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Valentine’s Views: Giants Fans Want Changes, But Might Not Get Them

Blow everything up and start over? That path seems unlikely

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

What happens now for the 0-5 New York Giants?

This Is Going To Get Worse

The Giants haven’t won a game, and haven’t rightfully deserved to win a game. They have 11 games left. I can’t find a single one on the schedule where they should be favored, or expected, to win. Here is what’s left:

@ Denver
vs. Seattle
vs. LA Rams
@ San Francisco
vs. Kansas City
@ Washington
@ Oakland
vs. Dallas
vs. Philadelphia
@ Arizona
vs. Washington

Unless something extraordinary, or at least completely unexpected, happens the Giants could threaten the franchise’s all-time record for futility. Since the schedule expanded to 16 games, the Giants have never won fewer than three. In my view, they are more likely than not to threaten that mark this season.

Suck for Sam? Or Saquon? Or, whoever the apple of your 2018 NFL Draft eye happens to be? The Giants aren’t going to have to do that on purpose. They’re already doing it. At this point, their odds of picking in the top five of the draft are pretty good.

I think those odds are likely to get better, because I don’t see the on-field product getting that much better for the rest of this season. Especially with the mess at wide receiver.

So, where do the Giants go from here? There are really two major questions the franchise has to answer as it figures out how to move forward. Let’s start with ...

The Ben & Jerry Question

I’m putting these together because, well, in my view the futures of coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese are tied together. I’m not going to rehash the blame game. I did that last week, and there is plenty of it to be shared by the coach, the GM, and by ownership. The question before us “where do the Giants go from here?”

First of all, I’d bet a small fortune (if I had a small fortune to bet) that the Giants do nothing in-season. That’s just not how they do things, no matter how loudly blood-thirsty fans scream or how many of them stay home instead of parking themselves in MetLife Stadium seats.

The Giants can’t fire Reese and keep McAdoo. Hiring a GM and keeping an existing coach is a recipe for disaster that usually ends with the coach getting fired, anyway. You could fire McAdoo, but then you have several issues. Those only start with finding the right coach. You still have the same GM picking the new coach and the players, and you still have an aging quarterback who will then have to again start over in a new system.

McAdoo did win 11 games as a rookie head coach. It’s not nearly the full reason for this season’s ineptitude, and there is huge concern about McAdoo losing the locker room entirely, but he can largely explain away 2017 to management by saying “my best player wasn’t fully healthy for a single game.”

Reese can point to the 2016 rebuild. To drafting Beckham. To the promise of Evan Engram, Dalvin Tomlinson and Wayne Gallman as successess. To his two Super Bowl rings.

That leads us to ...

The Eli Question

Or, really, the “future of the Giants at quarterback” question.

Criticize Manning for the fumble on Sunday if you must. He probably deserves it. The fact that the Giants are awful this season, though, is not his fault. He has played well enough.

The same can be said for most of the past six years. Manning has been far from perfect, but blame for the fact that the Giants have been mediocre or worse does not, or at least should not, land at his feet.

That said, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is what the Giants do at quarterback going forward.

There is chatter about whether or not Tom Coughlin and the Jacksonville Jaguars should be interested in trading for Manning. That’s TC’s decision. Personally, if I was him I’d pick up the phone and call John Mara. The Jaguars’ chances of being really good are far better with Manning that with Blake Bortles. If TC made that call and offered a couple of high draft picks, including a first-rounder, what do you do? Honestly, I say you make the deal. You don’t go and seek it out, but if the Jaguars come calling you have to listen.

Even if that doesn’t happen, and I don’t believe it will, the Giants need to seriously turn their attention to the future. Though they drafted Davis Webb in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, quarterback has to be in play if the Giants have a top 5 pick. I’m not saying the Giants have to take a quarterback if that is the case, but they have to strongly consider it. This is supposed to be a historically good quarterback class, and if you can get a franchise guy that’s difficult to pass up on.

The other part of that equation is, fair to Manning or not, the Giants have to know what they have in Webb. Which means that at some time before the next 11 games are completed, Manning has to sit and Webb has to play. Even if Manning starts games to keep his consecutive starts streak alive and Webb comes on in relief. It’s the only way the Giants can begin to get a gauge on whether they already have the guy to replace Manning, or if they need to use the 2018 NFL Draft to go get that guy.

The Appeasement Plan

I do not expect McAdoo to completely lose the locker room, though I’m troubled by what Eli Apple said about culture and by Janoris Jenkins bolting the sideline early on Sunday. What, though, if he does? What if, like at the end of the Jim Fassel era, it just becomes obvious a change needs to be made? Is there something the Giants can do short of a complete reboot?

Well, yes. They could elevate Steve Spagnuolo to head coach and allow Mike Sullivan to run the offense. That would at least somewhat appease the fan base and would allow them to maintain some continuity, something this organization always values.

Still, I do not believe the Giants are anywhere near that point. How the rest of the unfolds will be telling, but I think the organization still believes McAdoo can and will continue to grow into the job.

What Do I Think Will Happen?

You’re not going to like this answer. I think that when the 2018 season opens, Manning, McAdoo and Reese are all occupying the same chairs they currently sit in. Here’s why:

The Giants are tied to Manning for at least one more season. He carries a $22.2 million cap figure in 2018, and it would cost the Giants $12.4 million against the cap to cut him. They are not going to do that, partially because of the cost and partially because they have loyalty to a 14-year veteran who beat Tom Brady twice in Super Bowls.

If they move on from him it would be before the 2019 season, when he carries $23.2 million cap hit. At that point, the Giants would take a $6.2 million cap hit to move on. That’s still a lot, but it’s more palatable than $12.4M.

If you are committed to — or stuck with, if that is your viewpoint — Manning for one more year now isn’t the time for an organizational house-cleaning. Hiring a new coach and/or GM for a one-year “shotgun” marriage with Manning isn’t going to work.

You’re probably going to see a lot of deck chairs re-arranged, not the captain’s chairs. Maybe some assistant coaches are shown the door. We’ve seen that — unsuccessfully — before. Maybe the scouting department gets shuffled — I would be fine with that. There will be lots of roster turnover — a lot of high-priced veterans cut and some who are heading to free agency not brought back.

My guess, though, is that the three central characters remain the same.