The NY Giants are 1-7. One thing we can all agree on is that this season has gone horribly wrong. In the post from last Sunday, we quantified the 2018 records. These objective results for every team quantified relative outperformance and underperformance. The Giants and Raiders are dead last by this measure.
This past Winter, UltimateNYG’s analyst Wonder believed that #NYG needed to rebuild. We chronicled his negative reviews of Solder(‘s contract), Omameh and the decision to take a RB vs our collective stance of QB/Trade Down.
NY Giants management did not confront the deep rooted problems. Not Reese. Not Gettleman/Shurmur. A little bit later we will discuss the John Mara role.
Wonder (in the off-season) was clear about the lack of patience. He was surprised at how the Giants were trying to win now. Wonder was baffled as to why Gettleman didn’t use his very first year to rebuild. If there is any moment in a GM’s tenure that has the grace for an allotment of patience, it’s the first year. It would be completely understandable to shelve a 37 year old QB and retool.
Our analyst’s prediction of 6-10 was a not-so-polite yet objective assessment before a single snap of the 2018 season. This has little to do with why he was right but everything to do with why the Giants braintrust was wrong.
Where did the assessment fail? You have to start at the Offensive Line. After Norwell was lost in a FA fight with Jacksonville, the Giants quickly pivoted to Solder, and then Omameh. 20-20 hindsight gives us the benefit of knowing this was a disaster. Even Wonder, who panned the Solder move, didn’t see his play being this bad this quickly. But he did see Solder as significantly overpaid and he disliked the Omameh signing. At the time, Giants fans response to Wonder’s critique of Solder was uniform: what other choice was there? The answer was Wonder’s— REBUILD. This is where the Giants sold themselves and their fan base a narrative that was built to fail. The premise was that while retooling from 3-13, the Giants would be able to get competitive. In 2018! That was the error. They assumed the injuries of last year were holding the team back and that the bolstering of the OL would rejuvenate Eli Manning. Neither happened. The deterioration of the OL actually accelerated Eli Manning’s poor play.
How does one expect 5 new players (Flowers at a new position) to be solid? One of the curious moves that may have had something to do with the demise took place when Jones was shipped for a R7 draft pick. It was all about money savings but deprived the Giants of needed depth and a respectable run blocker. Remember it was Jones and Fluker who helped stabilize the OL/run blocking in the 2nd half of 2017. I’m still trying to figure out why the best/value of the OL from last season was let go. Fluker is having a better year too this year, for anyone who wants to look up that burnt bridge. Bottom line- bad selection of players and severe overestimation of the OL’s ability to do its job killed 2018 and did very little to help its future. Solder was win now. Omameh was an over-hyped plug-in. Flowers was a last attempt patch. Halapio and Hernandez were the only two players who could be groomed. Halapio got hurt, so without Jones for depth it was an aging Greco. The bottom line is that Hernandez is the only player who can (reliably) be seen making it through to 2020+.
Bad breaks? Injuries are a part of football when the quantity/nature of the aggregate are factored in. This year has not seen an egregious number of injuries and we are not seeing an excessive amount of soft tissue incidents (beyond a rash of hamstrings in preseason). The Giants are (generally speaking) not seeing anything close to the kind of injuries they saw in 2017/earlier in the decade. The only big losses were Vernon and Engram, and they are both playing right now. Engram’s ineffectiveness has hurt the Offense. But every team has experienced overall losses that are greater than this. When your starting QB, LT, RB, WR1 and WR2 are able to start every game, 2018 is not about injuries.
What is the role of John Mara in all of this? It is hard to assign blame accurately when the owner’s role in football operations is not completely clear. One thing we do know- he was the one who brought in Ernie Accorsi to head up the search for a new GM. Accorsi was a NY Giant insider, the GM from 1998-2006. He put forth 4 candidates:
- Dave Gettleman. Insider. Worked for the Giants from 1998-2012. He was an Accorsi guy.
- Marc Ross. Insider. He was an intern for the Giants out of college in 1996 and got a job with Reese in 2007. He worked for the team from 2007-2017 and was the VP of Player Personnel.
- Kevin Abrams. Insider. He has worked for the Giants for the past 20 years and is still the Asst GM.
- Louis Riddick. Outsider. He played for Belichick and Saban in Cleveland. He was an NFL scout for the Eagles and Redskins, and also was a Director of Player Personnel for the Redskins.
The way we saw it, Ross and Abrams did not have a chance. It was either Gettleman or Riddick. And Riddick did not have a chance either because he was an Outsider. That is the fingerprint of John Mara. He went with the words of George Young, staying inside the organization with someone he knew. The problem with that analysis is that the Giants are a corroding body with a desperate need for new life from OUTSIDE the organization.
George Young was put forth as an Outsider by another Outsider (Pete Rozelle). John Mara brought in an Insider (Accorsi) to find an Insider (Gettleman). If you wanted to get meaningful change, it wasn’t going to be through this route. Why bring up Young and Rozelle? Because that was the antidote to a decade of ugly football in the 1970’s. The comparisons of uncompetitive teams from that era have a similar ring to them here in 2018. Mara thinks that the problems are incremental, not structural. He is part of the problem because he resists change.
Gettleman picked 4 good players in the Draft (Barkley, Hernandez, Carter, and Hill). But he has failed in epic fashion in Free Agency and his decision to forego QB (or trade down to retool a depleted roster) will be questioned until the Giants win another title or his tenure finishes, whichever comes first. Would it surprise you that Wonder preferred Riddick? It does not require a lot of imagination to see that Riddick would have most likely drafted a QB and had him learn under Eli this season. I’m willing to bet that whoever Riddick selected as Head Coach (doubtful it would have been Shurmur) would already have the rookie QB playing as Eli faultered. The organization set off upon a different path. We can only speculate at what might have been. Yes, we do not know what Riddick would have done, but I am fairly certain it would have been a different path. Gettleman tried to win now. The NY Giants are 1-7 and lack the roster to compete. The GM and Head Coach have a lot of work to do. They need to rebuild.