Are 'Giant' Changes Coming for Big Blue?
Updated: Dec 28, 2019
The 2019 Giants season has been dreadful. However, despite 10 losses, Week 14 against the Dolphins was a moment in Giants history, as Eli Manning trouted off the field at MetLife Stadium for likely the final time in his illustrious career.
Before Manning's sendoff game, the Giants lost nine straight, tying a franchise record for consecutive losses. The Giants have the worst combined record in football the past three seasons (2017, 2018, 2019) and within those three seasons, the 2017 Cleveland Browns went 0-16. The past two seasons have been coached by Pat Shurmur, who has compiled an 8-22 record as Giants head coach.
Shurmur had his best Giants moment in Week 14 by sending Manning onto the field one last time before calling him off the field with 1:50 left in the game for a Mariano Rivera-Derek Jeter-like farewell from Giants' fans.
Shurmur has been under constant scrutiny about many decisions the past two seasons and many believe that he's a dead coach walking. However, he's working with a team that has the most snaps taken by rookies in the NFL. Those rookies were drafted by Giants general manager Dave Gettleman. Gettleman's first season was the same year as Shurmur's.
Even though it will be tough for Giants' owners John Mara and Steve Tisch to admit they made two consecutive bad coaching hires, it appears Shurmur's time as Giants coach will end after 2019. Shurmur has an overall head coaching record of 17-44 with the Giants and Browns, and he one win with the Eagles as interim coach in 2015 after Chip Kelly was fired. The verdict is made whether or not he can coach in this league.
Mara fired former Giants coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese midway through the 2017 season. McAdoo took the Giants to the playoffs in his first season as head coach in 2016 and Reese was the GM of both Super Bowl-winning Giants teams in 2007 and 2011. Shurmur has a .267 winning percentage as Giants coach and Mara can't possibly be patient after missing the playoffs six out of the past seven seasons.
The Giants were once regarded as one of the gold standards in football, but now they are now a laughingstock. How many changes will come to East Rutherford, New Jersey this offseason?
Although there have been reports that Gettleman is in trouble, the expectation is he will retain his job. Gettleman wants to do things his way. He has essentially shredded the roster Reese created, attempting to re-shape the lockerroom culture. Reese's entire $200 million defensive free agent splurge from 2016 is gone. Every first-round draft pick from 2010-2016 is no longer with the team, with five of those picks either traded or let-go by Gettleman in fifteen months as GM.
Gettleman traded Odell Beckham Jr. seven months after inking him to a five-year, $90 million contract, and three months after he famously said, "We didn't sign [Beckham] to trade him." He let Landon Collins walk in free agency without getting anything in return. Patrick Omameh was signed to a 3-year $15 million contract and started six games. Nate Solder, Kareem Martin, Jonathan Stewart, and Antoine Bethea haven't moved the needle as free agents signings.
Gettleman's trades have been better than his free agent singings but lack their initial potentials. Gettleman gave a third and fifth-round pick for Leonard Williams, who has yet to record a sack this season. Williams will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, demanding more than $10 million a year. Alec Ogletree is a defensive captain but most likely will be released to clear $8 million in cap space. Kevin Zeitler has been good but has not solved the offensive line issues.
An infant could have known Saquon Barkley was a can't miss superstar. However, many criticized the Barkley pick thinking the Giants needed Manning's successor. Daniel Jones appears to have saved Gettleman's butt. Jones was selected No. 6 overall, making Gettleman look like a genius after every Giants fan booed the pick on draft night.
In addition to Jones and Barkley, Gettleman's draft classes have been decent. In 2018, B.J. Hill and Lorenzo Carter were second and third on the team in sacks. Will Hernandez has been one of the most stable players on the offensive line. In 2019, Dexter Lawrence, who was drafted with a pick that the Browns traded for Beckham Jr., has been one of the highest-graded defensive rookies in the NFL. Fifth-round-pick Darius Slayton leads all rookie receivers, and the Giants, in touchdown receptions. However, the jury is still out on all Gettlemen's draft picks the past two years.
The Giants were once known for their stability. Firing a GM after two seasons screams disarray. For example, look at the other team in the same stadium. The Jets followed back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship in 2009 and 2010, by going 8-8 in 2011 and 6-10 in 2012. Jets owner Woody Johnson fired Jets GM, Mike Tannenbaum, after 2012 and brought in John Idzik.
Idzik lasted two seasons before Johnson set the reset button again. The only difference between Tannenbaums' and Idzik's firing was in 2014, the Jets fired head coach Rex Ryan too, and did a complete restart with Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan. Four years later the Jets did it all again, firing Maccagnan and Bowles. Now the Jets are relying on Adam Gase and Joe Douglas to bring the Jets back to the postseason, which has not happened since the 2010 AFC Championship loss.
With three head coaches and four GM's in the 2010s, the Jets had one playoff appearance. If the Jets kept Tannenbaum and Ryan, could their decade have gone any worse than it already did?
The revolving door of GMs hasn't brought the Jets any success lately, and the Giants don't want to become the bumbling team of Metlife Stadium during the roaring 2020s. Gettleman sure hasn't done a perfect job the past two years, but there are some moves where the case can be made that Gettleman did a good job, especially drafting Jones. Don't forget, Gettleman did build a 15-1 and Super Bowl-bound team in 2015 as the Panthers' GM. Although the Giants can be looking for a new GM in a season or two if they continue to lose, sometimes patience is key. Instability can plague a franchise more than anything.
Before cleaning the house for the second time in two years, maybe an overhaul of the coaching staff will do wonders for this young Giants team. That will determine if Gettleman butchered the roster overhaul or Shurmur and his staff were incompetent at coaching.
Maybe bringing in a familiar face to the front office alongside Gettleman can ignite a flame within the Giants. Tom Coughlin was fired as the Jacksonville Jaguars' executive vice president of football operations on Dec. 18. The 73-year-old has an illustrious history with the Giants but in 2015 things got a little murky. Coughlin was forced to step down after 12 years as Giants head coach, but it was staged as Coughlin stepping down to preserve his legacy.
Coughlin looked like he fixed the Jaguars when they made an AFC Championship game appearance in 2017. Since then the Jaguars have gone 10-20. Coughlin extended Blake Bortles for three years and Bortles didn't make it past year one. They then replaced Nick Foles with a $88 million contract that they can't get rid of. Then Jalen Ramsey forced his way out of town.
Coughlin tried to bring his tough demeanor to Jacksonville, which ended in Jaguars' players warning other players to not sign with the Jaguars, and Dante Fowler filing a grievance to the NFLPA for more than $700,000 for the compensation of fines Coughlin issued to Fowler for not rehabbing in Jacksonville. Wonder what Coughlin would have done with Jacoby Ellsbury?
Bringing in Coughlin could be the Giants' way of mending their relationship. It would allow Coughlin one more chance to repair a broken franchise, just as he did with the Giants in 2004. Coughlin's ugly exit in Jacksonville is not the way he intends to end his hall-of-fame football career.
At 73-years-old it wouldn't be expected that Coughlin takes a day-to-day role in football operations. After the way things ended in Jacksonville, maybe distancing a relationship between him and the players would be a good thing. However, maybe he serves as an advisor in the Giants' front office beside Gettleman. He can provide insight into refurbishing the roster and coaching staff. All of the Giants' recent success has come at the helm of Coughlin, so will a minimal role in their front office result worse than another losing season?
The Giants are the only team to have won a Super Bowl in each of the last four decades. The recent losing does not sit well with the Mara's and Tisch's. GIANT changes are coming to 1925 Giants Drive, whether they are the right changes will remain to be seen.