On Tuesday, I laid out a five-point plan for fixing the New York Giants. The centerpiece of that plan was replacing both head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. What happens, though, if both stay?
In my view, things have deteriorated too far and McAdoo seems too headstrong to fully comprehend his own hand in the mess. As for Reese, the sample size is large enough to know what he is. It is time to move on from his middling roster management, lack of creativity and obstinance in not adequately addressing obvious roster flaws.
Just because that is my view doesn’t mean it will be the view of co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. Just because the 280-character Twitterverse is filled with invective demanding the heads of both coach and GM for the horrid mess the Giants have become doesn’t mean they will get them.
What if ownership believes in McAdoo? What if they believe he can learn and grow from this season’s mistakes? He just 40 and in his second year as a head coach. Bill Parcells did it, rebounding from a 3-12-1 first season as head coach in 1983 to help the Giants win two Super Bowls. Maybe Mara and Tisch will conclude they think McAdoo can do the same.
What if ownership still believes Reese is the right man to pick the players? Though his recent work has fallen short, Reese does have two Super Bowl rings. He did draft Odell Beckham Jr. Evan Engram looks headed for stardom. In my view, Reese hasn’t done enough good things in recent years. He has, however, done some. What if ownership thinks Reese has done enough good that he is still the right man for the job?
What happens then?
Much of the plan remains the same.
The Giants still need to clarify their Eli Manning succession plan. It’s not time to push Manning out the door, or to the bench. I still believe that with a functional offense around him that the two-time Super Bowl MVP would be just fine. It would be great for the Giants if Davis Webb is that guy. That means they could use their draft capital to try and find fixes for other issues. Hopefully, the Giants see the big picture and get Webb some snaps this season so they have an idea. If he isn’t the guy, we know the Giants are looking at the crop of QBs in the 2018 NFL Draft class.
The Giants still need to clean out the roster. They need to move on from some expensive veterans who are on the down sides of their careers. They need to make decisions about free-agent offensive linemen Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, D.J. Fluker and Brett Jones (a restricted free agent). I think Richburg is a terrific player, but for me he’s probably odd man out. As for other veterans, I already identified much of how I would proceed.
The Giants need to figure out the Odell Beckham Jr., question. No, not the “should they trade him” question. The “should they give him his mega-contract now or make him wait” question. If you’re keeping McAdoo and Reese in place, you probably go ahead and get that deal done before the 2018 season begins.
The Giants have to decide whether to pick up Ereck Flowers’ fifth-year option. For me, that’s a no.
The Giants still need to build from inside out. Once they answer the quarterback of the future question, the Giants simply have to do something about the offensive line and linebacker.
Now, for a couple of additional thoughts on what has to be done if you don’t change the head coach or GM.
Shake up the coaching staff
I touched on this briefly in my five-point plan, but now it’s time to expand on that. If McAdoo stays, there has to be a shake up among the assistant coaches. The Giants apparently tried to hire Joe Philbin, whom McAdoo worked for with the Green Bay Packers and has four years of head-coaching experience, as an assistant when McAdoo got the job last year. It didn’t happen as Philbin went to the Indianapolis Colts as assistant head coach and offensive line coach, but it would have been good for McAdoo.
From the outside looking in, I’m not sure McAdoo really completely trusts his staff. I think that’s one of the reasons he is sometimes slow to change and why it took so long to turn over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. McAdoo could really use someone on staff he really believed in to me a sounding board and whose suggestions he would take to heart.
I don’t want to see Sullivan be a fall guy on the offensive side. He is a good coach and the offense has taken strides since he began calling the plays. McAdoo, though, could really benefit from having someone he has worked with previously by his side. Someone you might consider one of “his” guys.
On the defensive side of the ball, with all of the dysfunction and under-achievement we have seen there, I might be tempted to sweep defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo out and try a fresh approach with new position coaches.
Get another voice in the front office
Maybe this risks too many cooks being in the kitchen. A couple of years back, though, the Giants hired former Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew to help Reese. Mayhew has moved on to the San Francisco 49ers.
Perhaps it is time to consider getting someone else in a similar role. Maybe the Giants just need another voice to help them identify the right players in positions they have struggled to solve. I have doubts they would accept roles that didn’t give them complete control, but former Giants exec and Carolina Panthers GM Dave Gettleman and former Washington Redskins GM Scot McLoughan are both available.
As for Marc Ross? I said the other day that I wouldn’t be in favor of him becoming the next GM, based partially on all of the teams that have already rejected him. I will stick to that, but there is something else to add.
Ross and his scouts can only evaluate players and bring their reports and suggestions to the GM. It’s impossible to know if Ross and his team are suggesting the wrong players, or if Reese is at times relying on his own scouting instincts and going in a different direction.