SNY NFL Insider

Ralph Vacchiano

Ralph Vacchiano, award-winning sports reporter and columnist, joined SNY in 2016 as its NFL Insider. Vacchiano will cover the Giants and Jets beats for SNY.tv and be a regular contributor to "Daily News Live" and "GEICO SportsNite." Vacchiano comes to SNY following 15 years as the New York Giants beat writer and columnist for the New York Daily News.

 

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Vacchiano graduated from Syracuse University in 1991 and began his professional career covering the Buffalo Bills for the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and later covered the Giants and Jets for the North Jersey Herald & News in Passaic, N.J.. During his 19 years at the Daily News, he also covered the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils (1997-2001), and in 2008 he wrote his first book, Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback (Skyhorse Publishing).

 

Vacchiano lives with his wife, Kara, and his daughter, Alexandra, in West Caldwell, N.J.

Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Quinnen Williams before the 2019 College Football Playoff championship game against the Clemson Tigers at Levi's Stadium. (Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)
Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Quinnen Williams before the 2019 College Football Playoff championship game against the Clemson Tigers at Levi's Stadium. (Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Jets need all the help they can get as they try to quickly rebuild in one of the most important offseasons in franchise history. So they sure could use the pick near the top of the second round that they gave to the Indianapolis Colts.

Not that the Jets would do it any differently, of course. Dealing that pick (and two others) put them in position to draft quarterback Sam Darnold, the most important piece in their rebuilding puzzle and the franchise quarterback they've been seeking for 50 years. So there are no regrets, no hindsight and no wishing they still had two selections in the first 34 picks.

The Jets do still have two picks in the first two days, though. The NFL Draft is 2 1/2 months away and they'll have to get through the combine, the Pro Days and interviews before their draft board settles down. But here's an early look at what the Jets might do on Days 1 and 2:

Tags: Leonard Williams, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins signals during the second quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins signals during the second quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants still believe they are in "win now" mode, which means they need to add players who can help them immediately. Unfortunately, that could be difficult on the first two days of the draft, especially if they use one of their picks on a quarterback who likely won't play this year.

The Giants also have no third-round pick in this draft, after using it in the supplemental draft last year on cornerback Sam Beal. Still, they hold two picks in the first 37 selections and that's huge for a team that needs a lot of help.

The NFL Draft is 2 1/2 months away, and they'll have to get through the combine, pro days and interviews before their draft board settles down. But here's an early look at what the Giants might do on Days 1 and 2:

Tags: Eli Apple, Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 11, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) leaves the field after a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Oct 11, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) leaves the field after a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: There is no current indication at all that the Giants are actually interested in trading Odell Beckham Jr., or that they will be in the future. If somebody calls, they'll probably listen, but for them to seriously consider an offer, they'd have to be blown away.

But what if their phone rings in the next few months and someone makes a serious offer? Who would likely do that? And what kind of offer would that be?

Here's a look at who might be interested in trading for the Giants' star receiver and what they have to offer if the Giants ever entertain trading him at all.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 22, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) runs to the locker room during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports (Jason Getz)
Oct 22, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) runs to the locker room during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports (Jason Getz)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive:

The idea that the Giants should or might trade Odell Beckham Jr. starts with a simple premise - that they're somehow better without him. He's a distraction. He wasn't the same player after his injury. He's always hurt. The Giants' offense got better last season with him on the sideline.

All of those things would be good reasons for the Giants to consider a deal. Except they're not true. And neither is the overall premise.

The Giants just aren't better without Beckham. In fact, they'll be much worse if they trade him away.

Tags: Evan Engram, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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Dec 2, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) scores a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Dec 2, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) scores a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Here we go again.

It was only six months ago that the Giants showed how they felt about Odell Beckham Jr. by signing him to a monster, five-year, $90 million contract with $65 million guaranteed. And it was only six weeks ago that GM Dave Gettleman responded to a question about whether he'd be open to trading Beckham this offseason by saying, "We didn't sign him to trade him, if that's what you're asking me."

So, with their wallet and their words, the Giants have made it clear they envision a future with Beckham. But with Beckham and the Giants it's never that simple.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 12, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan reacts on the field before a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Aug 12, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan reacts on the field before a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Jets CEO Christopher Johnson made his choice on Dec. 30 when he fired Todd Bowles, but not Mike Maccagnan. It was a signal that he believed in his general manager, bought into his vision, and wasn't concerned about his spotty record.

And though Johnson insisted he would never give anyone a playoff mandate ("Absolutely not," he said), the message from his actions are perfectly clear: This is Maccagnan's roster, Adam Gase is Maccagnan's coach, and this is the offseason Maccagnan has to turn the Jets from laughingstocks into a winner.

In other words, as one of the most important offseasons in Jets' history begins, the pressure on Maccagnan is high.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 26, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets acting ceo Christopher Wold Johnson (left) talks to general manager Mike Maccagnan before a preseason game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Aug 26, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets acting ceo Christopher Wold Johnson (left) talks to general manager Mike Maccagnan before a preseason game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets are sitting in a sweet spot in the upcoming NFL Draft. They hold a high pick (No. 3) in a draft that isn't thought of as quarterback rich. That means any team that wants a quarterback should want to move up to get their first choice, rather than wait and settle for seconds.

And the Jets are just the type of team that should be very interested in trading down.

For one thing, they already have their franchise quarterback.

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 (Jasen Vinlove)
(Jasen Vinlove)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | ArchiveKyler Murray, the electric Heisman Trophy winner and perhaps the most polarizing quarterback in this year's draft, officially committed to football over baseball on Monday. He needed to do that to convince an NFL team to draft him in the first round.

And while he almost certainly won't end up as the Giants' quarterback, he could have an impact on who will.

Right now, the NFL world seems mixed on Murray, mostly due to his height, which is listed at 5-foot-10 even though most think he's really one or two inches smaller. New Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury once said Murray could be the No. 1 pick in the draft - before he was hired by the team with that pick, of course. Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who holds the No. 4 pick, has seemed to be openly drooling over him at times.

Tags: Kyler Murray, Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants and Jets organizations don't like each other very much, which happens when teams share a stadium and a city. The Jets have long had an inferiority complex from feeling like New York's little brother. The Giants have never hid their feelings of superiority when it comes to the Jets.

So neither franchise has ever been inclined to do anything that might even appear to help out the other, which is a huge part of the reason why the two have never made a trade.

It might be time they get over those issues and their egos, though. Because a trade of draft picks between the Giants and Jets this year makes a whole lot of sense.

Tags: Eli Manning, Sam Darnold, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants and Jets organizations don't like each other very much, which happens when teams share a stadium and a city. The Jets have long had an inferiority complex from feeling like New York's little brother. The Giants have never hid their feelings of superiority when it comes to the Jets.

So neither franchise has ever been inclined to do anything that might even appear to help out the other, which is a huge part of the reason why the two have never made a trade.

It might be time they get over those issues and their egos, though. Because a trade of draft picks between the Giants and Jets this year makes a whole lot of sense.

Tags: Eli Manning, Sam Darnold, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants appear to be poised to take a quarterback early in this year's NFL draft, now that they're finally getting serious about finding Eli Manning's successor. Taking one with the sixth overall pick is definitely in play. They could draft one early in the second round, too.

Here's a look at some of their possible choices:

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins drops back in the pocket during the second quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins drops back in the pocket during the second quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Two years ago the Giants felt some urgency to find Eli Manning's heir apparent, and they gave some serious thought to taking a quarterback early in the 2017 draft. Last year, they didn't feel any urgency at all and let a lot of potential franchise quarterbacks slide right by.

This year, there seems to be a sense of urgency again -- which makes sense with Manning turning 38 years old and entering the final year of his contract. The Giants still don't have an answer to who their quarterback will be when Manning is finished.

And they seem to feel like the time to make that decision is now...

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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Dave Gettleman - Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS (Danielle Parhizkaran)
Dave Gettleman - Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS (Danielle Parhizkaran)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

There are still nearly three months until the NFL Draft, which means draft boards are only in their early stages and there is much scouting left to be done. Only a blurry picture has emerged of what the Top 10 looks like. It will come into focus after the scouting combine in late February and the Pro Days throughout March.

With both the Giants and Jets picking in the Top 10, though - again - it's never too early to take a peek at what the Top 10 might look like...

1. Arizona Cardinals - DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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Nov 2, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Nov 2, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

There are still nearly three months until the NFL Draft, which means draft boards are only in their early stages and there is much scouting left to be done. Only a blurry picture has emerged of what the Top 10 looks like. It will come into focus after the scouting combine in late February and the Pro Days throughout March.

With both the Giants and Jets picking in the Top 10, though - again - it's never too early to take a peek at what the Top 10 might look like...

1. Arizona Cardinals - DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants never once looked like a threat to make Super Bowl LIII and it's hard to envision them right now as a threat to make Super Bowl LIV either. They have so much work to do just to become a winning team again. Right now even a playoff berth feels far away.

Their work towards the 2019 season has already begun, of course, and beginning on Monday they are free to start reshaping their roster. There will be some cuts and restructured contracts in the next few weeks, as the Giants get ready for the opening of NFL free agency on March 13.

Here are some of the biggest decisions they face:

Tags: Eli Manning, Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, Olivier Vernon, Ralph Vacchiano
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Vacchiano talks Saquon and ROY 00:01:43
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano talks Saquon Barkley winning Rookie of the Year, as the Giants still face second guesses about drafting him.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

For most of the season, Saquon Barkley was running away with this award. A late push by Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, though, made it a very close contest.

And while it's hard to argue with voting for the quarterback who somewhat resurrected the Browns, and who was outstanding at perhaps the toughest position in sports, this award went to the right person. Barkley, the Giants' 21-year-old running back, was the best offensive rookie in the NFL this year.

His numbers certainly prove that -- 1,307 rushing yards, 91 catches for 721 receiving yards, making him just the third rookie in NFL history to have 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Add in 15 touchdowns and the fact that he did it behind an offensive line that was terrible at times, on a team that was a miserable 1-7 for the first half of the season, and his credentials glow even more.

Tags: Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants have no regrets about GM Dave Gettleman's decision to pass on several potential franchise quarterbacks to take Saquon Barkley with the second pick in last year's draft. Gettleman still believes Barkley is a "gold jacket" player. The Giants have no doubt he made the right call.

Around the league, though, it seems the jury is still out.

Tags: Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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NFL former player Kevin Mawae during the NFL players association press conference at the Super Bowl XLVI media center at the J.W. Marriott. (Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE)
NFL former player Kevin Mawae during the NFL players association press conference at the Super Bowl XLVI media center at the J.W. Marriott. (Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Sometime on Saturday, Kevin Mawae, a long-time fixture at center for the Jets, will learn whether he's finally been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It'll be tough, since there are three other offensive linemen on the list of 15 finalists. But if he does get the call, the honor would be overdue.

He's not the only former Jet or Giant for whom that honor is overdue, of course. Nor is he the only one who figures to be enshrined someday soon.

Here's a look at five New York football icons who deserve their spot in Canton, and the chances of whether they'll ever actually get their bust:

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Nov 14, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin speaks during his New York Giants Ring of Honor induction ceremony during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)
Nov 14, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin speaks during his New York Giants Ring of Honor induction ceremony during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Sometime on Saturday, Kevin Mawae, a long-time fixture at center for the Jets, will learn whether he's finally been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It'll be tough, since there are three other offensive linemen on the list of 15 finalists. But if he does get the call, the honor would be overdue.

He's not the only former Jet or Giant for whom that honor is overdue, of course. Nor is he the only one who figures to be enshrined someday soon.

Here's a look at five New York football icons who deserve their spot in Canton, and the chances of whether they'll ever actually get their bust:

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NFL former player Kevin Mawae during the NFL players association press conference at the Super Bowl XLVI media center at the J.W. Marriott. (Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE)
NFL former player Kevin Mawae during the NFL players association press conference at the Super Bowl XLVI media center at the J.W. Marriott. (Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Sometime on Saturday, Kevin Mawae, a long-time fixture at center for the Jets, will learn whether he's finally been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It'll be tough, since there are three other offensive linemen on the list of 15 finalists. But if he does get the call, the honor would be overdue.

He's not the only former Jet or Giant for whom that honor is overdue, of course. Nor is he the only one who figures to be enshrined someday soon.

Here's a look at five New York football icons who deserve their spot in Canton, and the chances of whether they'll ever actually get their bust:

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

On Saturday morning a small group of NFL media members will huddle in a room in Atlanta and spend hours debating the merits of the 15 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists. They will try to sell each other on their preferred candidates, make the case for each of them for Canton, before eventually settling on a final group of five modern-day inductees.

Someday in the not-so-distant future, maybe around 2025 or 2026, a similar group will be debating the Hall of Fame credentials of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. He's a virtual lock to be included on the list of 15 finalists immediately as soon he's eligible.

But there remains a good chance that his Hall of Fame candidacy will die right there.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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All aboard for Le'veon Bell 00:01:08
Ralph Vacchiano argues the Jets are able and will have to spend a lot of money to sign big-name free agents this offseason.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Jamal Adams is doing his best to sell the Jets to the free agent class of 2019, talking with agents, recruiting players on social media, and making a few calls to friends. It's good that the Jets have such a passionate ambassador.

Just don't expect his sales job to work.

Here's the truth about NFL free agency: There are only two things that matter to players on the market -- money (lots of it) and a chance to win a ring. Now the Jets do have plenty of money to spend and could be the high bidders on just about any player they desire.

Tags: Jamal Adams, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: For the moment, there seems to be only one quarterback in the NFL draft that most talent evaluators think is worthy of a Top 10 pick -- Dwayne Haskins. If that holds, that means the Giants will have only one shot this April at drafting Eli Manning's eventual successor.

And the Jets are perfectly positioned to mess those plans up.

Imagine that: The franchise that benefited from the Giants' decision to pass on franchise quarterback Sam Darnold last April could be the one that pushes the Giants' search for a new franchise quarterback even further into the future. That's because the Jets could have several, lucrative offers to trade down from their spot at No. 3 to a team that wants to get up over the Giants for a quarterback.

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: For the moment, there seems to be only one quarterback in the NFL draft that most talent evaluators think is worthy of a Top 10 pick -- Dwayne Haskins. If that holds, that means the Giants will have only one shot this April at drafting Eli Manning's eventual successor.

And the Jets are perfectly positioned to mess those plans up.

Imagine that: The franchise that benefited from the Giants' decision to pass on franchise quarterback Sam Darnold last April could be the one that pushes the Giants' search for a new franchise quarterback even further into the future. That's because the Jets could have several, lucrative offers to trade down from their spot at No. 3 to a team that wants to get up over the Giants for a quarterback.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Two years ago, the Los Angeles Rams were 4-12 - their 13th straight season without a winning record. Their roster looked depleted, their future at quarterback seemed uncertain, and they had just hired a new head coach.

Their rise from those ashes to Super Bowl LIII has been lightning fast and absolutely remarkable. And to get there, they followed a plan that could very easily apply to the Giants and the Jets.

Here are some of the lessons they can learn from the new NFC champs...

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Two years ago, the Los Angeles Rams were 4-12 - their 13th straight season without a winning record. Their roster looked depleted, their future at quarterback seemed uncertain, and they had just hired a new head coach.

Their rise from those ashes to Super Bowl LIII has been lightning fast and absolutely remarkable. And to get there, they followed a plan that could very easily apply to the Giants and the Jets.

Here are some of the lessons they can learn from the new NFC champs...

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

A big fear of any NFL team, especially in the modern era, is to get stuck in what Giants GM Dave Gettleman called "Quarterback Hell." It can doom a team to mediocrity, or worse. Sometimes it can last a decade or more.

Gettleman acknowledged that one year ago, speaking to reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., about the prospect of the Giants taking a quarterback in last year's draft. He warned that if a team picks the wrong guy "and he fails, you set yourself back five years." And he described that "Hell" as having a team that has a "quality defense, they've got a good special teams, and they're going 7-9, 8-8, 9-7."

Tags: Davis Webb, Eli Manning, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The day the Cleveland Browns named Gregg Williams their interim head coach after firing Hue Jackson, their former defensive coordinator made one thing perfectly clear: The Browns were lucky to have him.

"Since I left Buffalo (in 2003), I had 11 letters to interview for head coaching jobs," Williams said. "Four of them, I didn't even have to interview. Just show up and sign the contract."

Tags: Darron Lee, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Nov 11, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Gregg Williams claps for his players during warmups before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports (Scott Galvin)
Nov 11, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Gregg Williams claps for his players during warmups before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports (Scott Galvin)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | ArchiveTodd Bowles came to the Jets with the reputation of being one of the best defensive minds in football. And in his first season, it was easy to see why. After that, it was all a steady roll downhill towards the Jets becoming one of the worst defenses in the league.

That's startling considering how they had invested in their defense. For eight straight years, before they took quarterback Sam Darnold, they had taken a defensive player in the first round of the draft. And they had spent big money on defenders in free agency like corners Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne as well as linebacker Avery Williamson.

Yet they still had no pass rush and they wore down late in games. The Jets' defense was a remarkable group of underachievers.

Tags: Darron Lee, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Jets' long road from Todd Bowles to Adam Gase began in mid-November, long before either of them were fired from their old jobs. It started after a humiliating, 41-10 home loss by Bowles' Jets to the Buffalo Bills just before the bye week.

The week off gave the entire organization a chance to reassess itself. And the consensus inside the building became that the Jets needed a change.

What happened next was the beginning of what CEO Christopher Johnson later promised was an "extensive" search that over a two-month period included a look at Jim Harbaugh, a flirtation with Mike McCarthy, a push for Matt Rhule and a surprising inability to dismiss Todd Monken. When it was over, they ended up with a new head coach who wasn't on their original list because he was coaching a team in a playoff race with three weeks left in the regular season...

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Christopher Johnson talks Gase 00:02:51
SNY's Jeane Coakley spoke with New York Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson about why they chose Adam Gase as their new head coach.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

There is nothing new about the phrase "long-suffering Jets fan," because over the last 50 years there's no doubt they've all suffered enough. Right now, they're in the midst of a particularly difficult period. This is the longest stretch without a playoff berth for the Jets in almost 40 years.

That's why the biggest fear of those long-suffering fans who heard the Adam Gase press conference on Monday is that when it comes to this current playoff drought, eight years still may not be enough.

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Jets hire Adam Gase 00:01:44
Adam Gase was hired to the 19th Head Coach in Jets franchise history. Was it the right move?

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | ArchivePeyton Manning spent 18 years in the NFL, rewriting the NFL record book and winning two Super Bowls along the way. And a few years before Manning arrived in the league, John Elway did the same thing on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Those are two of the greatest quarterbacks who ever lived, and combined they may know more about the position and offensive football than any two people in history.

Manning once called new Jets coach Adam Gase "the smartest guy I know."

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 21, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase walks onto the field prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Oct 21, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase walks onto the field prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Before there was a Sean McVay, the young offensive whiz kid-coach that every team suddenly wants to copy, Adam Gase was that object of everyone's affections. He was the next offensive genius, the hottest assistant on the coaching carousel.

Just three years ago, when he was only 36, he was McVay before anyone even knew of McVay.

The luster may have faded from his star in the last three years as he went 23-25 with a somewhat dysfunctional Miami Dolphins organization. But the Jets were undeterred by the mess he left in Miami.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Nov 4, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy walks off the field following a loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports (Stew Milne)
Nov 4, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy walks off the field following a loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports (Stew Milne)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Mike McCarthy has made it known that he only wants to coach the Jets next season. Now it's up to the Jets to decide whether they want him.

The 55-year-old former Packers coach still appears to be one of the favorites to land the job -- if not the favorite -- as the Jets move on to Phase 2 of their search. They are known to have interviewed eight candidates so far, and seven of them are still available to be hired. Only one - former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, who is the new coach of the Arizona Cardinals - has been hired by someone else

 

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Sep 8, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Matt Rhule looks on during the fist half against the UTSA Roadrunners at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports (Soobum Im)
Sep 8, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Matt Rhule looks on during the fist half against the UTSA Roadrunners at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports (Soobum Im)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets believe they are a franchise on the rise with a tremendous future. And now that future is in the hands of a moderately successful college coach who has spent only one season in the NFL.

Matt Rhule, the 43-year-old who spent the last two years as the coach at Baylor, will become the 19th coach in Jets franchise history. That is a major leap of faith for Jets CEO Christopher Johnson and GM Mike McCagnan, considering Rhule went just 8-17 in his two seasons at Baylor, and 36-40 in six seasons as a college head coach, including four years at Temple.

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The next Jets Head Coach? 00:00:36
What qualities should the next Jets Head Coach have? Brandon Copeland stops by to explain.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets have interviewed eight candidates for their head coaching vacancy, and so far only one of them has been hired by another NFL team.

So the good news for the Jets is that with five NFL openings left and not a lot of other interest in the coaches they are pursuing, they shouldn't have any competition for whomever they decide to hire.

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Sep 8, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Matt Rhule looks on during the fist half against the UTSA Roadrunners at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports (Soobum Im)
Sep 8, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Matt Rhule looks on during the fist half against the UTSA Roadrunners at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports (Soobum Im)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Despite a short list that includes a Super Bowl champion, two other experienced NFL head coaches and three up-and-coming NFL assistants, the Jets suddenly seemed intrigued by two NFL outsiders -- Baylor coach Matt Rhule and USC offensive coordinator-turned Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury. They are clearly not afraid of hiring a college coach to lead their franchise.

Even though they probably should be.

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Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh looks on against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half at StubHub Center. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh looks on against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half at StubHub Center. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

John Harbaugh could be available from the Baltimore Ravens for any team interested in trading for him in the next few weeks. History suggests a deal like that would be well worth it.

History also suggests the cost could be a small fortune, which could be hard to stomach for the Jets.

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5 facts to know: Mike McCarthy 00:00:33
Mike McCarthy coached the Packers for 13 seasons, but what else is relevant about McCarthy as he's considered for the head coaching job?

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets have been very interested in former Packers coach Mike McCarthy since the day he was fired by the Green Bay Packers. The one thing they didn't know, though, was how interested he was in them. 

Now it seems the interest is definitely mutual.

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | ArchiveEli Manning wants to keep playing football, and he prefers to keep playing it with the Giants. He said in a radio interview on Wednesday that "it's hard to imagine" playing in another uniform.

But he knows that's happened to some of the biggest names in sports, many times before.

So what happens if things do go wrong with Manning and the Giants between now and the start of training camp in July? What if the only place for Manning to continue his NFL career does turn out to be someplace else?

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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5 facts to know: Adam Gase 00:00:33
Adam Gase is known for his offensive background, is that enough to make him a worthy candidate to be the next head coach of the Jets?

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Five days into the Jets' coaching search, there are seven known candidates and a few other names that have surfaced in connection to the job. Here's everything we know about the search and the candidates so far, from multiple sources throughout the league:

Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy

The apparent favorite. The Jets are expected to interview him "soon," a source said. He's scheduled an interview with the Cleveland Browns for next week and he reportedly turned down a request from Arizona Cardinals.

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Dec 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) reacts after an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK (Danielle Parhizkaran)
Dec 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) reacts after an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK (Danielle Parhizkaran)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

All the speculation about Eli Manning's future is about whether the Giants want him back next season and whether they can find a better option somewhere else. But what if something else is factoring into this decision?

What if the Giants want Manning back, but with conditions the 38-year-old franchise icon won't find easy to accept?

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sam Darnold (14) Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Fuller)
Sam Darnold (14) Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Fuller)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Jets CEO Christopher Johnson sees the Jets as a "really good spot" for a new head coach. They've got a franchise quarterback, "some great young players." And, of course, they're in New York.

"Some people will be attracted to (that), maybe some won't," Johnson said. "But if you make it here, you're a freakin' legend."

That's true. Whoever leads the Jets to their first Super Bowl in 50-plus years will be a sports immortal. That possibility could be attractive for some. Overall, the Jets can offer a pretty attractive situation regardless for a new coach.

Tags: Jamal Adams, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Takeaways from Gettleman on Eli 00:01:25
Did Giants GM Dave Gettleman tip the Giants' hand for who would start under center in 2019?

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Dave Gettleman did everything he could to not commit to Eli Manning as the Giants quarterback in 2019 in his press conference on Wednesday. He made it clear from the start he wasn't ready to answer that question, and he followed up by ducking every attempt.

But maybe the better way to read his answers is that he didn't decommit to Manning as the quarterback of the Giants either. In fact, he acknowledged that the soon-to-be-38-year-old "still can make the NFL throws. You know what I'm saying? He's still got it." And Manning's stats - 4,299 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a career-high completion percentage of 66 percent -- "wasn't too shabby either," Gettleman said.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy looks on from the sideline in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. (Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy looks on from the sideline in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. (Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Two days into the Jets' search for a new coach, the "extensive" field of candidates that CEO Christopher Johnson has compiled is beginning to emerge. It so far includes three assistants they've requested permission to interview, two former NFL head coaches and maybe a third. They've also shown an interest in dipping into the college ranks, where they will interview one former head coach, they've done background work on one big name, and were shot down by another.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Dec 2, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) gestures at the line of scrimmage against the Los Angeles Chargers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Chargers won 33-30. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Dec 2, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) gestures at the line of scrimmage against the Los Angeles Chargers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Chargers won 33-30. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The best and most productive receiver in the NFL over the last six seasons could soon be on the market, and the Jets have cap room to spend and a desperate need for a star like that to help their rising young quarterback. On the surface, it appears like a match made in heaven.

But they're better off resisting temptation and steering clear of a possible hell.

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New York Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates talks to his players during NFL rookie camp, Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates talks to his players during NFL rookie camp, Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The players in the Jets' locker room seemed to have a universal like and respect for Todd Bowles and believed in what he was doing.

The same was apparently not true about offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates.

There was a growing frustration with Bates' scheme and his play-calling among the Jets' offensive players, according to multiple NFL sources -- a frustration significant enough that the concerns were brought to the Jets' front office.

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets now have the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, and they could take Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa, but there are still plenty of other NFL prospects who will be on their radar during the 41 bowl games. And not just Top 5 players either, since the possibility exists that the Jets will trade down.

With all that in mind, here are just a few of the players the Jets should, and probably will be watching and scouting during bowl season:

Tags: Bilal Powell, Buster Skrine, Leonard Williams, Steve McLendon, Ralph Vacchiano
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(SNY Illustration)
(SNY Illustration)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants have missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons, which means they'll get another head start on building their future. And there are plenty of NFL prospects for them to watch in the 41 bowl games scheduled to be played over the next few weeks.

The Giants now have the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL Draft. So here are a few of the players the Giants should, and probably will be, watching and scouting during bowl season: 

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Dec 30, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles exits the field after the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Patriots defeated the Jets 38-3. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Dec 30, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles exits the field after the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Patriots defeated the Jets 38-3. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Todd Bowles had an awful resume from his four years as head coach of the Jets, but it still might be enough to get him a shot at another job.

The 55-year-old Bowles is expected to draw interest from several teams looking for a new head coach in the next few weeks, according to multiple NFL sources. The Cleveland Browns may interview him during their search, one source said, and the Arizona Cardinals might be interested too if they fire their coach, Steve Wilks.

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