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Brandon Brown, Joe Schoen, Sports Illustrated and more ‘things I think’

A few random thoughts for a winter Sunday without Giants football

Syndication: The Record
Brandon Brown
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

As we wait to watch Sunday’s playoff games, here are some New York Giants-related ‘things I think’ for your Sunday consideration.

Congrats to Antonio Pierce

I was happy to see Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis come to his senses and give the head-coaching job to former Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce.

When he was a Giant, Pierce was a coach on the field. As Raiders’ interim coach, he leaned into what the Raiders are supposed to be all about and did an excellent job.

Former Giants coach Tom Coughlin endorsed the hiring:

“I could not be prouder of Antonio Pierce being named head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I’m excited for him, his family, and the franchise. This is the team he grew up watching, and his belief in himself and in the players is why he is there. He is a great student of the game, a quick learner with a great attitude, and he is eager to get to work. The 2024 season just got a lot more interesting with him at the helm. Go get ‘em AP!”

Brandon Brown moving on?

Because it was reported at midday on Saturday, it may have gone largely unnoticed that Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown had a second interview with the Carolina Panthers for their GM job. Brown also interviewed recently for the GM job with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Brown, just 35, was considered a fast riser in front office circles when Joe Schoen stole him from the Philadelphia Eagles to be his second in command.

When Schoen hired him he said Brown “has a strong reputation around the league as a leader, evaluator and consensus builder.”

After just two years as Schoen’s front office wing man, Brown is already getting serious consideration for a chance to run his own show.

So, while Brian Daboll reshapes his coaching staff ahead of a critical third season for the Schoen-Daboll regime, it is possible that Schoen might be going forward without a key member of his staff.

Speaking of Joe Schoen ...

Sunday is the two-year anniversary of Schoen being hired by the Giants.

With one good and one bad season under his belt, Schoen — along with head coach Brian Daboll — faces a critical third season in 2024.

When Schoen was hired, it looked like he and Daboll had a long-term rebuild on their hands. Then, the Giants surprised by going 9-7-1 and winning a playoff game. At his season-ending press conference, Schoen seemed to admit that that shockingly successful first season altered the approach to roster building for Year 2.

“You do a deal with Daniel [Jones] and you see how it was structured, so you try to expedite the process and give him a chance to succeed,” Schoen said.

Signing Parris Campbell was part of that. Trading for Darren Waller was probably part of that. Aggressively going up in the draft to get Jalin Hyatt was also probably part of that.

It will be interesting to see how Schoen approaches Year 3. He and Daboll will be under pressure to show improvement after a 6-11 season, but the idea has always been to try and rebuild the Giants into a team that can and will contend consistently. Not go all-in for one year at the expense of the future.

Can Schoen thread that needle in 2024?

“I’m always evaluating myself on a daily basis because there is so many decisions that we make and so many things that go across my desk on a daily basis and there’s always room for improvement,” Schoen said. “At the end of the day, it starts with me, and I’ve got to do a better job throughout the entire organization. We’re a six-win team, you are what your record says you are, and I’ve got to do a better job.

“We went through adversity. Sometimes you have to go through it. We’re still in year two so things were pretty good in year one. We started fast, had a playoff win and maybe you didn’t see where all the issues were, whether it was in the building, on the team, in the coaching staff, wherever it may have been. Going through it, I think it sucked but it also opened our eyes to some things that maybe need to change, or we need to get better (or) we need to change the process.”

Ceilings and floors

I am nowhere near done studying quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft, or learning about them from people who know more than I do. For argument’s sake, though, here are some early ceiling/floor thoughts on some of the top guys. I’m not putting Bo Nix in here simply because I haven’t seen enough. Oh, and these may change — it’s just what I think today.

Caleb Williams
Ceiling — Patrick Mahomes | Floor — Jameis Winston

Drake Maye
Ceiling — Justin Herbert | Floor — Daniel Jones

Jayden Daniels
Ceiling — Lamar Jackson | Floor — Tyrod Taylor

Michael Penix Jr.
Ceiling — Tua Tagovailoa (with a stronger arm) | Floor — Mitchell Trubisky

JJ McCarthy
Ceiling — Kirk Cousins (with more mobility) | Floor — Mac Jones

The death of Sports Illustrated

In the same way that the Sporting News lives on in a tiny corner of the sports media landscape, Sports Illustrated will likely live on in some fashion. Still, this week’s news of “significant” layoffs at once-iconic SI is a sad thing for those of us who grew up captivated by the weekly magazine.

SI’s heyday was a different, pre-Internet, time. You got your daily newspaper — if you were lucky your area might have had morning and afternoon papers. You had the evening news to listen to, which didn’t give you much relevant sports information. And, you had the fantastically-written and informative Sports Illustrated magazine that arrived in your mailbox every week.

Reading SI is, I think, where I learned what the best of sports writing could really be. There were great newspapers columnists I admired, but they were always limited by time and word count. SI? That was different. That was writing, and behind the scenes journalism at its zenith.

Now, it is gone. The name will likely live on in some fashion, and I know it hasn’t been what it was in a long, long time. Still, as you get older — I’m 63 now and seeing the end of my own career closing in — you watch parts of your past slip away. That’s how it felt for me this week with what was, for all intents and purposes, the death of Sports Illustrated.