In an appearance Thursday on ‘Big Blue Kickoff Live,’ New York Giants radio analyst Carl Banks was outstanding. Banks touched on topics that included Eli Manning, the importance of the draft vs. free agency, James Bettcher and more.
Below you will find some of the main things Banks said, along with my views on those topics. I’m also going to recommend you find an hour to go listen to the full show. It’s worthwhile.
On the future of Eli Manning
This, of course, is where everything starts for the Giants. Banks said “the organization probably does not know (what is going to happen) because of all of the variables.”
Those variables, of course, include whether Manning actually wants to play in 2019, what quarterbacks become available in free agency and their price tags, and how the draft plays out.
“I’m an Eli Manning fan, but I’m also a realist. I know that he won’t play forever. They know that, and he knows that,” Banks said.
“There are a lot of things that speak in his favor, including that he’s healthy. But, there’s no one under the illusion, including myself, that will tell you that a transition plan is not paramount.”
Valentine’s View: The Giants do understand that Eli isn’t going to play until this kid is ready to take over.
And with the 1st pick in the 2027 draft ... Arch Manning, Cooper’s oldest son and Peyton & Eli’s nephew. pic.twitter.com/Uoh3oXejW3— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) January 17, 2019
No one yet knows what is going to happen. There are, though, legitimate reasons why Manning could still be the Giants’ starter next season.
On the quarterback transition plan
“You’ve gotta look down the line. You put things in place not only for Eli Manning, but for the guy who’s replacing him. The one thing you don’t want is to fall off a cliff, get a good quarterback and you don’t have the supporting cast,” Banks said.
“If there’s a quarterback, and for all you Twitter GMs they [the Giants organization] know more than you, they know more than me, they spend two years minimum evaluating quarterbacks. It’s not like they see a guy on the board and say we like him because I saw two college games. They put time in.”
Banks did not express a preference for any of the potentially available quarterbacks — in the draft or on the free agent market.
“I don’t know what the prototypical quarterback is in the eyes of Dave Gettleman, in the eyes of Pat Shurmur. There are some requisite skills that you need to play in this league and to play in this offense. That’s the ability to throw the football and some level of accuracy,” Banks said.
“I know that this year in some way, shape or form the transition plan will be put into place. I don’t know from the draft or free agency.”
Valentine’s View: First, I have to applaud Banks for his “Twitter GMs” line. I have said this for years — your opinion is nice and you’re welcome to it. So is mine. In the end, though, they don’t matter. And, they aren’t based on nearly as much information as Gettleman and his staff have available to them. They know more and have more data available than we do, that is inarguable. It doesn’t mean they always get it right, no one ever does. No NFL team is going to do something because the media or fans think it’s the thing to do. They are going to do it because the countless hours of work they have done lead them to the conclusion that it’s the right move.
Dwayne Haskins? Kyler Murray? Daniel Jones? Teddy Bridgewater? Nick Foles? Kyle Lauletta? Wait until 2020? I don’t know who the right replacement for Manning will be. What I do know is that if the Giants get it wrong, “Quarterback Hell” will set them back years. They know it, too.
On the performance of defensive coordinator James Bettcher
A caller to the show attacked Bettcher and said he would rather have Gregg Williams, who was just hired as defensive coordinator by the New York Jets.
Banks wasn’t having it.
“His three years in Arizona he had top 10 defenses every year. Let’s not assume he forgot how to coordinate defenses. Let’s assume that when he gets better players he’ll be able to do better things,” Banks said.
“This is no disrespect, this is all about talent right now. When you put Nate Stupar in the game in critical situations in the red zone that tells you the level of talent that he has to work with. When he has better, he’ll do better. I guarantee that.
“You can have Gregg Williams. I’ll take James Bettcher and I guarantee you you give apples to apples Bettcher will see any defensive coordinator eye to eye.”
Valentine’s View: Banks is more or less pounding the table here and saying he feels Bettcher is as good as any defensive coordinator in the league.
Me? I’m not sure about that. I do know this much — Banks is absolutely right about the talent level on the Giants’ defense in 2018. There wasn’t a single level of that defense that had good enough players. I like Bettcher’s resume. I like his energy. I like his creativity. I don’t like the hand he was dealt in 2018, and I don’t think he should be judged based on that.
Let’s see what he can do with better players. If he can’t get results with defensive personnel that should be able to get the job done then he will be open to criticism. Not based on what we saw last season.
On free agency vs. the draft
“Free agency is not to build a team. Free agency is to supplement. If any team, including this one, drafts correctly to address things you don’t overpay for players that all of a sudden become a necessity.
“There are people that complain about certain players making too much money and not giving you enough. Well, you had a need to fill and that was the best available. So, you had to pay what they were asking.
“When you develop your roster year after year, and drafting is not an exact science, but when you focus on your roster and you develop and you focus on your drafting you’re going to hit more than you miss. But here’s the key -- if you miss don’t give ‘em a scholarship just so you don’t look bad. Cut your losses and get the next guy in there. That’s what you have to do.”
Valentine’s View: Boy, there is a lot to unpack here. Let me try.
First, Banks is absolutely right. The only way to build sustained success is to consistently draft well. When you don’t draft well, you don’t develop a core of “your” players. You are constantly chasing fixes in free agency, or using more draft picks to try and correct your last mistake.
This has been the crux of the issue for the Giants for the last six, seven years. Maybe more prior to the hiring of Dave Gettleman as GM. They haven’t drafted well enough, and consequently have not had rosters filled with enough talent.
Second, Banks talked about the complaints heard about overspending on free agents who don’t live up to their contracts. Well, this is what happens in free agency. You pay high dollars because you are desperate, you are forced to spend whatever the going price is on the market.
The Giants knew when they signed him that Nate Solder didn’t deserve to be the highest-paid left tackle in the game. Because they missed on Ereck Flowers, and because Jerry Reese never admitted or addressed that mistake, Gettleman had to do that.
The Giants knew Olivier Vernon wasn’t an $85 million player. Because they missed on Damontre Moore and Owa Odighizuwa and had no clue if Jason Pierre-Paul could still be a productive player they were left with no choice. Vernon was the best available, and $85 million was the cost.
Third, the scholarship idea. As I said, Reese was guilty of failing to admit his mistake with Flowers. Players like Rueben Randle, James Brewer, Jayron Hosley, Adrien Robinson and Jay Bromley were all guys who occupied roster spots for far too long because the Giants were not willing to admit their mistakes.
The Giants made a free-agent mistake last offseason with Patrick Omameh. The fact that they admitted it and moved on so quickly was a good sign that there hopefully won’t be scholarships during the Gettleman era.
On the trade of Damon Harrison
When it comes to a pure run-defending defensive tackle, there isn’t a better one than ‘Snacks.’ There are still Giants fans who don’t understand why the team traded him to the Detroit Lions at midseason.
“You can say the subtraction of Snacks made the defensive line weaker. I’m gonna say he was a helluva football player and I wish he stayed, but then we would never have gotten a chance to see just what B.J. Hill was capable of. What B.J. Hill gives you is pass rush and run stopping,” Banks said.
“At the end of this year Snacks would have been looking for a job. It was a win-win in my opinion because you let a guy go who is going to see the full length of his contract and you got a guy in there who is going to grow. And they got a draft pick out of it.”
Valentine’s View: I couldn’t agree more. The Giants were a bad team going nowhere with Snacks — and Eli Apple, too. We’re all wondering what the Giants are going to do with highly-paid veterans Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins. Had they kept him, Snacks would be in that category, too. And I believe, as Banks obviously does, that the Giants would have moved on from him this offseason, anyway.
Trading him gave the Giants a clear path to put Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson in their proper positions, and made snaps available to R.J. McIntosh. Those players are all likely to be part of the team’s future. Moving on from ‘Snacks’ was, for the long term, the right thing to do.