Despite pulling off the 17-12 upset of the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday’s offensive performance was a great reminder of the importance of a backup QB and why the NY Giants need to find a better one.
There is no denying how huge last week’s victory was for the NY Giants.
Not enough can be said about Patrick Graham and the defensive performance. From the first possession to the last, the Giants dominated the line of scrimmage, disguised their coverages, and made life extremely hard for Seattle all game long.
When it was all said and done, the Giants recorded five sacks, forced two turnovers, and held the Seahawks to just 4-13 on 3rd down and 0-2 on 4th down. The 12 points scored was Seattle’s lowest offensive performance since scoring the same amount in Week 14 of 2019.
The offensive line and run game also deserve a great deal of credit, because without them this offense would have not scored more than 3-6 points.
Alfred Morris found the endzone twice, Wayne Gallman became the first Giant to eclipse 100-rushing yards in a game this season, and the offensive line wore down Seattle to the tune of a season-high 190 team rush yards and 6.1 yards per rush.
The combination of a strong defense and overpowering run game wins a lot of games in the NFL, and that proved to be the case last Sunday. However, those performances don’t mask how ineffective and limited the Giants were in the passing game with Colt McCoy leading the offense.
The Giants were completely spoiled for 15 years having Eli Manning trot out with the offense for every snap, series, and game of his career. Never once did we have to worry about his availability or deal with injuries and backup quarterbacks.
This privilege becomes even more apparent considering that Daniel Jones has now missed three games in his first two seasons. There’s no question that Jones is tough, but Eli Manning’s don’t grow on trees. Injuries are inevitable and are going to be more frequent with a running/mobile quarterback (as we saw with this latest injury where Jones seemed to pull his hamstring on a designed QB run vs Cincinnati).
While Colt McCoy was serviceable these last two weeks, it is very apparent that he is not going to single-handedly win any games leading this offense. And while that may not have been needed these last two games with how the defense and run game have performed, the Giants are playing with fire rolling him out there with the offense when Jones can’t go.
He’s a great veteran mentor, but at the end of the day, McCoy is a low-end backup that has thrown just 30 touchdowns in 10 seasons.
So, if there’s a decent chance Daniel Jones is going to miss 1-2 games a season due to injury, why not plan ahead? While there are obviously more pressing needs to be addressed this off-season, the front office should take a good look at available free agent quarterbacks that could run the offense if/when Jones is unavailable.
Let’s take a look at a few options to consider:
(Disclaimer: I am only looking at QBs who will be free agents following the 2020 season who might be reasonably priced.)
This would be an interesting pairing.
Jameis Winston has five years as a starting quarterback under his belt in a tough division and has 121 career touchdown passes and 88 interceptions.
Winston’s 2019 season will forever be one of the most bizarre statistical years of any quarterback in the history of the NFL. Winston lead the league in passing yards (5,109) and passing yards/game (319) but also threw a league-leading (and eye-popping) 30 interceptions.
Those 5,109 passing yards was the 8th most in a season in NFL history while the 30 interceptions is tied for the 6th most thrown in a season in league history and most since Brett Favre threw 29 in 2005.
Winston has taken a back seat to Drew Brees and unexpectedly Taysom Hill this season in New Orleans, but there is little doubt that the 26-year old can still spin the football and keep the passing game alive for any team he suits up for.
There are a handful of teams that would prefer Winston be starting for them right now, and he’s still young with plenty of gas left in the tank. He’s proven that he can extend plays and throw the football effectively. Limiting turnovers is his biggest knock – and there’s no question that learning under Sean Payton and Drew Brees this season is helping that.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this scenario is the relatively cheap contract Winston would require. He’s currently on a-year, $1.1 million dollar contract with the Saints and unless New Orleans wants to re-sign Winston as a potential Brees replacement down the road, he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
Given that Saints head coach Sean Payton chose to start Hill over Winston in place of Brees this year, chancs are Winston will be looking for a new home this offseason.
In nine seasons with the Bengals, Andy Dalton had five winning seasons and was named to three Pro Bowls. Dalton has over 32,000 career passing yards, 209 touchdowns, and 123 interceptions.
While Dalton hasn’t looked particularly great during his time with Dallas filling in for injured Dak Prescott, nothing has really gone right for that offense in 2020. Outside of the great rookie year CeeDee Lamb has put together, the offense has no other viable weapons and injuries to the tight ends and offensive line have just depleted that group.
Dalton probably isn’t as strong of a passer as Winston and is 33 years old, but he could serve as a quality backup if needed and would be an upgrade to any backup on the Giants roster/practice squad at the moment.
We saw some of Dalton’s ability in the first matchup with Dallas when he came in to finish the game after Prescott’s injury. He went 9-11 for 111 yards, including back-to-back bombs on the last drive to set up the game-winning field goal.
His current contract is 1-year, $3 million so I can’t imagine him signing anywhere else for much more in 2021.
Don’t completely freak out at the sight of that name.
While Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t exactly lived up to his expectations in Chicago, it does feel like he has been unfairly blamed for a lot of Chicago’s offensive problems.
After being benched earlier in the season for Nick Foles, Trubisky seems to have won back his starting role (for now). In his four seasons in Chicago he sports a 26-20 record as a starter with 58 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.
One aspect of Trubisky’s game that is underrated, similar to Daniel Jones, is his athleticism. Trubisky has just under 1,000 rushing yards in his career to go along with 7 rushing touchdowns. This element would be nice to have in a backup should Jones get injured, as most of the playbook would stay available.
The Bears declined to pick up Trubisky’s fifth-year option following this season, pointing to a potential entry into free agency.
If he does in fact become a free agent, the Giants will probably not be high on his list of destinations. Assumingly he would be looking for a new home where he can become a legitimate starter and be paid accordingly rather than settling as a backup in another big, cold northern city.
Either way, I am not as down on Trubisky as much of the media seems to be. He is only in his fourth year and has already produced a NFC North title, playoff appearance, and Pro Bowl. This is probably why he’s by far the least likely signing of the ones mentioned, but it’s still an interesting scenario.
Regardless, the NY Giants should absolutely be looking for a more viable backup to Daniel Jones. There’s no reason to risk losing a game or two or be as restricted offensively as we saw last week if Jones is injured.
Don’t forget, Trubisky is a former first-round pick, so having two first-round pedigreed quarterbacks on the roster can only be an asset for the Giants both as an insurance policy on Jones and as a potential trade chip in the next couple of years.