Game #11: Last Chance

Yelberton Abraham (YA) Tittle Jr (HOF) had his best years as a professional in his mid-thirties with the New York Giants. In 1963 during his penultimate season at age 36 he was the League’s MVP.

Last week was another one of those games labelled, “Good game, No Win.” This year’s version of the Burgundy and Gold is winless against teams with winning records. They have played all of those games well, except Buffalo when they were hot. The problem isn’t that as much as the two inexplicably poor performances against true bottom-dweller teams. Get that Bears and Giants fiascos as wins and this team is smack dab in the middle of the chase for the final playoff spot. Only historians years removed from events get to change facts to their liking. The facts are this team is two-games under .500. They will need to go 5-2 over these next 7 games to be in contention for that last spot. It has to start with a win this week against the broken Giants.

“We came into the game with a lot of respect for Howell. We exited the game with even more respect for him.”

Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll

Sam Howell has developed the ability to extend plays. His first touchdown was vintage Aaron Rodgers. He worked left and towards the line as Brian Robinson worked himself open. With a sidearm throw Howell hit the Running Back in stride for a beautiful touchdown. The play was off script. He threw another similar pass to Robinson later in the game. Trailing by seven points with less than four-minutes remaining Sam engineered a ten-play drive to tie the game. That drive included a fourth-down conversion. The touchdown pass to Dyami Brown was sublime. That ball had to be dropped into a window as all three Receivers were crossing in the middle of the field. It was a “Big Boy Throw” if there ever was one.

Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll was suitably impressed. “We came into the game with a lot of respect for Howell. We exited the game with even more respect for him.” Howell’s value is shooting up the charts. In the span of 48-hours two of football’s marquee QBs went on the injured shelf for the remainder of the year. First it was Desuan Watson, then Joe Burrow. Both of them represent between 7.5 to 8.5% of their team’s total salary cap. Howell represents less than one-half of one-percent of WFT’s cap. They make about $1.4 million per game. Howell makes about $56,000 per game. If he can stay on his feet and continue to develop Washington will have entered the golden portal. That’s where the stud QB is on the Rookie (Cheap) contract. The team has ample salary cap space to purchase select free agents. It also has, thanks to the trades this season a nice quiver of draft picks in 2024.

Washington leads the League in pass attempts. It is by design to give Howell maximum opportunities with game repetitions. One thing is crystal clear: Ron Rivera said that the priority this year was to develop the young QB. He wasn’t lying. Whatever criticisms one has about Rivera, and they are legion, give him this: He saw something in Howell few others did. At the Senior Bowl in Mobile a common take on Howell was that he was there trying to run over everyone on Defense. His runs now, for the most part, are more judicious. When he struggles, and he will, the lazy media will remind all that he was just a fifth-round pick. It’s a myopic view. The scoreboard doesn’t care where a player was drafted. Right now Howell is tied for fourth-most touchdowns at 17 with some guys named Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, and Justin Herbert.

A random Chargers’ fan called into an NFL talk radio show this week to rebut happy talk about Howell: “Washington would trade Howell and four-first round picks for Justin Herbert.” Thankfully Dan Snyder is no longer around. He may have strongly considered the suggestion.

Bill “Bazooka” Pascal was the Giant’s leading rusher during the war years 1943-1944. Paschal had so much scar tissue on one knee that the Army rejected him for service. It was a common occurrence in all of sports. The Washington Senators that year featured four Pitchers rejected by the War Department as “4F.”

This week is a legitimate must-win. The football gods are sending a Giants team into town that is truly hurting. If you are one who follows football in the offseason then this New York squad is a source of jaw-dropping wonder. Last season’s Coach-of-the-Year Brian Daboll was the miracle worker. He being responsible for turning Daniel Jones into the proverbial gold purse. The G-men went to the post-season. All indications were that they would contend to do so again. Before this game they are predicted to be the 2024 #3 Draft seed. It has all gone horribly wrong.

It started with a legitimate thumping by Dallas in New York; 40-0. Daniel Jones, fresh from his new contract threw two picks. By the time the Giants limped into their contest with Washington in week 7 they were 1-5. Jones had an injury to his neck that gave him some weakness in his left arm. And, the team had not scored an offensive touchdown in a month. The WFT provided plenty of salve for the wounds. Since then things have only gotten worse for Big Blue.

Tyrod Taylor provided plenty of spark for the Giants in that October 22nd game. He’s now hurt with damaged ribs. Daniel Jones returned from his neck injury long enough to tear his Anterior Cruciate Ligament in his right knee in less than one half of football. That threw the starting job to the undrafted Tommy DeVito. Tommy is more than a wee bit raw. He should have been on the Practice Squad running the Scout Team this year. Instead, he’s been chucked into the deep end with orders to swim. He is also now one of thirteen Giants on the injury report. Oh, and the Locker Room is venting, the coaches are having spats on the sideline, and it appears for all the world that dysfunction has set in.

Despite all of this the G-men have won 8 of the last 10 games against Washington. Twice this season the WFT has had had chances against teams in dire straits. Both times they have hurt their chances badly by whiffing. A third time would be unforgivable. But, would it really be a shock?

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