Unzooming Mara and Gettleman

I pulled up a bag of dread and listened to another year of Mara and Gettleman handwaving away a 6-10 season. I can’t tell you what a masochistic exercise it is, to voluntarily listen to 60 minutes of garbage spin. Honestly, I did it so that I could at least give them the opportunity to defend themselves before I posted.

I respect Mara and Gettleman as men and never wish anyone harm. They work hard. I know they did a lot of good things this year. It’s fair to say that there isn’t anyone out there in most businesses who didn’t work harder for lower and longer because of Covid.

The best way to understand Mara is two-fold. Number 1 is that he’s the third generation of family ownership. It’s the lucky sperm club. Number 2 is borrowed from @raitzin, who explains his views in a brutally blunt tweet .

“I’ll tell you what the real problem is. John Mara wants to be the Pittsburgh Steelers, so he emphasizes “loyalty” and “stability”. But the Steelers had the brains to hire Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin, and John Mara gave us Gettleman and McAdoo. Mara is no Rooney.”

We see the parade, year after year, of Mara sounding like his Dad, quoting his Dad, but not having the wisdom & execution of his Dad. I wanted Gettleman gone last year. He had a better year this year, but now the logic is that Mara doesn’t want to break up the relationship between Gettleman & Judge. The problem with this thinking is that Gettleman was the wrong choice in the first place and the organization is always going to suffer from the poor decisions that Gettleman makes.

2018 Review

Mara candidly laid into 2018 as a year with bad decisions that set the organization back one year. We knew then that it was bad year but they didn’t explicitly admit that until now. 2018 also set them back 2 years. Shurmur wasn’t our choice and he wasn’t the answer. Not going after QB with 1.02 overall, given an aging Manning, was a critical error. Choosing a RB at 1.02 was even worse. Choosing a RB at 1.02 without an OL was worse worse worse. Believing you could win “now” instead of rebuilding was another critical error. Taking effectively one draft choice allocated to the OL in two years was yet another critical error. The litany of failed FA signings from 2018 is too long to list. All 5 big signings did not make it to the roster in 2020 (and Solder would have been cut had it not been for the restructured contract).

2019 Points

One reporter asked about 2019 decisions. Gettleman handwaved away Jones and Lawrence, ignoring that Jones was overdrafted at 1.06. Next, he handwaved away the trade up from 2.37 to 1.30 for Deandre Baker:

“We had no clue that Deandre could get into that kind of an issue.”

No clue? There were pre-Draft warnings about Baker’s work ethic and attitude, as reported by Jordan Raanan the evening of the Draft. Gettleman also conveniently ignores multiple egregious incidents in 2019 where Baker (1) didn’t know assignments /playbook (2) showed poor work ethic and (3) loafed on chasing down a ball carrier.

Then there was this draft day indictment about Gettleman not being consistent on picking Baker when the same GM was preaching culture culture culture a year earlier when he became GM.

These decisions matter. Yes, 2020 saw better decisions. But the kind of judgment that generated RB at 1.02, overdrafting Jones, trading up for Baker, hiring Shurmur, not rebuilding in 2018; this is the same man making the decisions.

2020 and Forward

The press conference saw both Mara and Gettleman cling to 5-3 in the second half of 2020 as evidence the team was headed up. While we agree that things have bottomed and there is reason for a better future, it’s a very thin prop to cite 5-3. The Giants beat each of their 3 NFC Least rivals, plus the team with the 3rd worst record in the NFL without their star rookie QB Joe Burrow. So you’re hanging your hat on beating mostly garbage. Let’s talk about the one other win…

Beating Seattle was the high point of the past four years. Why? Because in the last 3 years the Giants beat a total of 2 teams with a winning record, one of which was the Chase Daniel Bears. So in the last 3 Gettleman seasons, the Giants have realistically beaten a grand total of one real NFL team. 15-33. 14 wins vs 0.500-. 1 win vs winning teams. Please think about this when you hear Mara and Gettleman talking about getting a winning record next season. That means it’s time to start beating winning teams.

We Gotta Fix…

Dec 2017: “we gotta fix the offensive line” “The culture is critical”

Jan 2019: “there’s some stuff we’ve got to fix.” “One of the biggest issues we had last year that we had to fix was what? The locker room. And both Jonathan Stewart and Patrick Omameh are true professionals, and they were brought here for a specific purpose, they were brought here for other reasons than their play. Just understand that. We feel like we’ve turned that corner, especially with this rookie class.”

Dec 2019: My performance is “not good enough.”

Jan 2021: “We’re gonna fix this. We’re gonna fix this.”

The NY Giants will not be fixed until the Offensive Line is fixed. The NY Giants have turned the corner. They have a head coach and a good Defensive Coordinator. They are committed to rebuilding. But Gettleman is always going to be a flawed decisionmaker who still values running the ball and stopping the run above QB and protecting the QB. Mara doesn’t know even know what he doesn’t know.

We are already getting a glimpse at Gettleman’s priorities. He’s focused on getting more playmakers. But if we have paid attention to Reese collecting toys (like Wilson, Beckham and Engram), it’s a cautionary tale about the misallocation of resources. The work on the OL is nowhere near done, yet Gettleman thinks so. Here are two quotes from the same postseason press conference:

“The offensive line showed very good progress. They’re big, they’re young, they’re strong and they’re tough and smart. This O-Line has a chance to be pretty damn good.”

“(Jones) played well against Baltimore despite getting chased all over the place to a degree.”

What’s it gonna be, Dave? Are you going to say your OL is well positioned on the improve, or are they still the Jones crutch at the penultimate game of the season? The concern is that Gettleman stands down on the OL rebuild, letting Thomas/Peart/Lemieux be the answer. They may be the answer. Keep throwing resources here. If you’re wrong and resources are sufficient, you have added depth and given your QB even more of a foundation.

The Giants are in a better place than they were the last 3 offseasons. They continue supporting Gettleman as the architect and decisionmaker to get the Giants to a title. Questions and “fixes” are still ahead.

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