We have reached the bye week for the New York Giants, and it comes more or less at the halfway point of the 2016 NFL season. Let’s use today’s “Five things I think I think” to discuss some of what is going on with Big Blue as turn toward the second half of the season.
We need to talk about the play-calling
Rich Eisen of NFL Network has been picking on head coach Ben McAdoo over the lack of imagination in the Giants’ play-calling, and he has a valid point. Earlier today, we looked at the Giants’ overwhelming reliance on the “11” personnel grouping, three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back.
The Giants need to vary their personnel groupings at least a bit more. simply by the nature of having different packages on the field that should add variety to the play book.
Should McAdoo give the play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan? He is asked about that almost every week and Monday he said “everything is on the table.” McAdoo has said that before regarding the play-calling, and I seriously doubt he will relinquish that role. He believes too strongly that he is the guy who should be doing it.
I have said this before, but I truly believe one of the things handicapping the play-calling is a lack of faith in the their blocking. Not just the offensive line, but the blocking overall. That, of course, is something the Giants would never admit verbally.
They simply show it to you. They do that when they call a swing pass to Odell Beckham Jr. on second-and-one that loses six yards. They do that by having Eli Manning play catch-and-release, simply getting rid of the ball as quickly as he can on passing plays. They do that by rarely running out of traditional under the center sets, rather running from the shotgun and trying to create numbers mismatches.
They have nine games left. Let’s see what, if anything, they can do about it.
Paul Perkins, Jerell Adams need more snaps
I was glad to hear the head coach hint that running back Paul Perkins and tight end could play bigger roles in the offense after the bye. It’s unfair to think of either player by themselves as the solution to what ails the offense, but both can help.
Perkins brings wiggle and speed that perhaps the Giants can take increased advantage of. Adams is supposed to be the best blocker of the three tight ends the Giants have, so get him on the field often enough to prove it. Sullivan has also said the Giants like Adams’ ability to stretch the field vertically. So, let’s get that into the offense and see if it opens up opportunities for the wide receivers.
Trading for an offensive tackle is unlikely
We mentioned on Monday that there were reports that veteran left tackles Joe Thomas (Cleveland Browns) and Joe Staley (San Francisco 49ers) were on the trading block. Both teams have since denied those reports, so maybe they are and maybe they aren’t.
Regardless, I seriously doubt either player ends up with the Giants even if they are available. Why?
Both guys are far closer to the ends of their careers than to the beginnings. The asking price is reportedly a first- or second-round pick, and I believe the Giants will be loathe to give that up for a potential short-term fix. If they Giants could get one of the two for, perhaps, a third-round pick and a bit player I think they might consider it. With the number of teams likely to be involved if those guys actually are available, I think it’s unlikely that would be the case.
There is also Ereck Flowers to consider. There is a large swath of the fan base that hears his name and simply wants to include “is a bust” or “sucks” to it. Those things aren’t true. Flowers was among the worst left tackles in the league as a rookie, something that quite honestly should have been expected. While not perfect, he has been better this season and sits in the middle of the pack among NFL left tackles. That’s progress. Maybe the Giants eventually move Flowers to right tackle, maybe they don’t. If they do, I doubt they want to try to do it midseason. I think they would prefer to give him an offseason and a training camp to get acclimated. Just throwing him over on the other side is setting him up to fail.
4-3 is about what we should have expected
I think it’s hard to complain all that much about the Giants being 4-3 at the bye. They own a huge season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas, the only one the ‘Boys have suffered this season. They lost three straight games, with the two road losses against the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers being games they were unlikely to win, anyway. They rebounded with a pair of victories. Ugly, nail-biting victories to be sure but very little ever comes easy in the NFL.
The Week 3 loss at home to the Washington Redskins was the most disappointing, and could be one that haunts the Giants when the season’s epitaph is written. Still, it’s hard to be all that disappointed with where the Giants are.
Opportunity remains in front of them. They have four division games — two with the Philadelphia Eagles and one each with the Cowboys and Redskins remaining. They have given themselves a chance — maybe not a great chance to make the playoffs, but they have one.
Can they get to 10 wins, which is what it looks to me like it will take to get to the playoffs? They would have to go 6-3 the rest of the way. Maybe, just maybe, if they can solve some of their offensive issues they can pull that off.
The Josh Brown mess has stained the franchise
The most important thing in the Josh Brown situation, as my colleague Pat Traina pointed out in our podcast last week, is that Molly Brown and her children are safe, and that they heal from the hell they have gone through.
Brown no longer kicks for the Giants, as the NFL took that decision out of the team’s hands and put him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. He is, however still paid by the Giants who have yet to do what everyone else seems to know they must do — cut ties with Brown. [NOTE: That changed Tuesday afternoon when the Giants announced Brown’s release.]
It is hard to believe that while Odell Beckham Jr. has been fined nearly $100K this season for a bunch of silliness, that Brown is still drawing his NFL salary.
Pundit after pundit has rightly condemned the Giants’ handling — or really their lack of handling — of the Brown situation. Yet, the Giants are still silent on Brown’s long-term future. What is there to discuss? How can ownership not see that there is only one right thing to do, the thing they should have done long ago, get rid of Brown. Permanently.
I don’t know if Melissa Jacobs of SI is right when she says the Giants should face some sort of discipline for the way they have handled the situation. I do know that the Giants’ re-signing Brown despite what they knew about his history has left a stain on the legacy of John Mara and the Giants that won’t go away easily.