An Inspiration from the Recent Collapse of the New York Giants
The recent hot mess that is the New York Giants is only a fraction of what has been a total disaster. If fans think that this is the climax of what has been a rough stretch,and that the Giants will quickly bounce back, they should realize that the problems run quite deep, and might result in the team being very bad for years to come. The Giants look like they are entering into a sort of pit of misery (dilly dilly). Let's take a look at how the Giants sunk to this level by giving the steps for how a contending team can become a laughing stock.
Step 1. Draft poorly and acquire players that are not valuable.
Any general manager can take the best of franchises and run them to the bottom with a couple of years of bad draft picks. There are, of course, multiple ways that a GM can draft poorly. One is to correctly identify the position at which the team could use young talent, only to select players who are sub par. Alternatively, they can draft the best available player, while ignoring the team’s actual need. To be fair, drafting a player out of college is a crap shoot, so the GM can’t take the full blame for picks that don’t meet their expectations. Nevertheless, if we look at the Giants last 6 years of drafting, we can see why ex-GM Jerry Reese is to blame.
In the past 6 drafts, the Giants have only drafted 2 pro-bowlers, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and safety Landon Collins. Additionally, Reese drafted three notable offensive lineman who have not met expectations. Ereck Flowers appears to be a total bust, and Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh have been average at best. What’s worse, the team can’t claim to feature even a decent right tackle, and their juggling of personnel to attempt to put forward a blocking unit has not worked.
The storied Giant defense, which shut down the powerful Patriots offense in their two Super Bowl victories in the last decade, has really deteriorated. Nevertheless, Reese chose to address this problem by bring in unreliable free agents instead of drafting promising young defensive players in the early rounds.
In terms of offensive talent, Reese’s acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall and drafting of pass-catching (read: can’t block) tight end Evan Engram gave the Giants some flashy players, but didn’t help in creating a sensible offensive scheme. All of this poor drafting and misguided offseason acquisitions have been exposed this season, and the Giants personnel looks as weak as it’s ever been.
Step 2. Get rid of a great coach. Replace him with a terrible one.
You might argue that a NFL team’s success rests in its players and not in its head coach. Let me be the first to tell you that this notion is incorrect. For example, in 2011, the 49ers found a coach that could connect with and motivate his players in Jim Harbaugh. By creating this team culture, Harbaugh was able to bring his team to 3 straight NFC championship games and reached the Super Bowl in 2012. The true testament to Harbaugh’s coaching genius was what happened when he left the team. When the 49ers let him leave to coach Michigan, the team was left without its leader, and they have failed to eclipse the 5-win mark since. The front office tried to replace Harbaugh with others, but they were never able to get close to where they had been under Harbaugh.
The Giants had a similar situation. Tom Coughlin is a hall of fame coach who motivated his team to 2 Super Bowls. When he made the decision to retire, the team mishandled the coaching situation. Ben McAdoo had been the offensive coordinator of the high-powered Green Bay Packers, and thus looked like a great candidate for the job. However, little did the team know that the Packer’s scheme was mostly designed by head coach Mike McCarthy and executed by world class quarterback Aaron Rodgers. When McAdoo first joined the Giants as offensive coordinator, the offense had some success, but it was not a product of any schemes that McAdoo implemented. The running game was dead under McAdoo, and much of their production came from the talent of Odell Beckham. Since the “offensive minded” McAdoo became head coach, the Giants have not put up 30 points in a game.
What’s more, McAdoo simply did not show good leadership. He was hated by many of his players, some of whom even anonymously called for his firing. This was shown clearly in McAdoo’s decision to bench Eli Manning for Geno Smith. This was clearly not something that the ownership approved of, and the fans strongly disapproved as well. Mcadoo likely would have been fired at the season's end anyway, but this move accelerated the process and caused the Giants front office to uncharacteristically fire McAdoo mid-season.
As they are now searching once more for a head coach, the owners should ask themselves the following questions before making their selection: are they looking for an innovative coach or a motivational one? An offensive wizard or a defensive mastermind? Should the next Giants coach be someone who can connect with his players or a no-nonsense disciplinarian? Their decision can set the tone for how the next several years will go for the franchise.
Step 3. Have some bad luck.
In addition to Harbaugh’s leaving the 49ers in 2015, the team also experienced a terrible string of luck. Three of their best defensive players were forced to retire, and two of their starting offensive lineman were gone as well. Additionally, their best wide receiver and starting running back left in free agency. The nail in the coffin to the 49ers upcoming season was when one of their best defensive players was arrested, leading to his subsequent release.
While the Giants also experienced a lot of unforeseen challenges. The bad luck for the Giants season started before the actual regular season started. Star wide receiver Odell Beckham injured his ankle in a preseason game, forcing him to sit out in week 1 as his team was dominated by the rival Cowboys. The bad luck continued into week 3, with the 0-2 Giants desperately needing a win against the Eagles, when rookie Eagles kicker Jake Elliott hit a miraculous game winning field goal from a full 61 yards away. The next week they also lost on a last second field goal, this time to the Buccaneers. Then began the team’s injury problems, which ultimately reached its climax in week 5 when receivers Beckham and Marshall, and kick returner Dwayne Harris all suffered season ending injuries, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard also sustained an injury. Injuries are out of your control, they just happen in the hard-hitting sport of football, and this season it was just the Giants luck to have to deal with many of them.
The current state of the franchise and how to recover.
I’m not sure when you are reading this. It could be week 16 and the Giants will have suffered another defeat as the dreading season winds down. It could be that the season is over and the Giants have lost every game on their way to a top 5 draft pick. As of now they are in search of a general manager, a head coach, and need to fill up a lot of positions on their personnel.
A lot of news sources are claiming that the Giants want to hire former Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman as general manager. Gettleman had an inconsistent tenure with the Panthers. He drafted relatively well in the few years with the Panthers. In his first year, he drafted Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei to give the team a strong defensive line. The next year, Gettleman drafted pro-bowl guard Tria Turner and defensive end Kony Ealy, each major contributors in the Panthers 2015 super bowl run. Then, Gettleman brought in solid starters who filled positions of need, such as outside linebacker Shaq Thompson, wide receiver Devin Funchess and cornerbacks James Bradberry and Darryl Worley. His final draft with Carolina was highlighted by his landing of star running back Christian Mccaffrey. In terms of his offseason moves in free agency, he made several questionable decisions, such as releasing Steve Smith and getting rid of cornerback Josh Norman. If he becomes the G.M. of the Giants it is a risky move but not a crazy hiring. If the Giants decide against Gettleman, they should at least go with someone who has experience, and should not hire an outsider to build their roster.
The head coaching hire will be from the general manager’s vision and also part of how the owner wants to see the team. Notable offensive coordinators to potentially hire are Jim Bob Cooter, Frank Reich, Josh McDaniels and Mike Shula. Notable defensive coordinators are Leslie Frazier, Matt Patricia, Todd Wash, Jim Schwartz and Vic Fangio. The Giants also might utilize a popular trend of hiring a head coach to run the one side of the ball, while bringing in a coordinator to run the other side
The Giants have many positions they need to fill on their roster and they should do so in the draft and not in free agency. It may be tempting to dump a ton of money at a once in a lifetime talent like Le'veon Bell or a top level defender like Demarcus Lawrence, but they won’t be successful if they go that route. The good news for Giants fans is that this horrible season has given the Giants a top 5 pick. They can either try to draft the quarterback of the future in Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold, or the transcending talent from Penn State Saquon Barkley. They should use their subsequent picks to reload on some positions that currently lack depth in, as the prevalence of injuries in the NFL this year has taught us that in order to succeed you need roster depth. They currently are very thin at offensive line, linebacker, and in the secondary, and should use the draft to stock up..
As a fan, I’m hoping the Giants remain a laughing stock for years to come. If they recover and become a respectable franchise it would be a surprise and disappointing, but I must say that it was fun while it lasted.