Pat Shurmur has borne the brunt of the blame for the Giants’ 2-8 season, a year that has been a major disappointment and one that has seen regression from last year’s 5-11 team.
Yes, there is promise being shown by rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, who has done a nice job in responding to the draft-day howls of his selection with credible work as Eli Manning’s successor.
But that’s about all there is to like from a team whose inconsistent performances from week-to-week suggest it is still a long way from becoming a playoff contender, no less a Super Bowl contender. It’s why Shurmur’s tenure as Giants coach hangs in the balance, despite team president and co-owner John Mara’s reluctance to part ways with his coach after two years for a second straight time.
But blame for the unacceptable on-field product is not Shurmur’s alone.
General manager Dave Gettleman must share the burden of failure as well.
In almost two years that Gettleman has been on the job, he has deconstructed nearly the entire roster through trades and player releases, claiming all the while that the Giants would be capable of winning despite the roster turnover. But this team has done mostly losing, with their 34-27 defeat to the Jets the latest example of their ineptitude. They go to Soldier Field on Sunday as one of the worst teams in pro football.
That’s on Shurmur, yes, but it’s also on Gettleman. And there is every reason to wonder whether he, too, should face banishment after the season.
Gettleman’s body of work has been brutally ineffective, and you have to wonder whether Mara believes there is enough evidence to suggest he needs to change course, not only on the sidelines with Shurmur, but in the front office with Gettleman.
It has been eight years since the Giants last won a Super Bowl, and they’ve been to the playoffs just once in that span. While this run of futility hasn’t lasted as long as the darkest days in franchise history — the 1964-79 maelstrom — this post-Super Bowl XLVI failure has been an era of discontent rarely seen since the team’s founding in 1925.
Mara had hoped Gettleman could restore the team’s great tradition by making the kind of personnel moves that George Young and Ernie Accorsi once had, that there could be a quality rebuild to sustain the team in the years ahead. Young had Phil Simms and Ernie Accorsi had Eli Manning, and Gettleman now hopes that Jones can be his lasting legacy.
But unlike Young and Accorsi, Gettleman has failed to replenish the team at other positions to allow the Giants to compete. And though Jones has shown promise in his eight games as the starter, it’s still too soon to know if he is the answer either.
Gettleman’s missteps are many:
- He publicly proclaimed in December 2017 that Manning had years of good football left and believed the Giants could contend for the playoffs in 2018 and beyond. Manning lasted 18 games in the Gettleman-Shurmur era before being replaced by Jones.
- Less than a year after signing Odell Beckham Jr. to a $95 million contract extension, Gettleman traded the Pro Bowl receiver to the Browns in exchange for a first-round pick (which turned out to be Dexter Lawrence) and safety Jabrill Peppers.
- Gettleman traded third- and fifth-round picks for underachieving Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams, despite the fact Williams becomes an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and could sign elsewhere.
- Gettleman’s signing of left tackle Nate Solder has not worked out as well as hoped. Solder’s pass protection has been underwhelming, and his $62 million contract – the highest ever for an offensive lineman at the time he signed it – has been an albatross on the Giants’ salary cap.
- Gettleman’s trade up for cornerback DeAndre Baker in the first round last April has met with limited returns. Although Baker still needs time to develop, he has not impressed early on.
- While Gettleman may have hit on Jones, it came at the expense of drafting a premier edge rusher (Josh Allen was taken with the next pick by Jacksonville). The Giants remain without a legitimate pass-rusher.
Have there been some hits? Yes. Jones looks like he’ll develop into a capable quarterback. Guard Will Hernandez is a terrific left guard. Saquon Barkley had a Pro Bowl season as a rookie in 2018, although an ankle injury has limited his effectiveness this season. Fifth-round receiver Darius Slayton has shown promise. Sixth-round cornerback Corey Ballentine has shown flashes of being a reliable defender.
But the misses outweigh the hits so far, and at 2-8, Gettleman’s team is further away from contending than when he took over. He deconstructed a bad team but has so far constructed a worse one.
Shurmur has done him no favors by not getting more out of the Giants, but the argument can be made that there aren’t enough good players for any coach to do better.
And that’s on Gettleman.