Grading Dave Gettleman’s key moves as Giants GM
By Pat Leonard
New York Daily News |
Dec 03, 2019 | 6:00 AM
The Giants are 2-10 this season, 7-21 in the last two, and out of the playoffs for the third straight year and the seventh time in the last eight seasons.
It’s time to grade Gettleman’s moves in his attempt to resurrect the franchise since his hiring on Dec. 28, 2018, and to recognize how the Giants’ architect has left them worse off than when he arrived.
New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman watches as his team runs drills at the NFL football team's training facility Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin II/AP)
2018 NFL DRAFT: THUMBS DOWN
Gettleman held the No. 2 pick in most rounds of this draft and still isn’t seeing results. Saquon Barkley won 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year on a 5-11 team. He is an incredible talent and could be one of the best backs in the NFL for the next decade, though he has regressed in year two by making costly mistakes, including in pass protection. And it’s been tough to find running room with defenses keying on him. The future feels bright, but the present is maddening.
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Left guard Will Hernandez has been up and down and had one of his worst games against the Bears. He’s a tough and good teammate but needs to play better. Third-round edge Lorenzo Carter has mostly been a non-factor. B.J. Hill’s underperformance led Gettleman to trade for Leonard Williams this fall. Fourth-round QB Kyle Lauletta got arrested last season and is no longer on the team. Fifth-round DL RJ McIntosh barely played last year and played one snap Sunday. Third-round supplemental corner Sam Beal never played last season and just started seeing limited action this year.
ODELL BECKHAM TRADE: THUMBS DOWN
You know how Beckham lamented in the offseason that Gettleman sent him to Cleveland “to die?” There are many people around the situation who agree Gettleman’s trading him to Cleveland and not California or New England was personal, intended to humble OBJ and limit his marketability. There are also plenty of players in the Giants’ locker room who have wondered aloud this season how explosive Daniel Jones and Beckham would have been as Giants teammates. Instead, Gettleman and Pat Shurmur offloaded the super-talent in exchange for strong safety Jabrill Peppers, a mid-first round they used to draft DT Dexter Lawrence, and a third-round pick they used to draft edge Oshane Ximines. And Gettleman did all this after signing Beckham himself to a long-term extension, eating $16 million in dead money to trade him months later.
Peppers, while fiery, is not even come close to replacing Landon Collins at strong safety. Lawrence has been OK, but he does not pressure the quarterback even close enough to warrant being selected over a pass rusher. And Ximines has a long way to go.
ELI MANNING MANAGEMENT: THUMBS DOWN
Granted, ownership wanted to keep running it back with Manning, but Gettleman enabled and directed the plan to try and win immediately in 2018 with a quarterback who was no longer capable, on a team that had too many holes to realistically contend. Then Gettleman brought Manning back again this season to play two games before being benched. The organization’s and GM’s misjudgment of the quarterback situation governed their mismanagement of the entire roster and set back what they are now calling a “rebuild” by at least two years.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) watches against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
FREE AGENCY: THUMBS DOWN
Gettleman’s best free agent signings probably were safety/special teams captain Michael Thomas and punter Riley Dixon last year and edge rusher Markus Golden this year. But the rest of the list is startling: right guard Patrick Omameh, running back Jonathan Stewart, outside linebacker Kareem Martin, free safeties Curtis Riley, Antoine Bethea and William Gay, corners B.W. Webb and Grant Haley.
O-LINE and PASS RUSH: THUMBS DOWN
This was Gettleman’s priority when he took the job, and he hasn’t formed a strong O-line in two years. Right guard Kevin Zeitler, acquired from Cleveland in a trade for Olivier Vernon, is one of Gettleman’s best gets. But that comes with the caveat that he depleted his defense to do it, forming one of the NFL’s least talented defenses in recent memory. The offense’s rush yards per carry average (4.4) is lower than it was last season (4.7), and they’re giving up exactly the same amount of sacks per game this season (2.9) as they did last year. The defense, meanwhile, is allowing 28.2 points per game after giving up 25.8 on average in 2018.
Gettleman passed on pass rushers Bradley Chubb, Josh Allen and Brian Burns in recent drafts and didn’t sign a big ticket rusher other than the high-energy Golden in free agency, either. The GM knows the Giants’ last two Super Bowl teams were driven by a dominant pass rush. It is a mystery why that hasn’t translated to prioritizing it. Meanwhile, on the O-line, center Jon Halapio, a Jerry Reese holdover that Gettleman favors, is a tough guy and a good teammate but hasn’t played well. And right tackle Mike Remmers is so-so. Gettleman’s decision to keep Ereck Flowers as his right tackle in 2018 and team him with Omameh also was a killer mistake.
DANIEL JONES: T.B.D.
If Gettleman keeps his job after the season, it will be because ownership feels strongly that his No. 6 overall pick is undoubtedly their future franchise QB. If Jones blossoms into a great quarterback, all of Gettleman’s shortcomings may be forgiven. All indications are they like Jones but want to see wins to back up their belief.
Opinions around the league on Jones are mixed. On the plus side, there are coaches who saw Jones as an NFL starter as early as the preseason, and plenty of the Giants’ opponents have lauded Jones’ poise, competitiveness and some of his big-time throws. On the flip side, teams have noticed Jones struggles against Cover-2 with two deep safeties, and his 21 turnovers in 11 starts have been alarming, as are his eight straight losses. If ownership decides the 20 TD-21 turnover ratio is indicative of what he’ll be his whole career, Gettleman is already cooked. The offense has failed to score 20 points in three of the last four games.
REST OF 2019 NFL DRAFT: T.B.D.
Lawrence has been so-so. He’s replacing Damon Harrison, once one of the league’s best run stoppers, so Gettleman exchanged one for the other (and had to deal OBJ to do it). The GM traded up for rookie corner DeAndre Baker, whose work ethic and ability both are a major issues. Huge whiff. The Giants tried to start Antonio Hamilton over Baker in week one but that experiment failed. Then there’s Ximines, who’s hit a wall.
Fourth-round DB Julian Love looks promising. Fifth-round receiver Darius Slayton might be Gettleman’s best draft pick, if it isn’t Jones. And sixth-round DB Corey Ballentine has struggled, while seventh-round OL George Asafo-Adjei hasn’t played due to a concussion.
DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH: WE’RE WAITING
Former Giants GM Jerry Reese signed Victor Cruz as an undrafted free agent, reshaping the fate of the franchise for the better. Raiders GM Mike Mayock this year has gotten 7.5 sacks out of rookie fourth-round edge pick Maxx Crosby. The 9-3 Buffalo Bills’ stout defense includes second-year undrafted corner Levi Wallace and 2017 fifth-round linebacker Matt Milano as every-down contributors.
Outside of Slayton, Gettleman hasn’t yet made a definitive mark unearthing players who weren’t obvious talents. His September claim of former Niners sixth-round TE Kaden Smith has promise. But his low-percentage hit rate on these moves contributes to the roster’s depletion.
THE CULTURE: SMILING WHILE LOSING
The only thing keeping this team from spiraling into all-out chaos is that most of the leadership knows what to say and what not to say to prevent drama, even if it’s concealing dissension or friction behind the scenes. The problem is that these respectful and professional leaders only are putting lipstick on a pig. Gettleman sacrificed his talent for this dynamic. So the Giants slip further into irrelevance with smiles on their faces instead of frowns.
Meanwhile, Baker and other young players have not always conducted themselves like pros. Tate served a four-game PED suspension. The volatile Peppers has had to be managed closely. Gettleman, who was known for disrespecting veteran players in Carolina, has received similar criticism from vets in New York, namely Landon Collins.
Just last week, two-time Super Bowl winner Zak DeOssie was put on ice on Thanksgiving Day of all days, which was a bad look. The GM also cut a vet like Bennie Fowler who was a huge positive influence on the culture and had great chemistry with Jones, to boot. This reflects shifting priorities despite the message he preaches.