NFL

Q and A With New York Giants Owner, John Mara

by Scott Mandel

Q: Does this feel like 2004 at all, bringing in a young quarterback and looking ahead?
A: I guess you can make that comparison, yeah. We weren’t quite sure when that was all going to take place and how it would all kind of work out, but yeah, there’s a certain similarity to it. I like to think that we have a better team than we had in 2004, but we’ll see about that.

Q: What have you seen from Daniel (Jones) so far?
A: So far, so good. He’s everything that we thought he would be. He’s been terrific on the practice field, did a good job the other night. I think people need to temper their enthusiasm a little bit. It’s one preseason game, one series, but so far, so good.

Q: When you look at Daniel and praise him and think of things about him, does any part of you also drift toward Eli (Manning), and when you would have that whole dynamic come and go?
A: Yeah, a little bit, but Eli is our starting quarterback and will start the season. He’s obviously been a great representative of our franchise for a lot of years, and will continue to be, so we’ll just have to see how that one unfolds.

Q: Ideally, how would you like it to unfold this season for Eli?
A: I hope Eli has a great year and Daniel never sees the field. That would be an ideal world. You’d like to see that. Again, at the end of the day, it’s going to be a decision by the head coach as to when or if Daniel ends up playing this year.

Q: Is that true, really? Obviously, you want the team to win a lot of games and make the playoffs, but if Daniel doesn’t play one snap as a rookie, you’d be okay with that?
A: I’d be very happy about that because it means that we’re having a great year and Eli’s having a great year.

Q: Do you think that’s possible?
A: Sure, why not?

Q: John, what do you think that would mean for next year if that’s the case?
A: Let’s worry about next year next year, seeing that we’ve got to get through this season first.

Q: John, you said that the 2004 team was not as talented as this team. What do you see from this team?
A: Well, I think we’ve done a pretty good job in the draft the last couple years and we’ve got some good, young talent on both sides of the ball. I think our offensive line is better than it’s been, so I think there’s reason for some optimism there, but until we start playing some games and winning some games, that’s all it is right now. I also like the feel of the locker room, so we’ll see.

Q: You said you’ll worry about next year next year. You’re fine with holding off on anything with Eli, because obviously he’s in the last year of a contract, until after the season? 
A: I think we’re in a one year at a time mode right now. 

Q: Do you imagine that if and when a decision comes on the quarterback situation this season that you’ll have to approve it?
A: Well, I’d like to be informed of it before I read it from you guys. But, at the end of the day, just like it was in ’04, it was Tom’s (Coughlin) decision back then, and it will be Pat’s (Shurmur) decision this time. Again, hopefully, it’s a decision he doesn’t have to make until way in the future.

Q: You mentioned the locker room. Was the locker room an issue last year?
A: I think it was not as strong as it could have been. I think there’s just a different feel to it this year. I think some players have commented about that, too, so we’ll see. A lot of times, I think that gets taken out of proportion. At the end of the day, if you start winning some games, it builds some enthusiasm, it builds some good feelings, some positive vibes, and I think that’s what we need to do more than anything else. Right now, it feels pretty good.

Q: At this point, what has given you faith in Eli? It’s obviously been a few years since he had the type of success he had earlier in his career.
A: I think he’s played well when the protection has been there in front of him, when he has confidence in the protection. I thought that the second half of last year he played much better, our protection got a little bit better, and obviously Saquon (Barkley) was having a big year. So, I think our offensive line is better this year than it has been, and he’s had a terrific camp so far.

Q: John, Eli’s the longest tenured player in franchise history. How much thought has been given to how hard it might be when you have to say goodbye to him?
A: It’ll be a very difficult, emotional moment, to be sure, but I’m not thinking about that just yet. He’s still the starting quarterback. 

Q: Around the league, Dave Gettleman has taken a lot of heat for the moves he has made, for his attitude, for a lot of things. People are taking a lot of shots at him. Has any of your confidence wavered at all throughout this whole process?
A: Not at all. I think the best thing for me about Dave is he makes decisions that he feels are in the best interest of the franchise and he doesn’t give a damn what people think about it, be it the media, or be it fans, or anybody. He has the courage of his convictions, and you have to have that. He’s set about to try and rebuild this team and change the culture a bit in the locker room. I think, as I said before, our last two draft classes were pretty strong, and that’s what gives me confidence going forward. I think we’re moving in the right direction. Again, until we start winning games, it’s hard to sell people on that notion, but that’s what I believe. 

Q: Did he give you pause at any time about all the talent that went out the door? Not just Odell (Beckham Jr.), but Landon (Collins), (Olivier) Vernon, a lot of guys.
A: I wouldn’t say I had any—there was never any doubt in Dave’s ability or in what his motivation was, or what his skill level was. You don’t like to see all that talent go out the door, but let’s face it, we had one winning season in ’16 and the other five or six years, nothing, not since we won the last Super Bowl, so we needed some drastic changes. Again, he had the courage of his convictions, he knew they would be unpopular moves, but he went and made them anyway. 

Q: What do you need to see this season to consider it a success, or a step forward?
A: We need to win some games. I want to feel like at the end of the season we’re moving in the right direction. I’m not going to say it has to be a minimum number of games that we have to win, or we have to make the playoffs. I want to feel when I’m walking off the field after the last game of the season, whenever that is, that this franchise is headed in the right direction. That’s, to me, the most important thing.

Q: What is your overall patience? Obviously guys don’t last very long if they don’t win?
A: I’m not very patient, I take the losses pretty hard, but I understand that you have to make decisions that are in the best interests of your team in the long run and not worry about the short term as much. It doesn’t make it any easier when you are losing these games, but I understand what he is doing. I think he has us headed in the right direction.

Q: You have a big investment in your future with Daniel Jones. Are your coach and GM tied in with that?
A: Absolutely. I heard something the other day, I forget who the commentator was, that the coach was not crazy about our first-round pick. Nothing can be further from the truth and what sold me on (Daniel) was Dave, Pat and our scouts, Mike Shula, everybody was sold on this kid. That’s what made it easier for me to okay. Pat’s been a huge advocate right from the draft. Everything he’s done so far has been what we expected and what we hoped for. 

Q: What was your role in the whole decision to draft Daniel?
A: I just had the final approval, on all decisions like that. For me, if the general manager and the head coach have a conviction, then I’m going to let them go with it.

Q: Did you watch any college tape of Daniel?
A: I watched a little bit. One of the first questions I asked him when I met him was: do you have thick skin. Then after we drafted him, I asked him: do you understand why I asked you that question. He smiled, he can handle it, he can handle being the quarterback of the New York Giants.

Q: Did it give you pause because of the Eli dynamic?
A: Not really. When you have a conviction about a player, particularly at that position, you better go ahead and take him. So, there was no pause.

Q: Do you see a lot of similarities between Daniel and Eli the way other people do?
A: When I first sat down with Daniel, it was eerie to me how similar. It was like talking to a 22-year-old Eli, which is a good thing.

Q: Are you satisfied with the job Pat Shurmur has done? The team only won five games last season.
A: I’m not satisfied with winning five games, but I think he has us headed in the right direction. I think the players believe in him and we have a lot of confidence in him.  

Football Giants’ Quarterback Battle Between Daniel Jones and Eli Manning Underway

By Michael Eisen


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Daniel Jones was standing at a podium answering questions from reporters today when Kurt Warner approached a Giants acquaintance and said, “he’s so much like Eli.”

“It’s amazing,” Warner said after Jones’ news conference had concluded. “Even some of the phrases he uses remind you of Eli (Manning). You talk about what you see on film and some of their mannerisms as players, but it’s crazy. You hear them talk and it’s like ‘Oh my gosh!’ These guys are like the same guy, it’s just Eli 15 years younger. It is fascinating. But again, not a bad guy to model yourself after, from a lot of different standpoints.” 

Warner, a Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback, is hardly the first observer to note that Jones, the quarterback chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft, is similar in comportment, demeanor and throwing motion to Manning, who is preparing for his 16th season as the team’s starter.

Jones is eventually expected to succeed Manning. That made Warner’s presence fraught with symbolism, because the Giants haven’t changed quarterbacks since 2004, when Manning, then a rookie, replaced Warner. The Giants were 5-4 but had lost two games in a row and three of their last four. Tom Coughlin, then in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, was looking to the future.

“I think Tom Coughlin’s approach was, ‘We’re not a great football team,’” said Warner, who visited the Giants’ training camp in his capacity as an NFL Network analyst. “That doesn’t mean something can’t happen, but is it better to kind of start the future and to start building and get our young quarterback ready for that run two years from now and three years from now. We got seven games under our belt that were rough games, but to be able to handle that and work through that no doubt sped up the curve for Eli so he was ready earlier, and obviously it played out well for their (two) championships.

“When Tom brought me in, he told me, ‘It’s not because Eli is better. It’s just because this is what we have to do.’ It wasn’t like every day I was going, ‘I’m better than Eli.’ That’s not the scenario here. I just have to accept it, and help where I can help, and compete where I can compete and hope I get another chance. I think that made it different. I give Tom so much credit, because he looked me in the eye and told me, ‘This is why. It’s not fair to you. You’ve got to deal with it.’”

Warner joined the Giants knowing he was holding the position until Manning was ready, and his stay here would almost certainly be short. The Manning/Jones situation is different, because the former is the greatest quarterback and arguably most popular player in franchise history. No one has played and won more games in a Giants uniform.

“All that stuff has to come into play,” Warner said. “…there’s a lot of dynamics, but I think there’s a lot more flexibility with this situation because of who Eli is and the ability to really kind of let this thing play out instead of sit there and look for the first opportunity to get Daniel – I don’t think the Giants are going to be doing that. I think it can help ease the situation a lot more than a lot of these situations where teams are just looking for that first opportunity to say, ‘Hey, let’s put him in.’”

Giants coach Pat Shurmur has not publicly specified how he will divide the quarterbacks’ training camp snaps.

Warner played six seasons for St. Louis before joining the Giants. He led the Rams to Super Bowl XXXIV, where he threw for 441 yards and two ‘;touchdowns and was named the game’s MVP in a victory against the Tennessee Titans. Two years later, Warner threw for 365 yards, but the Rams were upset by New England in Super Bowl XXXVI. After leaving the Giants, Warner began a five-year stint with the Arizona Cardinals that included a loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII in which he threw for 377 yards and three scores. Warner was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2017.

Jones has said several times that he is trying to learn all he can from Manning, which is likely one reason mentor and protégé often seem so similar. Warner said he and Manning had a different kind of relationship 15 years ago.

“The weird situation with me and Eli was, Eli had Peyton (another first overall draft choice who also won two Super Bowls), Eli had Archie (his father, who was an NFL quarterback for 13 seasons). So it was kind of a little bit different dynamic for me, because first of all, I didn’t want to jump in and be like ‘Hey Eli’ when he has these great minds and football players there to help him. And you remember Eli when he was a rookie. Very quiet. He didn’t say a whole lot. He was kind of cerebral and took it all in. More than anything, you just offer different things. You watch film together. But I didn’t push the envelope with him like I did with some of the other guys, just because I knew he had the resources. It was always like, ‘Hey, if you ever need anything from me, I’m more than happy to help you.’ But I’m also respectful of the idea that a phone call away from one of the greatest quarterbacks that ever played, or a dad that played in the league and that understands it as well. So a little different dynamic than I think a lot of guys when you have a veteran and a young guy.” 

Although he played just one abbreviated season with the Giants, Warner has always spoken fondly of his time here, and of Coughlin.

“I wanted to play as many games as I could, not to stay the starter for the Giants for the long term, but to parlay that into another opportunity for myself,” Warner said. “With Eli, you always want to be able to go out on your terms. You want to be able to dictate, and what you realize in this business is, you can have a bad half, you can have a bad game, you can have a couple of bad games. That doesn’t mean you can’t play anymore or you don’t turn it around and then all of a sudden you have a great season. That becomes the hard part. When you’re entrenched as the starter, you get the luxury to have a bad game, or bad season or whatever that is. When you’re a starter and there’s a guy right behind you, you don’t always get that luxury if you go through a (rough) period.”

Warner’s season in Giants blue gave him an understanding of how Manning and other veteran quarterbacks feel with a highly-touted youngster on their roster.

“It’s always hard,” Warner said. “No matter what, or no matter how confident you are, you understand the dynamics of the situation. When you’ve got an icon like Eli from this organization, that there’s a different factor there that goes into it. But when you’re the veteran guy, and you know there’s a guy behind you that’s eventually going to play, it was always one of those things where you had to fight not playing worried about making a mistake. Or getting tight and playing differently than you did before. Most guys are never going to tell you that. But it’s the way it is. You go, ‘How long is my leash? If I have a bad game, is that it? If I have a bad half, is that it?’ That becomes the hard dynamic. Go play. You’ve got to play your game and let it play out. If you don’t, you’re not going to hold the job for very long anyways.

”I don’t know how it plays out with an icon like Eli, as opposed to, for instance when Eli and I were together. I knew it was just a matter of time. So I’m trying to hold onto it for 16 games. That’s all I’m trying to do, because I know two years is going to be tough. But a lot of times, that’s the situation. You’re just going, ‘How many games can I get out of this?’ Almost to prove to somebody else that I can play, because chances of me getting this job and keeping it when they’ve got a guy behind me is slim to none.”

No one knows exactly how the Giants quarterback situation will develop in the coming months and years. But it will be very interesting to watch.

Mandel’s Musings: Bart Starr, Packers Quarterback for Five Championships, Dies at 85

The great Starr won three NFL championships as the quarterback for the dominant NFL team of the 1960s before the Super Bowls began.

by Scott Mandel

Bart Starrwho died on Sunday at 85, ushered in the Super Bowl era, winning two championships for the Green Bay Packers. The most valuable player of Super Bowl I was Bart Starr. And the MVP of Super Bowl II? Starr, once again.

But, it’s easy to forget there were NFL championships before the Super Bowl became part of the national consciousness. And, Bart Starr won three NFL championships, in 1961, 1962, and 1965, before he won the first two Super Bowls.

A 17th round draft choice out of Bear Bryant’s University of Alabama program, Starr was slightly built, didn’t have a passing arm that anyone would mistake for a howitzer, and wasn’t fast afoot. It was no surprise he lasted until the 17th round.

But, all he did was win football games, especially when Vince Lombardi took over Green Bay as the head coach in 1959.

Over the course of their nine seasons, Lombardi and Starr knew only success. A team that had gone 1-10-1 in 1958 (0-6-1 with Starr starting) would never record a losing season under Lombardi. The Packers improved to 7-5 in 1959, played for the N.F.L. championship in 1960, and the first dynasty in NFL history was born, with Bart Starr at the helm.

The two elite quarterbacks in professional football for most of that era were John Unitas, the best forward passer of the 60s, and Starr, who engineered the legendary Lombardi’s offense to perfection.

The difference between them? Unitas had stats, and one important championship in 1956. But, Bart had multiple CHIPS.

Vince Lombardi speaking to Bart Starr during Super Bowl I, in 1967

Stuck between eras of the N.F.L., Starr won more of the league’s titles than any quarterback not named Tom Brady. The line of demarcation in NFL history tends to be pre-Super Bowl and post-Super Bowl, which began January, 1967.

In the era preceding that first Super Bowl, the game began to evolve into something resembling today’s focus on the passing game. The onset of the forward pass started to push to the side, typical NFL offenses based on the concept of “three yards and a cloud of dust,” which utilized running backs to follow the blocks of the offensive lines to essentially move the first down chains. The forward pass, back in the early 50s, had essentially been used when the running game left offenses in third and long scenarios.

The modern era, which Starr/Lombardi and Baltimore’s Johnny Unitas, coached by Weeb Ewbank, helped usher in, led the N.F.L. on a path to being America’s richest and most popular sport. And while the transition from the league’s wilder early days to its sleek and modern present would quite likely have happened without Starr, he and the Packers helped create the early blueprint for players of the soon-to-be-merged N.F.L. and A.F.L. to follow.

How One NFL General Manager Runs the College Draft – Dave Gettleman of the NY Giants

Senior Vice President and General Manager David Gettleman Pre-Draft Press Conference — April 18, 2019

Opening: Good afternoon. I would like to begin by thanking our Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit and the staff, Chris Mara, Kevin Abrams, Mark Koncz, Pat Shurmur and the coaches for all of their diligence in putting together this year’s draft board. I really can’t thank them enough. With the college draft a week away, we are coming to the second part of what I call the roster building season. Football is the ultimate team game. While it may be difficult for some to understand, building a roster is not just about collecting talent. It is not just about how fast, strong or talented a player is, but does he fit athletically, intellectually and culturally into what you are trying to accomplish, that is to win a Super Bowl.

Recently, there was an article in USA today written by Dan Wolken. I recommend that everyone read it. What he did was, he was discussing two of the premiere college basketball programs in Duke and Kentucky. The article was written after they had been eliminated from this year’s NCAA tournament. The final paragraph really put what I believe into a nutshell. And I quote: ‘As long as Krzyzewski and Calipari are still coaching, they are going to get their share of the best recruits every single year because of the pathway they have established to the NBA. Both programs have discovered in the tournament that elite recruiting and good roster construction don’t mean the same thing.’ 

As Lou Lamoriello most recently said, ‘players win games, teams win championships.’

The only major transaction I have not talked to you guys about since the last press conference was about Sterling and getting him extended. Obviously, we feel Sterling is a very important part of who we want to be moving forward. He earned this contract and we are thrilled to have had the ability to get him extended. 

This is a pre-draft presser, so let’s talk about the draft. Let the games begin.  


Q: You said this is a really strong draft. What about it makes you say that?
A: Frankly, we have pretty much set the board. We are tweaking it a little bit here and a little bit there. The scouts went home. I sent them home for the holiday. It gives me a chance to do some work on my own, some additional work. The board is really basically set. I am looking at it and we have more players rated as first, second, third or fourth-round values that I have had in any draft. This is my eighth draft as a GM. In terms of the volume of players on the board, this is the thickest. 

Q: Is selecting a quarterback a priority for you?
A: The priority is to select the best players. Last year, we could not pass up on Saquon. He was the best player in the draft. You can’t do that. We have had this conversation before. Eli is closer to 40 than he is to 25. We can do that math. At the end of the day, we are going to take the best players. 

Q: At number six, do you need a gold jacket guy or is that too far down?
A: For me, you are riding on the edge. There are gold jacket guys that never got drafted. That stuff happens. It is still about value. Who is going to give you the most value at that spot? When you start reaching for the need, you get into trouble. You can never have too many good players at one position. 

Q: Is it important to look at every pick you guys have, you have 12, that you need to get 12 starters or do you take the approach of looking at first round talent and seventh round talent?
A: If we get 12 starters in this draft, I would have one hell of a time on Cape Cod. All kidding aside, having 12 picks is crazy. One of the things I have talked about is that you don’t want to draft a player that you are going to cut. Every guy you draft, there is a reason you are drafting him and a reason that he should make your club. First, second, third round draft picks at the very least, you are looking for a big rotational player. Everyone talks about the way the league is going down, 65-70 percent of the time you have your defensive sub package in. You can easily make the argument that your nickel is your starter. You can make that argument. Your third wide is your starter. That is what you are looking at. Guys that walk on the field and help you win now. Anything after that is a huge bonus. Earlier, David Diehl was a fifth round draft pick and a 10, 11-year starter. That is what you are looking for. 

Q: You mentioned that you have a lot of value in rounds 1-4. Does that give you more flexibility if you want to move around?
A: Absolutely. Obviously, every position is different. There are some positions that are thick throughout. Some positions, it gets thick late. Some positions, you are thick, nothing, thick. It varies. Obviously, when your turn is coming up, you have to give it a look, especially when you have a number of guys that you can look at with equal value at different positions. 

Q: You’ve said before that a franchise QB has to be one that you love because it is such an important position. Does that also apply to the second first-round pick? There could be a guy that you like but the value is there. Could you see yourself not being in love with a guy but taking him with that second pick or is this too important of a position?
A: With as heavy as this draft is, to answer that question, we are at 17 so I would be shocked, very surprised if there was someone there that I did not like. 

Q: Could it be a guy that you are in love with?
A: Absolutely. 






Q: Are you talking about QB specifically?
A: Who knows?

Q: At 17, you said you would be shocked if there was someone there that you didn’t like?
A: A player, yes. 

Q: Not a QB?
A: It could be. It could be a corner, a wide receiver. It could be a sports writer. 

Q: QB is so important that you don’t want to force it but if he is sitting there at 17, the value might be just too good.
A: The value might be too good for what? If we have a QB rated in the first round, we love him. 

Q: Is there a lot of ‘what ifs’? A guessing game?
A: It is so crazy now. You read all the info and you have 85 mock drafts. There are about 20 guys that are in everyone’s first round. History tells you, you can bet the ranch that those guys are going to go. Times have changed. My very first draft, I was an intern with the Buffalo Bills. And Norm Pollum, who recently passed away, he has a legal pad and at that time there were 28 teams. He had 28 teams and 28 names. He turns around and gives it to me. He says take a look. I am looking at it and he says, that is the draft. He had 26 of them. That is when people didn’t have phones and there wasn’t a whole series of smokescreens and lies. And people just kibitzed. At the end of the day, you can’t count on teams taking this guy or that guy. You just have to relax. It is just a process. You relax and see what happens.

Q: Is there a better chance this year of marrying value with the position of need?
A: Yes, because it is about volume. 

Q: You said that if you have a QB with a first-round grade, it means that you love him. I am curious if there are traits that lead you to a guy like that?
A: A lot of it is physical ability to play the game. One of the things that I really believe is, this is not taking a shot at anyone so don’t twist my words, please. Being a quarterback of a team in this type of market is a load. It is a mental load. You have to really vet out the background of these guys. Just like being the head coach of this team is a load, being a quarterback is a load, too. It is more than just looking at a guy’s physical talent. It is about his makeup. A lot of you guys were here Eli’s first year. He starts the last nine games of the year and there were a couple games early on, the Baltimore game, where he was what, 4 of 15? Something like that. He is there and then we are playing Dallas in the last game of the year. We are on the six-yard-line going in and we have no timeouts. There is 12 seconds left in the game and he has the cujones to audible to a draw. If we don’t score, we lose the game. You have to have a mental toughness about you to play the position here in New York. Or to play the position anywhere. That is a huge piece of it. It is important. If you don’t think it is, you need to re-think it. 

Q: Getting the 17th and 95th picks were a big part of the return in the Odell trade. Any extra pressure knowing that those guys will be compared to him?
A: No, not for me. I don’t mean to make light of it, but no. We are going to get good players with those picks. 

Q: You have the 12 picks, two in the first round. You want to get every draft right. Does the draft pick at the top, you said you put extra value on them. Does that put extra importance in getting those right?
A: There is pressure getting it right every year. Even last year, we had five picks. That is all we had. There is no less pressure or more pressure with 12 than there was with five. It does not make a difference what job you have. You have pressure and deadlines. There are people that look at you, I look at you and say, how do you do that? You have a 4:25 start. The game ends at 7:15. You better get your crap in in about 25 minutes but you don’t have time. By the way, the game just ended and you have to run down and get interviews. You guys have pressure. It is what you do. You just roll with it. That is what I do. I don’t feel that pressure. 

Q: Is it valuable for these QBs that you evaluate to have handled adversity in the past to see how they have handled it?
A: Exactly. It is a hell of a question. Back in the fall, I was talking to Pat (Shurmur) and we were having that conversation. He said, there are a lot of guys that never had adversity. You will have adversity up here. I don’t care how great a player you are. I could sit down over a year and you could give me any Pro Bowl player. I can make you a 25, 30 snap tape and you will look at it and say that you have to be kidding me, he is getting paid that kind of money. You have to be kidding me, he went to the Pro Bowl. Then, I will make the other 25-minute tape and you will say, oh my God. Everyone has adversity. Everyone. Who is mentally tough enough to say, OK, it happened once, it is not happening again. With a lot of these guys, it is a very legitimate question. You have to dig so deep to see where they have had adversity. It is painful but it is part of the evaluation. 

Q: Do you need a defensive playmaker in this draft?
A: You sat there and watched it. We went 4-4 the second half of the year and we had three games that if we make a stop, we are 7-1. Obviously, you can’t have too many playmakers. You talk about roster construction, I have always been a big believer that if you look at the great defenses, they have a lead dog in every level. A legitimate playmaker at every level of their defense. I said it at the postseason presser and I will say it again, we need some defensive playmakers. 

Q: Do you have a lead dog on your defense right now at any level?
A: Ogletree. Alec. Our two safeties that we brought in, Antoine and Jabrill. Antoine has been a lead dog. We are getting there.

Q: Upfront is where you think you need?
A: Listen, we are thrilled with B.J. and we are thrilled with Dalvin. We have to keep adding to that mix. The young guys on the outside, Lorenzo made a lot of strides last year. We are getting there. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Q: If you had a QB rated in the first round, is there any reason why you would wait to the second pick to take him?
A: Depends upon who is available. If you would have said that last year, I would have given you the same answer. You would have seen what happened. We will see.

Q: Is it important to have that battery going from defensive tackle to center to QB to RB where you want your lead dogs to be before you build outside?
A: I don’t know. I don’t think football is any different from any of the three other major sports. Strength up the middle is critical. Your lead dog can be an outside linebacker or an outside pass rusher. What you want is talent. That is what you want. 

Q: Is between 37 and 95 a place that will be hard for you to watch 60 players come off the board?
A: Yes, it is. It won’t be fun. 

Q: What position has impressed you the most in this draft?
A: The wides (wide receivers) are real thick. The offensive tackles are thick. The secondary is thick. Corners and safeties. When I say thick, I am talking about up and down the draft. Rounds 1 through 7. 

Q: How does what people in front of you do complicate things and change the dynamic of what you are going to do?
A: We are going to sit there and see what is cooking at six. We will go from there. 

Q: Have you had any conversations with the Cardinals?
A: I am not going there. 

Q: There are only five teams that pick ahead of you.
A: Look at that, you have done the math. 

Q: The guy you pick will be ranked higher or not that much lower at all because you don’t have to. You won’t force that for any position at all?
A: No. You are up at six.

Q: If you don’t have a QB in the top six, you aren’t taking one with that pick, is that safe to say?
A: I am just saying I won’t force a pick. You can’t draft for need. You will get screwed every time and make a mistake. 

Q: So a QB is not its own special category?
A: No, it is not. 

Q: When you look at this draft, is there a chance you get to six and all of these top stud defensive players are gone?
A: A chance that they are all gone? No. 

Q: Do you see a spot this year where there is a drop off?
A: It is a really good draft. I fully expect, if we don’t move, at six and 17, we are going to get a really good player. I am not going to panic. It is going to be a good player. I do not want to sound arrogant. 

Q: Do you have your guy right now hoping he is there at six?
A: We have to finish doing the board. We are still screwing around. I have an open mind. 

Q: Any gold jacket guys in this draft?
A: Yes. I don’t want to put a number on it. This is a draft that has been well ballyhooed by the volume of players and the depth. It is legit. 

Q: What do you think about this QB class?
A: It is good. Thick. 

Q: Better than last year?
A:  I am not going there. Come on now.

Q: Ernie Accorsi always says that you draft QBs to win Super Bowls. Are there any QBs in this draft that you think are Super Bowl ready?
A: There are a couple of really good quarterbacks in this draft, yes. 

Q: What is the level of urgency to land a franchise QB right now?
A: If you put a lot of pressure on it, you are going to make a mistake. I am not going to put a level on that. You let the draft come to you. We went into last season with Eli and thought he had plenty left. He proved that. We will just see how it goes. 

Q: What about the level of urgency to get the KC model in place?
A: I said ‘the KC model’, people have been doing that for years. This is just the most recent one. How about the Green Bay model with Rodgers and Farve? He sat two and a half, three years. That is what you would like to do. Eli is a pro’s pro and you guys know that. To allow a quarterback to learn at the feet of Eli, it would be a sweet deal. Kyle (Lauletta) is working on that right now. Don’t forget about Kyle. You would prefer that be the situation. You would hate to take a young kid and just throw him in there.

Q: As you continue to construct this team, do you feel that you can win now and in the future?
A: We won two more games than the team did the year before. Then, you had all those games where we lost by a point, two points. We lost eight games by a touchdown or less. The NFL is tight. A few more players get you over the top and you win more. 

Q: You have hit on small college guys before. What do you have to see on film to judge them?
A: A million years ago, I am scouting at Kutztown State and I am looking at John Mobley. It is October and everyone since August was telling me to go to Kutztown, have you been there yet? I said, what do we have here, Superman? So I went and watched John play. The closest Division I school is Penn State. I had to ask the question and I tell the scouts this all the time, if I am watching John Mobley, can I picture him starting at Penn State. That is the litmus test. When scouts talk about DI, II, I-AA, will he start at a big DI program. They all go to big DI programs, so they should be able to answer. 

Q: Will you move if there is urgency?
A: Look at my history. I have traded up a bunch of times in Carolina. Last year, we had to sit. We only had the five picks. I was not going to take picks from this year’s draft to move up in last year’s draft. We are going to do what we need to. If the situation calls for it and there is guy there that we feel can really help us but he is a few picks in front and we are not confident or comfortable that he will fall to us, if we feel the need, we will make the move. I am not afraid to do that. 

Q: First four rounds are loaded ,would you move some picks in the back and try and get into the first four?
A: It is possible. You may. Anything is possible. 

Q: Does that include moving picks from next year’s draft?
A: Maybe. 

Q: How does the dynamic change when you have two first round picks?
A: I have never had that. It is fun. I am excited about it. It is weird. After you make that first pick, you can’t go get dinner. I am excited. You are going to draft two guys that you will have for five years, which is a big help with the cap now a days. I am looking forward to it. 




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Will Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant Team Up for Broadway Opening?

There’s a strongly held insider’s theory Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who are good friends, intend to join up with the Knicks. After Kyrie finally publicly pledged to stay in Boston a few months ago, an NBA general manager said, with some skepticism, “We’ll see.”

Both players are mercurial, which is to say their flights of fancy often take off from the wrong airports and head to the wrong towns. For Durant, Oakland wasn’t exactly what he thought it would be. They didn’t need a savior as much as they needed another piece to fit in with Klay and Steph.

Despite Durant now fashioning not one, but two new rings as a member of the Dubs, his legacy still doesn’t make him the key player in bring a city an unexpected world championship.

Irving is in the same boat. He won in Cleveland, but, as great as he played there, particularly so during the championship series, most of the props (okay, all of the props) went to homeboy, LeBron. So, like KD, KI is searching for that legacy-building franchise.

Enter your poor, awful NY Knicks, who haven’t won a championship since 1973, only 46 years ago. The hometown is getting restless.

It’s a good setup for the two stars to join the ragtag Knicks, who will be getting one of the top five picks in the upcoming draft. Let’s face it. though, the only pick they want is Zion Williamson, of Duke. He is surely the best player in the NBA minor league, aka, the american university system. He may even be a top 10 player in the NBA, right now, his talent being so enormous at age 19.

So, hold tight. We shall see.

Image result for zion williamson

Kyler Murray In The Mix For #1

Pro Football Focus, a highly respected chronicler of all things football, now has the NY Giants, with the sixth pick in the 2019 draft, choosing Kyler Murray, the Doug Flutie-sized QB from Oklahoma.

Murray just announced today he is declaring for the upcoming NFL draft instead of taking a standing $5 million offer from the Oakland Athletics baseball team to scratch his way up the minor leagues, albeit, as a rich man.

This kid is small, even for major league middle-infielder standards. He’s smaller and shorter than either Seattle’s QB, Russell Wilson, or Flutie, but is an athletic freak who also has excellent football instincts. The kid is a play maker with a strong arm and touch on his throws. But, he’s a freaking dwarf at 5’8 1/2″, 190 lbs. He’s listed at 5’11”. Yeah, right.

If PFF is correct in its assessment, the Giants, who in no particular order of importance need edge-rushers, linebackers, D-backs, and O-Linemen will set their franchise back several years if this quarterback is chosen, and he doesn’t make it. Since the NFL doesn’t have a whole lot of pint-sized QBs these days, it’s hard to project how Murray can operate behind behemoth offensive linemen or how quickly he’ll get up when he’s hit squarely in the chest by a 260 lb. human missile, aka, NFL linebacker who is just as fast as he is.

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sports and football

Teams with 4-12 records must acquire game-changing, generational players in that first round, like Saquan Barkley, or Eli Manning.

I’m hoping, for the Giants’ sake, PFF is off the mark. Mistakes, particularly at the QB position, the most important position on the field, cannot be fixed in short order. Get it right the first time or, you won’t get another opportunity to go through the QB crap shoot in the draft unless you go 4-12 again. How fun that would be?

PFF also has Jacksonville, the team choosing behind the Giants with the seventh pick, going for the 6’4″, 240 lb. QB from Ohio State, Dwayne Haskins, a more traditional pocket passer with a gun for an arm.

I’m hoping the Giants take one of the safe and boring picks, if they drop down to them. Guys like the offensive lineman from the University of Alabama, Jonah Williams, or the shutdown cornerback from Georgia, Deandre Baker won’t excite the masses like a quarterback might but they will be boringly efficient or, maybe great, for the next 10 years.

This upcoming draft now has more than a little intrigue, with the teeny Oklahoma Kid now in the mix. The last short (in stature) QB to come out of Oklahoma was Baker Mayfield, who reignited Cleveland’s football heritage as a rookie this season. We will soon find out if it’s the system being coached in OK or if that school is having a run of extreme luck in producing small QBs with big talent.