Giants should try to ship Eli to Jags, but Jags should sign Kap
Listen, I don’t try to live my life as a contrarian. That’s not true — I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world’s most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it’s best to take a look at the other side.
In this space, I articulate positions that are the opposite of what most people think — unpopular opinions, if you will — and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Here is a two-for-one package deal of Jaguars QB takes, along with something that should truly worry an offseason hype champ.
When the Jaguars’ Nick Foles went down with a broken left clavicle, it opened a door of potential opportunity for a promising young rookie quarterback: the Giants’ Daniel Jones.
That’s right. The moment it was announced that Foles was headed to IR, the Giants should have slid right into Jacksonville front-office honcho Tom Coughlin’s DMs to ask if he was up and wanted a quarterback. You know, the one Coughlin won two Super Bowls with when he was coaching the Giants, and the one who just happens to be currently blocking Jones’ path to the field: Eli Manning.
I’m not one to dismiss a team entirely because of one poor Week 1 performance, and I’m not going to knock Manning, who did, after all, complete 68.2 percent of his passes for 306 yards, a touchdown and a passer rating of 95.5 in New York’s 35-17 loss to the Cowboys. But let’s keep it real here. The Giants aren’t going to the playoffs. It’s inevitable that Jones — who was such a standout performer in the preseason after being drafted sixth overall — is going to start at some time. Why not now? Ideally, the Giants would wait until after Week 6, when they’re set to travel to New England for "Thursday Night Football," to make that move. But Foles’ injury has created a possible need for Manning’s services in Jacksonville, and it could be in the Giants’ best interests to accelerate the timeline.
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The Giants really do have a great theoretical sales pitch to make to the Jaguars. That Jacksonville defense is playoff-ready, even though the Chiefs tore it up a little bit. That’s going to happen to a lot of teams; nobody gets their team ready for Week 1 like Kansas City coach Andy Reid. Just think back to the Pickle Juice game against the Cowboys in 2000, or what the Chiefs did to the Patriots two years ago, when Kansas City ran up 42 points (spoiler alert: The Pats’ defense ended up being just fine that season).
By sending the 38-year-old Manning to the Jaguars, the Giants would give him a chance to end his career the same way his brother Peyton did in Denver: by being a game-manager on a team with a solid running attack, some talented young receivers and an excellent defense. It’s kind of the Manning brand. (Even Peyton and Eli’s dad, Archie, tried to make it work with the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings in the twilight of his career.) It makes a lot of sense.
For the Giants, that is …
THE JAGUARS SHOULD BRING IN COLIN KAEPERNICK
I know I just laid out a very convincing argument as to why the Giants should entice Jacksonville to trade for Eli, but if I’m the Jaguars, I don’t make that move. (Yes, dear reader, you’ve gotta keep your head on a swivel when you’re in Unpopular Opinions country!)
I was more than impressed with Foles’ rookie backup, Gardner Minshew, on Sunday. I first fell in love with Minshew watching him play in those Pac-12 After Dark games at Washington State; he looked like an absolute stud for the Cougars while out-dueling highly touted Oregon QB Justin Herbert last fall. Stepping in against the Chiefs, Minshew completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards, two scores, one pick and a passer rating of 122.5. He and his sick mustache have earned the right to be given a game plan and see what he could do against the Houston Texans this week. (Even though the Texans’ defense played pretty well at New Orleans on Monday.)
Rather than acquiring someone to replace Minshew, the Jaguars should bring in a veteran quarterback to help out with Minshew’s development. And that quarterback is Colin Kaepernick. Yes, I’m aware the Jaguars have already traded for Joshua Dobbs, but that’s mostly a move to be able to drive in the HOV lane. You’re not going to count on Dobbs to win games.
As for Kaepernick, he’s led a team with a great defense to a Super Bowl in the past. And really, it’s worth checking in to see exactly what Kaepernick has to offer, presuming he’s interested. He last threw an NFL pass in the 2016 season. He’s missed two full seasons since deciding to take a public stand against racial injustice, but he’s still young enough (31) to make a return. Kaepernick theoretically wouldn’t cost much to bring in (the Jaguars have $9 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap), and, unlike trading for someone like Manning, signing Kaepernick wouldn’t require Jacksonville to give up a draft pick. What’s the downside to bringing him to see where he’s at as a quarterback? Extra media attention? A surge in hot takes? If he can play, great. You have a great Plan B option. If not, no hard feelings; everyone goes their separate ways. The Jaguars really need to do this.
THE BROWNS ACTUALLY HAVE REASON TO WORRY
Looking back, the Odell Beckham-ified Browns losing to the Titans in Week 1 is the ending we all should have seen coming after an offseason full of hype, because it was so obvious. Like Nick Fury faking his own death in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." It’s such a classic second-act moment, where the ground is yanked out from under the protagonist, and all appears lost. Only now, Cleveland has to prove all isn’t actually lost.
Yes, it’s probably good that the Browns were humbled a bit. But I’m a touch concerned about what I saw on the field Sunday. I write that as somebody who loves Baker Mayfield, who loves OBJ, who loves Nick Chubb. As impressive as the collection of talent is, that Cleveland offensive line really struggled. The Titans were able to get consistent pressure on Mayfield with just four men. Mayfield was sacked five times — the same number of sacks he took over his red-hot eight game stretch to close last season. And after one of Sunday’s sacks, a safety secured by Cameron Wake, Mayfield could be seen wincing in pain and ended up getting his right wrist wrapped after the game was over. He reportedly looked fine in practice on Tuesday, but still, it highlights the potential vulnerability that the O-line could be.
And then there were the penalties. The Browns were flagged 18 times for 182 yards. Including left tackle Greg Robinson kicking a dude in the head. Like, what was that?
Landing Beckham and pass rusher Olivier Vernon this offseason was exciting, but the move required the Browns to send guard Kevin Zeitler to the Giants, and there’s still a Zeitler-sized hole in his old spot. Robinson, meanwhile, did not inspire a ton of confidence even before he got himself ejected in the middle of a pressure-packed home opener. It’s like the Browns spent so much time fixing up their house on one of those HGTV shows, but they forgot to fix the floorboards and pipes, which are now rotting the foundation underneath. It’s not good.
First-year coach Freddie Kitchens was great during the offseason, dropping one-liners and seeming like the kind of affable guy you’d love to hang out with. But he needs to get this together immediately. I’m not ready to panic yet. But my finger is getting close to the button.
Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.
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