After Giants’ loss in Philly, doubts hover over direction of the franchise

John Fennelly
·3 min read

For the New York Giants, the faces change but the results don’t. They have been losing for years and continue to do so regardless of who makes the personnel moves, mans the sidelines, calls the plays, and puts on the blue and red helmet.

They lose football games. That’s what they do now. They are 1-6 and in last place in the NFC East. They are falling further into an abyss that they should not be near to begin with.

Fans from the days of the 60s and 70s know to be patient but the younger generation does not. They have Yankee-itis aka ‘win now and keep on winning,’ meaning rebuilding isn’t in their vocabulary.

Giant fans have become more like Met fans, aka ‘learn how to lose and like it.’

How can the Giants be so bad for so long in a league that basically forbids it? The NFL used to be a league where it took teams decades to get out of the cellar. There was only the draft (two-dozen plus rounds of it) and trades at a general manager’s disposal. There was no free agency the way we know it, no salary cap and no balanced schedule based on performance. If you were bad, it took eons to catch up.

Today’s NFL is different. Teams should not lose for more than three years. In most cases, teams go from worst to first, or at least worst to median. They don’t become perennial doormats, the system — if played accordingly — is designed to correct that.

So, why have the Giants been losing for seven of the past eight seasons? Bad luck? Stupidity? Both? It’s an interesting question.

First, they stuck with Jerry Reese at GM for way too long. Reese should have been let go along with Tom Coughlin. That prolonged the drought by two years at least. Sure, they went 11-5 in 2016 but that team was a paper tiger. They went right back to the basement the next season. And they’ve stayed there.

Why? No direction.

Since Coughlin’s termination at the end of the 2015 season, the Giants have had four head coaches: Ben McAdoo, Steve Spagnuolo (interim), Pat Shurmur and now Joe Judge. Four lifelong assistant coaches, although the jury is still out on Judge (pun intended).

They keep tooling around with assistants who might blossom into the next Bill Parcells. This is New York. Get yourself a headliner, not an understudy.

Dave Gettleman is a seasoned football man but this is 2020 not 1970. Take a look at his three drafts. In 2018, he chose running back Saquon Barkley in a quarterback-rich draft. In 2019, the strength of the draft was defense. Gettleman took a quarterback, Daniel Jones. This year, he selected an offensive tackle, Andrew Thomas, over three other tackles and a load of other talented players. He chose not only the wrong player but the wrong tackle.

Barkley, after a smashing start, is now facing a long rehab on a torn ACL, an injury that has ruined many a running back’s career. Jones has been erratic, making spectacular plays one moment and then implodes on the next. Thomas has been a disaster. He can’t seem to block anyone. He’s made Nate Solder look like Anthony Munoz.

It’s no wonder they can’t put it all together. They don’t have strategy. If building around Jones is the strategy, it isn’t working. He can’t score points, and therefore can’t win games. Their defense has a nice core but still allows teams to walk right down the field on them.

My suggestion remains clear. Get a 21st Century thinker in the big chair and start playing the system the way it’s supposed be played — with the head and not the heart. Until then, enjoy the silent Januarys.

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