The weather is finally turning here in the northeast, and it’s time to think about getting outside and enjoying it — as much as you can with restrictions remaining in place. Still, we’re here to think about football. Specifically, your New York Giants.
So, here are some Giants-related things I’m thinking about.
In what ways is new coach Joe Judge already influencing the Giants’ decision-making process?
Well, that’s hard to say. You can speculate that the Markus Golden UFA tag was a Patriots-style move influenced by Judge. It’s likely true the coach at least signed off on it. It has to be true that the heavy run on linebackers late in the draft was influenced by what Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham want on defense. It’s probably a good thing in this virtual environment that Judge is a younger guy and that he so heavily emphasized hiring teachers as assistant coaches.
Did Judge control the draft, though? And, how much has he changed the way the Giants do things?
I asked former NFL GM Jeff Diamond about that recently, and he said it is just too early to know.
“I think Gettleman gets the players and it’s too soon to tell on Judge until we get to the real deal vs. virtual,” Diamond said. “Then we’ll really see what’s changed.”
About the 2020 NFL season
The NFL is planning to release its 2020 regular season schedule in the coming days, a plan that is expected to be based on business as usual with a normal opening date and fans in the stands.
It is, however, hard to believe that in the current COVID-19 environment that the NFL season won’t be impacted in some way. I can’t imagine that without a vaccine, proven herd immunity or an approved treatment for the virus in place that governors of the states that host all 50 teams will be cool with the idea of packing 80,000 fans, plus players, media, stadium workers and other support staff into buildings for NFL games.
Per ESPN, there are some contingencies that have been discussed:
The league has evaluated contingency plans should the pandemic intensify, working in conjunction with the NFL Players Association and medical experts on a set of protocols.
One of those contingencies is delaying the season until mid-October, according to the Sports Business Journal. Empty stadiums and no bye weeks have long been discussed.
One option not on the table, a source told ESPN, is gathering players at a centralized location to execute a season. The NBA and Major League Baseball have discussed playing at a neutral site such as Walt Disney World, Las Vegas or Arizona, but the NFL doesn’t plan to do that.
I honestly want to believe the NFL will be able to open training camps in August and start the season the way it always does. Count me, though, as skeptical.
Not just kid stuff
When the photo of GM Dave Gettleman sitting in a sparsely decorated room (OK, undecorated) with just a laptop and a monstrous binder hit the Internet there was much snickering about how the Giants’ GM would be overmatched by the technology required in a virtual draft.
Turns out everything went just fine.
“It was different. For us, it really worked well,” Gettleman said. “Justin Warren the head of out IT department and Ty Siam (football operations/data analytics) was in the house with me to make sure I didn’t blow anything up. They did an unbelievable job. Our software developers developed two new programs for us, which we used. John Dorney (Lead Developer) and his group with Julie Glisky (Director of IT). They really did well, everything went as smoothly as it could. Occasionally there was a glitch, people would get bumped off. Considering the situation, it went about as well as you could expect.”
Turns out, Gettleman’s draft setup was much more in line with other GMs than the circulated photo indicated. Per ESPN:
Gettleman is aware of the perception that he's technologically out of touch. This became a convenient talking point after his Dec. 31 news conference, when he mentioned having "four computer folks" in the Giants' analytics department.
In a phone conversation after the draft, Gettleman made clear he handled draft tech just fine, and that he doesn't care about those outside perceptions, as long as he's maximizing the Giants' talent pool.
Gettleman had a 75-inch big screen to accompany two smaller monitors on his desk. He had an IT guy on standby. And he helped organize a multiteam mock draft in recent days, separate from the league's deal.
"I've never let the ancillary [stuff] get in the way," Gettleman said. "What this [draft] has taught is to have reinforcement. Stay in your process and work through it. ... We did what we do."
Worth rooting for
Players picked on Day 3 of the draft are all, basically, long shots to become big-time NFL players. We can argue whether that’s true with fourth-round picks, but it’s obvious that the success rate for fourth rounders can’t be the same as first rounders.
That said, after sitting in on videonconferences, reading transcripts, and otherwise studying the Giants recent Day 3 draft picks, there are three players in particular I’m rooting for.
- Darnay Holmes. If you haven’t read the piece Holmes penned for The Player’s Tribune, go do it. This is a young man who has been through a lot, who has worked for and understands the opportunity he has, and who appreciates it.
- Shane Lemiuex. This is just an old-school kid I think guys like Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert and David Diehl would appreciate.
- Tae Crowder. Not because he was the last player selected. He just seems like another kid who gets it, who works at it. He willingly went from a glory position (running back) to doing the grunt work on an inside linebacker. You have to like that attitude.