The Giants: A Deep Dive Into The Team That’s Been A Mess Since 2011
(Disclaimer: I have no experience working in football, or even sports journalism but I just wanted to get these thoughts out. Various stats and numbers will be referenced throughout the article, courtesy of Pro Football Focus, nflFastR, Spotrac, Pro Football Reference, and OverTheCap.)
“Stagnant, Bad, Terrible, Stupid, Ignorant, Indefensible, Hopeless.”
“Pain, Suffering, Culture, Eli, Losing.”
These words being the first to come to mind when asked about our beloved New York Football Giants is pretty telling. How did a team that was an underdog, that came out of nowhere to win the Super Bowl in the 2011 season fall off so quickly? I don’t think it would be possible to find one set-in-stone answer, as this organization, run by co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, has failed to adapt to the new game of football, one modernized by analytics. Basic concepts have yet to reach the Giants, leaving them playing catch up to most of the league. In this attempt at an article, I’ll dive into drafting blunders, “culture”, messy trades, relationships, and much more. Here we go.
Aftermath Of SB XLVI: What Was Next?
Ahmad Bradshaw’s tumble into the endzone capped off what would be a 21–17 victory over the storied New England Patriots. I doubt I need to explain the thrill of a Super Bowl victory, so I won’t. Many likely felt the team could do no wrong, that similar success was bound to occur in the coming years, and rightfully may I add. The team’s franchise figure, Eli Manning had possibly the best season of his career; he posted a 90.1 PFF grade, a CPOE of 2.08, 4,933 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, and a very solid 0.212 EPA/play. It was as if Playoff Eli was really just Eli. The team returned a fantastic D-Line of Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Chris Canty, and JPP, a stout secondary as well. Victor Cruz tore opposing defenses to shreds in his breakout campaign, supplemented by Hakeem Nicks opposite him. It was believed that this somewhat aging team, which had an average age of 27.5 on the SB roster, still could compete for years to come.
Man, were we wrong.
It’s been seen throughout the history of the league that winning Super Bowls back to back rarely occurs, 8 times as of now. General Manager Jerry Reese must have known our luck in 2011 would not sustain into the future, yet he failed to capitalize on a short window. No major acquisitions occurred in the offseason, just some re-signings and minor free agent signings (Steve Weatherford!). The team’s draft ended up being very mediocre at best, hit hard by injuries and poor selections. These issues have been constant these past years, along with others mixed in. I promise I will get to all those, but I would like to start with some general info, breaking down the team’s actual performance since February 5th, 2012.
A Quick Recap
9–7: the record the 2011 Giants finished the regular season with. Overall, it’s a slightly above average record, and the Giants found themselves dealing with levels of mediocrity in the upcoming seasons.
In fact, they still are, evidenced in the team’s win-loss record since 2011. To highlight, only two above .500 seasons and many, many seasons of bad. Even when they did make the playoffs in 2016, they were handled swiftly by the Green Bay Packers, losing 38–13 in a game where they failed to muster any offense due to largely a poor showing from Manning (-0.09 EPA/play and a -8.1 CPOE). However, the win-loss record doesn’t tell the full story of how a team really played.
DVOA, a stat developed by Football Outsiders, essentially compares every single play a team conducts to league average and shows how efficient said team is. I pulled the Giants offensive and defensive DVOA for 2011–2019, and it’s not the prettiest.
As you can see, the Giants had three above-average offensive seasons and only two above-average defensive seasons (negative defensive DVOA is above average) since 2011. It’s not what you want. Also, I cannot get over just how atrocious the offense was in 2013, and yet, we still finished 7–9. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Even in 2016, when the Giants did make the playoffs, the team was led by an amazing defense. Defensive success has been proven to be up to variation and randomness every year, as shown in the lack of sustainability in the Giants’ 2016 defense afterward. I’ll go into a little aside to show how defensive success should not be relied on right here.
The variation in these three years is astounding. The Bears went from the best defense in 2012 to the worst rush defense in 2013, the Giants became an above-average defense in 2013, and the Texans' pass defense seemingly dropped off the Earth in 2013. There are many more examples to be found, but this gives a general idea of how NFL defenses fluctuate year by year, sometimes due to personnel change or sometimes, just due to plain regression or luck. Anyway, thank you for indulging me.
Going back to the Giants, they’ve been mired inconsistency of losing seasons and hopelessness. The defense has been poor ever since 2016 and the offense had one above-average season by DVOA in the past 6 years. Anytime there seems to be a positive, it’s gone. Odell Beckham? Traded. Cap space? Burnt. Draft picks? Leonard Williams. It goes on and on and there seems to be no end in sight as long as John Mara holds the reigns. In some alternate reality, Mara sells the team and I rejoice. Back to reality, each season, there seems to be something holding back this team from performing, whether it be the offensive line, secondary, lack of a pass rush, etc. However, from 2011–2019, there was one constant: Eli Manning. His actual play aside, he is the face of the Giants’ franchise, what they’re known for. He’s beloved amongst the fanbase for his playoff heroics and being able to win games with such a poor roster year in and out. But does he deserve this praise? What if he wasn’t the amazing quarterback we make him out to be? In this next section, I’ll explore his play through advanced metrics, and his successor’s, Daniel Jones.
The Giants’s Quarterbacks
I love Eli. I really do. Yet, I won’t let that blind me from recognizing he wasn’t the quarterback we make him out to be. In 2011, he was great: ranking 6th in a composite of EPA+CPOE at 0.135, with the most plays in the league. We can supplement this, as he had a PFF grade of 90.1 and a QBR of 64.2, both above average, especially the PFF grade. His amazing play translated into team success as well, averaging 24.6 points per game, an offensive DVOA of 10.30%, and as we all know, a Super Bowl. He thrived in every aspect of the game: passing from a clean pocket, under pressure, down the field, to the sticks, it goes on. The important question, however, how long could he sustain this play? To save some time, here are his following seasons through QBR, CPOE, EPA/play, and PFF grade along with two graphs: one of his 2011 season and one of 2012–2019.
2012 was still a great season, by all means, posting above-average stats in each respective category. Then 2013 happened. 18 touchdowns, 27 interceptions. Although his PFF grade wasn’t god awful, indicating he may have been better than his actual statistics, they aren’t something that can just be pushed away. The team withstood his poor play, thanks to a strong defense, and finished with a 7–9 record. However, legitimate questions were raised if Eli had peaked and how much he had left in the tank.
His PFF grade never rebounded, instead, it dipped into the 60s and never shot back up. Manning was able to put up decent efficiency numbers in 2014, a CPOE of 0.83, and an EPA/play of 0.136, but the next three seasons were much worse. Here’s how he compared to the rest of the league from 2015–2018 (min of 1000 plays).
Being grouped with the likes of Flacco, McCown, and Bortles is much less appealing than what Eli’s perceived to be. However, this isn’t something that can be argued. He simply wasn’t the quarterback we all thought he was after 2011, and throughout his career. Posting below average QBRs in each of his last three seasons, average EPA/play numbers at best, and poor PFF grades ever since 2012, should make the average fan question, “Was Eli really that good?”. And the answer seems to be clear, no. I would have been ready to move on from Eli much earlier, but obviously, that wasn’t my decision. The Giants stuck with him, when they probably shouldn’t have, until 2019, in which we saw his successor in Daniel Jones get drafted and play his first 12 games.
I think you could guess what’s coming next. A Daniel Jones breakdown from a 17-year-old? Yup, you got it. Before that, just let me cap this off. Was Eli Manning a good quarterback? Yes, definitely. Was he as good as he’s made out to be? No. Do I still appreciate everything he did for this franchise? Of course. I think I speak for every Giants fan when I say, we love you, Eli.
Dan Jones. Is he the future? Is he a bust? Coming out of Duke, the Giants massively reached for him with the 6th overall pick, in 2019, when he was given 3rd round grades by many, many scouts. A polarizing player, Jones has shown off his ceiling, shockingly in his first game in which he led a comeback drive to defeat the Buccaneers. Yet with his positives come various flaws and some of which have persisted on into his sophomore campaign. Let’s start with a quick statistical breakdown through the same stats used for Eli.
Jones has been right about league average by QBR, if not a little above average. However, he does poorly in the nflfastR model for CPOE, near the bottom of the league, and also grades out about average by EPA/play. However, his PFF grade saw a notable boost this year, likely in part due to PFF believing his surrounding cast is poor and he had to deal with poor receiver play at times. It’s also worth noting that Jones only threw eleven touchdowns in 2020, compared to 24 in 2019. His average net yards per attempt also decreased from 5.38 to 4.92 this year. Yikes.
On the other hand, Jones has thrived this year under a clean pocket, which to be fair, most quarterbacks do. He’s posted a 91.5 PFF grade when there’s no pressure, translating to a completion percentage of 69.9%. However, even in a clean pocket his aggressiveness is still limited, shown by a 7.3 yards/attempt. Whether this should be attributed to Jason Garrett’s timid play calling or Jones favoring the short game over deep shots is up for debate. Neither option is favorable and it speaks to how dysfunctional this offense is. But what about when he is under pressure?
He turns into a god with his legs, with an 84.1 PFF running grade this year, but turns into let’s just say, a very bad quarterback passing-wise. Under pressure, his completion percentage drops all the way to 47.7% and his PFF passing grade falls to 42.2. The top tier quarterbacks in the NFL (Mahomes, Wilson, Watson, etc) are all able to maintain at least average play under pressure, separating them from the rest of the pack. Meanwhile, I don’t think Jones even qualifies as a league-average quarterback altogether. A major part of this is his everlasting turnover issues.
41 turnovers in 26 career games. No matter what way you try to frame that, it can’t be seen in a favorable light. A franchise quarterback knows when to take a loss, throw it away, slide, or check it down but Jones has a knack for holding onto the ball too long, leading to mass fumbles (29 fumbles, 17 lost), and throwing into danger more often than not (8th lowest completion probability in 2020, per Next Gen Stats). I mean here’s an example, in a very winnable game against TB this year.
What goes through your head to make this throw? Let’s follow this with a play that could have tied the game.
What else is there to say? Something isn’t clicking in his head to get the ball out on time here and give the Giants a chance at overtime. One more example of Jones’s processing issues right here.
As silly as it is, Golden Tate’s wife had a point? He was open way more than Jones made us think against Tampa. Completely phasing out a receiver doesn’t seem like the best gameplan. This could be a continuing issue of Jones getting fixated on his first read, as he often does with Darius Slayton. Essentially, Jones can’t make up his processing and turnover flaws with the rest of his play, leaving the Giants often playing catch up instead of with a lead.
Lastly, on Jones, he struggles to elevate his teammate’s play, which is a key aspect of franchise quarterbacks. The Rodgers and Mahomes of the world are able to make their teammates play better than they would be in an average situation. They often mask up poor offensive line play, which Jones heavily struggles with due to his amount of time spent holding onto the ball:
The longer one spends holding onto the ball, the more likely the opposing pass rush is to create pressure and eventually sack the quarterback. A combination of Jones’s long time to throw plus a poor offensive line has led to the Giants’s 9.1% sack percentage, second-worst in the league. However, if we were to pair this offensive line with a quarterback who can get the ball out quicker and more efficiently, a Joe Burrow type (7.3% sack percentage!), who unironically was playing really well with a horrid, rotating bookshelf of an offensive line, perhaps they wouldn’t give up as many pressures, and consequently sacks. Just a thought.
On Daniel Jones, I’ll end it with a tweet that I think sums it up very well and a few bullets, with his strengths and weaknesses.
- Short Passing
- Aggressive under pressure
- Has established a floor
- Consistent Accuracy
- Lack of elite play
Could he be the guy? Maybe about 10–20% of the time. Is it worth the Giants’ time to find out when there are many 1st round talents at quarterback this year? No. Going the Arizona Cardinals route and doubling up at quarterback is the best option for this team, due to a lack of progression and consistent play from Jones. However, with the 11th pick in the draft this year, a QB is extremely unlikely and the Giants’ best bet is one of three top receivers: Chase, Waddle, Smith, to improve Jones’s play.
Let’s shift to something the Giants have much more control over, the spending of money to acquire players in the offseason.
The free agency process of the Giants hasn’t exactly been the most sound. They are often left trying to fill gaps with old, veteran players due to their poor developmental system. A clear example: Ereck Flowers and Nate Solder. Flowers was supposed to be the tackle of the future, drafted ahead of Andrus Peat, Arik Armstead, and more. We all know how Flowers turned out, and he left a massive gap at the Giants' left tackle spot. To fix this, the Giants gave a 4 year, 62 million dollar contract to Nate Solder. Solder was thought of as a good, not great tackle but the Giants frankly didn’t care and clearly overpaid him. His first year he finished with a decent 75.7 PFF grade and 33 pressures allowed. However, in 2019, he took a large step back, finishing with a 64.9 PFF grade and a whopping 56 pressures allowed. Not exactly what you want out of a supposed “franchise left tackle”, yet this is what happens when you have to act reactively due to the overall process of bad evaluation, in the draft and free agency. And not to blame Solder for sitting out this year (player’s health and concerns are way more important than football), but his poor play led to the Giants drafting another left tackle, Andrew Thomas.
Thomas hasn’t been what we thought he would be, giving Giants’s fans flashbacks to the days of well, Ereck Flowers. I still have faith in Thomas, and you should too, but it’s only further evidence of what has been the Giants in free agency.
They signed Patrick Omameh to a 3 year, 15 million dollar deal in 2018 as well, as a part of Gettleman’s O-Line revamp. He was cut before his first season with the team even ended. Allegedly, Gettleman was locked in on his former player, Andrew Norwell as a great guard option but completely whiffed, and then whiffed on his replacement in Omameh. Ever since 2018, the Giants have been playing roulette with the offensive line, mixing in the names of John Greco, Jamon Brown, Nick Gates, Spencer Pulley, Jon Halapio, Omameh, Solder, Cam Fleming, and more in the hopes of finding stability. No one has emerged as a solid option, many have been cut or waived, and the team still finds itself year in and year out looking for fixes to the O-line, which we were promised Gettleman would revamp. Yet, in year 3, we’re still left looking for answers.
Another area where the Giants believed quick spending would work: the defense.
In 2016, the Giants spent $193.75 million on three guys: Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, and Janoris Jenkins. Investing this much into defense when the league was shifting towards offense didn’t make much sense. Reese clearly wanted to rebuild a similar Giants team to 2011, with an emphasis on defense. And for the 2016 season, the strategy worked up until the playoffs. The revamped defense posted a DVOA of -13.90%, well above average, but the Giants got taken care of easily in the playoffs, due to Eli’s inability to keep up with the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. Even with a great defense, the team struggled in the playoffs, bringing up the question of why do we invest in defense so much when it always comes down to the offense?
And it’s not like this defense stayed great, in 2017 it regressed to a below-average defense with a DVOA of 7.60%. This continued, and soon players began to be moved: Harrison was traded in 2018, Jenkins was waived in 2019 for an offensive tweet, and Vernon was traded to Cleveland in the offseason before the 2019 season. So much for those big-money deals. Don’t get me wrong, Jenkins was a very good corner for the Giants, Harrison a great run stuffer, and Vernon was a good pass-rusher, albeit overpaid. Yet, they all saw their way out before the end of their contracts.
Rather than spend big on offense, Reese chose defense and this is where it got us. Middling years, with one playoff appearance from that vaunted free agency class. Bad process, poor judgment, quick fixes, however, you want to put it, the Giants struggled with big names in free agency. They have shown an inability to correct key flaws with their team, except for maybe Gettleman this year with his signing of James Bradberry, who, frankly, was nothing short of sensational with a 68.2 passer rating allowed and 11 pass breakups.
And as aforementioned, the Giants may have scrambled in free agency often to buy Eli Manning more years in the league, after he was given an extension in 2015.
4 years, 84 million dollars. He had the highest cap hit in the league in 2016, ironically one of his worst years which we already covered. Having already gone over what I thought about his play, it’s somewhat easy to discern I don’t think he was worth the extension. Moving on and initiating a full rebuild after the 2015 season would have been much more progressive, yet the Giants chose to spend heavily. And for what? 1 playoff appearance in the last 5 years? What does that get us?
There were no other big extensions over this period, except for this man:
5 years, 90 million dollars for a man who was a top 5 receiver, the spark of the Giants offense, the future of the franchise, and one of the most talented players the Giants had seen since LT. One could even go as far as to say he extended Eli’s career, having to deal with poor QB play but performing nonetheless:
The massive dip at Odell’s column tells it all: even with Eli’s bottom 5 accuracy in 2018, Odell was a top receiver by PFF grade, a transcendent talent that could perform independently of his quarterback.
Needless to say, I loved the deal: wide receiver is the second most important position in football, especially in what’s become a pass-heavy league, and paying up for a superstar was completely justified.
He averaged more yards per game than any receiver EVER in his first 4 seasons at 94.1 yards/game. Not many had problems with this deal, and Sterling Shepard certainly loved it:
Yet as we know, the Giants traded Odell Beckham in 2019. A superstar. Traded. They received a 1st (Dexter Lawrence), a 3rd (Oshane Ximines), and Jabrill Peppers from Cleveland. Lawrence has been a great player, yet he impacts the game more against the run, minimizing his value. Ximines is still waiting for that big breakout, which I don’t think anyone expects to happen. Peppers has struggled in coverage at times but has been a decent box safety. However, none of these players can make up the impact Odell has on a football game. Even the Giants recognized that when they traded him, “ well aware that replacing Beckham on the field might be impossible,” and that the trade was “absolutely not a football decision.”
So why did they trade him then? Culture, a New York Giants buzzword.
The Giants’ Culture
Ever since Dave Gettleman joined the Giants, there’s been talk of a “culture change”. This was the reason for trading away Odell, who was viewed as a locker room cancer. Sure, you don’t want your face of the franchise running around doing stupid things. But rather than try to compromise or settle with him, they simply shipped him out, afraid of him taking the spotlight and becoming a distraction. Even though Beckham was loved by teammates and an extremely hard worker, Gettleman’s perfect locker room didn’t have room for a superstar receiver. Part of his reasoning was that distractions can’t be present for a team to make it to the Super Bowl, and have a great locker room. Well, surely the Giants would have made a Super Bowl then, right? Ehhhh, think again.
It’s also worth noting that Beckham isn’t the only player that has been let go due to his personality. Landon Collins believed he was let go for a culture change:
“I know with myself, [Harrison], Odell, [Vernon], all we wanted to do was win, and we spoke up because we had to get them to listen to us,” Collins said. “We had to get them to get us winning pieces to help us at least be contenders… I think we were too vocal, and that platform was bigger than the Giants, you know, and our words stood out more. And … if it’s not good media, they don’t want that kind of media.” (ESPN)
Ironically, he said that Gettleman, our famed culture leader, didn’t communicate very well and barely reached out to Collins and others besides the occasional “Good job”. Furthermore, Collins was vocal in his support of Beckham after Beckham was traded:
“You got OBJ, the best receiver in the game, and you get rid of him because you think he’s … a locker room problem?” he said. “And, knowing him personally, knowing him, how he was as a person and as a brother to me, and a brother to everyone in the locker room, he made sure everybody in the locker room was smiling … and he went out there to work, each and every day. He didn’t say nothing when he came to play in a football game. He didn’t say nothing when he came to practice. All he wanted to do was win.” (ESPN)
Two of the youngest and talented players on the team were gone just like that. Gettleman was willing to let go of studs for his culture, and what do we have to show for it? If we’re being quite honest, nothing.
It wasn’t just them two, Janoris Jenkins was cut in 2019 for calling a fan the r-word on Twitter. He most definitely should have been cut, but how does a player a part of the Giants culture act like that? After the great revamp in 2018, one would think these problems would have gone away. But no, they persisted. It’s almost as if trying to worry about cultural issues and personalities more than your actual football product isn’t the way to go. This isn’t just a Gettleman problem, Mara also played a part in all of these departures.
What baffles me though, is how Mara was comfortable trading Beckham, letting Collins walk, but willingly gave Josh Brown an extension after he had been arrested for domestic violence. In 2014, Mara said, “there is no place in the game for domestic violence,” and two years later, went on to re-sign a domestic abuser in Josh Brown. I don’t even know how you try to justify that utterly disgusting move by the Giants. They knew of his arrest prior to it becoming public information, yet still signed him. And then when it did become public info, they cut him! I mean, what type of process is that? Were they trying to hide what they knew and pray no one figured it out? No matter the motive, it was an immoral sequence from the Giants.
When contrasted with the events with Beckham and crew, it looks even worse. Keep a domestic abuser but trade away the “toxic” personality? Doesn’t exactly add up to me. These decisions are going to loom over their heads as long as Mara owns the team, and they should. The definition of culture shifts for what they want and some players get screwed over because of it. I think that’s enough on this frankly depressing topic so let’s shift to something a lot more fun. Drafting! Maybe this will be what they’re good at… haha probably not. But let’s find out nonetheless!
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a good Giants draft since 2014, which was purely good because of Odell. Before I dive into notable (good and bad) draft picks, I’ll provide a quick overview of all our picks since 2012:
There’s been a consistent focus on building the defense, as the Giants have spent almost half of their picks on the defensive side of the ball. As the league has consistently become geared towards offense, the Giants’ drafting strategy seems to be relatively ancient. And 10% of the picks were spent on running backs, the most replaceable position in football, none of which lasted with the team besides Saquon as of now.
Small rant incoming, but drafting a RUNNING BACK, the least valuable position in football, with the 2nd overall pick has to be a federal crime, and we’re looking at you, Dave. Imagine if Jones had Quenton Nelson protecting him, or the defense had a CB1 in Denzel Ward. Instead, we have an injured, talented but overused running back who can’t even pass protect, leading to the Giants signing MORE RUNNING BACKS in Jonathan Stewart, Javorius Allen, and Dion Lewis to protect. There isn’t a single positive to the pick besides marketing, and I think the consensus understands how badly Gettleman failed now.
Anyways, ideally in the draft, a team can find cornerstones to keep with the franchise past a rookie deal. The Giants? Well:
Only three players have stayed with the team for a fifth year, OBJ and Shepard (Justin Pugh is the third player kept for year five, but he had a club option due to being a first-round pick which the Giants triggered). This doesn’t inspire confidence in a team that struggled in free agency simultaneously, as they often cut their picks or moved on after their rookie deals, indicating they weren’t and aren’t the best drafters. They’ve made a habit of spending big on replacements rather than extending quality, homegrown players (think Damon Harrison and Linval Joseph). Last year’s draft did look much better at face value, but most rookies were shaky this year, from Andrew Thomas to Darnay Holmes. However, they all still are full of potential and not many judgments should be made after one year. The same cannot be said for past drafts, as we begin to look into the good and the bad.
Even with the overall bad process, the Giants have had drafting, they’ve still hit on a few studs in the draft. The ones that stand out compared to the rest of the selections to me are Odell (duh), Devon Kennard, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Justin Pugh. Hopefully, everyone here understands the greatness of OBJ by now, so we’ll go over the other three quickly instead. In his 35 games started with the Giants, Kennard had 9.5 sacks and 137 solo tackles, which is pretty good for a fifth-round pick if you ask me. Pugh posted PFF grades above 70 in four of his five years and allowed no more than 6 sacks each year. Tomlinson has made a clear jump this year, posting a new high in PFF pass-rush grade of 74.7, with 18 QB hurries, while still maintaining his very good run defense. These draft picks all played relatively well in their time with the Giants, but was expected, given that 3/4 were drafted in the second round or higher. And with the good, comes the bad: very bad in the Giants’s case.
This bad section is relatively easy to write surprisingly (or not?), all we have to do is take our first-round picks from 2015–2018 and put them here. Ereck Flowers? Bust. Eli Apple? Bust. Evan Engram? Struggling. Saquon Barkley? Running back. Flowers, as any Giants fan knows, heavily struggled in pass protection, letting up near 140 pressures in his first two years with the team. Everyone witnessed the tragedy that was Ereck Flowers, so let’s continue. I thought Eli Apple would be good in time, but clearly, I thought wrong. In his career, he’s let up 13.2 yards/catch and didn’t pass a PFF grade of 65 with the Giants. Evan Engram feels like he’s going to break out every single year, yet he never does. We all saw his major drop issues this year, and his pass blocking grades have only worsened since his rookie year (77.4 in 2017 to 58.2 in 2020). Lastly, I already covered Barkley, whose value depends on that of the offensive line and the offense, not himself. Quickly, however, sure he puts up great total yardage numbers. Yet, never does this translate to team success. For example, Christian McCaffrey put up a shocking 2,392 yards in 2019 but his team only went 5–11. In 2018, the Giants went 5–11, even though Barkley had 2028! scrimmage yards. Running backs don’t translate to team success, and it’s a shame the Giants don’t realize this, nor does it look like they will learn with looming talks of a Barkley extension.
Overall, just like most teams, the Giants have had their highs and lows in the draft. Even though it’s felt like lows a lot more recently, Joe Judge clearly influenced our 2020 draft and hopefully, that carries over, reducing the grip Gettleman has over the roster. Maybe even we see Gettleman lose the ability to make trades because he really has made some questionable moves. Let’s touch upon those.
The *Recent* Trades
Gettleman hasn’t made many trades but the few that he has raised concern in my eyes. We already covered the OBJ trade, which is a one-word summary was awful. In short, we traded Eli’s best playmaker and then complained about a lack of playmakers for the next year. Currently, the Giants find themselves looking for a wide receiver one, but they already had one. The trade incurred dead cap space, didn’t produce any valuable assets besides maybe Jabrill Peppers and has left the offense devoid of talent. Not great.
Two other trades he made emphasize Gettleman’s lack of ability to understand the modern NFL: Leonard Williams and Alec Ogletree. Gettleman willingly traded a third and a fifth for a pass-rusher on an EXPIRING deal. We could have just signed him in the off-season!
Not only did we have similar player types in Tomlinson, BJ Hill, and Dexter Lawrence, but the Giants were obligated to extend Williams. Imagine the look if they let him go the same year after trading draft capital for him. His play didn’t matter in 2018, the Giants were always going to pay him. He got tagged and made near $17 million this year. Granted, he was better this year, with 11.5 sacks, but the Giants shouldn’t pay him like a top-tier pass rusher. He “lucked” into many sacks:
It’s not smart to expect Williams to continue posting high sack totals, yet the Giants are likely to pay him big money if they do. The problem in this trade wasn’t the player, it was the notion of spending draft picks on him when he could have just been signed in free agency.
The problem with the next trade is in fact the player, as the Giants shelled out a fourth and seventh-round pick for Alec Ogletree. Ogletree was old and on a bloated contract (4 years, $42.75). He wasn’t particularly good in Los Angeles, and that continued in New York, with PFF grades of 49.3 and 55.6 in his two years with the team. This ties back to the Giants’ issues in the draft in which they find themselves consistently missing in the draft or letting homegrown talent walk, and try to bring in stopgap veterans to fill the void. It’s almost like every aspect of managing a football team ties back together and every move has consequences! Shocker! Anyways, these bad process deals put the Giants’ problems on display. Rushing to try to compete instead of committing to a tank, and putting the franchise in a better position. Before I end this very, very long article, I think it’s worth touching upon the current state of the team.
How About Now?
6–10. Eleventh pick. $7,516,150 in cap space. Where do the Giants go from here? I’ll outline a short off-season list with possible options to fill different needs that I think would suit them well, building around Jones and Patrick Graham’s defense.
- Find a wide receiver one (Robinson, Godwin, Golladay, Devonta Smith, Ja’marr Chase, or Jaylen Waddle)
- Add one or two cornerbacks (Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Kevin King, Ahkello Witherspoon)
- Bring Zeitler back on a cheaper deal
- Add a swing tackle for cheap (Daryl Williams, ideally)
- Re-sign one of Dalvin Tomlinson or Leonard Williams
- Cut Golden Tate
- Sign a backup quarterback (Tyrod Taylor, Jacoby Brissett)
- Trade Evan Engram and find a replacement (Kyle Pitts, Gerald Everett)
- Draft or sign edge (Azeez Ojulari, Rashad Weaver, Hasson Reddick)
- Re-sign Kyler Fackrell
- Let all backup free agents walk and replace accordingly, fit to the cap
Obviously, not everything in this list will get done, but I do think a combination of these options would best suit the Giants. Specifically, getting Jones help through playmakers. A star wide receiver is imperative for his development, and to push this team into the playoffs. Patrick Graham will be able to put out a stout defense no matter what, but getting him a real edge rusher and another corner would go a long way to building a better football team.
It really does feel like the Giants have been going through the same process every few years. Fail to tank, inspire hope in the fanbase with a mediocre record, miss the playoffs, and start again. Rinse and repeat. Many fans have put their complete faith into Joe Judge, but one must hope Gettleman and Mara don’t restrict his organizational control. They’ve already gotten off to a bad start, publicly saying Gettleman will be retained for another year, but in my view and surely others, he hasn’t done a single thing that merits him keeping his job. The ownership has grown complacent with losing records and their style of football, the worst thing an owner can do for their franchise. I hope they find their way out of the old-fashioned mindset and adapt to modern football, but I don’t expect much. And frankly, nor should you. Nonetheless, as Giants fans, there always will be a glimpse of hope for another Super Bowl. Maybe one day, one year, we’ll find ourselves once again playing for the Lombardi trophy.