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Five issues the Giants must tackle in the offseason

Giants president John Mara speaks to the media

Giants president John Mara speaks to the media before Giants training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Giants are an unmitigated mess.

They lost 13 games for only the second time in their 97-season history and will undergo significant shakeups at every level of the organization in the coming weeks and months. There are so many moving pieces and question marks that it’s hard to limit them to only a handful.

Here, though, are the five most pressing issues the Giants will face this offseason:

1 Who will make the decisions?

The Giants have hired only one general manager in their history who came from outside the organization, and that was when George Young came aboard in 1979 at the behest of the league because the team was in such embarrassing disarray. They may be close to that point now. With Dave Gettleman not expected back after a miserable four-year tenure — he posed for pictures with family on the field before Sunday’s game, an indication that this will be termed a retirement — John Mara and Steve Tisch have to decide who they want to be in charge of their franchise. In-house candidate Kevin Abrams certainly is qualified, but is there any stomach for continuity after five straight seasons with double-digit losses (22-59)? The time has come for fresh ideas and fresh names.

2 Who will be the head coach?

Joe Judge has no tangible results to defend his two seasons with the Giants (10-23). The only things that will keep him around for a third year are the patience Mara insisted he would show upon hiring him (which could be waning) and his insistence that there is an improved culture in the locker room. As recently as a few weeks ago, it would have made sense to bring in a general manager whom Judge knows and has worked with to continue the rebuild, but his status has taken such a hit that it now would be risky to hitch everything to him, and the idea that he’ll be back at all is up in the air. Even if Judge lasts through this week and beyond, if a new GM convinces ownership that a fresh start needs to be made, there could be changes. At the very least, Judge will have to restructure his offensive staff to include a coordinator who can bring life to a unit that has consistently underproduced with bland schemes and suspect philosophies.

3 Who will be the quarterback?

The Giants have to decide if they’ll use the fifth-year option on Daniel Jones this offseason. They likely will — it’s a relatively inexpensive way to keep a quarterback around without a long-term commitment — but that doesn’t mean Jones will be the centerpiece of the offense. Never mind that the neck injury that ended his third season will linger as a concern; there are football questions regarding whether he can be the player to carry the Giants forward. Even if the Giants don’t make a big splash — trading for Russell Wilson, drafting a quarterback early — they’re likely to bring in someone who will be more than just a backup but actual competition for him.

4 Can the O-line be fixed fast?

Like construction on the Cross Bronx, this is a decade-long process that has improved nothing. Ever since the Super Bowl-era group started dropping off into retirement, the Giants have been trying to find the right combination of players to make their offensive engine go. They came into this season thinking they had a good young nucleus who would rise to that challenge, so much so that they didn’t draft anyone at the position. That plan crumbled quickly because of injury and lackluster play. Andrew Thomas seems to be a left tackle cornerstone for them, but they’ll need to find at least three new starters before the first snaps of the 2022 season. Having two first-round draft picks that could be in the top 10 is a good place to start. Or, in this case, start over.

5 Will Saquon remain in the plans?

There is a chance that the pride and joy of Gettleman’s first draft class with the Giants, when Saquon Barkley was selected second overall in 2018, may have taken his last handoff for the team. The running back will be entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract with a fully guaranteed salary in 2022, and the Giants will have to decide if he remains part of their long-term plans. He has been a shell of himself since his first serious ankle injury in 2019, which was followed by a torn ACL in 2020 and another ankle injury this season, so the big contract extension that always seems to be looming for Barkley probably won’t be on the table in the coming months. He could come back next year and return to his previous dynamic form, but it’s just as likely that he never again will approach those levels beyond the occasional glimpse. With the general manager who selected Barkley out of the picture, if the Giants are able to unload him for decent value in the trade market this offseason, they could decide to say farewell.

New York Sports