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  • Joe Judge’s New York Giants coaching staff appears to be nearly complete
    by Ed Valentine on January 26, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    Kevin Sherrer | Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images With all of the focus in recent days on the retirement of Eli Manning we have kind of lost track of where things stand as new head coach Joe Judge fills out his New York Giants coaching staff. Here is the staff as we believe it to be right now. Remember, the Giants have only confirmed the hirings of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert confirmed his own addition to Judge’s staff, and Judge implied that Tom Quinn will remain as one of McGaughey’s assistants on special teams. The remaining hires have only been reported. Assistant coaches Offense Offensive coordinator — Jason GarrettOffensive line — Marc ColomboAssistant offensive line — Ben WilkersonRunning backs — Burton Burns Tight ends —Wide receivers — Tyke TolbertQuarterbacks — Jerry SchuplinskiOffensive assistant [role not yet known] — Freddie Kitchens Offensive assistant [role not yet known] — Jody Wright Defense Defensive coordinator/assistant head coach — Patrick GrahamDefensive line —Outside Linebackers — Bret Bielema [also senior advisor]Inside linebackers — Kevin SherrerDefensive backs — Jerome Henderson Special teams Special teams coordinator — Thomas McGaugheySpecial teams assistant — Tom QuinnSpecial teams assistant — Anthony Blevins Others Strength and conditioning — Aaron WellmanAssistant strength and conditioning/performance manager — Sam Coad NOTE: Only the coordinator hirings have been made official by the Giants. The others are from a variety of published reports. A few thoughts A few things have happened since our last update. Aaron Wellman has been retained as strength and conditioning coach. Wellman served in that role for both Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur, and is a widely respected, no-nonsense guy. Ben Wilkerson, a former NFL offensive lineman who was on Shurmur’s staff, will keep the same assistant offensive line coach role and work with Marc Colombo. The linebacker responsibilities will be split between former New England Patriots assistant and two-time college head coach Bret Bielema (outside) and Kevin Sherrer (inside). Sherrer worked with Judge at Alabama, where he served under Nick Saban from 2010-2012. He spent the last two seasons at Tennessee. Sherrer has never coached in the NFL.

  • 2020 NFL Draft prospect profile: Matt Peart, OT, UConn
    by Chris Pflum on January 26, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports Could Peart develop into a starter for the Giants? One of the greatest competitive advantages a team can have is the ability to develop later round players into starters, particularly along the offensive line. The New York Giants have consistently tried to develop linemen drafted in the middle and late rounds, but it has yet to work out over the last decade. So where teams like the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots have been able to develop fourth and fifth round talents into good starters, the Giants have been forced to invest high draft picks and huge chunks of their salary cap into the offensive line. But just because it hasn’t worked out in the past doesn’t mean that developmental linemen shouldn’t be drafted. UConn offensive tackle Matt Peart offers an intriguing blend of size, athleticism, and competitive toughness which could give him the tools to develop for a the right team. In some ways he reminds of Will Beatty, another UConn husky with length, athleticism, and surprisingly good run blocking who needed to develop more functional strength for the NFL. Could Peart follow in Beatty’s footsteps and develop into a starter for the Giants? Prospect: Matthew Peart, OT, UConnGames Watched: vs. UCF (2018), vs. Wagner (2019), vs. UCF (2019)Red Flags: None Measurables Height: 6064 (6-feet-6 1/2 inches)Weight: 310 poundsArm Length, Wingspan: 35 1/8 inches, 86 1/8”Hand Size: 9 3/4”Games Played: 48 Quick Summary Best: Length, athleticism, mobility, pass protection, aggressionWorst: Functional strength, leverage, hand usageProjection: A developmental offensive tackle with starting potential Game Tape Full Report Matt Peart is a long, athletic, and aggressive offensive tackle from UConn. Peart has a prototypical frame for an NFL offensive tackle with little “bad” weight and long arms to go with his height. Peart reacts to the snap well and moves easily in to get depth and width in pass protection. He is able to match up with speed rushers off the edge, with a fluid lower body and quick, controlled footwork. He times his feet and hands well, routinely punching when he has a solid foundation. Peart shows some ability to anchor against bull rushes when he plays with leverage, as well as the ability to run athletic pass rushers around the pocket. Peart is an aggressive blocker in the run game. He shows great competitive toughness in attacking defenders and consistently looking for work. His athleticism shows up in the run game as well, easily working off of combo blocks up to the second level. Peart is also a capable blocker in space on screen plays, getting out in front of the ball carrier well. Peart needs to quicker, more aggressive, and more accurate in his hand usage. He consistently gets his hands on defenders second, and often outside their frame-work. Peart can struggle against power when he loses leverage, letting his base narrow and hips rise. When he does, he is prone to lunging and can’t anchor against power. Finally, Peart needs to show better awareness and react more quickly to late stunts or pressure. Overall Grade: 4.0 - Peart is a developmental prospect with promising traits, but also concerns which could hold him back. Projection Matt Peart projects as a developmental offensive tackle with starting upside. He has the athleticism, mobility, and competitive toughness to play on the edge in the NFL, and teams will like his frame and length. Peart has the mobility to stand up to athletic pass rushers and the aggressive demeanor to be an asset in the run game. He will likely fit best in an offense which primarily uses zone blocking schemes for its running plays. He will need to build functional strength to hold up to NFL rushers who use power moves. Peart will also need to work on improving his consistency in leverage and hand usage to minimize any disadvantage in functional strength.

  • Valentine’s Views: Leftover Eli Manning stories, more
    by Ed Valentine on January 26, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports A few thoughts for a Sunday without real football, because the Pro Bowl doesn’t count With free agency and the draft coming up sooner than we all might realize, let’s ponder some offseason thoughts about your New York Giants. A little, well, a lot more Eli Eli Manning is retired. He’s no longer a Giant. His Hall of Fame eligibility doesn’t come up for five years. At some point, we have to stop talking about him and focus on the 2020 Giants. Not, however, just yet. When I was in East Rutherford on Friday for Manning’s retirement celebration I had the chance to to talk with or at least listen to several people as they spoke about Manning. What struck me again and again is how often the subject turned away from football and to what kind of man Manning is. I just want to give you some snippets from a few of those conversations. Harry Carson I managed to get Carson, the Hall of Fame linebacker, alone for a few minutes. He was easily the oldest former Giant player in attendance, and I asked him what made him want to to be there. “Respect,” Carson said simply, also pointing out both he and Manning were captains. “He has done an outstanding job representing the Giants organization and also the Manning family. … I just have a deep respect for Eli and the way that he played and his leadership and the things that he’s been able to do to make a difference in the lives of others outside of football.” Carson didn’t need a whole lot of prompting to continue talking about Manning the man. “He did the best he could on the field, but he has also done so much for so many people off the field,” Carson said “Eli has been able to have an impact on people that’s well beyond football. “As far as I’m concerned he’s already in the Hall of Fame when it comes to being an outstanding individual.” Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images Daniel Jones The current Giants’ quarterback had a sort of Manning-esque performance of his own on Friday. He sat in the back while Manning spoke, seemingly trying to be as far from the center of attention as he could. When players and coaches were called up for a photo, Jones positioned himself all the way at the end of one row, barely even in the picture. Jones spoke about he learned from Manning in his year together with him. His answer had nothing to do with football. “Obviously what he’s done on the field, his accomplishments on the field are legendary. Can’t dispute what he’s done on the field,” Jones said. “But, off the field the way he has carried himself in the community, the way he interacts with people on a daily basis has been a huge opportunity for me to learn. That’s an example for us all in what a real pro looks like, what a real gentleman looks like.” I asked Jones about the huge turnout of players and dignitaries for Manning’s farewell. “I think it says a lot,” Jones said. “He’s a legendary player on the field, but I think more than anything it’s how he treats people, how he interacts with people. In my position to come into this organization as a rookie he’s welcomed me. All that says a lot about who he is, the character, who he is as a person.” Tom Coughlin The legendary coach was asked how Manning dealt with the adversity of the early part of his career. “He stuck to his business. That’s basically what he always did. His answer was to go back to work,” Coughlin said. “The everyday with Eli. You just knew the quality of the man … You knew you were going to get his best.” The coach then volunteered his reason for why so many had ventured to East Rutherford to be part of Manning’s day on Friday. “I was asked why his teammates feel so endeared to him and it’s because of the nature of the human being,” Coughlin said. “I was proud and honored to be his coach and to work with him on a daily basis for 12 years.” Ernie Accorsi The GM who engineered the draft day trade that brought Manning to the Giants in 2004 was asked to re-live that trade and tell the story for probably the millionth time. I asked him simply when it was that he knew Manning was the quarterback he wanted to bring to the Giants. He said simply “right away, the first time I saw him” as a junior at Ole Miss. Asked if Manning belongs in the Hall of Fame, Accorsi delivered what is pretty much a mic drop line. “I don’t have a vote, but I obviously think he is,” Accorsi said. “That’s (Hall of Fame) subjective, it’s going to depend on who votes for him. What’s not subjective are the two trophies.” Joe Judge’s coaching staff As we sit here at the end of January I have no idea how good Joe Judge will be as a head coach, or how well the group of assistant coaches he is putting together will mesh. What I do know is that I feel really optimistic about the staff that Judge appears to be putting together. In retrospect, inability to put together top-notch coaching staffs hurt both Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur. In my view, that was particularly the case with Shurmur. McAdoo’s biggest issue wasn’t so much the quality of the coaches he surrounded himself with as it was what seemed to be his inability to actually trust them. He didn’t seem open to new ideas. Judge has leaned on his New England Patriots and Alabama Crimson Tide roots for several hires. Hard to argue with hiring guys trained by Nick Saban or Bill Belichick. He has, though, also been open. He kept many of the best assistants from Shurmur’s staff. He hired a long-time head coach he had no prior connection with in Jason Garrett to run the offense. He trusted Garrett enough to hire a pair of guys (offensive line coach Marc Colombo and defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson) with ties to Garrett from the Cowboys. I felt that coaching was part of the reason some of the Giants young players didn’t really seem to develop last season. There is no way to know for sure, but looking at the staff Judge appears to be putting together it certainly feels like a quality group that the young Giants should benefit from being around. Draft talk I find the upcoming draft to be a really fascinating one for the Giants. We know Judge and GM Dave Gettleman have some common beliefs about personnel. I’m fascinated to see how Judge’s personnel beliefs, and the reality that the Patriots will Bill Belichick have a history of moving around the draft board. That especially applies to moving down, something Gettleman has not previously done. I’m also really curious to see how the Giants prioritize their needs this offseason. I think it’s going to be fascinating. Thanks to our podcast listeners BBV Radio crossed the 100,000 download threshold for the first time this month. A quick thank you to Chris Pflum and Joe DeLeone, who do a terrific show that generally airs three times a week, and to the listeners of both that show and my ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. I honestly wasn’t sure we would ever reach this many listeners, so just a thank you to everyone who supports our shows. If you haven’t listened before, find them all here.

  • 2020 NFL Draft prospect profile: Michael Pittman Jr, WR, USC
    by Chris Pflum on January 25, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports Could Pittman Jr. be the receiver the Giants are missing? Once considered a strength of the team, the New York Giants’ wide receiving depth chart has worn thin. There are questions regarding Sterling Shepard and his long-term health, Golden Tate will be 32 at the start of the season and entering the last year of his guaranteed money. Corey Coleman, Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard, and Cody Core are all free agents. Darius Slayton emerged as a bright spot on the Giants’ offense, but they need more good, reliable pass catchers to build with for 2020 and beyond. Micheal Pittman Jr. out of USC is in a curious place in this crowded receiver draft. He is widely regarded as a good prospect, but isn’t nearly so highly regarded as some of the other prospects in this draft class. He isn’t the athlete that Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III are, nor does he have the knack for generating big plays of CeeDee Lamb. However, he was very productive this season, racking up over 100 catches, 1,200 yards, and 11 touchdowns. He uses his size, strength, and football savvy well and could be a player in the mold of A.J. Brown or fellow USC alum JuJu Smith-Schuster. Could Pittman Jr. be an option for the Giants after the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft? Prospect: Michael Pittman Jr. (USC)Games Watched: vs UCLA ‘18, vs Colorado ‘19, vs BYU ‘19, vs Utah ‘19Red Flags: None Measurables Height: 6037 (6-feet, 3 7/8 inches)Weight: 219 poundsArm Length, Wingspan: 32 3/8 inches, 78 1/2” Hand Size: 9 1/8” Stats Games Played: 41Receptions: 171Yards (YPC): 2519 yards (14.7 per catch)Touchdowns: 19 Quick Summary Best: Size, physicality, route running, play strength, versatilityWorst: Explosion, long speedProjection: A starting receiver with scheme versatility Game Tape Full Report USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. is a big, strong, smart, and versatile player with a prototypical build for the position. Pittman lined up both outside and as a “big slot” in Southern California’s offense and was able to play effectively out of either alignment. Pittman ran a variety of routes, from vertical routes,to come-back and curl routes, to shallow crossing routes and mesh concepts. He has a good release off the line of scrimmage, in particular using his hands well to clear defensive backs to try to jam him at the line. Pittman is a one-speed runner through his route stems, but breaks sharply for a big receiver. He shows good awareness of coverages and an understanding of positioning to adjust his routes to minimize defenders’ opportunity to play the ball. He also shows a very good ability to track the ball in the air, adjusting his route to the throw. Pittman has very good body control and is a smooth “hands” catcher, consistently extending to pluck the ball out of the air and maximize his catch radius. Pittman has very strong hands and is willing to fight for the ball in contested catch situations, as well as put his body between the ball and the defender. Pittman is capable of picking up yards after the catch. He typically uses his power to run through arm-tackles and long strides to pick up yardage in the open field. Pittman is a willing and effective blocker for his teammates in the run game in run-after-catch opportunities. He uses his size and strength effectively to control defensive backs, helping to pick up extra yardage and create big plays. Pittman Jr. is a functional but not exceptional athlete for the position. He is capable of making sharp breaks for a bigger, taller receiver but there is still noticeable foot chop as he slows and changes direction. He also lacks great explosiveness out of his breaks or off the line of scrimmage and as such, he is unlikely to time as particularly fast. His speed is more dependant on his stride length in the open field than stride quickness. Also, Pittman is not a creative runner with the ball in his hands, preferring to run through poor tackle attempts than to try and force missed tackles altogether. Overall Grade: 4.8 - Several above average traits you can win with. A good value on the second day of the draft. Projection Michael Pittman Jr. projects as an important role player with starter upside at the NFL level. He has the ability to play any receiver position, but is unlikely to dominate match-ups from an athletic standpoint. He has the potential to be a starting “X” receiver at the NFL level if he can prove he is able to consistently separate against tight man coverage. However, his ability to act as a possession receiver from the Flanker or Slot positions will keep him on the field and give offensive coordinators added options. His ability and willingness to block for his teammates will give Pittman added value, particularly for offenses which run out of 11-personnel packages or rely heavily on screen plays.

  • Yes, Eli Manning belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
    by Ed Valentine on January 25, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports Here’s why Of course I’m going to tell you that I believe Eli Manning should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I will make my case in a minute. First, though, to help us understand just how divisive Manning’s Hall of Fame candidacy will actually be, let’s look at the results of some SB Nation ‘FanPulse’ polling. When news broke that Manning was retiring from the New York Giants after 16 seasons SB Nation asked NFL fans whether or not Manning belongs in the Hall of Fame. The results, broken down into four categories of voters, are indicative of the wide swath of opinion about Manning. Giants fans, perhaps basking in the warmth of the outpouring of love for Manning in recent days, overwhelmingly believe Manning had a Hall of Fame career. That 93 percent “yes” vote is a far cry from how league-wide voters see Manning’s Hall of Fame worthiness. How about a couple of sub-groups? First, how fans of the NFC East rival Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles see Manning. With Manning’s teams having denied Tom Brady and Bill Belichick a pair of Super Bowl titles, the other sub-group worth polling is, of course, New England Patriots fans. All of that frames quite vividly how there is little agreement right now as to whether or not Manning should one day wear a gold Hall of Fame jacket. Now, let me tell you exactly why I think he absolutely should. First, let’s acknowledge that I have long defended Manning from the slings and arrows of the fans he referred to as “unique” during his Friday press conference. I have always believed Manning took more criticism than he deserved when things went bad. More on that later. When Manning and the Giants won their second Super Bowl, I thought Manning would be a Hall of Fame lock. As the losing seasons piled on top of each other in recent years it was easy to see that making the Hall of Fame case for Manning, a guy who was never a regular season dominator, would be more difficult. That even culminated with me, in August of 2018, saying that I would vote “no” on a Manning Hall of Fame candidacy. Here is part of what i wrote: If I had a vote, and I had to cast that vote today, would I cast a “yes” or a “no” for Manning as a Hall of Famer? The answer is that I would vote “no.” Sadly. Regretfully. Unfortunately. I would vote “no.” I want to vote “yes.” I think Manning has been a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback. I just think that — if I had to vote today — I couldn’t vote “yes” in good conscience after the way the last six seasons have unfolded for Manning and the Giants. What was I smoking? The answer, by the way, is nothing. What was I thinking or feeling that made me write that? Probably that on the heels of 3-13 and with the avalanche of criticism he and the Giants were buried under, that even I was having a hard time separating Manning’s accomplishments from the mess. I think you absolutely have to do that. You absolutely have to separate what Manning did when given the opportunity, what he did on the biggest stages and in the most historic moments, from what he couldn’t overcome as the Giants’ organization let the roster crumble around him in his later years. First of all, I don’t want to hear this “well, if you take away the Super Bowls Manning is a mediocre quarterback” argument that some people make. You can’t take away the Super Bowls. They happened. He was an integral part or them, MVP of two of the greatest and most unlikely Super Bowl upsets of all time. The game is about winning — it’s about winning the Super Bowl. That’s the big prize. Manning pulled off a pair of two-minute drives to beat the best quarterback and best head coach in modern history, maybe in history, period. Those count. In fact, they count far more than anything else. The 8-4 playoff record counts. The great playoff performances, particularly in the two NFC Championship Games that got the Giants to those Super Bowls against the New England Patriots, count. We hear over and over that, ultimately, quarterbacks are judged by winning. They are judged by what they do on the biggest stages, at the biggest moments, when their teams need them the most and every throw, every decision, can have huge positive or negative ramifications. Both times in his career that Manning was put in that situation, he played brilliantly and emerged victorious. It’s not his fault he didn’t get more of those opportunities. I don’t want to hear about his 117-117 regular-season record and his supposedly average yearly statistics. Chris Pflum tweeted this on Friday: To anyone objecting to Eli being in the HOF, I present to you: Warren Moon. 102-10158% completion49,325yrd291 TD, 233 INT1989 Man Of The YearEli Manning117-11760.3%57,023yrd366 TD, 244 INT2016 MOTY, 2020 Bart Starr2x Super Bowl MVPI guess Moon should be evicted...— Chris Pflum (@RaptormkII) January 24, 2020 I will also remind that Joe Namath, owner of a 62-63-4 regular-season record and 220 interceptions to only 173 touchdown passes, is in the Hall of Fame. He is there on the basis of one NFL-changing game against the Baltimore Colts in 1968, a game in which he didn’t throw a single touchdown pass and made his biggest contribution with his mouth. Ken Stabler is in the Hall of Fame with 222 interceptions to only 194 touchdown passes. If those guys belong, Manning belongs. He probably belongs more than they do. If you’re blaming Manning for all that went wrong with the Giants since they won that last Super Bowl, you’re wrong. Dead wrong. In how many games over those eight seasons was Manning’s play the difference between winning and losing? A handful, maybe. Certainly not enough to turn bad seasons into good ones. The Giants didn’t lose games the past few years because of Manning. They lost because they stopped supporting Manning. They couldn’t find the right offensive linemen. They couldn’t, before Saquon Barkley, build the semblance of a running game. Manning spent too much time in recent years throwing to too many receivers who probably didn’t belong in the league. Manning didn’t build those defenses that were incapable of playing defense. He didn’t punt the ball to DeSean Jackson. He didn’t hire Bill Sheridan. He didn’t hire Ben McAdoo or Pat Shurmur, head coaches who proved not to be up to the task of being head coaches. I’ve said it many times — the organization let Manning down, not the other way around. So, please, don’t come at me with a won-loss record or a mediocre stats argument. Oh, and before I forget, Manning didn’t put the bullet in the leg of Plaxico Burress that wrecked the 2008 Super Bowl opportunity of the best regular-season team Manning ever played on. I don’t want to hear that “just because he played a lot of games doesn’t make him a Hall of Famer.” Isn’t availability the best ability? Manning was more available than any other quarterback during his 16-year career. He never missed a game because of an injury, only sitting when coaches told him someone else was playing. For what it’s worth, Ben Roethlisberger has only played 16 games four times in 16 years. He’s missed 38 games. “There was a couple games where it was close, I didn’t practice most of the week and maybe went out on a Friday for the first time. I think what it was, was a lot about trying to be there for your teammates. You saw guys playing through injuries. You saw offensive lineman that were sore, beat-up running backs that were sore every week, but they did what they could to be there for their teammates, ownership, their coaches and that’s really what it was more about,” Manning said. “I didn’t want to let them down. I didn’t want to let them know they were working and doing everything, so I knew I would always — hey, if I had to be in the training room all day, Ronnie Barnes, with the training staff and make them — hey, whatever it took to get healthy, I was going to do it, and if I felt I could play and play well enough to win a football game, then I wanted to be out there. That was always the mindset to do everything possible to be out there for my team.” That’s leadership. Responsibility. Being a good teammate. All things that were hallmarks of Manning’s career. Think he wasn’t a leader? The number of teammates, past and present, who made sure to be at his retirement celebration or who expressed appreciation even though they couldn’t attend, says otherwise. He’s a Hall of Famer in my book. Period.

 

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