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It will be the end of one era for the Giants on Sunday, and what they hope will be the rebirth of another.
Not long after they finish their regular season finale, the Giants are expected to make official what has been widely reported for months: The retirement of general manager Dave Gettleman. And despite what has been an embarrassing final six weeks of this miserable season, the Giants are still not expected to fire head coach Joe Judge.
Just as SNY first reported back in mid-December, there is no indication from anyone that Giants co-owner John Mara’s faith in Judge or his commitment to his long-term plan has wavered, which is why he is expected to return for the 2022 season.
It’s unclear if the Giants will announce that immediately. Mara may even give a new GM an option to weigh in on Judge’s future, according to a source. But the belief inside the Giants’ building is that the owners remain committed to giving Judge’s plan a chance.
Judge could return next season with a very different coaching staff, though. Several sources said there will be a push from ownership to have Judge revamp most of his offensive staff – including hiring a new offensive coordinator from the outside rather than just handing interim play-caller Freddie Kitchens the job. The Giants are also wary of losing defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, whom they believe will be on the shortlist for several head coaching vacancies in the next few weeks.
Any coaching staff moves, though, likely won’t happen immediately. The same is true for any other changes to the front office under a new GM. Those changes could be extensive if the Giants hire their first true "outside" GM since George Young arrived in 1979 – something many sources believe is a strong possibility -- or more minor if assistant GM Kevin Abrams ends up getting promoted to the job.
Whoever gets the job, though, Judge’s seat could turn very hot in 2022 – even if the new general manager is someone with ties to Judge. Mara may be committed to his plan to build a winning team, but there is definitely impatience with his 10-22 record so far. And Mara is fed up with an era of Giants football that is nearly as bad as it was in the 1970s. After five straight seasons of double-digit losses, seven seasons like that in the last eight years, and only one playoff berth in the last decade, next year could be a "win-or-else" year for Judge, no matter what.
Gettleman, though, will be the first to take the fall for all these years of failure. And even if the announcement – which could come Sunday night or Monday morning -- is framed as a "retirement," there’s no doubt it is forced. Almost exactly a year ago, Gettleman was dismissive of any retirement talk, despite his age and his previous battle with cancer. He said "I feel good. I’m excited. I just want to keep going. I don’t know where this retirement stuff came from. I have no idea what that’s all about."
What it’s about is his 19-45 record since taking over the Giants in late December of 2017, and Mara’s understanding that his plan to rebuild the franchise didn’t work at all. Judge’s plan hasn’t worked, either, but it appears he’ll get a little more time to prove that it can.