There were four teams that won at least 13 games last season, or one more than the New York Football Giants have won since the start of the 2017 season.
And what has Giants fans either disconsolate, disenchanted or infuriated, or all of the above, is that they have little or no patience anymore for a rebuild that is spinning its Big Blue wheels in quicksand, for a franchise driving under the speed limit in the far right lane as the rest of the league speeds past it, a franchise trapped in a dizzying wash, rinse, repeat cycle of defeat and broken promises.
Our New York football season is already on fire, “FIRE GASE” from Jets fans, “FIRE GETTLEMAN” from Giants fans.
It isn’t so much that the Giants are 0-3, it is the way they looked too much like the 2017 Ben McAdoo Giants and 2018 and 2019 Pat Shurmur Giants against the 49ers jayvee team.
Gettleman vowed to kick ass when he replaced Jerry Reese, and everyone would agree that 1-0 versus cancer is far more important than 9-26 versus the NFL.
But his job as Giants general manager clearly hinges on whether Joe Judge, his second Giants head coaching hire, can work wonders, if he can, with the 11 Gettleman draftees he inherited and the nine more they drafted together.
And most critically, whether Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett can develop Daniel Jones into the surefire answer to John Mara’s post-Eli Manning’s prayers.
Gettleman staked his Giants reputation on Jones, who has shown enough signs to quiet the angry mob that panned the pick on draft night.
“I told you, and I’m very serious about what I said: I would love to drop a franchise quarterback in this place, and then watch him from Cape Cod and enjoy the hell out of it, OK?” Gettleman said prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. “That’s a gift. That’s what I’d like to do for the New York Giants.”
As much as there is to like about Jones, Gettleman will be watching him from Cape Cod before he desires to — when this season ends and before his 70th birthday — if Judge can’t coach the weekly turnovers out of him, and soon.
If Judge is the coach Mara believes him to be, a CEO and a teacher with a better staff than his predecessor, then what are we to make of 49ers 36, Giants 9 following two relatively encouraging performances?
Jones’ immediate problem goes beyond the loss for the season of Saquon Barkley, because he has no running game to support him. Giants RBs have carried 40 times for 72 yards. It means that the offensive line Gettleman promised to fix when he arrived has yet to be fixed, at least not yet while first-round draft pick LT Andrew Thomas and third-round draft reserve RT Matt Peart cut their teeth.
The Odell Beckham Jr. trade hasn’t been the disaster it portended to be at the time if only because DT Dexter Lawrence is a player, and Jabrill Peppers is a Captain, but it did cost the Giants $16 million in dead cap money, and Jones lacks a weapon other than deep threat Darius Slayton who can scare defenses.
None of Gettleman’s 10 draft picks in April was a wide receiver.
The Daniel Jones Giants have scored 38 points. . .or one more than the Sam Darnold Jets.
Paying Leonard Williams (two sacks) $16.1 million for this season doesn’t look as bad as trading up into the first round of the 2019 NFL draft for CB DeAndre Baker (robbery charges). There is hope for OLB Lorenzo Carter (one sack), but Batman doesn’t have a Robin rushing the passer on the other side, much to the chagrin of cornerbacks not named James Bradberry.
The mistakes are there, though:
— Desperate for a LT, the juice was not worth the squeeze on Nate Solder (four years, $62 million), best on the market at the time.
— Landon Collins was not franchise tagged and allowed to walk out the door.
— Injury-plagued CB Sam Beal, a supplemental draft pick that cost a 2019 third-rounder, made 26 career tackles without an interception before opting out this pandemic season.
— Shurmur, the adult in the room.
— Gettleman’s Big Men Allow You To Compete philosophy, borrowed from Tom Coughlin, has not translated into Big Men Allow You To Win.
No one, of course, wants to hear that Gettleman inherited a mess. He – and Mara – tried to WIN NOW with the 37-year-old Manning before recognizing the error of their ways and switching to WIN LATER. Giants fans, though, are still waiting for WIN LATER and are tired of hearing annually that the team is on the right path when 0-2 becomes 0-3 in the jarring way that it did.
Has Gettleman upgraded the talent level? Yes, he has. Has he upgraded it enough? No one can make that argument today.
Did he whiff on too many free-agent signings prior to this offseason? Yes, he did (G Patrick Omaneh, Kareem Martin). Trading Olivier Vernon for Kevin Zeitler and for P Riley Dixon were good moves. As were signing free agents Markus Golden and Spencer Pulley. Trading for ILB Alec Ogletree (93 tackles and 5 INTs in 2018) and a seventh-rounder for a fourth and a sixth marked an upgrade at the time, but stopped panning out after one season. Golden Tate was a forced move because of the OBJ trade. Antoine Bethea and Mike Remmers were band-aids. Devon Kennard left in free agency and recorded seven sacks in 2018 and again in 2019 in Detroit, and has two this season in Arizona.
The FIRE GETTLEMAN crowd will have to be patient. Sorry, but the Giants do not, and should not, fire their GM during the season, much less after three games with a rookie head coach and quarterback who will start his 16th game Sunday against the Rams. And Gettleman and Judge, for the most part, are philosophically aligned.
The Joe Judge Giants will fight, even without much of a punch on either side of the ball. They should be expected to show signs of progress as the season unfolds.
But more than anyone, if Daniel Jones proves helpless to impact the won-lost record, if he cannot make the leap the franchise desperately needs him to make, if the talent around him handcuffs and handicaps him too much, then it is inevitable that a different GM will be drafting too high yet again next April. And who knows? Maybe even looking for his own franchise quarterback. . .for the next rebuild.