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Giants’ future is bleak, says ESPN

Let’s examine the reasons, and discuss whether they are correct

New York Giants v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman likes to say that the Giants are “building.” Well, if this were the story of the ‘Three Little Pigs,’ the Giants might be building a house of straw. At least, that is the opinion of a trio of ESPN analysts who placed the Giants 31st of 32 NFL teams in ESPN’s future power rankings [subscription only]. Those rankings are a projection of the next three seasons.

Only the Miami Dolphins are below the Giants in the opinion of ESPN’s analysts.

ESPN scored five categories — overall roster (minus quarterback), quarterback, coaching, draft, front office.

Let’s examine the comments from the trio of ESPN analysts — Field Yates, Louis Riddick and Kevin Seifert — and offer some thoughts on those broad stroke remarks.

Why they’re here: No team’s 2019 offseason came under more scrutiny than the Giants’, as GM Dave Gettleman’s theme of audacity was apparent in free agency and the draft. From shipping away Odell Beckham Jr. and drafting Daniel Jones No. 6 overall, Gettelman feels as if he’s improved the Giants’ culture while finding a long-term quarterback fixture. While Jones could solve many of the potential long-term problems by becoming an outstanding player, the Giants’ roster is an inconsistent mesh of players who are ready to win now and a smaller, developmental portion. There isn’t much public trust in Gettleman’s decision-making, which could result in a long 2019 season. -- Yates

Valentine’s View: I’m not sure I follow Yates here. The reality is he is right that the Giants “came under more scrutiny” than just about any other team’s, and that there “isn’t much public trust in Gettleman’s decision-making.” Those things, though, won’t “result in a long 2019 season.”

What could result in a long 2019 season, and by extension a long three years since that was the premise of the rankings, is if Gettleman has been wrong about too many of his choices.

Former Minnesota Vikings GM Jeff Diamond addressed Gettleman’s decisions and the resulting outcry during an appearance on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. I’m reminded right now of a couple of the things Diamond said:

“He doesn’t have to explain his draft picks to anybody except John Mara. He really just needs to go about his business now. All he needs to say to the fan base is ‘let it all play out.’ Let’s see what happens.” ...

“The best thing is just go ahead, stop talking about, stop defending the pick. You’re not serving yourself or the organization well in that way. Just go about your business and see what happens.

“What’s done is done. Let’s give this time to play out. From Gettleman’s standpoint, he doesn’t need to talk about it because it just really fuels the fire.”

That, honestly, is where I am. What anyone thinks of the decisions that have been made no longer matters. What matters is how things play out for the Giants on the field going forward.

Also, my public service reminder: Gettleman has not been tearing apart the Patriots. The Giants have missed the playoffs six of the past seven seasons. They’ve been broken. He’s trying to put them back together. Whether you like his methods or not doesn’t matter. Only the end result matters. If they win, you will be happy. If they don’t, you won’t.

We’ll see what happens.

Biggest worry: Has Gettleman made the right decision concerning the future performance of Eli Manning, the future performance of rookie first-round QB Jones and how well these two can perform without the services of one of the most explosive, naturally gifted WRs we have seen come into the NFL in as long time in Beckham? If he is right and this team will be able to win in both the short and long term, then he will look like a genius. I see the end approaching quickly for Manning, and have been on record as saying Dwayne Haskins was the best QB in the 2019 draft, but the Giants decided on Jones when Haskins was still on the board. I would not have gone that route. -- Riddick

Valentine’s View: Whenever Louis Riddick speaks about the Giants I believe it is important to remember that he was the only other candidate to get an interview before the Giants chose Gettleman as GM.

We have examined on a couple of occasions how the Giants could be different if Riddick had gotten the job [here and here].

Riddick’s opinion that Haskins would have been a better choice than Jones doesn’t really matter. Neither does the idea that long-time NFL personnel man and analyst Gil Brandt loves Jones and is reminded of a young Peyton Manning when watching him.

What matters is whether or not Gettleman ends up being right that the Giants can play good offense with Manning at the helm and Beckham in Cleveland, and whether or not Jones will eventually prove up to the task of being the next franchise quarterback.

What could change for the better: The Giants need a serious intervention to upgrade their idea of modern football schemes and drafting philosophies. The game is pass-first now, whether or not Gettleman wants it to be. But he and the entire organization could be saved if Jones proves more dynamic than most of the league thinks he is. If the Giants really drafted a caretaker quarterback at No. 6 overall, it will be difficult to recover. -- Seifert

Valentine’s View: There is an impression that the Giants, a traditional and sometimes slow-moving organization that values stability, are stuck in the past. That perhaps they are playing checkers while most of the NFL has advanced to chess. Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi is a leading proponent of this theory.

Is it correct?

I have said before that the fingerprints of George Young, GM from 1979-1997, are still imprinted upon the Giants. Ernie Accorsi worked for Young, and both Jerry Reese and Gettleman worked for Accorsi.

It is true that Gettleman is an old-school believer in the idea that the basic tenets of run the ball, stop the run and rush the passer remain central to playing winning football. It is also true that Gettleman loves his hog mollies, believes in the credo that big players allow you to compete and has at times spoken dismissively of modern analytics. Finally, yes the Giants have stuck with an aging Eli Manning longer than many in the media and fan base would have preferred.

Matt Williamson examined this question earlier in the offseason, and offered this conclusion:

“... while it looks like Giants are archaic in their approach of replacing positions of little value with players at the same spot, the logic behind these moves is sound. Also, it must be noted that the analytics people are now very much believers that the best way to build a defense is investing in cornerbacks. This is a newer vantage point that New York subscribes to. The Giants are on board with this strategy and including the supplemental draft, have added three highly regarded cornerback prospects in less than one calendar year.

“Gettleman and the Giants are easy targets of critics right now. His interactions with the media and the market they play in certainly does not help the way the Giants are currently perceived. That being said and again, there is no denying that New York does do things their own way and with some traditional philosophies in place, but the Giants rebuild might just be a little less old-fashioned than most seem to think.”

Traditional philosophies or not, the view here is that over time Gettleman will do a nice job adding ancillary pieces and building the talent across the roster. While we need the benefit of time to be certain, it seems that he has strung together two good draft classes.

In reality, all of this will come back to the central question of whether or not Gettleman and the Giants are right about Jones. If they are, everything else will work itself out. If they aren’t, the Giants will be mired in mediocrity — or worse — for years to come.