Reflection on Giants Fans Approach to Tanking
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Justin Penik (@JPenik74)
Before I officially start, this blog is not written to analyze the team and imply how they will or will not finish the season. The furthest thing I want you to take from this is the Giants will go 6-0 from this point on, and everything will be great. Frankly, I've been frustrated with how Giants fans are approaching the latter end of this season, especially compared to how 2018 unfolded. Throughout the bye week, I have seen takes from fans and pages advocating for a complete tank job. If you are a fan who wants Chase Young, Jerry Jeudy, or Andrew Thomas, power to you for already being invested in April of 2020. However, if you are also one of those fans who wants Pat Shurmur fired AND the Giants to tank the rest of the season, I have a lot of trouble seeing your perspective.
Last year, the tanking conversation was more of a legitimate topic. The Giants were frustrated with three years of very poor QB play, and by the time the 2018 season ended, I was very concerned whether or not the Giants would address the most essential position in all of sports. If there is a reason to tank in professional football, it is for a quarterback that you believe in as a franchise. Luckily for the direction of this franchise, the Giants proved me wrong, took their guy, and it has seemed to work out so far.
Wanting to tank as a Giants fan is flawed for a few reasons: first, unless the Giants end the season in a catastrophic way, Pat Shurmur is returning as the head coach next year. For a coach I have criticized time and time again for his lack of situational awareness (see the video below); he needs to learn how to win football games. Dave Gettleman would call this "establishing culture" but let's call the kettle black, Pat Shurmur is a losing NFL coach. More than anyone on this football team right now, he needs to learn how to win and coach a complete game. One where we are not asking him questions about a slow offensive/defensive start, misuse of timeouts, or a lack of situational awareness in play calling. If you are rooting for the tank, you are rooting for these things to continue, so don't be surprised if the Giants have the same team problems in 2020. Chase Young can't fix those issues, learning how to win, can.
The next and final reason I have to not root for the tank is a bit selfish. Giants fans have watched quarterbacks on the second year of their rookie deals absolutely take off. Between Russell Wilson winning a super bowl, Carson Wentz leading his team to clinch home-field advantage, Jared Goff taking off-post Jeff Fisher, Lamar Jackson putting together an MVP candidacy, and hell, even Eli Manning leading an 11-5 team his second year, the most significant progress you see from a QB typically comes from their first to second year. Jones taking this bye week to visit his home in Charlotte, and reflect on what has been a tumultuous season so far will hopefully only bring improvements to his game. This may be a no shit Sherlock statement, but I feel Giants fans need to remember this: the play of the quarterback is the single most important aspect of a football team, in Every. Single. Game. Advocating for the Giants to lose is implying that a future edge rusher, left tackle or wide receiver, takes priority over Jones' development.
Daniel Jones playing well, improving as a quarterback, and winning is absolutely the best option for this football team. If you are rooting for the tank, this is not saying you do not care about Jones and his play. However, I write this out to challenge the mob mentality. Let's be real, in all likelihood, the Giants are going to end this season on a very negative note. Pat Shurmur will probably continue to struggle with his personnel, play-calling, and situational awareness while Jones will probably not fix his fumbling issues until next year. It will likely lead to tough losses and sad Sundays; however, I hope they prove myself, and all of you wrong. Go Blue.