Change is coming to the New York Giants. It has to with a 2-11 record that includes a franchise record-tying nine straight losses and a 7-22 record since Dave Gettleman became general manager and Pat Shurmur became head coach.
Giants ownership is, by all reports, angry, Make that VERY ANGRY.
Recall co-owner Steve Tisch’s remarks from a week ago that he and John Mara need to have a “very honest” conversation about the direction of the wayward franchise. Mara has not commented and apparently brushed off media again Monday night by surrounding himself with a phalanx of security. If I know anything about Mara, he is probably not commenting because he is an emotional man and knows he will probably say things he will regret. Not that doesn’t owe fans something. He does. Nothing he says or does right now, though, is going to change the team’s current plight.
Those cards are already dealt.
The only question now is when Tisch and Mara, whose lives are largely lived on opposite coasts in very different lifestyles, sit in a room and have that very honest conversation how deeply will they choose to plunge the knife.
It seems inconceivable at this point that Shurmur, 7-22 (.241) with the Giants and 17-45 (.274) overall as a head coach could be brought back for a third season.
Shurmur, as politely as I can put this, is a nice man who seems over his head as an NFL head coach.
There are too many times his in-game management seems clueless. Too many times he seems to be outfoxed by opposing coaches, either in terms of halftime adjustments or end of half/game situations. Too many times it seems his team is unprepared for teams it should beat, or situations an NFL team should be ready for. Too many times he and his coaching staff seem not to understand the team they are coaching or the personnel they have available to them.
There has been too little progress made on the field, especially by young players who need to improve and learn how to win, not just learn to collect an NFL paycheck and accept losing.
There has just been too much losing, and too few signs that Shurmur has the ability to do anything about it.
Shurmur just hasn’t given any real indication that he can be a winning NFL head coach. It’s hard to imagine that the Giants would think sweeping out much of the coaching staff underneath him, especially on the defensive side, would make that much difference. Or that quality assistants would be attracted to the opportunity to work with Shurmur.
So, change there seems inevitable.
What about Gettleman, and the staff that works for him?
I wrote the other day that while Gettleman’s work over two years has been a “mixed bag,” I would be OK with the Giants giving him more time. Here is part of what I said in that post:
I don’t know what the Giants will do, but I keep coming back to the idea that ownership isn’t fond of major upheaval. I think Gettleman has made mistakes, including perhaps not acknowledging or even initially realizing how big the job of fixing this team was going to be. He finally said this summer that “Unfortunately, you can’t turn this thing on a dime. It’s impossible.”
The core question is, are the Giants of today better off than where Gettleman found them two years ago? Record-wise, obviously not. I think, though, that they have the beginnings of a young core that didn’t exist when Gettleman took over. They have a young quarterback who might carry the franchise for the next decade or so.
Maybe it’s because I’m also old-school, but I think Gettleman has the right team-building philosophy. Even if the execution hasn’t always been on the mark.
Provided that Gettleman, who will be 69 in February and had a scary battle with lymphoma slightly more than a year ago, is healthy I think I would be OK with the Giants giving him at least one more offseason to execute his plan.
I think Gettleman has a better chance to stay than Shurmur, but that doesn’t mean he should be feeling safe.
Jordan Ranaan of ESPN reported on Tuesday that “Expectations around the league are that Shurmur won’t survive this mess and GM Dave Gettleman is also in trouble.” Ben Volin of The Boston Globe reported that there was “unanimous consent” among league sources he spoke with that Shurmur would be looking for work at the end of the season, and Volin also used the phrase “in trouble” to describe Gettleman’s status.
Do the Giants believe Gettleman has done more good work than bad over the past two offseasons? Do they believe that the coaching staff has not maximized or developed the pieces given to them by the general manager? Do they believe he just needs more time to build a winning roster?
If so, perhaps Gettleman gets another chance.
If ownership believes the talent isn’t being replenished fast enough, that too many personnel mistakes have been made, that Gettleman can’t help attract a coach they desire or free agents who can make a difference then perhaps they will clean house completely.
I was critical of the Giants for taking the half-measure of ousting Tom Coughlin in 2015 yet keeping GM Jerry Reese while saying the GM was at fault for the barren state of the roster. If the Giants decide to blow the whole thing up rather than mix and match at this point it would be hard for me to argue against that.
I do have a piece of advice for Mara and Tisch.
If they are going to start over, they really need to START OVER.
That means not simply elevating assistant general manager Kevin Abrams to the big chair simply because they are comfortable with him or because he’s next in line.
It means not turning to former GM Ernie Accorsi to lead a search for a new general manager.
It means going outside their comfort zone, looking for new people, new ideas, new voices.
A week ago I posted an initial list of coaching candidates who could be considered to replace Shurmur. I still believe Baylor coach Matt Rhule has to be on any short list of potential new Giants coaches, and that if Gettleman remains ex-Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera is going to get an opportunity to make his pitch to Giants’ ownership if he is interested.
The list hardly stops there, though, especially when you add into the mix the possibility of bringing in a new general manager.
New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio is always rumored to be a candidate for open GM jobs, and his contract in New England expires this offseason. Volin reported that the Giants and Panthers could be looking at Caserio and Josh McDaniels as a package deal. A source indicated on Tuesday that Volin’s report is accurate. Volin also mentions a possible tandem of Caserio and Brian Daboll, currently offensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills.
Another name to note as a GM candidate could be former Houston Texans GM Brian Gaine, who was fired this summer after less than two years on the job. Gaine, I’m told, has a strong ally in Bill Parcells and after his sudden exit from Houston could get another GM opportunity somewhere.
As we get to the stage where these decisions will be made Mara and Tisch would do well to remember that George Young, who rescued the Giants from the dark years of the late 1960s and 1970s, was once an outsider.