Giants 2022: Should Judge and Jones Stay or Go?

At this writing, there is, mercifully, only one game left in this disaster of a season for the New York Giants. You’d like to think it can’t get much uglier than the week 17 game against the Chicago Bears, but if there’s one thing the Giants have proven not just this year, but every year since the dark age known as the Dave Gettleman era began, it’s that things can ALWAYS get worse.

With Gettleman seeming to be finally heading for the hills, many Giants fans are calling for a similar fate for head coach Joe Judge and quarterback Daniel Jones. With a highly consequential off-season looming, it’s worth looking at how the Giants should consider proceeding.

At this point, reports from East Rutherford indicate that the Giants ownership are inclined to hold on to both Judge and Jones as they hunt for a new general manager. But should they be making that decision without the input of their new GM, whomever that might end up being?

Starting with Jones, it seems clear enough that he has only occasionally had the opportunity to succeed in his first three seasons. The main reason for that is the offensive line. While some argue that injuries to the Giants’ playmakers should also be considered, I’d contend that those playmakers are overrated, and that there have been enough receivers active for most of Jones’ games that he should have been able to show more than he has.

No, it’s the line that has been consistently terrible. Behind that line, Jones has managed to flash signs of competence, although he has been very inconsistent. Jones has not, for the most part, seemed overwhelmed by the job or completely incapable of handling it, as Mike Glennon has looked, or as, to use a nearby example, young Jets quarterbacks like Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson have looked at various times in their brief careers.

On the other hand, Jones even at his best has not shown the potential for stardom. Think of Eli Manning in 2004. He came in and got brutalized by some of the best defenses in the league at the time. But in a week 15 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers –who would end up going 15-1 that year—Manning flashed some of the excellence and moxie that would define his success in the years to come. In three seasons, Jones has not done that. Even in his best games, he’s looked like a good, solid quarterback, not a budding star.

In Jones’ first start in 2019, the Giants put up 32 points. They have broken 30 behind Jones only twice since. That is surely not entirely Jones’ fault, but he must shoulder a great deal of the blame for it.

Does that mean the Giants should just dump Jones? Actually, no, it doesn’t, especially not right now.

While the Giants are likely to have two picks in the top 10 of the 2022 draft, this is not a good year for quarterbacks. The last thing they need to do is repeat the mistake Gettleman made when he reached at number 6 in 2019 to take Jones.

Other scenarios, such as the Giants trading for Seattle’s Russell Wilson, make even less sense. Big Blue’s offense is broken and it can’t be addressed with a quick fix mentality. Giving up the sort of draft capital Wilson or any star-level vet would cost is the wrong approach for the Giants. This team needs to draft and draft well, something they haven’t done in a very long time. There is no other way to fix an offense this bad.

And it is bad. Even aside from the offensive line, there is a lot more wrong with this offense. While there is a mantra floating around about the Giants having an impressive array of offensive weapons, the reality is vastly different. People can imagine that Saquon Barkley will once again be the electrifying running back he was in 2018, but that is a fantasy. Injuries have robbed him of his explosiveness, and he was never as good as people thought he was. While he was a highly dynamic playmaker, he was also extremely prone to negative plays, as he would dance around behind the line of scrimmage, often allowing the defense to converge on him. Yes, he was good for a huge play in nearly every game, but he also put the Giants in a lot of third and longs.

The injuries have robbed Barkley of his dynamism and it’s not coming back. He’s not an Adrian Peterson who can make up for losing a step with his ability to run between the tackles and push the pile. Barkley is a good running back, but his days as a great one were short, and they’re now in the past.

Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney have both shown that they can’t be relied on, and Golladay was not able to develop any chemistry with Jones even when he was on the field. Evan Engram presents a tough matchup for defensive coordinators, but if the defenders fail, Engram has proven beyond doubt that his hands will mean fumbles, tipped interceptions, and lots of plain old dropped passes. Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are good pieces, but Shepard is largely extraneous if Toney is on the field, and Slayton is no better than a fourth receiver.

In all, this is not the arsenal it is made out to be. While the skill players are not the sort of horrible problem the offensive line is, they’re not a strength either.

With all of that, the Giants should not be desperate to replace Jones, who can competently manage the offense. Better to build the offense until there is an opportunity to get a quarterback who can lead this team to real contention for a long time to come. If the Giants decide there is someone who has that sort of potential in this year’s draft, fine. If not, there are other, more pressing matters that make it unnecessary to rush Jones out the door.

With Jones, the Giants need to decide whether they should guarantee his fifth year. It seems clear they shouldn’t, but also that they should keep the door open for him to step up and seize the job long term. But what of Joe Judge? He has apparently been assured that he will be the coach in 2022. This assurance is a lot more questionable.

When Judge stepped in for Pat Shurmur, he did seem to bring a greater sense of pride to the team. Despite all the losing, it’s clear to anyone watching that the Giants have not quit on Judge and continue to play hard for him. And that’s great; it means something.

But the inescapable fact is that Judge has won 10 games in two seasons. He has followed up a 6-10 campaign with one which will likely end with a 4-13 record, maybe 5-12. Judge can rant all he wants about internal and cultural progress, but that’s stepping backward, not forward.

Sure, the Giants have faced a lot of injuries. But so has very other NFL team. Yes, the Giants were hit especially hard, but there’s only so far that excuse can go. The game against Chicago illustrated the problem.

Mike Glennon may not be a good quarterback, but he is a veteran who, in his career, has thrown 47 touchdowns against 33 interceptions. He’s only won six games of the 30 he has started, but he did win those six. He shouldn’t be completely incapable of throwing a pass at all, as he was on Sunday. He went out there, as he has since Jones got hurt, and looked completely overwhelmed. That should not happen to an eight-year veteran.

When Glennon struggled, the Giants, who have nothing to lose, went into a shell and refused to pass, hobbling an already crippled offense. Judge is not just conservative, he has coached scared on many occasions. He has punted in situations that called for aggression (once even saying he wanted to get the punter “involved” early—and he wasn’t joking) and frequently called for third-down runs rather than trying more aggressively to move the football.

Judge comes from a special teams background. That’s unusual but not unprecedented. Yet it should mean that a disastrously stupid move like Pharoh Cooper allowing a kickoff to bounce around in the hope it would bounce into the end zone should not happen.

Yet it did. And when it did, the Giants called consecutive running plays up the middle sandwiched around a false start which all totaled a loss of five yards and cost them a safety, because Chicago, despite being poor defensively against the run, knew the Giants would not pass.

Judge’s performance in this game was not out of the ordinary. While Freddie Kitchens is technically calling the plays, we know it’s Judge that sets the tone; that’s especially clear since the Giants’ play-calling is so wildly different than what Kitchens employed in Cleveland, when he also had a sputtering offense.

Judge loves to lecture about culture, yet he’s also the guy who has routinely blamed everyone except himself for the team’s woes and last year had the gall to whine publicly because another team didn’t do enough to get his pathetic 6-10 squad into the playoffs.

So should Judge be fired?

As bad as the Giants organization has become, I am glad that John Mara at least remans reluctant to become the sort of owner who fires his coach every two years. Judge may yet turn this thing around and build on the promise he seemed to bring with him at the beginning of 2020.

But what should be of paramount importance right now to the Giants is their new general manager. This roster has been devastated by a GM who cannot judge talent, who doesn’t understand that the NFL of 2021 is very different from the NFL of 1986, and who has been incredibly resistant, from all accounts, to input from others.

After years of bad drafts from Jerry Reese, Gettleman made things much worse. He squandered the #2 overall pick on a running back, reached for a mediocre quarterback with the 6th pick, and took the worst of four available left tackles in his third draft (though, in fairness, Andrew Thomas has improved substantially since his poor rookie season, even if he is still clearly not as talented as the other tackles in that draft). In 2021 he passed on Micah Parsons—a player who is a throwback to the days when the Giants dominated the NFC East with their linebacking crew—and ended up taking the brittle Kadarius Toney instead. That decision is still open, since Gettleman did get a second first-round pick for trading back that day, so it may yet work out.

Bottom line, the roster is weak because of years of bad drafts and the free agents and trade acquisitions that have filled that gap have mostly either been inconsistent (Leonard Williams), too old to be on the next contending Giants team (Logan Ryan), or outright busts (Nate Solder). Big Blue absolutely cannot fail in their quest for a better GM.

That means they must not hamper their search by forcing any new GM to accept a coach who has a poor track record and a questionable temperament like Judge.

All things being equal, I’d give Judge one more year to show some results on the field and demonstrate that he’s capable of coaxing something more out of his players than the ability to lose a dozen or more games without punching one another. It’s concerning that this last result is something Judge apparently thinks is a point of pride.

But things are not equal. The clown show that is Dave Gettleman is finally about to end and the Giants must overcome the damage he’s done. Whoever they feel can do that must be hired and keeping Judge cannot be a factor in that decision at all. If a new GM wants him, fine. I can see someone feeling Judge has potential and, if that’s the view, there is value in consistency as well. But if the new GM wants his own guy, there should be no question that he will get him.

Giants ownership with John Mara has gone from the ridiculous to the pathetic. To say John is not the football man his father was is the understatement of the century. But there is no chance of change there, so Giants fans have to hope that his next decision is better than most of his previous ones. The new GM must be given free reign to decide on his coach, and the future of the entire roster, including the quarterback. The fact that Mara seems to want to pre-empt that decision is a real cause for concern.

Remembering Tom Seaver

As the month of August gave way to September, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history fell victim to a combination of Lewy body dementia and Covid-19.

Tom Seaver was likely the best pitcher it was ever my privilege to watch. His fastball, powered by the bets use of powerful legs of any pitcher ever, was dominant, and he threw it with such consistency and accuracy that a hitter who wasn’t aggressive at the plate against him would find himself in an 0–2 hole very quickly.

But try and gear up for that fastball, and he’d throw a slider that looked for all the world like a mistake pitch right down the middle until it seemed to dive into the dirt. Seaver also had an outstanding 12-to-6 curveball that forced hitters to bend the knee, and something sort of like a knuckle curve, a slow and deceptive pitch that seemed to tease its way past a hitter.

There’s a reason Tom Seaver struck out 3,640 hitters and led the league in strikeouts five times.Continue reading “Remembering Tom Seaver”

NFL, Giants Show They Don’t Care About Domestic Violence

Being a football fan and a feminist may not be mutually exclusive, but the two don’t go easily together. American Football is as testosterone-driven a sport as there is. While watching the games, whether at stadiums or sports bars, one can often see some of the worst excesses of male behavior.

Few are naïve enough to think that the National Football League is ever going to honestly give a damn about the domestic violence that has plagued it. Every time the issue has come up, it has been all about covering it up and, failing that, doing damage control. I don’t expect that to change.Continue reading “NFL, Giants Show They Don’t Care About Domestic Violence”

JETS WIN! JETS WIN!

Make no mistake about it, kids. The Jets won big time, and Darrelle Revis is unlikely to be burned as badly as he has been in his holdout by any NFL receiver for a long time to come.

It’s frankly pathetic to read the bloggers at ESPN’s web site talking about how the Jets “recognized” that they needed to Revis, one even going so far as to say the Jets were an 8-8 team without him, but with him have a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl. Rich Cimini, at least, got it right.

Revis
Revis Island, ravaged, Darrelle burnt and pillaged

What utter nonsense. No cornerback (and Revis is, indeed, the best) can make that big a difference. No one player outside a quarterback can, and even there, it’s got less to do with how good the player is than how big the gulf between him and his backup is.

Without Revis, the jets still had a formidable backfield. Last year they lost the guy everyone thought was their best defensive player. Anyone recall how that worked out?

But the really sad part is that these guys seem unable to do simple math.

We’re not even talking fractions, here, just basic addition, subtraction and a little division. Let’s break it down.

Coming into camp, Revis was upset that he would make only $1 million this year. But his contract had three years left in it and the Jets would obviously have picked up his option, guaranteeing the rest of the money, which was $20 million. That’s $21 million guaranteed over three years, or $ 7 million per year.
Continue reading “JETS WIN! JETS WIN!”

Is Darrelle Revis really being underpaid?

I live far enough away from New York that I can only occasionally receive the broadcasts of WFAN, and have to make some effort to check out the local media buzz about sports. From what I’ve been able to suss out, though, it seems the majority opinion is that the Jets are being too hardline with Darrelle Revis and really should give him what he wants.

Some say that the Jets have a legit shot at a Super Bowl with Revis, but not really without him. I disagree, but I’ll let their fans debate that one. But others contend that Revis’ demands are reasonable, that he’s the best corner in the league, that he’s “outplayed his contract” and that he deserves to be paid at least as much as Nnamdi Asomugha.

I beg to differ. Not with all of those points, only with the conclusion.

Darrelle Revis

Is Revis being reasonable? That depends on how one analyzes the situation, of course, and is a matter of opinion.

Is he the best corner in the league? Some might argue the point, but I say yes, he is.

Has Revis outplayed his contract? Yes.

But does that mean the Jets should be expected to give him a long-term deal commensurate with Asomugha’s? Keeping in mind that the Raiders were widely viewed to have overpaid Asomugha, let’s use him as a benchmark.

Thanks to my brother who did some research to find these numbers (source: USA Today’s salary database), we can look at what Asomugha made in his first six years. Revis has played three.

Year 1 $3,575,000 (2003)

Year 2 $470,100

Year 3 $560,720

Year 4 $650,280

Year 5 $1,240,760

Year 6 (Opted out of contract and was franchised.  Jets can’t franchise Revis)

Got $9,765,000

Total:  $16,351,860
Now, let’s look at what Revis has made and would be due on the remainder of his contract.

Year 1 $5,319,000 (2007)

Year 2 $2,670,000

Year 3 $6,260,000

Year 4 $1,000,000

Year 5 $5,000,000

Year 6 $15,000,000

Total: $35,249,000

Continue reading “Is Darrelle Revis really being underpaid?”

Where’s the case against Clemens?

Roger Clemens, in terms of greatness and longevity is not only the best pitcher I’ve ever seen, he has a strong case for having been the best ever. Barry Bonds is the all-time home run king, as a hitter can only be discussed with Babe Ruth and Ted Williams and as an all-around player, only with Ruth.

Bonds has clearly fallen from grace and his accomplishments have been tainted in everyone’s minds. Now, Clemens faces a similar fate.

But for the life of me, I don’t understand why.

Roger Clemens swearing in

I’m not going to contend that Clemens is telling the truth and never took HGH or steroids. I have no idea whether he did or didn’t. But that’s really the point—I have no idea. And I can’t see how anyone outside of Clemens, Brian McNamee and anyone who might have actually seen McNamee inject Clemens with something they knew beyond a doubt was a Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) can claim to either.

I’m not surprised that most fans have already convicted Clemens. He’s an unappealing figure, the whole steroids era has seriously bruised baseball fans, and the media have spent over a decade now whipping up a self-righteous frenzy over the issue to such an extent that any accusation of use is immediately treated as conclusive proof that the player used.

What I do find so puzzling, though, is that not only does the government seem to think they have a strong case for perjury against Clemens, the legal experts who are weighing in on the issue are giving Clemens only a tiny chance of beating the rap.

I’m not a lawyer, so I can only assume I’m missing something here, but whatever it is must be gargantuan and I wish one of these lawyers would explain what it is.Continue reading “Where’s the case against Clemens?”

Interesting Teams: 2008 AL

A few years ago, that master of anti-marketing his own product, Bud Selig, made the absurd statement that in any given year, fans of more than half of the teams in MLB don’t have any “hope and faith” due to the imbalanced market.

The statement was false on its face. In all of baseball history, no era has come close to matching the competitive balance that has existed in baseball since the free agent era began. Facile evidence supporting Selig’s claim at the time was available in the Yankees’ string of world championships from 1996-2000 (like that hadn’t happened before), missing a beat only in 1997. But since the Yankee run ended, only one team has more than one world championship and they hadn’t won since 1918. Plenty of teams on tight budgets have won and made the playoffs in the past 20 years.

That said, there is some serious bifurcation in MLB on 2008. The disparity between the vastly superior American League and the weaker Senior Circuit remains very pronounced. And while the NL, in part due to its overall mediocrity, is a pretty wide open affair, the AL has five teams who seem likely to contend for the four playoff spots, and really only two or three others who could possibly edge into the race with big years and some help from injuries or surprising collapses from the Big Five. Those five would be the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Tigers and Angels. Continue reading “Interesting Teams: 2008 AL”

A Surprising Winner This Off-Season: The Oakland A’s

As the Hot Stove League season winds down and gives way to the annual rebirth that is spring training, writers start to assess who the winners and losers were in the off-season. I’m not going to do that, but if I were to, I think I’d be putting a team in the winner’s column with a bullet that most others would rank as losers. That team is the Oakland Athletics.

But wait, you say, the A’s traded their best pitcher and their best position player for a bunch of guys we’ve never heard of. How can that be a win for the A’s? It can be and it was, but to understand it, you have to step back and do a sober analysis of A's GM Billy Beanewhere the A’s were at the end of 2007.

Coming off their first ever playoff victory in 2006, the ’07 A’s rolled the dice with a lot of iffy and unhealthy players and it came up snake eyes, a 76-86 record, a third place finish and the first losing season for the franchise since 1998. In and of itself, that’s no reason to panic. Teams have down years where the injury bug and a few problems dog them down.

But this team had no future. Several players who were supposed to form the core of the A’s franchise for years had faltered. Eric Chavez’s back problems have led to spiraling production three years in a row and it doesn’t look like he is physically capable of being the player he once promised to be, or even once was. Rich Harden had the best stuff of any pitcher the A’s have developed in recent years, but after three years of constant injury, it is clear he cannot be relied on. Bobby Crosby has proven not only to be unhealthy, but also not to be anywhere near the player, offensively or defensively, that the A”s thought he would be when they let Miguel Tejada walk.

Couple those things with several poor drafts which left the A’s once-envied minor league system with only a few prospects who had any sort of major-league future, and you start to see what Billy Beane saw. Sure, with guys like Nick Swisher, Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, Huston Street, Travis Buck and Daric Barton they had the core of a decent team, and a few shrewd moves and lucky breaks could put them on the outside track for wild card contention for a few years.

But the simple fact was they had no chance to put together a team that was a legitimate contender within the next few years. Most GMs would flail about, finding a few players to plug in who could help boost the team above .500. And, if the A’s played in the National League, where the best teams are not nearly as good as the best of the AL, Beane might have done that. But if he had, that would have been because he would have had sufficient resources to field a team that could have challenged the best in the league. Continue reading “A Surprising Winner This Off-Season: The Oakland A’s”

Joba Rules, But Remember A Guy Phil?

Eli Manning may not have been the only New York sports figure to have found himself in the post-season of 2007. In a less dramatic and certainly less impactful way, it’s just possible that Yankee pitcher Philip Hughes did so as well.

I’ve found it interesting to see the change in the view of Hughes since Joba Chamberlain hit the scene. Hughes was once regarded by some as the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. He didn’t make the immediate impact Chamberlain did, and now it’s Chamberlain who is the next big thing.

That may not be such a bad thing. In Spring Training last year, Hughes seemed to be feeling the pressure and pitched poorly. This resulted in his starting the year back in the minors. When he was called up in late April, he pitched two games before getting hurt and staying out until August. In his second May start, he pitched 6 1/3 innings of no-hit ball, striking out six and walking three before leaving with a hamstring injury.

When Hughes returned it took a while for him to find his legs again. But in September, he appeared to right the ship and made it on to the Yankees’ post-season roster. It was here that we finally saw again what we had seen in that second start, as he looked every bit as advertised against Cleveland. In two relief appearances in the ALDS, Hughes tossed 5 2/3 innings, surrendering one run on a solo homer, striking out six and not walking a batter. If this was his arrival, we’ll know it soon enough of course.

I think I’m higher on Hughes than most. But what strikes me is how many of those writing in sports media and the blogosphere have revised their view of Hughes.Continue reading “Joba Rules, But Remember A Guy Phil?”