The New York Giants have had one of the craziest offseasons in franchise history. From seeing a star player walk away in free agency to trading away your best player, then eventually disappointing the fanbase during the NFL Draft, it has been one bewildering move after the other for the Giants this offseason.
This leaves fans and analysts dying to know one thing: what is the New York Giants’ plan? On one hand, they seem to be building around Eli Manning and gearing up for another Super Bowl run.
On the other hand, the Giants look ready to move on from Manning and begin a new era. However, there are so many mixed signals. It is hard to decipher what the Giants are truly trying to do.
However, I think I have figured out what the Giants’ plan is (to some extent). Now, I will try to break that plan down.
Restore The Culture
General manager Dave Gettleman has made one thing clear about the new Giants team he is building: culture is key. In 2017, the Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo completely lost the locker room. The Giants were experiencing major issues with the locker room’s culture. It was around this time that Landon Collins called Eli Apple a “cancer.”
Dave Gettleman has made it a point to clear the locker room of any “cancers” and establish the right culture in the Giants’ locker room. Gettleman has made it clear he does not like when players criticize their teammates in the public media. Landon Collins is no longer with the team and neither is Odell Beckham Jr. after his doozy of an ESPN interview with Lil Wayne.
Dave Gettleman has replaced any locker room problems with new, classy young men and excellent football players. Say what you want about Daniel Jones, but the kid is a leader. He is a good young man off the field that will always represent the New York Giants the best he can.
The same can be said about superstar running back Saquon Barkley. Saquon is a true leader on and off the field. He has been seen coaching up his teammates on Sundays and doing charitable acts in the offseason. Most recently, Saquon Barkley made one fan’s wish come true:
— ESPN (@espn) April 30, 2019
The Giants are in the middle of a rebuild. Gettleman’s first step towards rebuilding is to restore the culture. He has lost some talented players in the process, but by the end of the rebuild, the Giants will hopefully have filled the locker room with high-character, but also elite-talented people and football players.
Model The Quarterback Position After Past Champions (Not Future)
The Giants are clearly not interested in building their team the way the rest of the NFL is. The rest of the NFL is trying to think outside of the box and get one step ahead. It is a copycat league, and the Giants are one of few teams refusing to copycat the new wave.
Instead, the Giants are trying to copycat something else. Something reminiscent of the 1980s. The Giants are not interested in having a strong-arm quarterback who throws off platform 80 yards and makes plays outside of the pocket (such as Patrick Mahomes).
The Giants are interested in having a tall quarterback stand in the pocket, go through his progressions, and make the right read. On top of that, they do not want a social media personality as their signal-caller. They want a quiet, reserved, and humble quarterback to fiend off the New York media. This is why the Giants went with Daniel Jones over the likes of Drew Lock and Dwayne Haskins.
All of the previous NFL Super Bowl champions feature quarterbacks more similar to Daniel Jones than to Kyler Murray or even Patrick Mahomes. Murray and Mahomes have incredible potential and are examples of the league’s evolution towards a more collegiate style of play. The Giants have no interest in this.
The Giants want to replicate the past champions. Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, stands tall in the pocket, goes through his progressions, and makes the right read. Eli Manning has done that his entire career. Each of the past Super Bowl winners has had a playstyle similar to the pocket-passing, make-the-right-decision playstyle that Daniel Jones possesses.
Let’s look at the last 10 Super Bowl champion quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Nick Foles, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger. Only two of these quarterbacks (Wilson and Rodgers) have ever rushed for 250+ yards in a season.
Besides Wilson and Rodgers, this list compiles some of the best pocket-passing quarterbacks over the past decade. None of these guys (besides Wilson and Rodgers, again) are known for making plays out of the pocket. Daniel Jones, like seven of the last eight Super Bowl champion quarterbacks, is a pocket-passing quarterback whose game emphasizes reading the defense and making the right decisions.
Daniel Jones pocket presence is fearless, there's never a moment where you see him cowering in the face of pressure, no one is open but Jones doesn't panic despite the lineman grabbing his leg, #80 sees this and works back to the open space and gets a 1st down. pic.twitter.com/nUZ9ZovX7x
— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) October 1, 2018
Model The Rest Of The Team After Past Champions
The 2018 New England Patriots were not a team with an impressive pass-rush. Instead, the Patriots had an exceptional secondary and a defensive scheme that generated the defense’s pressure. This is what the Giants’ defense is being molded into.
The Giants seemed to fully commit to this defensive gameplan in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants drafted three cornerbacks in their ten draft picks.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher has an aggressive scheme that aims to generate pressure in unique ways through the scheme, rather than through the players. This all ties into the Giants’ desire to model the team after past champions, especially the 2018 Patriots.
This modeling can be found on the offensive side of the ball too. The Giants have fully committed to a run-first offense lead by Saquon Barkley. Countless Super Bowl teams were lead by a strong running attack and a quarterback who makes plays when he needs to. A great example is, again, the 2018 Patriots.
Tom Brady threw for 262 yards and 1 interception with 0 touchdowns in Super Bowl LIII. Meanwhile, the Patriots picked up 154 yards on the ground, led by rookie running back Sony Michel who had 94 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Giants seem fixated on replicating this kind of success.
The Giants want the offense to run through Saquon, with Daniel Jones being the complimentary piece. It is the opposite for many teams across the league, but the Giants are all in on this old-school approach.
It is also worth noting how similar the Giants’ receiving corps is to the 2018 Patriots. The Pats have not had a superstar receiver since Randy Moss. The Giants just traded away their superstar receiver. The Patriots win Super Bowl after Super Bowl by running with short, quick, slot receivers all over the field. The Giants are looking to do the same.
Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard will play in the Giants’ offense similar to how Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola played in the Patriots’ offense for all those years. Dependable, slot receivers are the key to New England’s offensive success and they will be the key to New York’s success soon too.
Another interesting note is the Patriots’ and Giants’ collective commitment to the tight end position. Trading away Odell Beckham Jr. was definitely a move influenced by Evan Engram’s increased effectiveness with Odell off the field.
Engram will breakout with more targets in 2019. Like Rob Gronkowski was with the Patriots, Evan Engram will be the Giants’ biggest matchup advantage and receiving weapon.
The Giants are looking to replicate the Patriots’ offensive and defensive schemes. Let’s all hope they are able to replicate New England’s success, too.