Weekend Notes from the Vault of the GM
As we get ready for our first ever Super Wildcard weekend, here are a few observations from around the league in a week of craziness. Let’s discuss.
Who benefited long term from the NY Giants debacle?
Other than suffering Giants fans, this is an easy one for me. Quarterback Daniel Jones. In actuality, I think the fact that he was an innocent bystander to the circus that came to light with HC Joe Judge’s press conferences, poor on field execution, and the un-needed spotlight that Judge put on himself and team, Jones has been out of sight out of mind.
If he had been part of this organizational melt down he may have ended up getting thrown out with the bath water, guilty by association. In my opinion, his injury actually allowed him to divorce himself from the whole situation and his reputation and ongoing evaluation can stay above the fray and thus preserve a chance to stay in the Big Apple to be judged by a new staff. If he had floundered like the rest of this offense Giants fans would not stand for the sequel. Better to be thought of one way than to PLAY and expose yourself.
Incidentally, in the press conference to announce the firing of Joe Judge, owner and top decision maker, John Mara should be credited for his frank and candid accountability for past decisions with the Giants. I have been critical of the Giants many times but what I heard was the exact message that Giants fans should be happy about. John knows he has many doubters and much to prove. He may have been slow to make his latest decisions but his plan moving forward has legitimacy. It’s the owners that never are willing to adjust and change to realize their own faults that scare me. This was some basis as to why I think Giant fans will benefit most from the latest decisions and rare accountability.
49’er Quarterback situation-
When the San Francisco 49’ers mortgaged future draft picks to move up and take the inexperienced Trey Lance as the answer to their QB of the future questions, I couldn’t question their ability to evaluate. I saw the same “glimpses” of what they did. But I said at the time, I could not have made the move based on “valuing” what they would be giving up to get him and how long they may have to wait to develop his skill set. He was just too far away for my taste.
My point is, sometimes as young GM’s and coaches, the art of valuing deals from a big picture standpoint is very hard to do without some perspective. I think emotion was a factor in making this deal. In this case, here is the dilemma they are left with based on the performance of their QB for the majority of this season.
I happen to think they are going to the playoffs, BECAUSE of Jimmy Garoppolo and not IN SPITE OF him. They will have no problem trading QB Jimmy, if that’s what they want to do. I think they can actually get value for him. If you were the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Denver Broncos, the Washington Football Team or several other teams- wouldn’t you give a 2nd round pick to SF for the last year of a Jimmy G contract and his services? He is clearly better than many other options that they may have in front of them. I’m not saying Jimmy is complete or without flaws, he’s just outperformed his critics for a lot of this year.
But here is the bad news from the 49’er point of view- They CAN’T trade him. He’s too valuable (compared to the next best option) and I think they know it. We have seen no such game-to-game package for Trey Lance, to-date as we were told we would get. He’s raw, he’s learning but essentially this has been a redshirt year with very little battlefield action. Are you willing to put the team on his shoulders in 2022? I think he’s still a year away so the decision to give him the keys to the castle may have to wait another year as well as any hope to supplement draft picks by trading Jimmy G, IF that was the original plan.
This playoff game vs Dallas is huge, in helping the 49’er brass make this decision and for Jimmy, it probably nets him a new deal if he plays well. The question is- who will he get that new deal from?
When Charger coach Brandon Staley lost me-
We all saw last Monday a coach's ability to hinder his own team’s chances when he thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room. Going for it on 4th and 1 from your own 18-yard line, like Staley chose to do, was indefensible, IMO. In allowing momentum to reverse in a game, with the chances you take, is hard for me to understand. This decision resulted in giving the Raiders 3 points, and could have been much worse, but those 3 points could have been handy at the end of the game.
I enjoyed coach Staley and a couple of his takes, early in the season while listening to his press conferences. His reasoning for why a running game is important made perfect sense when relating it to the defensive benefits a team gets when practicing against that same run game. Unfortunately, it seems like- coach Staley may enjoy his own words of wisdom a bit much as well ☺
He doubled down on his strong belief in the analytics (which I think have a very secure place in decision making in the NFL) by saying- “real football people understand why we do what we do”. I actually think that statement alone caused him to lose not only the support of football people in the NFL, it gave me the impression he was hiding behind these charts, numbers, and analytics. I don’t mind an aggressive approach, shoot- I am all for thinking outside the box and making aggressive moves as a GM as well. But to then give the impression of “I don’t have to be accountable because the numbers say “X” is less than being fully accountable.
I’d love to see coach Staley show some humility and be accountable to himself, not try to show us how smart he is. Football people will get to determine that by what we see on the field and if he doesn’t fix his defense, which has taken a big step back this year- analytics won’t matter.
Most pressure this weekend- The Dallas Cowboys and HC Mike McCarthy. Best roster on paper means nothing if you get knocked out in the first round. And also, when your two coordinators are in demand around the league as potential head coaches, you don’t want any doubt about yourself to grow in the mind of your owner or he might promote one of those coordinators in demand.
Hardest job this weekend- The Las Vegas Raiders, coming off a grueling, emotional OT win over the Chargers to just get in the playoffs on Sunday night, the Raiders now have to go on the road, in a short week (Saturday game) with recharged batteries vs a Bengal team who rested its starters last week. I think it’s a tough task but if anyone can get his team ready, I believe in LV coach Rich Bisaccia and his ability to rally the troops. I think they have the highest hill to climb this weekend.
Game I’m looking forward to the most- I can’t wait for the third version of Pats-Bills. Two really good games in the series are already in the bank, with a 3rd, another cold weather event on the horizon. I love the diverse differences at the QB position. What kind of plan can Pats OC Josh McDaniel give rookie QB Mac Jones the third time around? How much do they trust the rookie?Can Bills QB Josh Allen keep his emotions in check to play with poise (especially outside the pocket) that will allow his rare skill set to shine. He is the exception in more ways than one. Can his mind slow down to match the appointments that his body tends to make. Can’t wait!