Clowning Around For Clowney
By Brett Spielberg
Last year was notorious for the “suck for Luck,” campaign, but what do we call it this year?
Heading into a stacked draft, no one is more intriguing than Jadeveon Clowney. He’s a once-in-a-generation type of pass-rusher. He’s taken the NCAA by storm and has cemented himself as the “can’t miss” prospect of 2014.
But where is he headed?
We all hear about the bumbling Jaguars and rebuilding Raiders. The Jets were considered a candidate for worst in the league too, but it appears a new dark horse team has emerged.
This is, of course, the 0-5 New York Giants. Known for their relentless defensive front that won them two trips to the Super Bowl in four years, the magic has worn off. Tom Coughlin has earned the right to retire at his own choosing, but tanking this bad will ruffle some feathers. If this was any other team in the league, hell in the same division, there would be calls for a clean slate. A new GM to fix the mangled roster that Jerry Reese assembled and a new head coach, who we all know will be (almost assuredly) Bill Cowher.
Coughlin has loyalists on the squad, starting with his son-in-law Chris Snee and of course Justin Tuck, the downward spiraling defensive lineman. The thing is, these guys are getting paid big bucks, big bucks that are hamstringing this roster and preventing the team from signing any new free agents.
This is the price a team pays for two Super Bowls in quick succession.
The big name guys needed big contracts. But with Jason Pierre-Paul due a raise, Hakeem Nicks heading into free agency and more blight spots than bright spots, the Giants need to make a change.
Lawrence Taylor made the Giants a dynasty of sorts when he took the reins and led his defense to dominance. Michael Strahan took over for him, and it appeared the Giants had an elite front, until attrition kicked in. Osi Umenyiora is a Falcon, Mathias Kiwanuka has been streaky and injury riddled and JPP has been afflicted the past season and a quarter.
While the Jaguars might go 0-16, they need a quarterback more than any team in the league. Clowney might be the best player, but he’s a defensive lineman. The Jaguars need more than a few sacks to make this team a winner, they need to put up some yards and hope they can turn those yards into points. Terry Bridgewater, or whoever becomes the flavor of the month next April will go to Jacksonville, so then who better to rebuild their team behind the top defensive lineman in years ...
The Giants will win less than four games. If that’s bad enough to get pick one or two, they will take Clowney. The Raiders have to hope they lose against the Giants in their upcoming matchup, so that they can make sure to stay on top in the Clowney sweepstakes.
Seriously though, what team makes more sense than the Giants? Tuck will leave, along with a dozen other Coughlin-ites, and the G-Men will rebuild once more. With Clowney and JPP, they will have two of the best defensive ends in the game to complement each other. J.J. Watt might be better than one or the other, but as a tandem, that might be too much to handle.
Throw in Kiwanuka rushing on the outside, the never-ending list of other pass rushers, and the surplus of defensive tackles, and who really cares who’s at linebacker anymore?
The Giants started the season with an eye toward another Super Bowl, but losing might get them there faster. There’s no way they have what it takes this season, but loading up in a stacked draft, cutting nostalgic loose ends to free up significant salary space, and retaining the right players can turn the ’14 Giants into a contender.
A revamped defense that allocates money to spend on a secondary, a fresh and young offensive line — ideally with second round pick thrown in there at guard or center — to keep Eli Manning upright for the final few years of his prime, and the retention of the big playmakers could turn the pathetic Giants of 2013 into the hottest bandwagon team in the NFL in 2014.
There might not be a catchphrase like last year, and the target may not be a traditional quarterback, but “clowning around for Clowney” might be the shrewdest move the Giants ever made, and one they’ll never admit to in public.