East Rutherford, NJ: Things are looking up. We’re about ten days from spring, eighteen days from opening day, a month and a half from the NFL draft, and a month from Game of Thrones. As we shake off the chills of winter, the New York Giants are making moves with an eye on the fall. They jettisoned their best pass rusher for help on the O-line and are letting their stud safety Landon Collins walk. Let’s try to make sense of Dave Gettleman’s plan.
Landon Somewhere Else
Supposedly the Giants were offered a least a third round pick by the Chiefs at the deadline for Landon, but held out for more. Deciding to let him walk for nothing now sure seems to reflect a lack of direction on the part of management. Kind of like this site…
Collins had a down year in 2018 and he might be a touch overrated after his monster sophomore campaign. But he’s still an impact player on a defense without them.
He PFF’s number three ranked free agent who hasn’t been franchised after Earl Thomas and Trey Flowers. Collins isn’t the best cover guy, but he thrives near the line of scrimmage and plays like a linebacker. He will be missed.
O-Vern to the Browns
Olivier Vernon was overpaid, but with his dead money and Kevin Zeitler’s contract, they didn’t really create a ton of cap space and they turned a fourth round pick into a fifth. The 2016 free agent shopping spree of Snacks, Vernon, and Jackrabbit worked for a year at least.
While we were all happy to see Ereck Flowers go, his replacement Chad Wheeler was the PFF’s lowest graded tackle in the league. Plans are in the works for an upcoming buddy cop vehicle, Wheels and The Flowerpot, as both of these guys will be out of the league soon. Expectations were low for the undrafted free agent, and he lived up to them. Wheeler needs to go.
Bringing in Zeitler to take over at RG will help the improving line. They may try to bring back last year’s RG, Jamon Brown a free agent, and move him to RT.
If they started the year with that line it would be better, but it still leaves two of the Giants’ five lowest PFF rated players, Spencer Pulley and Brown, as starters. Look for the team to add some depth in free agency or maybe a mid-to-late round pick. If they don’t bring back Brown, they’ll have a big hole at RT.
The Eli Decision
The Giants have played it closed to the vest regarding their plans to bring back Eli Manning. It seems to me that the decision not to franchise Collins means they’ve decided to bring back Eli, or are at least keeping the option open. If the Giants were going to let Eli go, they would have the cap room to bring back Collins.
Nothing has really gotten out about their feelings on the top available QBs in the draft, and the jury is probably still out. If Gettleman likes big, athletic QBs like Cam Newton, maybe Tyree Jackson out of Buffalo has caught his eye.
Rest of the Offense
We still don’t know what’s going to happen at QB and there is still the possibility of trading OBJ. But right now, if they can get a decent O-line in place, the offense has everything it needs to put up 30 points a game. (I’ll bet I wrote something very similar to that last summer.) But 30 points might not be enough, most weeks, because of…
NFC East offenses are circling the Giants’ games on their calendar as a bad defense got worse on paper. The Giants might not have an above average player on defense not named Janoris Jenkins.
Vernon missed six games and still led the team with seven sacks. While he hasn’t produced at the level his contract demanded, how the hell is this team going to get pressure on opposing QBs?
Last year’s team was second-to-last in the league with 30 sacks and now they’ve traded their best pass rusher. BJ Hill looked good and Lorenzo Carter had a few moments, but neither is likely to make the jump to double digit sacks. An edge rusher is now the Giants’ biggest immediate area of need. If they stay put at #6 and don’t take a QB, expect them to look for someone who can get after the QB.
You might think Alec Ogletree had a decent year last season with five interceptions and two TDs. But he had the second lowest PFF grade for the season on the team after Wheeler. Only two LBs make more money per year than Ogletree; Luke Kuechley and Bobby Wagner. You don’t have to be Tony Romo to know that Ogletree does not produce like those tackling robots.
They were both in the top eight in tackles in 2018 while Olgetree barely cracked the top 50. And since he’s only one year into a four year deal, the Giants will have to eat a lot of dead money if they cut him. But it’s not like they have a better option at this point. One of Gettleman’s first moves as GM is not looking great.
Apart from Jackrabbit, the cupboard in the secondary is pretty bare. Maybe the Giants will get something out of their 2018 supplemental pick, CB Sam Beal. They’d better, because they could sure use that pick this year. They have nothing at safety with Collins gone. Curtis Riley, last year’s starter at FS, was the Giants’ lowest rated defender in 2018 by PFF after Ogletree.
Disclaimer: Maybe the PFF guys are idiots and I’m putting too much weight on their rankings. But in related news, PFF is about to release their 2018 rankings for MTM writers! Here’s an exclusive snippet:
Junoir Blaber scores a 65.7 for 2018. The content was deep and he wrote on a wide breadth of topics, but he really has to fight against his tendency to spend 400 words on his busy work week and why he had trouble figuring out what to write.
Back to the Giants. Sure, Gettleman had a big hole to climb out of when he took the job but his recent moves are not exactly inspiring confidence. Sometimes it looks like he’s starting to lead them out of the hole, but then he tumbles down and starts digging sideways.
While the Giants seem to be in pretty good shape on offense, their top priority still has to be finding the next QB. So they most likely will not be able to use the number six pick and biggest draft asset on a defense that is threatening to take a run at the league’s worst. If they get their QB at six, they’ll have to try to plug a lot holes on defense with their remaining picks.
In summary, it’s hard to imagine the Giants being able to do enough on D to be competitive next season. They might be more fun to watch, but expect some ugly, high scoring losses.
I can’t believe I wrote almost 1,300 words. I need an editor. Swing on by tomorrow for the biggest hole in the MTM lineup, Angry Ward. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.