Time to Move On from Eli | the Biggest Change Dave Gettleman Needs to Make Going Forward | and Other Thoughts
As we get ready for a new week--and potentially some definitive word on who will be part of Giants head coach Joe Judge's staff, here are a few leftover thoughts from a very busy week that was.
It’s Time to Move on from Eli and Let Daniel Jones Make This His Team
I don’t blame Giants team president John Mara for having a soft spot in his heart for quarterback Eli Manning has done for the franchise, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t have expected him to answer questions about Eli’s future any other way than he did when he spoke with WFAN’s Mosse & Maggie Friday.
But it’s time to move on from Manning and let Daniel Jones flourish. This fantasy about bringing Manning back as a potential backup quarterback? Besides the fact that Manning has already told reporters that he’s not interested in returning as a backup and that he can still play the game, there is Daniel Jones to consider.
While on the one hand, having Manning around in some capacity would be a good thing for Jones, on another level, it could be detrimental. Jones needs to make this team entirely his, the same way Manning needed to make it his earlier in his career. And it would be hard for him to do that if Manning were still around.
Here’s what Jones had to say last month when asked about finding his voice as a leader.
“I understand I’m still a younger player, and there’s a lot to learn from the older guys. But, being able to communicate, being able to talk through things and get on the same page, I think, is important, particularly for a quarterback. So, I try to do that when I can.”
I remember back when Tiki Barber, who in the later stages of his career was the face of the Giants franchise, called it a career after the 2006 season. With Manning able to emerge from Barber’s shadows, that’s when he took off as a leader on the team.
The Giants need to allow Jones the same set of circumstances. Mara, when he was asked about why he was letting Tom Coughlin go a few years ago, said something to the effect of 12 years is a long time and that it was time for a change.
(Of course, he also mentioned something about finding a role for Coughlin in the building, only to have the head coach eventually remove himself when another opportunity came along.)
The same approach needs to be taken here with Manning if for no other reason so that Jones can step out of his shadow the same way Manning stepped out of Barber’s shadow and put his stamp on this franchise moving forward.
Jones tried to be a leader, but between being a rookie and having a potential Hall of Fame quarterback ahead of him, I am not so sure he ever really found his voice.
That needs to change. While Manning’s experience is invaluable, others can provide the rookie with the same type of feedback and experience who won’t necessarily count for millions against the salary cap just for being a “voice”’ int he room, if you catch my drift.
The Biggest Thing Dave Gettleman Can Improve Going Forward
Forget about embracing analytics. The biggest thing that general manager Dave Gettleman can improve as far as his performance is concerned is to stop overspending on “system” guys.
A “system” guy is a player who has familiarity with the offense or defense as it was run by a coach with another team (think James Bettcher and all those Cardinal players that were added that he coached in Arizona). I look at them as corporate trainers--guys who come in to train the others on how the defense is run.
The problem with that kind of thinking is that football is a team game. Having one or two players from a past group coached doesn’t mean you’ll be able to replicate the success you had with that team because you not only have different players you’re coaching, not all player skill sets are created equal.
This flawed thinking was one of Bettcher’s biggest missteps, and to that end, one of Gettleman’s for being so readily accommodating.
I’ll point to a specific example: the signing of safety Antoine Bethea, whom Bettcher coached in Arizona, over Tre Boston (a Gettleman favorite from his days in Carolina). No one will admit to it, but I am convinced that Bettcher drove the Bethea signing.
OLB Kareem Martin is another example. Injuries aren’t a player’s fault, but can we honestly say that Martin’s overall production--and I’m not just talking about the mentoring he did behind the scenes--was worth $5 million per year?
Granted, Gettleman has been guilty of this thinking as well--see his signing of Jonathan Stewart to serve as a “big brother” to Saquon Barkley as well as give the Giants offenses a little something.
Again, injuries are not a player’s fault, but the point here is that overspending for a mentor or a “system guy” to help teach the others isn’t exactly the best use of financial resources for a team that has a lot of holes it still needs to address.
There have been opinions expressed in response to Joe Judge’s statement that the Giants will practice in pads and will work on live tackling as something that won’t go over well and won’t be implemented given the rule of the CBA.
With all due respect to those who have those opinions, I disagree.
First, I have to believe that Judge, who has worked under Bill Belichick for eight years--the same Belichick who uses every rule to his advantage--is fully aware of what can and can’t be done on the practice field.
Second, while I don’t want to speak for Judge, I’m pretty sure he was referencing practicing in pads as often as the rules will allow.
Third, I think those who believe that “being tough” is going to get Judge fired in two years best go back and look at his predecessors. Does anyone remember what happened when McAdoo wasted valuable training camp practices running walk-throughs at the start to “amp up” the acclimation instead of hitting the ground running?
Coaches have only so much time to get their teams ready to play. Why not hit the ground running?
Fourth, give all the concussions this team had in 2019 and the burners, since when is teaching players the proper way to tackle a bad thing?
Yes, tackling is a skill learned in Pop Warner. Still, as one ascends through the ranks of Pop Warner to high school to college to the NFL, the game becomes faster-paced to where regular refreshers on how to avoid head and neck injuries isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially given the big emphasis on player safety.
A few of my Twitter followers asked that I make a comparison between the opening statements made by Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, and Joe Judge.
After sleeping on it, I don’t think it’s fair to make a word-by-word comparison (though if anyone out there is curious, all three pressers are on YouTube).
What I will say, however, is why Judge’s fiery, yet controlled speech had me ready to run through the doors of the MetLife Stadium coaches club and onto the field of ready to hit a blocking sled.
Judge not only laid out his vision for the team, which is what every new head coach does in his opening remarks at his introductory press conference, he also laid out the overall plan as to how he intends to shape the team to meet its goals.
It remains to be seen if he follows through or if that was all lip service, but I suspect he’s going to follow through.
And I think Judge showed a thoroughness in outlining specifics--not being married to scheme, stressing the fundamentals by practicing and teaching them, helping players to understand the big picture, and so forth--is what has a lot of people excited and hopeful for the future.
Schemes are tweaked every year in the NFL, but the one thing that doesn’t change rethe fundamentals and the basics of the game. Judge sounds like he knows this and ha his priorities in order. While I realize that it won’t matter if the Giants go out there in September and rip off another multi-game losing streak, I think Judge has the right idea as he begins his head coaching career.