With the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants set to square off as this weekend’s NFL Sunday Night Football nightcap, the time and opportunity is ripe for Buffalo Rumblings readers to catch up a bit on things happening at what’s now affectionately known as Bills East.
Giants head coach Brian Daboll is in his second season with the team, and his roster includes several former Bills players — some of whom just joined the squad prior to the start of the 2023 NFL regular season. The Giants are reeling at 1-5, a record seen as a disappointment following a surprise playoff appearance last season. But it’s possible the Giants exceeded expectations too soon in their rebuild, and now find themselves faced with a tougher schedule against more established and successful teams.
This week I chatted with Edward Valentine, a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and Team Community Producer/editor at Big Blue View. Ed took the time to reflect on a variety of questions — both from a 30,000-foot view and on down to field level.
In quarterback Daniel Jones, is the jury still out on him, and is it possible his trajectory has been stunted long term due to the current situation? Are the Giants worse off for having made the playoffs last season while dealing with a difficult cap situation — in terms of rebuilding for long-term success? Plus Ed fills us in on some Giants players who Bills Mafia doesn’t already know, provides some insight on how best to control the Giants’ offense and defense, and he offers his opinion on the 14-point spread for Sunday’s game.
1. Is it fair to question whether the Giants can adequately evaluate just how good Daniel Jones could be, given the offensive line problems? Is it possible the team has ruined Jones with subpar talent blocking for him?
These are questions that Giants fans have been trying to answer for most of Jones’ career. Jones is not Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes and never will be. He can, though, do a lot of things and showed last year he can win games. I don’t think it’s possible for any quarterback to play to the best of his ability facing the kind of pressure Jones has faced this year. I don’t know if the Giants have “ruined” Jones, but I do believe what he has faced this year is part of why he has not played as well this year as he did in 2022.
If the Giants only win three or four games and end up with a top 5 draft pick the reasons for Jones’ failings might not matter. They might decide it isn’t working — for whatever reason — and take the opportunity to draft a quarterback.
2. While last season’s playoff run was awesome to witness, is it possible that making the postseason has amplified the team’s biggest issues (by way of a tough schedule), and set them back in their rebuild (losing out on better draft picks in April)? Or is the current situation more a result of the tough decisions cap management and roster decisions general manager Joe Schoen had to make?
I think that what last year did was raise expectations. It may also have impacted some of Schoen’s decisions — the contract he gave Daniel Jones, the trade for a veteran player like Darren Waller. Maybe you can argue that having a higher draft slot would have helped, but Deonte Banks and John Michael Schmitz (the top two picks) are good players.
I think injuries and the struggles of Evan Neal have destroyed the offensive line (and the offense in general) and everything has just deteriorated from there. I also think it’s been a bit of a reality check for everyone, from fans to the front office, regarding exactly where the Giants are.
3. Since most Bills fans know the former Bills who are now current Giants, who are two players (one offense, one defense) that might be unknown, and who could play key roles on Sunday?
Offense: I guess I will say Josh Ezeudu. He’s a second-year player drafted w/the idea he would be a guard, but he has had to fill in for Andrew Thomas at left tackle. He’s a good kid who cares, but he’s out of position. If he can hold his own it helps the Giants immensely.
Defense: Jason Pinnock is a nice player. Pinnock had a 102-yard interception return for a TD last week, is an aggressive young player and the Giants use him on the blitz quite a bit.
4. If you were scheming to stop the Giants on offense, and dismantle their defense, what would you implement?
It’s brutally obvious, but you have to attack that offensive line. Make Ben Bredeson prove he can hold up at center, a position that is new to him. Communication has been an issue with so many young, inexperienced players. Use stunts, simulated pressures, whatever tricks you have to create confusion along the line.
On offense, attack the edges. Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams and Bobby Okereke are in the middle. Miami took them out of the equation by going to the edges, where the Giants have not held up as well.
5. The Giants are huge 14-point underdogs this weekend with DraftKings Sportsbook. If you consider the London Games stat making the rounds (teams that don’t take the bye after UK trip end up tied or trailing heading into the fourth quarter the following week), does this spread feel too generous, especially when considering the Bills’ alarming rate of injuries on defense?
The Giants have played three primetime games and been outscored 94-15. They have a league-worst -91 point differential. The spread is absolutely justified, unfortunately.
My thanks to Ed for joining me this week to discuss the New York Giants ahead of their Week 6 games against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, NY this weekend. Be sure to check out Ed’s questions for me — and my responses — over at Big Blue View (which you can also find pinned on the home page of Buffalo Rumblings.)