Importance of creative play-calling
Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian accepted the head coaching vacancy at the University of Texas, one of the more prestigious college football jobs, albeit has been difficult for the previous regimes. His talents, as a play-caller, were on full display in the National Championship game.
Sarkisian schemed star wide receiver DeVonta Smith into space several times, attacked the zone looks of Ohio State, and even got Smith lined up against a linebacker (Tuf Borland) for a deep touchdown pass. Sarkisian also got dynamic running back Najee Harris involved in the passing game, and that provided a different element to the offense.
He just kept the Ohio State defense guessing. Misdirections, counters, he built passing plays off of those looks. Even after Smith left the game with a hand injury, he really didn’t miss a beat. Sarkisian’s offense put up 35 first-half points and consistently out schemed the Ohio State defense in all areas of the field. The red zone touchdown to Smith off motion provided leverage outside for an easy run in touchdown.
Creative play calling can’t be understated. Alabama obviously possesses the cream of the crop in terms of college football recruits, but Ohio State also has a very talented team. It’s up to the coaches to maximize their talents, and Sarkisian did this very well. It seems Jason Garrett, as long as he doesn’t receive a head coaching job, will be back in 2021.
I feel Garrett is an easy punching bag, and it can be unfair at times; however, the offense is unimaginative and could use more motion and better route concepts on a more consistent basis. Hopefully, Garrett can look in the mirror and say 31st in points per game isn’t good enough, and change things up a bit. The fact about a lack of top-end explosive talent is valid, but that doesn’t mean the offensive scheme can’t improve as well.
DeVonta Smith is worth a top 5 pick
Look...this guy is good. He looks like he’s preparing for the SATs, but he plays like he’s ready to step right into the league and make an impact - which he will do. Smith won the Heisman Trophy in 2020, the first receiver to do so since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. 117 catches for 1856 yards and 23 touchdowns will earn you the Heisman Trophy, and that was his senior year production while playing a schedule that virtually featured only SEC defenses - that’s impressive.
He finished his time in Alabama with 43 receiving touchdowns, 235 catches, for 3965 yards. The NFL tends to be cyclical. Last year’s wide receiver class was heralded for its talent, but the first receiver was drafted at 12 (Henry Ruggs III). An argument can be made that teams waited to draft wide receivers because of the depth at the position, and I believe that could be true.
However, I don’t believe this year will be the same in an equally talented wide receiver class. This draft is going to resemble the 2017 NFL Draft where Corey Davis was selected at 5, Mike Williams at 7, and John Ross at 9. None of those selections materialized as desired and we haven’t seen a wide receiver selected in the top 10 since, but that’s going to change this year.
With the incredible rookie seasons of Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, and Brandon Aiyuk, as well as the fantastic years from Michael Pittman Jr, Tee Higgins, and Chase Claypool, I believe the top-end talent of this wide receiver group will have possibly two receivers selected in the top 10 of the draft.
DeVonta Smith and Ja’marr Chase, with the possibility of Jaylen Waddle, could sneak into the top 10 of the draft. There’s plenty of other talented players at other positions that probably will make all three of these players falling in the top 10 difficult, but Smith should be a lock after his incredible year. I don’t believe Smith or Chase will be available for the Giants, but there’s still so much time until the draft and so many events that can flip a script.
What about Jaylen Waddle at 11?
Smith’s incredible season rendered Waddle as an afterthought in many fans’ minds, but this kid can play some football. Waddle has a total of 106 catches for 1,999 yards and 17 total touchdowns. He had ankle issues that required surgery back in October and missed the majority of the season, but he showed so much grit as he attempted to play in the National Championship Game. In a world where so many players opt out to protect their future, Waddle attempted to play, and there’s some merit to that (I’m not demeaning anyone who opts out).
Dave Gettleman isn’t the best poker player among the general managers. The media was on to his affinity for Saquon Barkley and they knew he loved Daniel Jones. The Andrew Thomas pick was heavily assumed by position, but the presence of Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, and Tristan Wirfs made the player selection a bit more difficult - the Giants obviously needed a tackle though.
Gettleman has already discussed, in his postseason presser, the importance of providing Daniel Jones an explosive playmaker. Anyone with eyes could notice this fact, but I do believe it’s in serious consideration at 11, especially if the Giants fail to add a top-flight wide receiver in free agency. Waddle could be that selection, and I wouldn’t mind it! He’s versatile, dynamic with the ball in his hands, and he possesses so many elite wide receiver traits. His presence would seriously help the other weapons of the Giants and should help this offense improve off their putrid 31st rank in points.
Patrick Surtain is an option
The Giants still have a need at the second boundary cornerback spot. In an ideal world, they would secure the position up, opposite of James Bradberry, and continue to upgrade Patrick Graham’s ability to call diverse coverages. On the flip side, due to the other needs on the roster, the Giants could go into the season with Julian Love, Isaac Yiadom, Sam Beal, and a later round pick fighting for the ability to earn the number two spot.
If they go with the former choice, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II would be a nice selection at eleven. He’s 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, has good length, can play man coverage, and has NFL lineage. According to Pro Football Focus, Surtain ranked third when in single coverage with a grade of 88.6; that’s even more impressive when you consider that Alabama played a full 13 game slate.
He had one play against Garret Wilson on the touchdown fade where his technique at the line of scrimmage was off, and he gave Wilson a free release outside that Justin Fields missed, but overall he showed that he certainly has what it takes to succeed in the NFL - he’s done that for two-plus seasons.
If he’s the pick at 11, the Giants will be able to run much more man coverage and he can mostly learn while covering number two wide receivers. It would be a huge upgrade to a young, impressive, secondary. He also dropped an easy interception in the National Championship Game, so he’ll fit right in!
The name Jones can WIN
Full disclosure, this one is silly (not that I needed the disclaimer). There’s never been a quarterback with the last name Jones that has been able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy as a starter. Jones is a pretty generic name - that’s a fact. Mac Jones (who), along with Ohio State’s Cardale Jones, proved that players with the last name Jones can prevail on the big stage. Mac and Cardale are impressing everyone with their shiny trophies. So I ask you - Big Blue View readers - can Daniel keep up with the Joneses?
(prepares to be roasted in the comments, *logs off*)