Advertisement

John Mara, Steve Tisch must address roots of Giants’ problems after disappointing season during ugly autopsy

John Mara and Steve Tisch have work to do.

The Giants’ rapid return to the NFL’s basement after last year’s playoff berth has undone almost any meaningful progress they made in 2022.

The question is whether ownership will press the right buttons in the next few days and weeks to stop it from getting worse.

Because it can and will get worse if they don’t fix what’s wrong after Sunday’s season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium.

The first matter is how to handle the coaching staff crisis on their hands.

This year’s toxic internal dynamic already does not reflect well on GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, in particular how their organizational tension and player sideline outbursts became public before the bye week.

But if Mara and Tisch do a proper autopsy, they will recognize as coordinators or coaches get fired or leave that it is impossible not to connect their biggest problems to the men at the top of the masthead.

There is no appetite for firing a head coach during or after his second season for the fourth straight regime. There never is. And Schoen and Daboll did get the Giants a road playoff win last season coming off Dave Gettleman’s historically poor reign. That still counts.

But this is tracking towards 2024 being a make-or-break season for both Schoen and Daboll, with April’s NFL Draft looming as the biggest opportunity for both men to turn the tide.

How will Mara and Tisch be able to feel like they’ve seen progress, though, if their review of this season goes even worse than the games?

Firing or losing defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, for example, seemingly would undo the season’s only silver lining: the takeaways and touchdowns created by that side of the ball to keep them in several games, win some others and prop up Tommy DeVito’s sudden win streak.

Obviously everything needs to change on offense. Although Daboll got this job due to his work as Josh Allen’s Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator, his Giants offense with Mike Kafka as coordinator has set records for futility. (Running backs coach Jeff Nixon began the changes by leaving to become Syracuse’s offensive coordinator).

But even on special teams, where the Giants have made some key mistakes, coordinator Thomas McGaughey has dramatically improved their punting and field position game, and the players were swearing by him and the need for consistency on Friday.

“He has helped me with his experience and allowed me to be me,” punter Jamie Gillan said. “I love that guy.”

“TMac is incredible,” long-snapper Casey Kreiter said. “I can see the game the way he sees the game.”

“That says a lot about continuity,” said kicker Graham Gano, who told the Daily News his left knee rehab is on track for him to start kicking when he normally does this offseason.

Upheaval on staff would reflect poorly on Schoen and Daboll. There just might not be much they can do about it. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too.

Sunday could be Saquon Barkley’s final game in a Giants uniform.

The running back said this week that he has thought about a “fresh start,” promised to speak honestly with Schoen and Daboll in Monday’s exit meeting and asked them to “shoot me straight” about their plans for his future.

Schoen and Daboll have scheduled their breakup day press conference for 8:30 a.m. Monday, so it seems they may meet the media before they even speak with Barkley. But that won’t put any less pressure on their decision with the face of the franchise.

That’s something Mara will be closely involved in, too.

Then there is the offensive line, the most glaring deficiency in Schoen’s personnel reign.

Last year’s selections of tackle Evan Neal (first round), guard/tackle Josh Ezeudu (third round) and guard Marcus McKethan (fifth round) came crashing down on the Giants’ offense this season. So did last year’s free agent signing of guard Mark Glowinski. Rookie center John Michael Schmitz has had growing pains, as well.

The Giants had to sign guard Justin Pugh straight off the couch and re-sign Tyre Phillips after cutting him to be able to assemble anything close to a respectable starting five once it was too little, too late.

Not only did the poor offensive line compromise Daniel Jones’ ability to live up to the mega-contract Schoen and the Giants signed him to. It also now threatens the ability of a hypothetical first-round quarterback draft pick to accomplish anything next fall.

Undercutting the entire operation, as always, has been a constant string of injuries following an extremely light training camp, in particular to a lot of the Giants’ top players like left tackle Andrew Thomas, Jones, Barkley, Neal and free agent signing Darren Waller.

Autopsies aren’t pleasant, of course. But Mara and Tisch are used to them biannually by now. So they have practice.

As always, the consequences will be dire if they don’t get this one right.