EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Dave Gettleman “retired” as general manager of the New York Giants on Monday after four dreadful years on the job. The Giants’ 19-46 record during his tenure says it all about whether this decision was ultimately his.
He leaves behind a roster filled with holes and an organization in flux.
The search for a replacement has begun, and it can’t possibly come from within, no matter how competent or respected assistant GM Kevin Abrams or co-director of player personnel Tim McDonnell might be at 1925 Giants Way.
The Giants need fresh ideas. They need an external audit. They need to avoid the Eli Manning-benching level of blowback that would come with hiring from within. They need the next GM to be someone who isn’t part of their extended family or actual family (McDonnell is co-owner John Mara’s nephew) or someone who wants to relive the good old days when they were actually winning.
That means no consults from Ernie Accorsi, no matter how much Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch respect his opinion. Accorsi, the Giants’ general manager from 1998 to 2006, has been out of the league for 16 years. His advice helped steer them into this latest mistake with Gettleman.
This approach of hiring from within — the past two GM hires produced Jerry Reese (33-47 over his final five seasons) and Gettleman, who both were Giants scouts — has led them to this point of five straight double-digit loss seasons, with one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins in the past decade.
Heck, Gettleman didn’t even hide Accorsi’s influence at his introductory news conference.
“I’d like to thank the Mara family, the Tisch family, Ernie for helping me attain the position that up until now I’d only dreamed about,” Gettleman said almost immediately upon taking the podium.
This time has to be different for so many reasons, most notably that Gettleman’s tenure was a disaster on just about every front. He has left the Giants with questions at quarterback, a worse offensive line than when he arrived, an injury-filled roster and a salary-cap situation so bad it will hamper their ability to upgrade next season.
On the same page
It would help if the Giants realign their organization. This is imperative to success, but hasn’t happened here for quite some time.
Most recently, coach Joe Judge and Gettleman were mismatched from the start. Gettleman was hired late in 2017, and Judge came two years later. You can imagine how a much-younger, opinionated, first-time head coach coming from the New England Patriots must have felt about being paired with a head of personnel who wasn’t shy about referring to himself as a “dinosaur.”
Judge and Gettleman’s incongruent pairing is the latest example of why it is vital for the Giants to get everyone on the same page from top to bottom — all the way down to the scouting assistants and secretaries.
Whether that means pairing Judge with a new general manager who has a similar philosophical approach (Tennessee’s Monti Ossenfort or New England’s Dave Ziegler would seem to make a lot of sense considering their preexisting relationships with Judge) or starting from scratch, it’s imperative the Giants get this right, given what they’ve force-fed fans the past few years.
The Giants need everyone on the same page to avoid Judge — or any head coach — having to kick and scream to get the players he wants in free agency or the draft, and to avoid making every decision go through so many layers of Maras and Tisches. It’s an ongoing problem and a big reason it’s been so long since the Giants have been relevant.
Another big part of the problem has been the Giants’ lack of success in the draft. Gettleman began by rolling it back with an aging Manning at quarterback in 2018 and selecting running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall in the NFL draft that year. How did that turn out? Almost as good as shocking most of the football world by selecting Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall in 2019.
Gettleman’s tenure might have been digestible if these were his only major mistakes, but there were other equally egregious moves.
Take, for instance, the signing of offensive tackle Nate Solder from New England for a then-record $15.5 million per year in the 2018 offseason. It was a move sources around the league found laughable, and nothing that has happened since has vindicated Gettleman.
In the moments after he selected Barkley, Gettleman boasted about telling everyone in the Giants’ draft room not to pick up the phone when they were on the clock. That alone should have been a fireable offense. Forget that someone might have come with a monster, Herschel Walker-type trade offer. Nope. With Gettleman’s stuck-in-the-’80s mindset, the idea of positional value was hogwash. The analytics department was made up of “computer guys.”
He signed Jonathan Stewart to a two-year contract days before his 31st birthday in March 2018 and cited Stewart as an example of a running back who could play well into his 30s. Stewart played three games as a Giant and retired.
But it was ultimately the offensive line that doomed Gettleman and these Giants. It gave former coach Pat Shurmur, Judge and Jones no chance. Gettleman’s top priority upon arrival was to get his “hog mollies” right.
“We got to fix the O-line, let’s be honest. Let’s not kid each other,” he said when he was hired.
He didn’t get close to achieving that goal. The offensive line the Giants used most of this season might have been their worst yet, and Gettleman leaves them in worse shape at the position than when he arrived, which is no small feat.
In four drafts as GM, he used just two of his nine first- and second-round picks on the offensive line. Three went toward skill positions, which is somewhat ironic considering what he said prior to his first draft for the Giants in April 2018: “Everyone else wants to talk about skill guys and I want to talk about hog mollies.”
All talk, plenty of arrogance and cringeworthy results. That about sums up Gettleman’s time as general manager.