Any perception that the hiring of Dave Gettleman as Giants general manager indicated a status quo for the organization ended on Saturday, a day after he was introduced to the media.
Gettleman, who promised to kick you-know-what each day he comes to work, spent the morning kicking you-know-whos out of the building. He fired Marc Ross, the team’s vice president of player evaluation and architect of college scouting; waived right tackle Bobby Hart and came up just short of waiving left tackle Ereck Flowers, who was benched for the finale.
The purge of unpopular figures certainly will endear Gettleman to a fan base that was frustrated by all three of those names, even if the timing of the three moves is a bit unorthodox.
Ross, for instance, already was entrenched atop the process of developing the draft board for the upcoming selection process, in which the Giants will have the second or third overall selection. When a new regime comes in, teams usually do not make major moves in their college scouting departments until after the draft, and given Gettleman’s past work with Ross in the Giants’ front office, moves were not expected until the spring.
Instead, Gettleman dismissed the man who brought the Giants Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Landon Collins but also landed Flowers, Eli Apple, Damontre Moore and Adrien Robinson. The Giants’ inability to build a core of players with midrange draft picks has been an obstacle to their success in recent years.
“I worked with Marc when I was with the organization before,” Gettleman said in a statement. “I have great respect for him and high regard for his work. Clearly, we’re going in a different direction, but that doesn’t make these kinds of decisions any easier.”
The changes on the offensive line also were expected — but during the offseason, not the day before the regular-season finale.
Hart and Flowers both were listed on the injury report this week and did not practice on Friday, but according to a source, both players had given up mentally and were refusing to practice or play. Hart was waived/injured, a technicality that protects the Giants. Flowers, a first-round pick in 2015, likely would have been waived if not for the hefty toll such a move would have taken on the salary cap. His dismissal might be destined for the coming months.
Their attitude issues are just the latest to darken an already awful Giants season. Apple was suspended earlier in the week for refusing to participate with the scout team in practice and arguing with a coach about it. The Giants also suspended two other cornerbacks this season and had an embarrassing episode when Beckham celebrated a touchdown by pretending to urinate like a dog.
Hart and Flowers have been linked since last offseason, when they spent their time training at the team’s facility. Former general manager Jerry Reese essentially entrusted them to improve as the starting tackles, declining to add competition for them at their positions through free agency or the draft. When they struggled, so did the team, and it played a role in Reese’s firing earlier this month.
Gettleman made it clear on Friday that improving the offensive line is a priority.
“We have to fix the O-line,” he said. “Let’s be honest. Let’s not kid each other. I told you at the top, big men allow you to compete. And that’s what we have to fix.”
In Sunday’s game, the Giants are expected to start rookie Chad Wheeler at left tackle in place of Flowers and rookie Adam Bisnowaty, activated off the practice squad, at right tackle.
“I believe in the hog mollies,” Gettleman said, using his favorite term for big linemen. “We’ve had some great groups here and great groups everywhere I’ve been, and we’re going to get back to that.”
And a lot sooner than anyone thought.