By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
Ok, so the Giants had three issues with the start of training camp, and they were mostly anticipated.
Cornerback DeAndre Baker was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List due to his incident, Aldrick Rosas was released due to his rumpus, and left tackle Nate Solder opted out after his debate over his family issues. With Solder gone and money freed up, does Jadeveon Clowney figure in the mix?
Aside from that, life is as good as it can be in Giants’ land, surrounded by the COVID bubble like every other team.
New head coach Joe Judge has helped instilled a new sense of confidence and Jason Garrett and Patrick Graham have begun to harvest thoughts of new creative schemes of the offensive and defensive side of the ball respectively.
Then there is the state of GM Dave Gettleman.
It will be year three, and Gettleman has responded accordingly to a year of initial turmoil last season that was quelled by the promise of quarterback Daniel Jones as well as a draft that apparently filled the holes that began with Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas.
He has been under duress after Owner John Mara stated the Gettleman needed to improve his “batting average” when former head coach Pat Shurmur was fired. It may have influenced him to draft an offensive lineman as his top pick for the first time, even though he always had had a penchant for “hogs.”
Despite his critics, Gettleman hasn’t been afraid to dump big names like Odell Beckham Jr. Olivier Vernon, let Landon Collins walk away and whisked away others. Those moves were still a little unsettling considering his primary signings of Jonathan Stewart and Patrick Omameh were overnight busts. Solder hasn’t lived up to his ground-breaking deal, and ironically now may not play another game as a Giant.
He dared to draft Saquon Barkley when the faithful and the experts called for a quarterback to replace Eli Manning, who was allowed to collect $23 million when he didn’t look like half his paycheck.
Doubters seemingly suddenly arose from every marsh of the Meadowlands about Gettleman’s competency and overall plan. There appeared to be only a minority presence who still kept the faith for the livelong Giants’ front office staff who returned home.
Should the Giants have not pulled the plug on long overdue Jerry Reese or gone with hot commodity Louis Riddick, who didn’t land a job after all? For many, the jury is still out.
Yet a few years later, Gettleman was in elite company after he pieced together a Carolina Panthers team that finished 15-1 in 2015 and advanced to the Super Bowl only to lose to Denver and fate-destined Peyton Manning, 24-10.
Gettleman compiled an impressive 40-23-1 regular season record over four years, but he was abruptly and shockingly fired 17 months after his team’s Super Bowl appearance. He reportedly drew the wrath of veterans after a frugal approach to contracts that originally helped him lower an over-the-top salary cap when he arrived on the scene.
As a result, the Panthers finished 6-10 in 2016 and Gettleman was gone. In his defense, some eyebrows could be raised as Marty Hurney, the GM he replaced, come back into the fold.
You can’t help wonder there was something beneath the surface there.
Still, Gettleman managed to win three divisional crowns despite a pattern of a stellar season followed by a mediocre one (ex 12-4 in 2013 followed by 7-8-1 in 2014).
This season, Gettleman again will be under the gun. It won’t be on the coach this season as it was just of time before the guillotine fell on Shurmur. Indications suggest Gettleman will work on developing a close relationship with Judge –possibly in the mentor-student role – than he did with Shurmur.
Gettleman does have pieces in place similar to those in Carolina with Jones, Barkley, a bulked-up offensive line, and a maturing defensive line. Jones isn’t as dominating as Cam Newton, yet Gettleman never had a running back like Barkley. Gettleman has stockpiled linebackers, but can one or two emerge as playmakers as some of them in Carolina?
His ability to maintain winning seasons followed the form in his first two years with the Giants on lesser scale, winning five games in 2018 and four last season.
If Jones and Barkley stay healthy and surface as game changers and the defense begins to harden, could six wins or less be enough to continue to improve his “batting average?” More than six wins would ensure Gettleman a fourth season.
The Giants are in the midst of a rebuild and the COVID situation doesn’t help chemistry.
For Gettleman, it will be about the build and the vision, like the one he once took in Carolina to the Super Bowl.