Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 12-18-18

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein

All right, the Giants have nothing tangible to play for in these last two weeks of the NFL season.

Oh, sure, there's all that stuff about pride and continuing to improve and like that, but they are definitely out of the playoffs and that won't change. Other teams will make post-season appearances, a few of them will win, perhaps even two of them will meet for the Super Bowl title - but not the Giants.

So what would you like to do about seeing that this doesn't happen again next year, and the next year, and the year after that?

The sticking point seems to be quarterback Eli Manning, who will be the subject of intense focus starting now. Should he return? Should he be led gently into retirement? Should the Giants entertain queries to trade him (yeah, like that's going to happen)?

It is one man's opinion that the team address the question of Manning this way - he MUST be kept, and they MUST find an heir apparent this year. Oh, and don't count on Kyle Lauletta or Alex Tanney to provide the new blood. They don't have the skills and they will not be successful.

Trying to trade for an experienced veteran, probably one on his current team's bench, is not the way to go. Fresh blood, new talent and a rookie draft pick are required - and even if the Giants showed the poor taste to win more than a game or two, and therefore dropped themselves down the list in the first round, keep in mind that great quarterback do not always appear in the top five selections.

There was sixth-round Tom Brady, but of course he had Bill Belichick to mold him (did Bill really say recently: "I like Christmas but it comes at an inconvenient time of the year?"). Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys was a fourth-round choice in 2016. Nick Foles, the defending Super Bowl MVP from the Philadelphia Eagles, was a third-round selection.

See? It's possible, and while it depends on several factors, the overwhelming consideration is a sound offensive line. See where we're going here? The guys up front, the ones who open the holes for Saquon Barkley and the ones who provide time and protection for Manning and the ones who do their best at imitating a brick wall.

So the first requirement is going to be completing The Wall, not the one separating Mexico from the United States but the one that will separate the quarterback from the oncoming hordes.

Do the Giants need a running back? No, not if Barkley still roams the NFL's fields. But to prevent a repeat of what happened last Sunday, when the Tennessee Titans used eight men in the box - sometimes none - to prevent him from running, it would be helpful is there was another (here we go again) one or two titanic linemen.

What they do need is defensive help. They traded away tackle Snacks Harrison for next to nothing, and that has hurt. They need a cornerbacks and a safety, at least. And there is a need for more linebackers, but those who can safety wait in reserve. The first four at the moment - Alec Ogletree, Olivier Vernon, B.J. Goodson and B.J. Hill - are fine. More than acceptable, especially if Vernon gets his act together and plays the way he sometimes does. The trouble is he doesn't always earn his titanic salary, and that has to change.

The problem(s) here are these: Youth, which can sometimes take another year or two to develop into a hit or miss; depth, which is difficult to remedy and generally comes from those who didn't make it to the starting unit but have enough ability to step in and become that fabled "next man up"; patience, as evidenced by the performance of the new general manager, Dave Gettleman, who knew when he took over from Jerry Reese that this wasn't a one-year job with a pot of gold at the end of the 2018 season.

Do the Giants have enough? Yes, they do, but it depends where you look for it. The defense is somewhat ahead of the offense in terms of potential, but with Barkley, wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard on the roster, the offense can become dynamic.

If there is a quarterback plan in place, of course, and that plan CANNOT involve discarding Manning and handing the job to someone without experience or a proven track record.

Joe Pisarcik was on the roster in 1979, when Phil Simms was a first-round pick until the Giants were sure of what they had, and Kurt Warner was signed to simply hold the spot for Manning in 2004 for the same purpose. Once the two rookies showed their mettle, the veterans were discarded.

Kerry Collins, who took the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV, was irate when the Giants drafted Simms in 2004. He stormed into the office of general manager Ernie Accorsi, slammed the door and said: "What are you doing? I ain't no baby-sitter."

To which Accorsi said: "I agree. You have just become a former Giant."

There will be no need for any such dramatics next spring. The Giants, if they find a quarterback they can love, will do whatever it takes to get him on the team, and Eli will be in on all the decisions, from identifying his successor to obtaining his clinical opinion.

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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