Two guys talking Giants football

November 18, 2021

One of the great things about the internet – and there’s a lot that’s not good – at least for me is that it has allowed me to meet – sometimes even in person – a whole range of Giants’ fans from all over the country that never would have been possible pre-net. One of those people is Pete W from the Norfolk, Virginia area. He’s an old Navy man who still travels the world. While he’s a fellow Giants fan, because he still has a life he sn’t consumed by the team like some of us! So he tends to bring a little more sober analysis to the subject. We exchanged some thoughts earlier in the week that I thought were worth sharing. The following is the transcript paraphrased.

PW: Good morning! Watched some college football yesterday and here are a  couple of thoughts before I make my way to Mass.

CL: Hey Pete, if you are headed to mass you are a better person than I am!!

PW: Regarding the Giants: I still don’t know the answer to the one question I wanted answered this season, whether or not the head coach was the right one. There is a lot of chicken and egg here with Judge, i.e., is it talent or coaching that is hampering the team’s success. Furthermore, is judge, a young guy who is learning on the job, capable and able to self-correct as he goes along or is he in over his head. Maybe a better way of putting it is he in over his head, but can he learn to swim? Still don’t know and likely it will take to the end of the season to know.

CL: Truth be told, I am something of an agnostic when it comes to the impact of any head coach. As Bill Parcells said one day when asked what made a good NFL head coach, “good players!” In fact, give Daffy Duck good players and he’ll look like a genius; give him stiffs and he’ll look like a lot of our recent Giants coaches! That said, I must admit that I have been disappointed with the way the job Judge and company have done this year, especially early on. Looking at the middle of the schedule, the Giants really had to get off to a fast start in those first three games. And despite the fact they were playing teams that they were at least as good as, the game plans in those games were about as vanilla, passive, conservative and ‘play-not-to-lose’ as possible which allowed their opponents to control the clock and field position and voila 0-3 and for all intents and purposes another lost season. Can Judge learn from it; I hope so, but there is something about guys becoming NFL head coaches and just getting so damn conservative.

PW: Daniel Jones is in a similar situation. I tend to think that he can be an effective, perhaps even good, NFL quarterback but given his youth how much of a beating can he be expected to take before he gets gun shy? I think that more than his inherent talent is what concerns me.

CL: I do worry a little about some of the hits that DJ has taken when he battles for yards when he runs, but the beating he is supposedly taking in the pocket because of the chaos on the OL is just that, i.e., supposed. DJ, in fact, is middle of the pack when it comes to hits and he’s a good-sized, athletic guy who appears to have learned how to slide away from trouble. I think the bigger issue right now is just getting a quorum of healthy skill position guys on the field at the same time. Bottom line; DJ isn’t going anywhere for at least a couple of years and we’ll see. Remember, Phil Simms didn’t finally establish himself as a franchise NFL QB until his 6th season and Eli didn’t get over the 60% completion mark until his 6th year.

PW: Won’t talk about ownership since there is no point. Worst thing you can have as a fan in sports is bad owners simply because they can’t be fired. I’m a Mets fan you must trust me on this one.

CL: I know its been a frustrating stretch, but talk to people around the league and they generally have good things to say about the organization. They tend to be conservative to a fault, but ownership lets the football people run the football ops and don’t meddle. And they’re certainly not cheap!

PW: Regarding the draft, as of this moment if the first five picks of the New York Giants were devoted entirely to O-Line and Defensive front seven I would be perfectly satisfied with that, assuming, and this is always my caveat, the players chosen are taken with a pick at worst appropriate to their talent level. Don’t force it, don’t pass up genuine steals at other positions to grab what you need. I always thought Ximenes fell into that category. I saw him in play school and was an effective, maybe even good, edge rusher, but his athletic testing was rather ordinary. After that I had no expectation that he’d be very effective at the position in the pros, and that he was over drafted by the Giants to make up for not grabbing Josh Allen, or any other pass rushers for that matter, earlier in the draft.

CL: Not going to get any argument about that from me! The frustrating thing for me as a draft analyst is that for the most part the Giants drafts this decade haven’t been all that bad, at least on draft day. Indeed, the Giants drafts, on draft day, have been pretty much straight B’s. But as George Young famously once said that when it comes to the draft you get as much information that you can; you make the best decision you can; and then you cross your fingers and hope that your picks can stay healthy and can actually play. In the end, its a lottery and a crap shoot all rolled into one. And just not enough of the Giants picks have worked out this decade and when they do hit the bullseye, like Odell and Saquon, they get hurt. One can bitch all they want, but in the end its how the draft works.

PW: I suppose OL and Edge are the preferred and expected way the Giants will go in the draft, though I think edge should go first. In fact, I would like to see two edge guys in the first three picks. I say this for several reasons. First, it’s a position of need, or at least it appears to be so. Perhaps Smith busts out at the end of the season as the new Charles Haley (one can hope ), but I think it unlikely. Down the road maybe, but my guess is that come season’s end the Giants will still have edge atop their board. Second, it is a position of depth in this draft. Digging into the strength of the draft is, to my way of thinking, a good way to improve the team’s talent level. Third, and most importantly, it is a position where multiple players might be on the field at the same time. It is an impact position and a precious commodity. Great edge rushers hardly ever make it to free agency (heck good ones are usually locked up early) and when they do they command a hefty price, like big contract and franchise tag hefty. Having too many good edge rushers on the team, and I do qualify the thought with ”good”, is like having too much good pitching in baseball. It is a blessing, not a curse. The simple fact of the matter is that edge rushers tend to go early, the great ones anyway, and so they are typically not available in the later rounds. So even in a draft with an abundance of this most rare breed, they, the good ones, will be gone before the beginning of round three.

CL: Pretty much agree 100%; in fact, I probably could make the case any better. My sense is that is if there is any blame to be had for the Giants current predicament, its not that they ignored the offensive line over the past decade, but that they ignored the defense. Indeed, the team that coined the phrase ‘you can’t have enough pass rushers’ hasn’t used a first round pick on an edge rusher since they selected JPP back in 2010. And my thinking has generally been that the 2022 draft was always going to be about the defense. Obviously, they still have issues on the OL, but I personally wouldn’t have any problem at all if the Giants used both their #1 picks this year on DEs the talent at that position is that good right through the first-round.

PW: Unless it is determined that they need a tackle, I would not want to see the Giants draft an OL with a firs-round pick. Even the second first pick I’d question depending on who was left on the board but could at least get onboard with that. Lot of people really like the center from Iowa, and I have no problem with him, I just wonder if a center, any center, is the best use of resources so early in the draft. I think the difference between a great center and a good one , which may be had later in the draft, will not impact the won loss record all that much. A great offensive line will, but we, as Giants fans, have seen Super Bowls come our way with no first-round picks on the line at all. To be clear, I am not saying don’t draft an interior OL early, just don’t do it at the expense of a more impactful player, specifically someone who can get after the passer.

CL: Again pretty much agreed 100%. Obviously, there is still a lot of work to do on the offensive line, but I just don’t think you use a top 10 pick to fix a problem on the interior of the OL. The fact is that you can upgrade at OG and C in free agency without breaking the bank and even in the later rounds because you don’t need great players there, just competent ones. OT, though, is different and the Giants do have an issue at RT they will have to address this off-season. In particular, if you want to run 4- and 5-receiver sets then you really do need a couple of OTs with the athleticism to hold up against quality NFL edge rushers and they can be harder to find so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if they did take an OT with one of their first two picks, if they haven’t been able to address the situation in free agency.

PW: To my way of thinking the draft should not be about building units, or even getting talented players, it should be about assembling a team that can win the Super Bowl.

CL: Absolutely! And for the Giants the existential question this spring could come down do they use their best draft haul pretty much ever to plug some holes, or do use it to try and come away with a couple or three dynamic players, especially on defense. Fact is the Giants have never ever won a championship without an outstanding defense. Indeed, I joke with some of my OL-friends. The Giants went to 5 of 6 NFL championship games in the late 1950s-early ’60s with a team built on great D and a state-of-the-art – for the day – passing attack. We won Super Bowls in the 1980s largely on the backs of one of the great defenses in NFL history. And we won the 7-11 Super Bowls with a good QB throwing to a great WR group and the NASCAR pass rush running on all cylinders. So how do we get back to the Super Bowl? ‘Hey. I’ve got an idea: let’s fix the offensive line!’

PW: As far as players go, I like Hutchinson a lot. I didn’t really last year. I knew of him and thought he was overrated. I no longer believe that. He is impactful and relentless. I haven’t seen the kid from Oregon, so I’ll just accept that he is the best edge in the class. Nor have I seen the kid from Purdue, Karlafitis, that much and when I have he has not stood out. Not saying he is not good or worthy of high acclaim, I just haven’t seen him dominate in the few snippets I caught of Purdue. The one guy who has caught my eye is Ojabo. He is hard to miss. At this point he is not as good as Hutchinson, may never be, but he is long, fast and flexible, Gumbatic (i.e., like Gumby) at times. When one considers how long he has been playing football his accomplishments are astounding. Last year Oweh was drafted in the first round based on projection and with no  sacks at all to his credit. Ojabo has ten and a similar background! One could make the case that Hutchinson has helped him ,and that would not be unfair, but ten sacks when there are still several games left to play? The kid is translating his skill to production and doing so early. Who knows what he might be in a year or two. He is, to my uneducated and amateurish eye, the third best edge rusher in this class long term. I would love to see the Giants get him and my guess, assuming there are no unpleasant surprises in store in his physicals or background, is that he will go early, much earlier than many believe. Drake London is my favorite receiver in the class. He would have been the only skill position player I’d like to have seen the Giants draft instead of Oline or edge in the first. The injury complicates things greatly. I like the edge’s from FSU and ND, Johnson and Foskey respectively. Would not mind them in the second at all, but, as noted, edge rushers tend to go early. If those guys test well they will make their way into the first round, IMO. For not only will they present themselves as great athletes, but they have the production to back it up.

CL: Good analysis. The fact is that ER/DE – and almost all the guys you mention are at least 6-5, 265-270 whereas the ERs we have drafted in recent years have been more in the 250-255 range at best – appears to be the most talented position group in the 2022 draft class. I really like Hutchinson, but my expectation is that he’ll end up going in the top 5 and won’t be in play for the Giants with either of their #1. Indeed, given their remaining schedules and the way they have been playing lately, I expect both the Giants and Bears picks to be closer to the 10-15 area when all is said and done. That said, the DE group is so deep that they’ll still be looking at some very good prospects even if they slip out of the top ten. I personally really like Johnson from FSU, who has a terrific ceiling, while it will be hard to pass on a player like Ojabo who has improved by leaps and bounds this year. Interesting that you mention Londen from USC. Every time I do a mock he’s the one player who’s not a DE or OL that I look at and ask myself ‘the Giants wouldn’t would they!!’ Fact is that prior to his injury a good case can be made that he was THE best player in college football this fall, period! Put him out there with Golladay and Toney and who ya gonna cover! Time will tell. Take care my friend!