Dave Gettleman joked that he almost fell down when he found out that the Giants scored the most points in the NFC East this season. “It kind of blew my mind,” he said.
He was able to maintain his balance with much more ease when he saw that the Giants had also allowed the most points in the division.
“That,” he said, “is why we were 5-11.”
And it’s an area he intends to address in the coming weeks and months.
While most of the attention in the general manager’s season-ending news conference had to do with Eli Manning and the quarterback situation, the Giants’ area of greatest concern following this season should be – and Gettleman says is – on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
“We need to improve the defense, guys,” he said. “Just like I looked you right in the eye last year and told you we’ve got to fix this o-line, we’ve got to get better on the defensive side.”
The Giants ranked 24th in yardage allowed (371.4), 23rd in pass defense (252.8), 20th in run defense (118.6) and 23rd in scoring (25.8). They lost four games in which they had a lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Gettleman took some of the blame for that. “It’s not easy to win games when you do not have playmakers,” he said.
And the ones the Giants did have did not finish the season. Safety Landon Collins and linebacker Alec Ogletree led the team in tackles but were unavailable at the end of the season with injuries. Linebacker Olivier Vernon led the team in sacks; he was unavailable at the beginning of the season with an injury. The Giants also traded two productive starters in midseason, sending tackle Damon Harrison to the Lions and cornerback Eli Apple to the Saints for some mid-round picks.
Gettleman said he thinks he’ll be able to improve the defensive personnel this offseason now that he’s seen the way the Giants' coaches intend to play.
“We have a better understanding of what Pat [Shurmur] and his coaching staff are looking for,” he said. “You’re looking for scheme fits. Last year was not easy, guys. When you move to that 3-4 look, that type of 3-4 that Jimmy [Bettcher, the defensive coordinator] wanted to play, they’re different-style players . . . We have a better understanding of what the coaches want. It makes a big difference.”