General manager interviews begin on Wednesday for the starting-over — again — New York Giants. To date, the Giants have requested interviews with nine prospective candidates.
Co-owner John Mara says the Giants are “looking for a person who demonstrates exceptional leadership and communication abilities, somebody who will oversee all aspects of our football operations, including player personnel, college scouting, and coaching.”
With that in mind, here are some questions candidates need to have answers for as Mara and Steve Tisch conduct the first round of virtual interviews,
Who is on your head-coaching list?
The Joe Judge problem has been removed from the search for a Dave Gettleman replacement. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reported that several potential GM candidates had asked ownership if Judge was going to be forced on them before agreeing to an interview. Under the circumstances, that was to be expected.
Each of the candidates likely has one guy they would love to bring in as head coach. For Joe Schoen of the Buffalo Bills maybe that is Brian Daboll. For Joe Hortiz of the Baltimore Ravens maybe that is Greg Roman. For Ryan Poles, Eric Bienemy. Each candidate, though, had best come prepared with a list of a half-dozen or so potential head-coaching hires that might appeal to Mara and Tisch. There are six teams out there looking for new head coaches, so candidates for those jobs have options.
It sounds like the Giants, for the first time since George Young was general manager, are going to let the GM have primary responsibility for picking the coach. That GM’s legacy, and the future of a franchise that has spun its wheels for far too long, will be tied to that choice.
So, Mr. GM candidate, who are your guys? Do they carry warranties that last longer than two years?
What about the front office?
The dysfunction there has been well-documented.
Each of the candidates on the Giants’ GM search list comes from an organization that has experienced a tremendous amount of success in recent years. Each should know what a functional, productive front office looks like — and what it doesn’t look like.
There is already speculation that Assistant GM Kevin Abrams may no longer have a place in the organization. Co-Director of Player Personnel Marc Koncz was brought from the Carolina Panthers by Dave Gettleman. It won’t be a surprise if he is out. There has been lots of chatter in recent weeks about the performance of Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit. He probably should not feel comfortable.
If the new GM is truly going to have authority over all of that, there would likely be other changes. So, what are you going to do about this dysfunctional mess, Mr. GM candidate?
What is your quarterback plan?
Mostly, this is about how the GM candidate feels about Daniel Jones.
What do you plan to do with the fifth-year option, Mr. GM candidate? If you want to pick it up, why? If you don’t want to pick it up does that mean you are in favor of pursuing a trade for a veteran quarterback? Using one of your top 10 picks on a QB? Playing out the 2022 season, and Jones’ rookie contract, then making a long-term decision on the most important position on the field?
It also won’t hurt a GM candidate to say something like “here’s a list of backup quarterback candidates I would like to pursue who are better than Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm.”
What about Saquon?
By now, I think we have established that drafting a running back No. 2 overall to win in the short term with an aging quarterback rather than drafting a quarterback or trading down to acquire assets and jump-start a rebuild was a bad idea.
The question a new GM has to answer is what is the plan for Saquon Barkley going forward? Barkley is entering his fifth season and through a combination of injury and the incompetence around him hasn’t been a great player since 2018. Devontae Booker averaged more yards per carry (4.1-3.7), had just one less pass reception (41-40), and averaged more yards per reception (6.7-6.4) in 2021.
We have now reached an era with the Giants where neither the GM the Giants hire nor the coaching staff will have ties to the decision to select Barkley. So, Mr. GM candidate, what’s your plan?
Do you want to aggressively move to trade Barkley and acquire whatever draft assets you can, pretty much guaranteeing that Barkley won’t be a Giant in 2022? Do you want to keep an open mind, listen to offers and simply see if anything comes along that you can’t turn down? Do you want to let 2022 play out, see what Barkley might have in the tank, and go from there? Are you all-in on giving Barkley a rich second contract?
How will you fix the offensive line?
The fact that this is the fifth item on our list is a pretty good indication of how big the job is that the next GM faces. Gettleman walked in the Giants’ door proclaiming that the offensive line had to get fixed and that big ol’ “hog mollies” helped you compete. Well, he never found the right hog mollies, and the offensive line never got fixed.
The biggest fear entering the 2021 season was that the risky offensive line plan the Giants hatched wound end up blowing up in their faces. It did, albeit with injuries playing a significant role in that.
So, Mr. hotshot GM candidate, how does this get fixed? Beyond Andrew Thomas, is there anyone among the 2021 group of offensive linemen you think you can work with? Although we aren’t asking you to commit to it, would you dare double up on offensive linemen if the right players are there at Nos. 5 and 7? Are there any potential free agents you would like to target? Can you help point whoever the head coach is to the right offensive line coach?
What about the salary cap?
So, Mr. GM candidate, your predecessor left you with a mess in this department. OverTheCap lists the Giants as $367,568 OVER the expected $208.2 million cap for 2022. That’s with 42 players signed. The projected number rises to more than $19 million once you get to 51 contracts.
Whatcha gonna do about it? And, how are you gonna do it without gutting the roster of virtually every good veteran player and making the 2022 product even worse than the 2021 product that got you hired in the first place?
Answer that, Mr. Big Shot GM candidate.
What about building the roster?
The team stinks. It’s stunk for a long time. So, Mr. GM candidate, how are you gonna fix it?
First, free agency. We already established that we don’t have any cap space, so going hog (oops, gotta get that word out of the vocabulary) wild in free agency spending isn’t going to happen. We have tried that a few times over the past decade and it doesn’t work. What is your free agency philosophy? Can you show some evidence of knowing how to find useful players at medium or bargain prices? We can’t go shopping Macy’s. We’ll probably be looking in the bargain aisles at Wal-Mart and Target.
Now, the draft. Can you show me that the organizations you have worked for have drafted well, and what your part in that was? Do you believe in working the board, particularly in moving down in the draft when appropriate to acquire more assets? Do you believe in positional value? Also, it seems like everybody always knows our plans. Can you keep a secret?
I’d ask if you wanted a Pepsi, but this ain’t some clown show. We’re like a TV network, too, where stuff gets canceled all the time. So, hotshot, how long is it going to take you to fix this mess? Because, as we talked about earlier, things seem to begin expiring around here after two years.