It was far from a capacity crowd at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, but there was one person in attendance whose presence had the attention of the Giants on the field.
Dave Gettleman, hired as general manager on Thursday, attended his first game in that new role. He sat in a suite high above the action with other members of the front office and team co-owner John Mara. The players may not have been able to see him, but they knew all too well that he was watching them. Closely. At times, it probably felt more like a Pro Day than a game day.
“I’m pretty sure everybody was aware,” Andrew Adams said after the 18-10 win over Washington. “He was in the locker room before the game, so I’m pretty sure everybody knew he was probably taking notes up there.”
“He’s our new boss,” fellow safety Darian Thompson added. “He doesn’t know much about anybody on the team, so today was a good opportunity to put a good taste in his mouth for his first time seeing us.”
Many Giants players did just that. Adams had a quarterback hit that led to an early interception by linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. Thompson tied for the team high with seven tackles. Devon Kennard had a sack. Orleans Darkwa ran for 154 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Not one of those players is high enough in the roster caste to know for sure that he’ll be back next season. Kennard and Darkwa will be free agents, which adds to their uncertainty even more. But their performances certainly helped them make a case for a return.
“I’m going to sleep well tonight whatever happens moving forward,” Kennard said. “I wanted to prove I was a player that belonged in this league and deserved to be a starter. I feel like I’ve done that. My best football is ahead of me, wherever I’m at and whoever I’m playing for. I hope they see that.”
Not everyone had as good a tryout. Tight end Jerell Adams dropped two passes, including a potential touchdown. Brad Wing capped his shaky season with a few more queasy punts. Rookie Aldrick Rosas kicked a pair of field goals but also had an extra point blocked.
Rookie quarterback Davis Webb, active for the first time this season, did not take the field. The Giants will have to go into the offseason without ever having seen him talk to a huddle, take a snap or throw a pass in a regular-season game. That goes for Gettleman the newcomer as well as everyone else in the front office.
There are bound to be sweeping roster changes this offseason. No team goes 3-13 without them. For the players who were on the field on Sunday, the evaluation process began with this game.
“You only get one first impression,” Kennard said. “I’m sure [Gettleman’s] going to go back and watch our film from all year, but it’s the first time being able to see us live and I think guys wanted to make a first impression. I know I did.”