Do the New York Giants have the right decision-makers in place to rebuild a franchise that has obviously lost its way?
A long-term tear down and rebuild is not what 67-year-old GM Dave Gettleman nor 53-year-old head coach Pat Shurmur, both getting second chances in those roles, signed up for.
I have to go back to something I wrote for a Giants season preview for the SB Nation flagship.
New coach. New GM. Thirty-seven-year-old quarterback coming off perhaps the worst statistical season of his career. Positioned with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Perfect time to begin a long-term rebuild. Right? ...
Was it time to tell the two-time Super Bowl MVP who had been the franchise quarterback for 14 years that his time was up? To set in motion the next era of Giants football, even while this one was still sputtering to an end? Or, was it time for the Giants to push their cards to the table, to go all-in on trying to make one final push with Eli Manning?
Giants fans, and draft analysts, should have seen this coming from a mile -- maybe 100 miles -- away.
Gettleman is a 67-year-old second-time GM who has two Super Bowls rings Manning put on his fingers while Gettleman was the Giants’ pro personnel director. Pat Shurmur is a second-time head coach. Neither of them are going to get a third chance if this one blows up.
Manning has two seasons left on his four-year, $84 million contract -- a deal that doesn’t look all that bad considering current quarterback prices.
These aren’t guys who have time for your stinkin’ rebuild. They need to win football games. And, they need to do it now!
I also wrote this a couple of weeks ago, and I think it captures what the Giants hoped to do in 2018 and 2019:
The New York Giants tried to have their cake in 2018, and eat it, too.
They tried to take a 3-13 team with a roster that needed upgrades pretty much across the board, a team that had been to the playoffs once in six seasons, a team that had an aging quarterback with an obviously short window, and compete while also trying to rebuild the soft underbelly of the roster.
Dave Gettleman talked before conducting his first draft as Giants’ GM about the balancing act of present vs. future.
“Here is the deal – as the G.M., I walk a tight line. I have to look at the short term and I have to look at the long term and that’s the tight rope that I walk and I have to take all that into consideration in making decisions, whether it’s the draft, whether it’s unrestricted free agency, whether it’s trading for an Alec Ogletree,” Gettleman said. “Whatever it is, making claims – you have to think about it. So I’m on that tight rope doing the best I can with the information that I have.”
Obviously, the short-term plan has been blown to smithereens and that “stinkin’ rebuild” Gettleman and Shurmur did not want to undertake back in January is now upon them. Are they the right men to lead the Giants back out of the wilderness to which the franchise has returned?
Let’s try to answer the question.
That was Gettleman at his introductory press conference when asked if he was a “care taker” or saw his appointment as a long-term thing.
Well, he’s done that. He’s kicked a lot of them out the door, both in the locker room and in the front office. He’s brought in a lot of new faces. The one thing he hasn’t done, at least not yet, is make the Giants better.
Gettleman’s work thus far has been a mixed bag.
A long-time pro personnel guy, one question about him when he became GM of the Carolina Panthers was whether or not he could draft successfully. He can. His drafts in Carolina weren’t perfect, but he got quality players in each of the five he conducted.
His first draft in New York brought in Saquon Barkley and Will Hernandez, cornerstone offensive players, and Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill, good young defensive players. If he hits on Kyle Lauletta, a fourth-round quarterback, that draft is a grand slam.
His free agency decisions in his first year with the Giants have not paid big dividends. Jonathan Stewart was a mistake. So, too, was Patrick Omameh. Nate Solder was an overpay, but that’s the price of having to fill a need on the high end of the free agent market. You end up paying A+ prices for B or C players.
The success or failure of Gettleman’s tenure will ultimately come down to two questions. First, can he fix the offensive line? Second, can he find a franchise quarterback?
His first effort at an offensive line rebuild hasn’t been successful. Solder is really what should have been expected, a middle of the road left tackle. Will Hernandez was an outstanding second-round pick. This offseason, Gettleman needs to work to upgrade the other three spots.
The hog-mollie loving Gettleman’s history indicates that he will eventually get the offensive line right. In pro personnel with the Giants, he helped identify Shaun O’Hara and Kareem McKenzie as free agent targets. In Carolina, he drafted Trai Turner, Daryl Williams and Taylor Moton and uncovered All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell as an undrafted free agent.
The quarterback question? Gettleman has never had to answer that one. In Carolina, Cam Newton was in place when he got there. Last offseason, while the rest of the league was tripping over itself to get a crack at what was viewed as a historic quarterback class, Gettleman passed and selected Barkley.
This is the big one. Can Gettleman find the Giants a top-tier quarterback to replace Manning? We shall see.
That was Gettleman during Shurmur’s introductory press conference. Co-owner John Mara also used the word “adult” when referring to Shurmur.
Coming off a season 3-13 season in which three players were suspended and discord was rampant in the locker room, that is a characteristic the Giants valued in their head-coaching search.
They found it with Shurmur.
The 53-year-old 30-year coaching veteran has brought some calm to a situation that turned into complete chaos a year ago. Gettleman and Shurmur initially talked at length about the importance of culture, brought in veterans from successful organizations to help, and have been successful in building relationships and keeping the obvious dysfunction out of the locker room.
Shurmur ran a good preseason program and training camp. He showed some backbone by fining Odell Beckham Jr. He treats people, including the media, with respect. It’s apparent when he doesn’t appreciate a question, but he does his best to provide an answer, anyway.
What Shurmur hasn’t done is win games. His reputation as a quality offensive play caller and quarterback guru hasn’t translated yet with the Giants.
Is Shurmur the right guy to handle this rebuild? There really is no way to know until we go through it and see how well he handles it.
At first blush, you might want a young, energetic first-time head coach. You might want Sean McVay. Shurmur’s steady hand, though, might prove to be the right tonic as the Giants try to get back on the right path.
As offensive coordinator in St. Louis, he helped the Rams go from 1-15 in 2009 to 7-9 in 2012. In two years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns he went 9-23 — not so bad considering that the Browns have gone 13-48-1 since they fired him.
Can Shurmur guide what will ultimately be a young team back to the point where it becomes an annual contender? We just don’t know.
How long will Shurmur and Gettleman get?
The leash on coaches is always shorter than it is on general managers. Neither of these guys is going anywhere after the 2018 season.
After 2019? If it doesn’t feel like the Giants are at least moving in the right direction, you certainly have to think Shurmur’s seat will at least get warm.
Gettleman? The Giants had never fired a GM before letting go of Jerry Reese. It took several years of poor draft and free agent decisions to get the Giants into the mess they are in. Gettleman doesn’t figure to get a 10-year leash, but he does figure to get some time — health permitting — to try and put this Humpty Dumpty of a team back together again.