Irrespective of who designs the Giants’ offensive game plan, calls the plays or is quarterbacking the team, the unit’s production and outcomes are consistently inadequate, well below what is required to be competitive.
Since Jason Garrett, the Giants’ former offensive coordinator, was fired a little over two weeks ago and assistant coach Freddie Kitchens assumed the role of coordinator and play caller, the Giants have scored a total of just 22 points and manufactured only two touchdowns in two games, a 13-7 home win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12 and a 20-9 road loss to the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday.
Groupthink has pervaded some circles of those who closely follow the Giants or identify as diehard fans in placing most of the accountability for the team’s years of futility on general manager Dave Gettleman. He was hired by co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch in December of 2017 to replace Jerry Reese, who was instrumental in helping to construct the Giants’ 2008 and 2012 Super Bowl winning teams.
Gettleman had previously been with the Giants from 1999-2011 as the director of pro personnel, then in 2012 served as the senior pro personnel analyst before becoming the Carolina Panthers GM from 2013-2017. The 70-year-old executive is certainly largely responsible for the Giants’ 19-41 record and no playoff appearances with five games remaining this season since he’s been at the helm. However, it’s willful denial to simplify the issues as being fundamentally attributable to Gettleman.
The Giants’ offense has come to symbolize both tangibly and philosophically an organizational culture that has arguably been an impediment to progress on the field. The Giants are famously overly conservative and cautious in assessing quarterbacks.
Optics are as seemingly important as ability. They prefer a vanilla, buttoned-down presence under center to be the face of the franchise. An Eli Manning archetype, which they ostensibly saw in Daniel Jones.
While many reference the Giants’ drafting of running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in 2018 as Gettleman’s most egregious and ruinous decision, foregoing selecting a quarterback in the first round, picking Jones, who many saw as a Manning clone, at No. 6 in round one a year later, has been debatably a more damaging decision.
Only Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, who was the 32nd and last first round pick in 2018, and the Buffalo’s Bills’ Josh Allen, taken at No. 7, have proven to be so-called franchise quarterbacks. Jackson didn’t fit the Giants’ cookie-cutter cast and Allen’s reported character issues perhaps factored into him not being a viable candidate.
The Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick, the Carolina Panthers’ Sam Darnold, taken third by the Jets, and Josh Rosen, chosen No. 10 by the Arizona Cardinals, have performed well below expectations and Mayfield is the lone starter among the group.
Yet it came down to Gettelman and the Giants reasonably viewing Barkley as a transformational running back in the face of the modern NFL perspective that using a high pick to draft a running back is imprudent given the declining analytics driven value placed on the position.
But taking a QB at or near the top of the first round that doesn’t evolve into an elite player can be disastrous and it can take years to recover from the fallout. The Giants may be there with Jones. They can move on from the 24-year-old from Duke, who is sidelined with a neck injury, missed this past Sunday’s loss and may not return this season, and begin to search for a long-term answer at the position again this offseason.