Making Giant Decisions

Al Davis had many great quotes. Some philosophical, some direct. His “Just win, baby” has become his identifiable line. He had others equally as good. “I’m not looking to be consistent; I’m looking to be correct” was one of my favorites. When he was on his organizational soap box, spewing advice, which at times was never self-applied, his brilliance as an executive shined the brightest. He would declare with confidence, “The greatness of any organization lies in their ability to anticipate problems, not react.” 

Anticipating problems is the downfall of most NFL teams. Most teams are reactionary, dealing with present days problems with little regard for the future, or even the near future. Six months is a lifetime of down the road for many teams.


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The downfall of not being able to anticipate begins slowly, from a lack of honesty towards their self-induced decisions, then builds momentum with poor evaluations regarding those choices, which cascades into a tidal wave of inescapable problems, usually resulting in a new staff taking over.

Avoidance of honest transparency hidden under the moniker of “team loyalty” removes the need for the organization to employ an “anticipator.”  In the group-think world of the NFL, having independent thoughts and ideas is viewed as “disloyalty,” which resembles dictatorships from Banana Republics more than sensible, well-intended proactive teams. 

The lack of being anticipatory becomes as clear as the ocean in the Caribbean when the college draft season begins. Reality sets in, and teams no longer are counting on their past misguided judgements. Finally, the lights of certainty are switched back, making teams address areas of their roster that needed attention—although two years too late. 

There is no better example of not being anticipatory, of hiding under the tent of loyalty, than the New York Giants. For six years, they have tried in vain to justify the over-drafting of quarterback Daniel Jones as the sixth pick in the 2019 draft. Jones isn’t a bust. He hasn’t fulfilled the promise of his draft status with his 59 starts, 22 wins and never throwing over 6.9 yards per attempt in any season.

And there lies the problem.  His draft status draws excitement, creating a proposed solution to a never-ending problem. When general manager Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll arrived from Buffalo, the Jones solution was in doubt. The Giants didn’t pick up his fifth-year option, forcing him to play for pay in his final year.

Jones had a typical year, nothing extraordinary or even teasing enough to believe he moved from being a proposed solution to a remedy. His numbers were typical of his first four years, only the Giants played better as a team, managed the games with more awareness and benefited from an easy schedule. 

The 2022 playoff success of the Giants created another mirage to justify the selection. One morsel of good caused the Giants to behave like a man stranded in the desert who sees a Coke machine everywhere he looks.   

Now, they are in full-speed pursuit to fix the problem many told them to fix the minute they arrived. They have been all over the country trying their damnest to fall in love, a requirement uttered by Giants President John Mara for the potential of picking a quarterback and ending his dream of Jones becoming his next Eli. “If they fall in love with a quarterback and believe that it’s worth pick No. 6 or moving up, I certainly would support that,” Mara said. 

Like teenagers looking for love early in life, Schoen and Daboll are making dates filled with high hopes. Hopes that eventually, before draft day, will result in an “I do” from Mara. 

Finding love is never easy. Finding true love takes time. Because Schoen and Daboll didn’t anticipate the quarterback problem, they’re short of that precious time. With former Giant coach Bill Belichick available or Mike Vrabel waiting for his next call to action, time isn’t on the side of either man. They need a solution in a “god damn hurry,” as the great Sheriff Buford T. Justice uttered to the nice lady waitress in Smokey and the Bandit.    

Who is their perfect partner?  Who could make their eyes twinkle, their heart skip a beat and their cell phone bills rise?

To understand the future, one must always visit the past.  And when both men were residing on the shores of Lake Erie in subordinate roles, they discovered love in the Dakota Territory overlooking the Laramie Mountains. Finding Josh Allen fifteen hundred miles from Buffalo secured the Bills future and everyone involved. 

Love, like history, can often repeat itself. This forces us to ask: Who in this draft has the same skill set as Allen? Who has the most upside? Who can become their saving grace? And there is only one answer: Drake Maye from Myers Park High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Like Allen, Maye has great potential. The problem is that “potential” can be both good and bad—at the same time. It can cause people to keep believing, which then turns into a strong faith. Faith can derail objectivity. It can keep all the “anticipators” at bay, silencing their reasoning with the promise of better days ahead.

Faith has kept jones in New York for six seasons, ready for his seventh.  The slight promise of potential can cause those (like Schoen and Daboll) who have seen potential “realized” to believe all potential is the same, and they have the magic potion (unlike others) to unleash its powerful force. Potential in the scouting world is as addictive as unrefined sugar in our diets.  We know the side effects, yet we cannot resist the candy on the table. 

Maye is the biggest candy bar in the draft. He is the ultimate glass-half-full player. One great year as a redshirt freshman, then one mediocre season as a sophomore, forcing those who don’t buy his potential to scream, “Look at his sophomore tape,” while those who are “all in” applaud his first year. 

And in fairness to Maye, the offense at North Carolina can call themselves a “pro style” attack, yet, besides the words, there isn’t a pro element in anything they attempt. They aren’t aligned in route running to the depth of the quarterback drops, causing the quarterback to hold the ball because he doesn’t know if the receiver is running an eight-yard out or a twelve. The protection schemes don’t provide solutions to overloaded pressures or a quick throw alternative. 

Had Maye been able to attend the Senior Bowl as Justin Herbert did before his draft, some of these schematical issues would allow the evaluators to decide whether it was Maye at fault or the Tar Heels offense. My sense even without the benefit of the Senior Bowl, the North Carolina offense shoulders most of the blame. 

Maye has the size, the athletic skills, and the arm to become the prototype starter in the NFL, along with the competitive fiber needed to deal with the highs and lows that begets a 21-year-old. His potential extends off the field in terms of getting as big physically as Allen, which could cause those who see the potential in his body frame to drift down the Superman road, borrowing Allen’s red cape and becoming impossible to tackle. I’m not on that highway, but I do believe Maye will get bigger and much stronger. 

Will Maye be there at pick #6?  Not sure, which makes Mara’s comments regarding moving up to find love important to digest. The suggestion of moving from Mara sheds light on what he already knows: the ex-Buffalo boys want a new quarterback and have fallen in love with Maye.

Will this solve the problem?  It certainly has the potential.