Giants Fans’ Survival Guide: 2021 Xmas edition

December 22, 2021

Pretty much on cue after the Giants lost their last three games which pretty much ended any hopes, however slim, of somehow trying to sneak back into the playoff race, we received the usual deluge of mail with all the usual name-calling and finger-pointing.

All of which has had us asking ourselves: “Really! I mean WTF were people expecting!”

And yeah one could always hope that the Giants could have carried on these last three weeks and maybe even pulled off an upset or two if their back-up QB, who had a 2-12 career W-L record as a starter in the NFL, could somehow play over his head. He didn’t! Not even close! In fact, Mike Glennon was downright awful as he barely completed 50% of his pass attempts in the past three weeks during which time he looked totally lost at times. What makes it even more frustrating is that the Giants actually played pretty well, at least, in both the Miami and Dallas games and would have had a legit shot at winning either, or both, with any kind of  decent play from their QB.

In the end, though, it really didn’t matter. The Giants current season was effectively over when QB Daniel Jones was injured and the team was forced to go Glennon, a career back-up who has barely played in the past 7 seasons. As a result, everything has now become about 2022, which we know is frustrating, but if you are a Giants fan it’s all you got. And the one great thing about sports is that there always is a next season.

In fact, the here-and-now – and the future – is pretty much all were concerned with these days. Of course, one will always want to look back to see if there are lessons to be learned from past experiences, but the truth is we don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what the Giants record was over the past decade or whether some draft pick 4-5 years ago was the right choice or not. What we care about is right now – and sure 4-10 sucks bigly – is how to get over the hump in 2022 and beyond.

And, in a very kind of ironic way, it’s almost as if the Giants now in a kind of win-win situation. Certainly, I’ll be watching the final three weeks of the season the way I have watched the Giants for almost 64 years. Come Sunday at 1 I’ll be pacing around my den, yelling at the TV, muttering at the dog and just trying to will the Giants to a win. Whether you’re 10-4 or 4-10 you’re still trying to win a game. It’s what sports is all about. However, it isn’t quite as bad when you lose these days because you get some consolation that your draft position hasn’t been compromised.

At the same time, you can call me a cock-eyed optimist (because I am, at least when it comes to sports), but for me, who has been a Giants fan since the mid-1950s, this season, as frustrating as it has been, has a little of a 1983 feel to it. For those who 1983 ‘was before their time’ the Giants had made the playoffs in 1981 ending a drought of 17 years without a playoff appearance, but then had just missed out on the post-season in the strike-shortened 1982 season. The 1983 season was supposed to be their breakout year. Instead, they went 3-11-1 when almost from the get-go what could go wrong went wrong and it really did feel like the 1970s all over again. It wasn’t, as just three years later the Giants won their first Super Bowl.

Of course, it’s not a perfect comp. Certainly, no one here is predicting that the Giants win a Super Bowl in just three years. In particular, the Giants already had Lawrence Taylor, the most dynamic player in team history, in the lineup at the time and there isn’t anybody on the roster that’s even close.

However, the Giants do have some pieces in play going forward. They have some skill at the skill positions; they just have to get those guys healthy. And while there is still a lot of work to do on the O-line, they do appear to have the most important piece in place in LT Andrew Thomas. Meanwhile, the defense still lacks a dominant edge rusher, but otherwise they do have a lot of players on that side of the ball that can make plays.

Not to mention, that the Giants are almost assuredly going to have two top ten picks in this year’s draft with a chance to add quality players at DE, OT and/or WR depending on how the specifics play out. Of course, they’re not going to be able to address everything in this year’s draft, but we continue to make the case that the team’s that win Super Bowls are not necessarily those with the fewest holes in their roster, but the ones with the most impact players making impact plays. And what the Giants need right now are players that can make impact plays on both sides of the ball.

Of course, the most immediate question going forward is the future of QB Daniel Jones. This was supposed to be the test year for Jones with a revamped offensive line and a new and improved cast at the skill positions in place. Instead, the offensive line was just more of the same, while they never could a quorum of healthy bodies at the skill positions. So far, there hasn’t been any definitive word on Jones’ immediate future, but all the signs point to him being back for at least the 2022 season. (And sticking with the 1983 theme for a moment, Giants great Phil Simms, whose early career has kind of tracked the same as Jones, was only able to finally cement himself – in his 6th season – as a legit franchise QB in the turnaround year of 1984.)

However, one can pretty much take it to the bank that there will be changes. It seems almost a certainty, for example, that G.M. Dave Gettleman won’t be back. We kind of hope he simply retires and gets to walk away with some dignity, but ownership would face a PR disaster of epic proportions if they even hinted about bringing him back. Indeed, the only real question re the Giants G.M. going forward is whether the Giants will promote someone like Kevin Abrams or Kyle O’Brien from within the organization or go outside for some fresh ideas. (For the most part, we’re kind of agnostic on the whole business, but if pressed we’d give a vote for Abrams because he’s a fellow Canadian!)

What we shan’t do is shed any tears for Gettleman when he does walk out the door. Never could quite put a finger on but there was just something off-putting about him. In the end, he came across as someone you wouldn’t really trust if you worked with him. But he needs to go because he’s become the face of the current state of the Giants and it’s just not a pretty face!

However, I would add just a note on the pending departure of Gettleman. Needless to say he has been widely criticized for his lousy drafts, his lousy free agent signings and his lousy trades. Only problem is that he didn’t make the draft picks, didn’t sign the free agents and didn’t make any trades. Obviously, he would clearly have been involved in all those activities, but those are all organizational decisions that multiple people are involved in. And all those decisions – especially the draft-related ones – aren’t many steps up from flipping coins. Fact is that no matter how much info you gather on players in the end no one in the league really knows more than anyone else which players are going to be stars and who’s going to bust. So if you a looking for a bottom-line criterion for the new guy go for someone who’s lucky!

While Gettleman is almost surely in his final days with the Giants, the consensus around the organization is that head coach Joe Judge will likely get another year. Again, we are kind of agnostic when it comes to coaching in the NFL because in the end coaches don’t win games, players do. Give Daffy Duck good players and he’ll win games. However, it is really hard to make the case that has been a well-coached team. The offense still looks like something out of the 1980s which has little clue how to take advantage of players with unique skills like Barkley and TE Evan Engram.

And as frustrating as the offense has been at times, the defensive ‘bend-but-don’t break’ scheme has been almost infuriating at times. Indeed, there was a play early in the second half of last Sunday’s Dallas game that may have been the most telling microcosm of the entire season. The Giants had just kicked a FG to cut the Cowboys lead to 15-6 and had Dallas in a 3rd and 5 at their 30-yard line. Get a stop and just maybe you really change the momentum. Dak Prescott dropped back and threw a wobbler out into the flat to Tony Pollard who had to go to the ground to make the catch. However, he still had time to get back to his feet and run almost ten yards for the first down because the Giants had dropped off so far to protect against the big play. And it just has to be soul-crushing for the players who you just know want to be more aggressive!

We fully understand why the Giants ran that defense last year when they were really limited at CB. However, that just isn’t the case this year as the Giants do appear to have the people in the secondary to be far more aggressive, both in coverage and getting after the passer. And again, Sunday’s game against the Cowboys was so much a microcosm on the year. The Giants had to know they weren’t going to score a ton against Dallas with Mike Glennon at QB so they were going to need to help the offense with some turnovers and decent field position. At the same time, Dallas came into the game in something of an offensive slump in which Prescott had struggled at times.

Which just screamed ‘you got nothing to lose so let’s get after them.’ If they make a big play, they make a big play. But the one thing you didn’t want to allow to happen was to let Prescott and company just play catch and pick you apart. Which is exactly what they did. Prescott completed 75% of his passes, only one of which was for more than 15 yards, as the Cowboys dominated field position and time of possession. As I said infuriating.

And I suspect that’s on Judge because I just can’t imagine any NFL defensive co-ordinator, especially one like Patrick Graham who built his rep on being aggressive, is going to play so passively again and again and again! Again, we won’t pretend for a minute that the Giants would be 10-4 with better coaching. But you can’t win in this league on a consistent basis playing soft no matter how tough one talks!

So enjoy the last three weeks of the season. And then let’s get down to business!

In the meantime, have a great holiday season!!