We look for him to compete at multiple positions this year.”
*Tae Crowder, ILB, Georgia, 6-1, 240, seventh round, No. 255 overall (compensatory selection, final pick in the draft)
Crowder began his collegiate career as a running back before moving to linebacker midway through his redshirt freshman season in 2016. After playing in just one game that year, Crowder appeared in 43 contests in his final three seasons. His career totals include 122 tackles (50 solo), 10 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, seven passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
“He’s a 245-pound kid that runs 4.6 and plays 4.6,” Gettleman said. “He’s got some versatility and some value and definitely has some special teams value.”
“This is a guy that’s only played a couple years at linebacker,” Judge said. “We see a lot of upside with him, both in his physical skills as well as his emerging defensive understanding. He’ll come in and compete for positions at that Will linebacker spot as well as give impact to the kicking game. We think we added a very competitive group over these last few days. We think today we brought in a lot of guys with versatility and speed.”
(Michael Eisen/NY Giants)
Football games are won and lost in the trenches, and for the New York Giants, the offensive line has been a weak point for this team. Last season, the Giants ranked near the bottom in rushing yards(ranked 19th) and sacks allowed(ranked 20th).
Over the years, New York has tried to fix its offensive line, including drafting LT Ereck Flowers with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but unfortunately, Flowers struggled and, ultimately, did not work out for the Giants. In 2018, New York signed LT Nate Solder to replace Flowers, and just like Flowers, Solder has been a disappointment.
Now, with the draft coming up(April 23-25), the Giants, who have the fourth overall pick, could work from the inside out and go after an offensive lineman. According to Giants GM Dave Gettleman, New York needs to continue to build their offensive line.
“Well, again, you know my theory. It’s very, very difficult for Saquon(Barkley) to run the ball if he doesn’t have holes. It’s going to be difficult for Daniel to throw the ball when he’s on his back,” Gettleman said on a conference call on Friday. “We’ll continue to build the offensive line. Is it a pressure point? To a degree. I’m not going to deny that. But it’s about getting the right guy. It’s about not panicking. Like I said before, we think Nick Gates has a bright future as an offensive lineman. Spencer Pulley has done good work for us at center. (Jon) Halapio is coming back, hopefully, he’ll be ready to go and recovered from the Achilles by June. We’re just going to keep working at it. Joe and I are of the same mentality that really and truly, the offensive line sets the tone for the team. It really does.
“I think of all the teams that I’ve been with that have gone to Super Bowls, the offensive lines were the tone-setters. You think of the offensive lines in 2007 and 2011 when we beat the Patriots, those groups set the tone. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we replicate that.”
At this point, a few of the mock drafts have New York taking Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons with the fourth overall pick. However, Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com, has the Giants selecting OT Jedrick Wills out of Alabama, and NFL.COM’s Chad Reuter, has New York taking OT Tristian Wirf out of Iowa.
Obviously, in order to get the most out of Jones and Barkley, New York has to strengthen its offensive line, so it should be interesting to see how Gettleman and the Giants handle this year’s draft. Do they go after a playmaker on defense, or do they try to fortify the offensive line? We’ll find out in less than a week.
With the NFL Draft less than ten days away, teams around the league prepare for what they might do. Obviously, with COVID-19 shutting down all sports and all in-person interactions, this year’s free agency and preparation for the draft has been different. This year’s draft will be done virtually, and commissioner Roger Goodell will be announcing picks from his own home, which should be interesting.
The New York Giants, just like the rest of the league, have adjusted, but soon, they will be on the clock.
On Monday, Giants GM Dave Gettleman and assistant GM Kevin Abrams addressed the media via a conference call. Here is what they had to say about the draft, free agency, offensive line, Leonard Williams, the secondary, and more:
Dave Gettleman opening statement: First off, I hope everybody is well. I hope your families are safe and healthy. I also hope you were able to celebrate Easter and Passover. On behalf of the Giants, I would like to send out our sincerest condolences to the Causi family. That is a tragedy and I am sure it is affecting a lot of you folks. I didn’t know Anthony, but I know everybody spoke very highly of him, so I get that. Despite what’s been going on, we have started our draft meetings. We’ve had minimal issues moving forward and right now we are on schedule with that. I was told we are going to talk on Friday about the draft. Pat (Hanlon) said today’s call was about unrestricted free agency and how we are currently operating. That’s the impression I had.
Kevin Abrams opening statement: First of all, I just want to reiterate our thoughts are with the Causi family. I’m sure a lot of you were very close with him, our condolences. Every day we are appreciative and supportive of all the people on the front lines during these unique days. I don’t know how many of you live in Manhattan, but I do. Probably the most profound moment of every day is at 7 o’clock when everyone opens their windows and pays tribute to everyone in the health care industry fighting this battle for us. I hope you are all well.
Q: Why the franchise tag for Leonard Williams instead of the cheaper transition tag? Given the 16.2-million-dollar cap number, was there any thought to letting him test free agency and making an offer that way.
Gettleman: Really what it came down to was we felt good about our cap space. We felt for what Leonard brings to the table and for our team, it was more prudent to put the franchise tag on him.
Q: Any thought that when we get back to football Leonard not signing his franchise tag will be a distraction?
Gettleman: I think we’ll be okay. I always think about bad things because, in my opinion, one of the biggest responsibilities I have is to eliminate distractions and let the coaches coach and the players play. You can’t guarantee anything in this life, but we have gotten to know Leonard really well and I feel really comfortable with the decision.
Q: In the past you have brought players in with ties to your days in Carolina. Most of the free agents brought in this year have ties to the organization. Was that by design given the COVID-19 situation and not being able to bring guys in to interview them like you normally would?
Gettleman: A little bit of all that. There is a little bit of a lean towards people you know in free agency. Times have changed. I know back in the day in free agency, you had time to bring a guy in. You could spend a day with him to get to know him. Now we are speed dating and the decision happens before you can get a guy in in the building, before you can get a physical and that’s even before COVID-19. I don’t think it’s any more sensitive, but I do know for us a big concern was the medical piece. We are making decisions and you are building your roster. Just think about what happens if you sign a high-dollar guy and he doesn’t pass his physical, now where are you? Now you have spent in free agency and now the draft and you think you have your team set and you put together what you think is a good roster. Then all of the sudden, a guy doesn’t pass his physical. The guys we signed we felt we got good value and we are very pleased with the group.
Q: Those who haven’t had physicals, if they don’t pass, how does that work?
Abrams: The guys that are new to the club that haven’t passed their physicals yet haven’t taken them. Once everything resumes and life is back to normal and doctor availability and travel restrictions are lifted, we will get those physicals done. If they do not pass, they will be free agents again.
Q: What went into changing your bonus structure this offseason where you went with the roster bonuses instead of big signing bonuses?
Abrams: The preference is to have flat cap counts in our contracts and to limit the amount of amortized bonuses for obvious reasons. When we started the free agency process, wherever possible, we were going to try to use roster bonuses with a lump sum in year one as opposed to spreading out signing bonuses over the life of the contract. As we had some success with getting to agreements with a few more players than maybe what we thought was realistic at the beginning, in an effort to keep cap room that we wanted to have to operate throughout the offseason and training camp, we decided to push a little bit of the roster bonus money into signing bonuses. We are pretty happy with the structures we’ve had with these deals in respect to our future caps.
Q: What are your feelings on your offensive tackle situation? Do you feel good with Nate Solder at left tackle and can he move to the right side? Where do you stand on that coming out of free agency with not making a huge splash signing there?
Gettleman: At the end of the day, we signed Cameron Fleming. He was with Dallas before and obviously there is that connection and with the Patriots before, there’s a double connection. We have faith in Nick Gates, the kid we signed two years ago, a free agent we signed out of Nebraska. He missed his rookie year on IR, but last year he made a lot of progress. We are excited about him. Nate had a rough year last year, nobody is denying, and certainly he is not. I made the statement to people after we signed him in 2018 and after the 2018 season no one was talking about Nate Solder. He had a tough year. Part of the unrestricted free agency piece is we are also looking at the draft, so you kind of marry the two. We felt with the depth of the tackle class in the draft, we just felt this was the best way for us to go.
Q: How do you feel about where you are in terms of edge rushers?
Gettleman: A lot of people were raised with the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl teams where we could consistently apply pressure with four. That is the goal, that’s what you want. You can’t manufacture it and you can’t overpay for it. What it really comes down to is it doesn’t matter who gets the sacks, it’s about how many sacks you actually get. It really is about how much pressure you apply. Some of this is going to have to come through scheme. Obviously, we haven’t gone through the draft yet. With where we’re at, would I not want two defensive ends that are 25 sacks a year guys? Who doesn’t? We are not in that position right now, so we will just keep building it.
Q: When you look at your defense and the signings of Bradberry, Martinez and Fackrell, do you think you made a quantum leap forward to your defense? Do you think these three guys are big impact guys or is there a lot more work to be done on defense?
Gettleman: There is still more work to be done, we are thrilled with those three guys. We also signed Austin Johnson, another defensive lineman. We are very pleased with where we are at, (Blake) Martinez gives us a guy that has played in the system for Pat Graham and will get us lined up. I think that this scheme is going to fit him better. Everybody knows I drafted James (Bradberry) when I was in Carolina. He gives you a big, long body that has played against number ones. He has the mindset, he’s not shy and the moment is not too big for him. (Kyler) Fackrell, two years ago, had double digit sacks and Green Bay went out and bought two high sack guys and he became a rotational part-time player. We feel good about that. You have to keep building, we are excited about the draft, there are some good players there. We are just going to continue to get better, nothing is ever done.
Q: There are some guys left out there still on the market that have proven to be pretty good pass rushers. Jadeveon Clowney, Markus Golden, two big notables. When you say ‘we’re not in position now,’ is that a financial thing? Is that a preference thing? Explain a little bit more why you said that.
Gettleman: Well, part of the tight rope that I walk on is short-term and long-term. Part of the long-term is we have some good, young players right now. We’ve got Dalvin Tomlinson, (Evan) Engram and (Jabrill) Peppers. We have to make decisions on them. They’re some good, young players. After another year, you guys are going to be banging on me about Saquon (Barkley). As I used to tell the guys down in Charlotte, when you wouldn’t spend all your money in free agency, I’d say, ‘Listen, you’re going to kill me about this? Well, you’re going to double kill me when we don’t have money to extend Luke Kuechly or Cam Newton or whomever.’ It’s a collaborative decision we make as we talk about how we’re moving forward. Right now, this is the decision we made. We’re just going to move forward the way we are now.
Q: You talked about the contracts and the physicals. If a guy is jogging or running and tears his Achilles, how does that work with guys and their contracts? Is there something in there that protects the player? Or is that just up to both sides on how to proceed from there?
Abrams: Unfortunately, it’s the same risk as you always have this time of year. The players that are working out on their own, they run the risk of injury, which isn’t protected because it wouldn’t be considered a football injury. Unfortunately, that risk is just extended this year because of the inability to have players come in and work at our facility under our supervision.
Q: Obviously, things right now are very different in how you can operate. But other than operating remotely, how much have you had to adjust? Can you give us an idea of are your days just filled with FaceTime, Zoom meetings, phone calls? What’s the process been like for both of you?
Abrams: Yeah, we’ve done our best to mimic business as usual. Obviously, it’s not. But without going into details about what technologies we’re using, I don’t think our IT department would appreciate that, we’ve tried to mimic how our meetings typically operate, both for the coaches and for our scouting meetings right now. The fact that it’s all been virtual is obviously the biggest difference. But the dialogue, the conversation, the agenda, the itineraries for the meetings go as always. I don’t think we’ve missed a beat. A lot of that goes to Justin Warren in our IT department, Ty Siam in Football Tech, Eddie Triggs is running our operations. It hasn’t been perfectly smooth, but it’s been smoother than anyone could have expected. Whatever hiccups we’ve encountered, I think everyone has shown patience and the ability to adjust so we can get to operating the way that we need to. It’s been pretty exceptional so far, and a lot of people deserve a lot of credit. People that wouldn’t normally get recognized.
Gettleman: Let me follow up on that a little bit. As Kevin said, we’re really making it work. One of the exciting things for me as an old man working with these young guys and the technology, they’re really thoughtful and intentional about it. Really, Chris Pettit has done a great job, our Director of College Scouting, in terms of coordinating all this, working with Ty and Ed Triggs and Justin Warren, has just done yeoman’s work with us. We’re moving along. Listen, there are people in a lot worse situations than us. We’re thankful and we’re moving along. We’re going to get this right.
Q: I just wanted to go back to the Leonard Williams thing one more time. I’m just curious, given the cap number at $16.2 million, what is your guys’ desire and confidence that you’ll be able to get a long-term deal done, or if the plan is to just let him play on the tag?
Gettleman: You know, the bottom line is contracts get done when they’re supposed to get done. So, we’ll just move along. You guys know I don’t discuss contracts, I don’t discuss timing, I don’t discuss anything. They get done when they’re supposed to get done.
Q: I know you said before that ideally you’d like to approach free agency to fill needs on the roster so when you move to the draft you can draft the best player available. I know we’re not talking draft. I’m just curious if you think you accomplished that in free agency to position yourself to draft best player available compared to having to draft for need?
Gettleman: Yeah, I think we’ve done a good job. It’s not perfect, but I’m pleased with where we’re at going into the draft.
Q: I’m curious if you can just talk about what you think the one hour FaceTimes with prospects gives you that maybe you didn’t have via the traditional way and what you’re missing from the traditional facility visit or workout? These one hour calls, have they been beneficial or are you missing a lot?
Gettleman: I’ll go first. They’ve been pretty beneficial because again, it is FaceTiming, so thank God, you can see the guys. I’m a city kid and a big believer in body language and all this and that. It’s okay. It’s not great, it’s not perfect, it’s okay. For me, what we miss is watching them interact, the 30 visit guys, watching them in your facility. That’s what you miss out on. By not having pro days, you also miss that personal contact. Watching guys among their peers and how they operate, how they’re received. That tells a lot when you just watch a kid in those circumstances. Obviously, when we would go to workouts, a lot of times the night before, our coach and scout that would be at the pro day would take one, two or three of the players out to dinner and have some conversation that way. We’re losing the personal touchpoints. We have the visual touchpoint, but we’re really missing out on the personal touchpoint, when you can smell or feel a guy.
Abrams: Nothing to add. We’re doing the best we can with what we have. You do miss out on some of the depth of the interactions. But I think between the coaches’ interactions with the players, and the rest of us who have had opportunities to speak and see these guys, you do your best to get to know them as well as you can, knowing that it’s always going to be virtual. You’re not going to have them in your presence.
Q: The question you were obviously asked about tackle earlier with Nate, you mentioned Gates. I’m just curious where you stand right now at center? We know the situation with (Jon) Halapio and then, obviously, Spencer Pulley is on the roster. I’m just curious, did you guys look into doing something in free agency and where does it stand? I would imagine that’s a pretty big piece that you right now have concerns about, or at least are looking at seriously?
Gettleman: That’s a fair question. It really is. We won’t know about Pio until June with the Achilles. Spencer obviously has played a ton of football. We have a lot of confidence in him. We’re working that group over pretty good in the draft. We’re always going to continue to upgrade. I’m not afraid to draft over a guy. It’s a fair question. We’re going to look at it.
Q: Is Gates an option there?
Gettleman: You know, just for what it’s worth, we’ve talked about Nick doing that. He did do some of that last year in practice, so it’s not completely new. Nick is smart. The thing you love about Nick is just how tough he is, because it’s a fist fight in there. There’s no doubt about that. History tells you that the toughness of your team is really, really indicated by the toughness of your offensive line. So, we’re always looking for that kind of piece. Nick would be in consideration at center, absolutely.
On Monday, the New York Giants decided to fire head coach Pat Shurmur. In two seasons with the Giants, Shurmur was 9-23. General manager Dave Gettleman will remain in his position, the team announced on Monday.
After the announcement of Shurmur’s dismissal, Eli Manning, Daniel Jones, and Saquon Barkley reacted.
Here is what they had to say:
Q: What’s your reaction to the firing today?
Manning: Coach Shurmur and I had a great relationship. I think he is a great coach, I think he is a wonderful man and (I’m) just disappointed. I think you always feel responsible when a coach gets fired. It’s obviously because as players we didn’t do our part. We didn’t play well enough, we didn’t win enough games. I feel for him and all the coaches. They worked hard and did a lot of hard work and a lot of good things. Obviously, just didn’t win enough games for them to stay on and move forward, so (I’m) disappointed.
Q: How did the firing of your head coach hit you?
Jones: It’s tough. Obviously, that’s I guess part of the business and part of being at this level. But it’s tough on me, tough on all of us.
Q: What are you feeling right now?
Jones: Just disappointed. Coach (Pat Shurmur) obviously believed in me, Coach believed in all of us, and it’s disappointing. I’m grateful to him for the opportunity. I think he’s an excellent football coach and I really appreciate what he’s done for us.
Q: When something like this happens, do the players feel a part of it, as though they’re responsible as well?
Jones: Absolutely, no question. It’s a tough deal, but everyone is responsible. The players are very, very largely responsible for how this season has gone. I certainly feel responsible, and I think that’s the tough part. That’s the way we should feel and that’s the way it is. Everyone on this team feels that way. We have to use that to motivate us going into the offseason and make sure that we’re not in this position next year.
Q: He addressed you guys. Can you give us a little bit of insight into what that was like? He addressed you guys as a team?
Jones: He did, yeah. He let us know of the situation and told us that he appreciated us, our effort. Coach’s class and just who he is as a man was always apparent. It was apparent in that meeting also. I think the world of him. I have the ultimate amount of respect for him as a coach and as a person.
Q: Is it important to you that the next head coach be a quarterback guy, have a quarterback background?
Jones: That’s not necessarily up to me and well above my pay grade. My job is to work as hard as I can to improve, to learn the system and work with the next coach.
Q: In that vein, obviously, you’re not making the decision, but what kind of general characteristics would you be hoping for that the new head coach would have?
Jones: I don’t know. Just an energy and excitement for this team. I think the next head coach will do that. I trust the people making that decision. Like I said, my job is to work as hard as I can to learn the system and to continue to improve as a player.
Q: Going into the future, you’re the franchise quarterback. How do you accept the responsibility of being the quarterback of the New York Giants?
Jones: Just work hard every day to improve. Where we are right now as a team, where I am right now as a player, is not where we need to be. I feel that, I think this team feels that. If we want to get where we want to go, we’re going to have to use this, to learn from this. Otherwise, the season would have been pointless. We need to use it to motivate us, use it to improve going into the offseason.
Q: There are going to be several head coaching positions open in the NFL. What do you think makes the Giants’ opening so attractive?
Jones: I think, one, it’s a historic franchise with a lot of tradition. This team has a chance to, like I said, continue to improve. We have guys who can build a special team, be a part of a special team, and that’s our goal. We’re excited about this team. We know we have an opportunity to be special and we’re determined to do that. I think just the opportunity to be a part of this organization, this historic organization, is something anyone would be excited about.
Q: Are you surprised by the news of what happened with Coach (Pat) Shurmur?
Barkley: Yeah, I was surprised by it. Upset, we’re all upset. I’ve been preaching all season whenever anyone asked me about what I think about if our coaching staff are the right people, I always kept saying it’s easy to point the finger at one person. But at the end of the day, kind of like what DG (Dave Gettleman) said in the meeting, we’re all responsible. We’re all responsible for these last two seasons. Coach Shurmur is a heck of a person, heck of a coach, and definitely helped me develop over these last two years.
Q: How hard was it today when you heard the news?
Barkley: Very hard. It sucks. That’s your coach. He’s one of the guys that believed in me, believed in DJ (Daniel Jones), for us to get here and live our dreams of playing in the NFL. You don’t want to see anybody go out like that. It sucks because, like I said, you point the finger at one person. It wasn’t all him, it’s all of us. We just need to take that and learn from the lesson, and in the future, to be better.
Q: I think it’s probably just another reality of the NFL that as you move on in your career, that these things happen at this level?
Barkley: Yeah, definitely a hard reality. You understand what the NFL is, it’s a business. At some points, it’s going to happen to everybody. No matter if you go out your first year and as a rookie, you get cut, or you’re in year 12. At some point, it’s going to come to an end. You just have to cherish the moments, cherish the time you have in the locker room with your coaches and with your teammates, and try to take full advantage of the opportunities you have.
The Giants today announced they have dismissed head coach Pat Shurmur after two seasons.
The team also confirmed that general manager Dave Gettleman will remain in his position.
Team president John Mara and chairman Steve Tisch revealed those decisions this morning, about 14 hours after the Giants concluded their 2019 season with a 34-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and a 4-12 record.
The Giants were 9-23 in 2018-19 and have not won more than five games in any of the last three seasons.
“Steve and I have had many extensive discussions about the state of the Giants,” Mara said. “This morning, we made the very difficult decision that it would be in the best interest of the franchise that we relieve Pat of his duties. The last three seasons have been extremely disappointing for the organization and our fans. Pat has been a successful and highly-respected NFL coach for 21 years and he is not solely responsible for our record. But we came to the conclusion it is best to have a fresh start with the coaching staff. We very much appreciate how much Pat has done for this franchise. He is a man of character and integrity and the team has conducted itself with pride and professionalism.
“As owners, we take full responsibility for our recent poor record. It is our goal to consistently deliver high-quality football and we will do everything in our power to see that there is a rapid and substantial turnaround.”
Added Tisch, “The last two seasons have been a continuation of what has been a very difficult and disappointing period for our franchise. It is never easy to part with someone the caliber of Pat. But John and I came to the conclusion that we need a new voice in the coach’s office and made the decision to bring in new leadership.
“We understand how frustrated our fans are. They expect more from us and we expect more from ourselves. Our focus now is on developing and improving our football team so that our fans can enjoy the winning team they expect and deserve.”
Mara and Tisch believe that Gettleman is the best general manager for the team. His first draft class included running back Barkley, the No. 2 overall selection who set numerous records in his debut season and was selected the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. In addition, his 2018 draft choices included Will Hernandez, who has started all 32 games in his two seasons at left guard, linebacker Lorenzo Carter and defensive tackle B.J. Hill.
This year, the Giants drafted 10 players, including Jones, who started 12 games and established numerous franchise rookie records, including 24 touchdown passes. Jones is expected to be a fixture at the game’s most important position for many years.
The 2019 draft class also included Darius Slayton, a fifth-round selection whose eight touchdown receptions tied him for first among NFL rookie wideouts; Dexter Lawrence, who started all 16 games; linebackers Oshane Ximines and Ryan Connelly; and defensive backs DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Corey Ballentine.
“Dave Gettleman is our general manager in 2020 and hopefully for many years after that,” Mara said. “We believe he is the right person to lead us going forward. Dave has a long record of success. We think he’s capable of putting a great team together and he’s going to get that opportunity. To the extent we need to make changes in personnel or the way we do things, we’re going to discuss that.”
“Although our record didn’t reflect it this season, we believe Dave has assembled a strong nucleus of young players that will help us compete for championships in the future,” Tisch said.
Shurmur was named the 18th head coach in Giants history on Jan. 22, 2018.
The Giants finished their first season under Shurmur with a 5-11 record, a two-game improvement over their 2017 record.
Twelve of the Giants’ 16 games that season were decided by seven or fewer points, tying them with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for the most in the NFL. The Giants were 4-8 in games decided by seven or fewer points. The eight losses in such games were an NFL high. The Giants held a fourth-quarter lead in four of those games.
The Giants began the 2019 season 2-2, with the two victories coming in Jones’ initial starts after Shurmur decided the rookie would replace 16-year veteran Eli Manning as the team’s starting quarterback. But after defeating Washington on Sept. 29, the Giants tied a franchise record by losing nine consecutive games and falling to 2-11. They did not win again until Dec. 15, when they beat the Miami Dolphins. That was the second of two games in which Manning substituted for Jones, who was sidelined by a sprained ankle.
Mara and Tisch said they will immediately begin their search for a new coach. They did not identify any candidates.
“The search will be extensive,” Mara said. “We understand this a very big decision for our franchise. We’ve had three losing years in a row and, quite frankly, we have lost some standing as an organization. When you have three losing years in a row as we have, you face a lot of criticism. A lot of it is deserved. It’s up to us now to turn that around and get back to where I think we should be.”