It’s week 16 of the regular season, and the 3-11 Washington Redskins will be facing off against the 3-11 New York Giants this Sunday at “home” in FedEx Field in Landover, MD.
If there’s one fanbase that can understand the disappointment Redskins fans have felt during this season, it’s the Giants fanbase. Although most objective analysts were projecting both the Redskins and Giants to have losing seasons (Vegas projected both teams to have 6 wins this year), fans were hopeful they could do better and maybe even contend for the playoffs. Well, it’s week 16 and those hopes have been crushed. Both teams possess 3-11 records, both teams are probably going to face coaching overhauls in the offseason, and both teams are contending for a top 3 pick in the 2020 draft. On the bright side though, I think both teams have been drafting well recently and have been taken over by young players, including rookie QBs.
I asked Ed Valentine of Big Blue View five questions to better understand the state of the Giants and what to look for in this game.
1. Injuries have certainly taken their toll this late in the season. What major injuries are the Giants dealing with right now and how will that change the way the team plays on Sunday?
Well, safety Jabrill Peppers, tight end Evan Engram and linebacker Ryan Connelly are on IR. That’s three key starters. Daniel Jones may or may not play because of his high ankle sprain. Guard Kevin Zeitler (ankle/wrist) is probably out. The biggest thing is it means Eli Manning might have to play. I think Giants fans hope that isn’t the case. The sendoff he got Sunday at MetLife Stadium would be a great ending for him. [Editor’s note: Ed sent me these answers Wednesday night. It was announced Friday that Daniel Jones will start this week.]
2. When we spoke in week 4, you did a great job describing the challenges Dave Gettleman dealt with and how he has been building the team left him by Jerry Reese. After another season to assess his decisions, what do you think of Dave Gettleman’s moves as a GM in free agency and the draft and should the Giants give him another year or two to build out his vision for the team?
I think Gettleman’s drafts have been fine. You can argue that he could/should have traded down and added picks in 2018 rather than select Saquon Barkley, but Barkley is a tremendous player. The rest of his work looks like a mixed bag. There are a lot of factors involved in whether Gettleman gets to stay if Pat Shurmur goes. Does ownership believe the coaching staff didn’t develop/employ the personnel correctly? Do they think Gettleman is on a good path? Do they believe whoever their top coaching candidates are they will be willing to work with Gettleman? I think Gettleman has a better chance of staying than does Shurmur. I think I’m OK with that.
3. How would you describe Daniel Jones play so far this year, and what are his strengths and weaknesses? On a scale of 1 - 10, where 10 means he is unquestionably the QBOTF and should win a future Super Bowl and 1 means he’s a bust and the team should acquire a new QB this offseason, how would you rate him?
Jones has had a mixed bag of a rookie season. He has shown a lot of promise, but we have also seen some things to be concerned about. Overall, probably a typical rookie quarterback season.
Strengths: He has better arm strength and accuracy than many thought coming out of Duke. He has the mobility necessary in a modern quarterback. He doesn’t fear taking a hit. He has a Manning-like demeanor that will serve him well.
Weaknesses: Ball security and -- maybe -- the ability to recognize when the Giants are in a bad play and get them out of it. Jones’ 11 interceptions (a 3.0 percent interception rate) aren’t horrible. He has a league-worst 15 fumbles (10 lost) in only 11 games (10 starts). That’s bad, obviously. Per Player Profiler, he has 43 “danger plays,” third-most in the league. The issue isn’t fundamentals of some sort. It’s been awareness of the rush, holding the ball too long, being indecisive. The second issue -- bad plays -- is interesting. Jones apparently has options with plays but not complete freedom at the line of scrimmage, so it’s tough to say sometimes if he isn’t seeing when the Giants are in a play that won’t work or if he sees it and doesn’t have the freedom to change it.
[Editor’s note: in my film breakdown of Daniel Jones earlier in the year, I compared him to Kirk Cousins. The more I hear about him, the more I think that comp seems appropriate.]
4. What is the likelihood that Pat Shurmur returns to coach the Giants next year and why do you think that? If he does get fired, who are the frontrunners to be the Giants head coach going forward?
I think odds are pretty heavily stacked against Shurmur returning next season. Maybe that final determination hasn’t been made by ownership, but it’s hard to argue that Shurmur has a) done a good job developing the Giants’ young players aside from Jones and b) shown signs that he can be a winning head coach. I think Ron Rivera is a name you will hear a lot if Gettleman remains as GM. Matt Rhule of Baylor should be another, no matter who the GM is.
5. What is your honest assessment of your 3 division rivals; not just where they are now, but what their range of outcomes is likely to be in the next year or two?
I’d term both the Cowboys and Eagles “disappointing.” They both should probably be better than they are. I don’t think either of them is that far off from being pretty formidable over the next year or two. Of course, Dallas seems to be a perennial under-achiever. The Redskins? A complete, utter mess. From my perspective, Bruce Allen forever! The Redskins might occasionally stumble into a good season but they won’t be worth consistently worrying about until they get the right coach, the right GM, and get out of their way and let them go to work.
Thanks again to Ed Valentine for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Giants.
As of right now, Vegas has the Redskins as 1 point favorites over the Giants. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Redskins win by more than 1 point
Redskins win by 1 point or it’s a tie
Giants win outright
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 42 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
42 or more total points are scored (both sides combined)
Fewer than 42 total points are scored (both sides combined)