Giants’ OC: ‘Dallas’ defense is one of the top in the league’

With all the attention this week on Ezekiel Elliott’s return, the Dallas Cowboys’ defense has been relatively overlooked in the run-up to the team’s Kickoff Weekend game against the Giants in AT&T Stadium.

But the defense has received the full attention of the Giants’ offensive players and coaches, who know they are going to face a daunting challenge against a unit laden with talent at all levels.

“We’ve talked all week about how active their defense is,” coach Pat Shurmur said today. “Not only are they good one-on-one, but they also move a lot, which requires good coordination from the guys up front. They’re a big challenge.”

“It’s going to be a great challenge,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “Dallas’ defense is one of the top in the league, and they’re really, really good at home, especially with having the crowd noise, their speed and their talent.”

The Cowboys return all 11 starters on a defense that finished the 2018 season in the top 10 in both points allowed (20.3 per game/sixth) and yardage (329.3/seventh). By comparison, the offense that features Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher, quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper finished 22nd (gaining 343.8 yards a game). The Cowboys were 10-6 and won the NFC East largely on the strength of their defense.

The D in Big D is coordinated by Rod Marinelli, but passing game coordinator Kris Richard calls the plays from the field. They lead a unit that is fast and disruptive and makes opposing offenses work for every opportunity.

“They have a number of good players,” said Eli Manning, who will begin his Giants-record 16th season with his 30th regular-season start against Dallas. “They play very fast, it’s a fast defense, they run to the ball. They are very disciplined in their assignments and their technique. It’s a team, they have good players all around, we just have to know their scheme, have answers for certain looks and execute our game plan.”

“Their speed and quickness (jump out),” Shula said. “They’re built for speed. They’ve always been. They get to the ball fast. They fly around, and because they get to the ball so quickly, they’ve created a lot of turnovers. Their scheme allows them to play really, really fast and they’ve drafted guys within that scheme that can be very disruptive.”

The strength up front is at the ends, which are manned by DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford. Lawrence was selected to the last two Pro Bowls while compiling 25.0 sacks, the league’s fourth-highest total in that span.

Weakside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was also a Pro Bowler after totaling a franchise rookie record 176 tackles (151 solo). He teams with Jaylon Smith, who plays in the middle, to give Dallas what is arguably the NFL’s best linebacker tandem. Two-time Pro Bowler Sean Lee is a still a force on the strong side, though he is removed in sub defenses.

Saquon Barkley learned on the Giants’ trip to Dallas last year how difficult it is to run on the Cowboys. The Rookie of the Year rushed for a season-low 28 yards. He did catch a franchise-record 14 passes, but they gained just 80 yards. A 68-yard run helped Barkley gain 109 yards on the ground vs. Dallas in the season finale.

“Their front seven is very, very difficult to run on,” Barkley said. “Their linebacker corps is amazing – Jaylon Smith, all those guys – every single one of them are amazing players. They’re fast, they’re physical, they flow to the ball well, they tackle really well in open space. I know it’s not going to be a cakewalk. It’s never a cakewalk in the NFL, so it’s going to be a physical game. They move up front a lot, so we’ve got to be patient, and when the opportunity comes and we can split it and gash for a long run, however many times that opportunity comes, we’ve got to be ready for it and take advantage of it.”

“(They) are very coordinated with their linebackers to play the run,” Shula said.

It’s almost as difficult to pass against the Cowboys, who were 13th in the league last year allowing 234.7 yards a game. Byron Jones has such impressive coverage skills he was named second-team All-Pro and to the NFC Pro Bowl team despite not intercepting a pass. According to the Cowboys, Jones allowed only one touchdown pass – against the Giants on Dec. 30. Safeties Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods are also productive players.

“We have to do a good job of staying out of the long yardage situations, as we always talk about,” Shula said. “But then if we’re in passing situations, we have to make sure that, whether or not we’re sliding our protection, using chip help or getting the ball out fast, we do all of those things well, because they’re really good rushing the passer and they’re also good against the run too. They bring movement. They have speed on third down, whether or not it’s up the field or change of direction, and they really, more so than other teams, do that on first and second down too.”

In the Cowboys’ Week 2 victory last season, Dallas’ defense did a good job of preventing long passes. Only one of Manning’s 33 completions gained more than 18 yards.

“If teams are going to try to stay back and keep guys in front of them, then you have to be able to be patient,” Shula said. “We call it with our quarterbacks being ‘aggressively patient’. When there are good looks there down the field, take them. If not, be patient and take things underneath. As the year went on, not necessarily against Dallas but just in general, when we saw those looks, because they weren’t the only team we saw them against, we were much better, when we got the ball underneath, of making yards afterwards. I think there were a couple of plays, even in our second game against Dallas, where Wayne (Gallman Jr.) caught a ball underneath and went for 15 yards. Saquon caught one underneath and went for…

“Dallas is really good in space, but we’ve got guys that are pretty good with the ball in their hands in space. I think all of us, and I said this throughout the offseason, the comfort level is much higher, so our guys should be playing faster now than they did at any point last year because of their experience in the system.”


Manning: ‘Just excited, excited about this team, the players we have’

He has already played more games than any player in Giants history and when he takes his first snap on Sunday, Eli Manning will become the first to play 16 seasons with the franchise.

Sixteen years in any job is impressive, let alone quarterback, with its constant physical pounding and mental challenges, the ceaseless scrutiny and pressure to win, and potential successors lurking in every college class. Manning has two Super Bowl MVP awards, numerous passing records and universal admiration as a player and person, but he deserves to take a bow for his longevity alone.

Not that he’d ever do that. Because for Manning, what is important never concerns individual achievement and past accomplishments. It’s always about team goals and the next challenge. And this week the focus in both of those areas is the season opener Sunday afternoon against NFC East rival Dallas in AT&T Stadium.

“Just excited, excited about this team, the players we have, about the work we have been able to accomplish these last five weeks,” Manning said today. “Looking forward to making all that count toward the first regular season game, in the division, on the road. A great opportunity for us to go out there and play well.”

Manning played sparingly in the preseason, throwing only 13 passes on 28 snaps in the first three games before sitting out the finale in New England. He completed nine of those throws.

That was more combined action than the three players who figure to be the Giants’ primary offensive weapons against the Cowboys. Neither Saquon Barley nor Sterling Shepard stepped on the field, and Evan Engram participated in 10 plays, all in Cincinnati. For the first time, Manning will get to utilize the team’s Rookie of the Year running back and best wide receiver and tight end.

“Obviously, we have to get all three of those guys involved,” Manning said. “It’s just a matter of everybody doing their job, that’s what a team is. It’s 11 guys all on the same page to have success. It starts up front with the offensive line controlling the line of scrimmage, finding running lanes and me finding the open receivers and then executing running and catching the ball and doing the fundamentals correctly. I think we have guys that know what they are doing and they can make great plays when you give them the opportunity.”

One of the most important determinants of offensive success will be the line, which has been rejuvenated by the arrival of guard Kevin Zeitler and tackle Mike Remmers on the right side, and the return of center Jon Halapio, who missed the final 14 games last season with a leg injury. Tackle Nate Solder and guard Will Hernandez, both of whom played every snap last season, remain on the left side.

Manning was sacked a career-high 47 times last year. And though he has never once mentioned it – again, not his style – it states the obvious to say the Giants would like their 38-year-old quarterback to absorb less punishment.

“I think the offensive line is strong,” Manning said. “I think for the talent and the guys we brought in and the old guys we have and just the comfort level the guys have. That first year going into a new offense last year with a lot of new guys can take a little time for everybody to get on the same page. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to have mistakes before you fix them. I think now a more vet group, a more experienced group with guys that have been around and played together, I think a lot of the questions have already been answered and now we have to go out there and play well.”

That’s really all that concerns Manning this week. Other potential issues or impending milestones are just clutter to be swept aside. Take, for example, the question he fielded from a reporter about whether the presence of first-round draft choice and heir apparent Daniel Jones will “push you more.”

“I don’t think that’s necessarily the concern,” Manning said. “I think you are pushed to go succeed always. You prepare to go out there and win football games, that’s the mindset. You want to do it for all the guys in this locker room, the coaches, this organization, the fans and everybody that puts so much effort into having a great year. That pushes you more than who else is on your team.”

He is similarly unmoved about crossing the 16-season threshold.

“I guess it is something to be proud of,” Manning said, “and I’m just blessed to be with this organization. No one has enjoyed playing for this organization more than I have, and I’ve been appreciative of it. I have a great respect and love for the Giants and the whole history of the organization.”

Manning is a huge part of that history. He hopes to begin writing some more of it, beginning Sunday.

*Pro Football Hall of Famers Mel Hein and Michael Strahan and quarterback Phil Simms are the only other players to wear a Giants uniform for 15 seasons.

*Manning – who has started every Kickoff Weekend game since 2005 – will become the fourth quarterback in history to start at least 15 consecutive season openers with one team. He will join the following players:

Brett Favre (15 with Green Bay from 1993-2007)

Dan Marino (16 with Miami from 1984-99)

John Elway (16 with Denver from 1983-98)

*Manning statistical oddity of the day: In his first 15 seasons, Manning was sacked 406 times for losses totaling 2,826 yards. At home, he was sacked 203 times for 1,417 yards. On the road, he was sacked 203 times for 1,409 yards

Article/courtesy: Michael Eisen

Giants’ Shurmur: ‘We feel like we are a better team than we were a year ago’

Pat Shurmur has high expectations for the Giants and he’s comfortable letting everyone know it.

“We feel like we are a better team than we were a year ago,” the second-year head coach said today. “We just have to go out and perform. We know we are at the stage of our year where winning football games is what it’s all about and so that’s where we’re at.”

The Giants begin their season Sunday afternoon in Dallas against the defending NFC East champion Cowboys. It’s the perfect opponent to gauge the strength of a Giants team that significantly restructured its roster in the offseason and has continued to do so in the last two days. The Giants concluded their 5-11 season in 2018 against the Cowboys, dropping a 36-35 decision on Dec. 30.

Since then, the Giants have added front-line players like offensive linemen Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers, safeties Antoine Bethea and Jabrill Peppers, rookie starters Dexter Lawrence and DeAndre Baker, plus a quarterback of the future in Daniel Jones, among others. (One of their key acquisitions, wide receiver Golden Tate, will miss the four games while serving an NFL suspension.)

Shurmur is bullish on his new group.

“I like the way we have built our team,” he said. “I like some of the changes we made personnel wise. I also feel like the second year in our system we are smoother in how we operate. That’s why I think, I don’t care what everybody outside thinks.”

Asked if he thinks if there is “more talent in the building,” Shurmur said, “I feel like we are a better football team right now, and this is a team sport.”

Shurmur’s confidence and enthusiasm is shared by the players.

“We can be one of the best teams in the league,” said linebacker Alec Ogletree, who was announced today as one of the team’s seven captains. “We have a shot at it, just like every other team, of making it to the end of the year and to the Super Bowl. We have to start with Week One, starting with Dallas. That’s our focus right now, taking care of business this week and (then) going from week to week.

“We are a better team than we were at this point last year. Last year was a new a year for everybody. It took a little time for everybody to get going the right way. This year I thought we attacked OTAs really well and the summer really well. Now we just have to continue to attack the season as well as we did in the offseason.”

The players believe one advantage they have this season is this is an exceptionally close-knit group. They enjoy spending time together off the field. With Shurmur’s blessing, Saquon Barkley bought a Ping-Pong table in the spring that sits in the center of the locker room and has become the epicenter of team bonding.

Fourth-year wide receiver Sterling Shepard said “without a doubt” this team is closer than it was last year.

“I think that’s the thing that we wanted to accomplish over the offseason, getting guys with great character,” Shepard said. “You look around the locker room and we’ve just got a group of great guys at the end of the day.

“I can’t say anything specific, it’s just the feel. You know that if you’ve been in a locker room before, you can feel when a team is very close. Like I said, I can’t be too specific with it, but it’s just a feeling, and it feels great.”

The table helps. The Giants are in the midst of team-wide Ping-Pong tournament, complete with an NCAA-style bracket taped to a nearby locker.

“We get together,” Shepard said. “We huddle around the table, give it a little amped up feel.”

“We definitely have come together a lot closer this year,” Ogletree said. “Like I said, it was new for everybody last year. Things were happening all over the place. It’s one of those things the more you stay together with a certain group, the more comfortable you get with being around each other.”

Ultimately, as Shurmur said, it’s about winning football games. And frankly, a lot of people outside of the Giants locker room expect that to be the case.

“Nobody is really giving us a chance,’ Ogletree said. “But we have to worry about what our standards are and what we say we want to be. We have to do the things we know we can do. Like I said, we have to play to our standards and not to what somebody else says we should be or what they think.”

*When the Giants played the Cowboys in December, NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott was inactive. Because he is trying to get a contract extension and has yet to report, Elliott might miss another encounter with the Giants.

“That’s really an issue for Dallas,” Shurmur said. “…We’re getting ready for him to be there. If he’s not, then we rally.

“We’re going to play defense the way we have to play to defend the Cowboys. Certainly, if Zeke is there, you have to spend special attention (to him). They have some running backs that have done well in camp that they feel good about. We have to play good team defense, regardless of who’s playing against us. There’s no telling who they’re going to line up with at this point.”

*Shurmur explained the team’s decision to keep Alex Tanney on the roster as the third quarterback behind Eli Manning and Jones.

“I think it makes sense for us to keep three quarterbacks,” Shurmur said. “That’s why we did it. (General manager) Dave (Gettleman) was in agreement. We felt like that’s the best thing for our (quarterback) room. That’s why.

“Daniel is going to be ready when it’s his time. Having Alex here, who is a veteran, I think adds to the room.”

Regarding the decision to keep Tanney and waive 2018 fourth-round draft choice Kyle Lauletta, Shurmur said, “There are things behind the scenes where we felt like Alex was doing well. I think Kyle made great progress. We were really pleased with what (Kyle) had done. We just felt like it was the best thing for us to move forward with Tanney.”

*Although he had yet to practice, cornerback Sam Beal seemed to be progressing from his hamstring injury but was placed on injured reserve yesterday. He will be eligible to return to practice in six weeks and play in a game in eight weeks. Beal spent the entire 2018 season, his first in the NFL, on I.R. after undergoing shoulder surgery.

“I just feel like for him, (we want) to give him the opportunity to get as healthy as he can be before he gets out there,” Shurmur said. “Sometimes it’s not just the player. It’s the full roster, and maybe adding a player at another position. That’s part of it. There’s sort of the player, then there’s sort of the big picture. When you’re going through that process of picking the best 53 (players) to get ready to play Dallas, sometimes you have to consider both sides of that.”

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Shurmur on Jones: ‘He moved forward in his progress of being ready to play’

The Giants’ preseason record remains perfect. Their performance Thursday night wasn’t.

Dropped passes, a lost fumble, and too many penalties – though just five were accepted – were all part of a 25-23 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium. The Giants improved to 3-0 this month, with one more game – next week at New England – before the regular-season opener in Dallas on Sept. 8.

“I thought the guys competed hard like they did the first two weeks,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “It was probably just a little bit sloppier than I think we would all have liked to see. But the one good thing about this game is we played everybody, and we got a chance to evaluate everybody doing what they do. That will help us as we move forward here picking our 53 (man roster).”

Several players stated their case to be on that roster, including wide receiver Brittan Golden, who caught two passes for 59 yards and returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown (though he fumbled the ball away when he next fielded a punt); tight end Garrett Dickerson (two catches for 30 yards), and rookie receiver Darius Slayton (an acrobatic 27-yard catch to set up a touchdown in his first action). The Giants had five sacks, including two by third-round draft choice Oshane Ximines. Corey Ballentine started at corner and tied for the team lead with seven tackles (five solo). Rod Smith and Jon Hilliman each scored on one-yard runs.

But the best news for Shurmur and Co. continues to be the outstanding play of the Giants’ top two quarterbacks, 16-year veteran Eli Manning and first-round rookie Daniel Jones.

For the third week in a row, Manning played only the game’s first series. He completed four of eight passes for 41 yards, numbers that would have been much better had Cody Latimer not dropped two passes, including one in the end zone that forced Aldrick Rosas to score the game’s first points with a 41-yard field goal.

“He did a good job,” Shurmur said of Manning. “He did a really good job.”

In his three brief stints – which is likely to be his full body of work for the preseason – Manning has hit nine of 13 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown.

“I feel like we’ve had good practices, and in the last two preseason games, I’ve made some plays and done some good things,” Manning said. “I just have to continue to work and get ready. (I’ll need to) watch this film, look at it, make some adjustments and work on those things this week. I don’t know how much we’ll play in this last preseason game, but (I’ll) keep working hard, make some improvements and get ready for Dallas.”

Jones, meanwhile, continues to post impressive numbers. He completed nine of 11 passes for 141 yards. In three games, only five of his 30 passes have not found their intended target, and none were caught by the opposing team. That’s an 83.3 completion percentage, which is attention-grabbing even in the preseason. He has thrown two touchdown passes and his passer rating is a striking 140.1.

He demonstrated a new element to his game vs. the Bengals, the ability to shake off a brutal hit and near turnover to throw one of his best passes of the summer. Jones was hammered by linebacker Carl Lawson on his third possession and fumbled (the ball was recovered by Golden). On the very next snap, Lawson again charged full speed at Jones, who stood strong in the pocket and threw a terrific pass to the left side to fellow rookie Slayton, who was stopped at the one-yard line. Smith scored the Giants’ first touchdown two plays later.

“That’s something that coach (Mike) Shula (the offensive coordinator) and coach Shurmur talked about a lot, just having the next play mentality,” Jones said. “I was just trying to give Darius a chance there. He made a heck of a play.”

Shurmur liked how his young quarterback responded to Lawson’s legal assault.

“You take hits, you know?” Shurmur said. “He came to the sidelines and I said, ‘That was a good one.’ He said, ‘Well, I’m sure I’ll get hit harder than that at times.’ He was fine. I think he did a good job. He got us into the end zone. He made some really good throws. He has a good feel for a couple of the deep balls he threw, when the defender was in close proximity, giving the receiver a chance at the ball. Those are two of the results on a couple of his deep balls. But he sees things well. He moved forward in his progress of being ready to play. Each week he does things. He’s into it. I adjust on the run quite a bit and he can handle it, which is fun when you’re calling plays and trying to make adjustments to attack what you see on defense. He can handle it.”

That has become very evident. And Manning and Jones both playing at a high level is good for the Giants.

*Tight end Evan Engram saw his first action of the preseason when, like Manning, he played only the first series. Engram caught one pass for nine yards. Why did he play and not Saquon Barkley?

“I thought Evan needed it a little bit more,” Shurmur said, “just because (we wanted him to get) the confidence of being out there and because I wanted to.”

*Linebacker Jonathan Anderson hurt his knee and will be evaluated Friday.

The following Giants players did not play: Barkley (coach’s decision); wide receivers Golden Tate (concussion) and Sterling Shepard (thumb); cornerbacks DeAndre Baker (knee), Antonio Hamilton (groin) and Sam Beal (hamstring); linebacker Alec Ogletree (calf); and offensive linemen Chad Wheeler (back) and George Asafo-Adjei T (concussion).

*Without Barkley, the Giants rushed for 56 yards on 26 carries, the same 2.2-yard average they posted in the opener vs. the Jets.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Giants QB Daniel Jones responds to Baker Mayfield

When the New York Giants took former Duke QB Daniel Jones with the number six overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, a lot of people were stunned, shocked, and surprised, including Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield, who was very critical of the pick.

“I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones… Blows my mind,” Mayfield recently told GQ Magazine. 

“Some people overthink it,” he said. “That’s where people go wrong. They forget you’ve gotta win.”

Today, Mayfield clarified his comments via Instagram. He said the following:

 “This is not what I said, just so we’re clear,” Mayfield wrote. “I also said I was surprised I got drafted No. 1. Then was talking about the flaws in evaluating QBs. Where I brought up winning being important. Reporters and media will do anything to come up with a click bait story. Heard nothing but good things and wish nothing but the best for Daniel.”

 Thus far in the preseason, Jones is showing that the Giants may have made the right pick, and today, he responded to Mayfield’s comments.

 Here is what he had to say:

 Q: What’s your reaction to Baker Mayfield’s comments?

 Jones: I try not to listen to much that’s said. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that. I heard that before, I kind of have the same mindset, I certainly have a lot to focus on here, I have a lot to worry about here and I’m focused on that. It’s been good, but just focused on what I’m doing here.

 Q: Is it any different that a player in the league criticized you being picked?

 Jones: I don’t think so. Like I said, my focus is here, in the building, my teammates, coaches, and everyone a part of this organization, has been my focus. When you get outside the building, I don’t think it does a whole lot to focus on that for me. Certainly focused on here.

 Q: Does it motivate you to prove people wrong?

 Jones: I don’t think that’s a main motivator for me. I think there is a lot of things before that that motivate me, to be honest.

 Q: Do you know him at all?

 Jones: I don’t, no.

 Q: Did it seem out of left field to you?

 Jones: Yeah, a little bit. Like I said, I don’t know him, I have never spoken to him. He has an opinion, a lot of people have opinions.

 Q: Coach Shurmur said just because you are calm out there doesn’t mean you aren’t fired up inside, is that the case?

 Jones: Like I said, there are a lot of things that motivate me before something like that would. I think I am a very passionate person. I don’t always show it, but I think I am a very passionate person.

 Q: What would you say if someone looked at your stats and record and said, “well, this guy is a mediocre quarterback, look at his record”?

 Jones: Going back to Duke, I wish we did win more games. I played a big part in that. I take responsibility for that, I wish we did win more games. Our goal was always to win ACC championships and to go to big bowl games and we weren’t able to do that. I don’t look back on that without a large responsibility for that.

 Q: Do you feel you’re a winner?

 Jones: I do. I have always felt like I am. Growing up and competing, I think I am a competitor and I think I’m a winner.

 Q: Can you change someone like Baker’s perception if you’re not playing? Is it annoying that you have to wait to play to prove people like that wrong and shut them up?

 Jones: I don’t think so. Like I said, there is a lot that I need to focus on here. There is a lot that I need to do to improve, and to make sure that I’m moving forward. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not sure that’s the best motivator. If that’s the thing you’re looking forward to doing the most is proving them wrong, I’m not sure that’s the best way to improve every day or the best way to really get where you want to go.

 Q: If you were on the field and a player said that to you, would you trash talk back?

 Jones: Maybe I’d say something, but I don’t know. I’d make sure we win the game.

 Q: Do the people who know you best think it’s really hard to make you angry or that they rarely see you angry?

 Jones: Yeah, for the most part. Maybe my little brother would say something else (laughter). For the most part, I try to do a pretty good job at controlling myself. I feel like I’m thinking best and playing best when I’m in control of myself.

 Q: Do you agree, you have to be kind of wired to be like that?

 Jones: Yeah, I do think that’s part of my personality.

 Q: Do you ever sit there and say, ‘why are you bothering with me when you have your own team to worry about?’

 Jones: I’m not sure I would do it that way, but everyone has a different way of doing things. Like I said, my focus is here. Our focus is here. I think I speak for the team— we’re really focused on what we’re doing here and making sure we’re ready to play going into the season.

 Q: Have you seen Baker play, and what do you think of him as a quarterback?

 Jones: Yeah, I’ve seen him play. I watched him in college and a little bit in the last year. I think he’s a great player. He can throw it, and I enjoy watching him play.

 Q: Why don’t you tell us how much you are going to play?

 Jones: I don’t know, I really don’t know. That’s up to coach and we’ll see how it goes. I look forward to getting back out there.

Giants sign QB Daniel Jones

The first player the Giants drafted in April tonight became the final member of the team’s 10-player draft class to sign his rookie contract.

Daniel Jones, the quarterback from Duke selected sixth overall, is now eligible to participate in the first training camp practice on Tuesday.

Jones, 6-5 and 220 pounds, joins 15-year starter Eli Manning, veteran Alex Tanney and second-year pro Kyle Lauletta to form the Giants’ quarterback quartet at the start of camp. The rookies and selected young veterans will practice Tuesday morning, the rest of the vets report Wednesday and the first full-squad practice is Thursday.

Jones started all 36 games in which he played at Duke from 2016-18. He was a team captain in 2017-18 and a two-time recipient of the Carmen Falcone Award as Duke’s Most Valuable Player (2016 & 2018)

His career totals included 764 completions on 1,275 passes (60%) for 8,201 yards, 52 touchdowns, and 29 interceptions. He also had 406 rushing attempts for 1,323 yards (3.3-yard avg.) and 17 touchdowns. Jones compiled 9,524 yards of total offense and averaged 227.8 passing yards per game.

Courtesy: NY Giants

Odell Beckham Jr.: ‘I believe that I will be hopefully not just the highest-paid receiver in the league, but the highest-paid, period’

In a video posted by the Uninterrupted, Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. said that he would like to be the highest-paid player in the NFL. 

Beckham had this say in the video:

“It’s like the elephant in the room, and you don’t want to talk about it. But I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I’m like, ‘No, I’m going to … there’s no need to not talk about it. I believe that I will be hopefully not just the highest-paid receiver in the league, but the highest-paid, period,” said Beckham.

Beckham was not at any of the OTAs for the Giants this offseason, and according to reports, it was because of his contract situation. 

Whether it’s hanging out on a boat the week before a playoff game, or punching holes in walls after losing to the Packers in the Wild-Card Round. Beckham has had his issues, but there is no denying his ability.  In 2016, Beckham had 101 catches, 1367 yards, and 10 touchdowns for the Giants.

If he continues playing well, Beckham will get his money! The 24-year-old Beckham will make $1.8 million next season, and $8.459 million in the final year of his deal. 

The Ravens’ Joe Flacco will be the highest paid player next season at $24.55 million, and the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant is the highest paid WR at $17 million. 


Smith stays in New York

Following the lead of his former Jets teammate Brandon Marshall, former Jets’ quarterback Geno Smith is expected to sign with the New York Giants. Smith, who was a backup last season with the Jets, is expected to compete for the backup quarterback position behind Eli Manning. According to reports, the deal is contingent upon Smith passing a physical. Smith is coming off a torn ACL in 2016. 

If healthy, I think this a good move for the Giants and Smith. For Smith, it gives him an opportunity to work under Manning and prepare for his next starting opportunity; for the Giants, they get a guy who is looking to prove himself, which can be a good thing!