The case could be made that no team in the NFL is off to a more disappointing start than the New York Giants. Sitting at 0-5 with few easy games left on the schedule, it’s looking grim for what has been one of the steadiest franchises in all of sports. Needless to say, there is a distinct possibility that the G-Men could have the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and some flustered fans and writers in NY are speculating the Giants should target Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater. Could this actually happen?
Theoretically, of course it’s possible. It stands within reason, if any team has the top pick, to take the best QB available. But I think there’s a better chance of QB Eli Manning abruptly retiring after the next loss than the Giants ending up with Bridgewater before next season. Let me explain.
First of all, as badly as Giants fans and beat writers might want to dump Manning, it would be an awful move. I know his stats this year are atrocious. I’m not blind, I’ve noticed all 12 interceptions. But remember, this guy has twice been named Super Bowl MVP, the last as recently as 2011. Five terrible games are never reason enough to dump a franchise QB, even when the losses have been as frustrating and embarrassing as they’ve been. Giving up on Manning after one lousy season would be the epitome of hastiness, something that’s not even in GM Jerry Reese‘s vocabulary.
Another thing to remember, even if the Giants do end up with the top pick, QB play hasn’t been the biggest problem, though it has been the most talked about. The defense, the lack of a running game, the offensive line, etc. all are bigger problems. Taking Bridgewater isn’t going to fix the rushing attack. It’s not going to fill the holes on a porous line. It’s not going to prevent opposing offenses from throwing for a nautical mile against the Giants’ injury-riddled secondary.
So who would the Giants take if not Bridgewater? Only two possibilities: South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney or one of the top left tackles (Texas A&M‘s Jake Matthews, Michigan‘s Taylor Lewan or Alabama‘s Cyrus Kouandjio).
Clowney would be the most obvious selection. Not only is he arguably the most talented defensive prospect since Lawrence Taylor in 1981, but he fits the Giants’ greatest defensive strategy, which is to get after the QB on every down.
Clowney would immediately contribute to a disappointing defensive line for NY (five sacks in five games), and he’d also help the secondary. After all, the more time a QB has to throw, the more time the secondary needs to cover. Imagine a defensive line featuring the likes of Clowney, Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. That’s a QB’s worst nightmare.
The most practical selection, however, would be taking an offensive tackle, with A&M’s Matthews holding a slight lead over Lewan and Kouandjio.
The Giants have for too long stuck with stop-gaps and fill-ins along the line. LT Will Beatty clearly isn’t the guy, RT Justin Pugh is better suited inside at guard, LG Kevin Boothe is too inconsistent, and C David Baas and RG Chris Snee are out for the season with injuries and aren’t getting any younger. Neither is long-time stalwart G/T David Diehl.
Taking a top tackle isn’t going to fill all the holes on the line, but it’s a great start. Not only would it aid the paltry rush game, but it would also give Manning more time to throw (and potentially avoid costly turnovers).
So for Giants fans, just have patience. The current level of play being exhibited is not a proper reflection of the talent on the team. It’s all psychological. Get a win, get the monkey off your back and see what happens. And besides, if anyone needs to worry about getting dumped, it’s not Manning, it’s coach Tom Coughlin.