To say that the last two weeks have been eventful for the New York Giants could be the understatement of the year. The Giants are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in the history of their franchise and for the first time since 1976, they fired a head coach during the season. This past Monday, Ben McAdoo was fired as the head coach of the Giants along with general manager Jerry Reese. McAdoo who was not a fan favorite became immensely unpopular with the Giants fan base when he announced that quarterback Eli Manning would not be in the starting lineup when the team took the field against the Oakland Raiders this past Sunday. This marked the first time since Week 10 of the 2004 National Football League season that a quarterback other than Manning would be under center to start the game for the Giants which came with immense uproar.
The majority of the Giants fan base, former players with the team as well as the media in New York City were on the verge of going after McAdoo with pitchforks and torches once news broke that Manning would not be starting. Radio personalities in New York City such as WFAN’s Mike Francesca were incensed, while some Giants fans paid to have a billboard on the New Jersey Turnpike placed near MetLife Stadium which stated “Big Blue Shame On You”. People are upset that the Giants organization attempted to make Manning the scapegoat for the team’s disastrous season as they sought out to bench him in favor of former New York Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith.
Giants co-owner John Mara smelled blood in the water as three of the Giants final four games this season are home which includes their meeting with the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday. And sensing the unrest among fans, Mara decided to make McAdoo and Reese the lambs that he was throwing to the slaughter as MetLife Stadium was set to become a crime scene if they were still around.
In parting with Reese and McAdoo, the Giants are in the midst of searching for a new general manager and head coach. Typically the combination of a new head coach and general manager will seek to begin their tenure together by starting fresh which means drafting a quarterback that fits their system, while also becoming the new face of the franchise. But for the Giants, they have themselves a dill of a pickle.
Manning will be 37-years of age in January and the Giants must ask themselves if it is time for them to move on from arguably the best quarterback in the franchise’s history, or can they make another Super Bowl run with him.
There are some people who feel that Manning is done, while others still think that he still has something left in the tank. But either way it is very difficult to determine whether or not that Manning can get it done since he was deprived of having his top wide receivers this season, along with not being protected by a solid offensive line, or having a decent running game which makes the upcoming off-season very interesting. But if the Giants do decide that Manning is still their guy, there is a coach who could make things right for the future Hall of Famer.
In 1998 when Jon Gruden was hired to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, he was the youngest head coach in the National Football League at the age of 34. Gruden was deemed as the “wonder kid”, and the league’s next offensive genius. By 2000, Gruden had led the Raiders to their first AFC Championship Game appearance in a decade, but his relationship with team owner Al Davis was eroding.
After the 2001 National Football League season, Gruden was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a pair of first-round draft picks. And in Gruden’s first season in Tampa, he led the Bucs to their first Super Bowl Championship.
In 11 seasons as a head coach in the National Football League, Gruden compiled a record of 95-81 which included having more wins that any other head coach in the franchise history of the Buccaneers.
Since Gruden was fired by the Bucs in 2009, he has done color commentary for ESPN’s coverage of Monday Night Football, and he’s been successful at it which has included him being nominated in each of the last six years for a sports Emmy. Several times Gruden’s name has come up in regards to head coaching vacancies which included the current opening at the University of Tennessee. But being that Gruden is a master salesman, while he also loves the attention that comes with being courted by a team, he would only leave his cushy job in ESPN’s broadcasting booth if the right opportunity came along. And that opportunity could be the Giants head coaching vacancy.
The Giants are tailor made for Gruden as he is at his best with teams who possess veteran quarterbacks. With the Raiders, Gruden made quarterback Rich Gannon a household name, and by 2002, he was the National Football League’s MVP. And in Gannon’s MVP season, Gruden led the Bucs past his former team in Super Bowl 38 with Brad Johnson as his starting quarterback.
For the longest time Gruden has been extremely fond of the Manning family which includes Eli’s older brother Peyton as well as his dad Archie. And if there is someone who still believes that the younger Manning can still get it done in the National Football League, it is Gruden.
The Giants are attempting to save face with Manning as he will once again be the team’s starting quarterback this Sunday. Manning still has two years left on his current deal and has publicly stated that he wants to remain with the Giants. But Manning will not remain with the Giants just to keep the seat warm for someone else.
Had the Giants decided to part with Manning in the off-season, things would be different. But since Manning was benched in favor of Smith which was a move that Mara was okay with, there might be a high level of brown nosing going on by the team’s front office to the franchise quarterback which means that he now holds all of the cards.
The Giants got a front row seat to the public backlash of parting with Manning as many people still feel that he can get it done. The Giants will have a top five pick in next year’s National Football League Draft which could be used on the offensive line, or a running back “if” they feel that they can squeeze a few more years out of Manning. And if that “if” is strong enough, Gruden could be their guy.
Gruden has been around some of the game’s best quarterbacks which includes Brett Favre, Joe Montana, and Steve Young, and he would not have an issue in regards to trusting Manning with his offense. Gruden also has the cache needed to keep players such as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. who has been known to be a diva in line. Gruden possesses that rare niche in regards to motivating good players to be great, and great players legendary.
Aside from fixing the Bucs offense in 2002, Gruden challenged the Bucs great defense to be greater, and they took him up on the challenge. En route to winning the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers had the top ranked defense in the National Football League which included holing nine opponents to 10 points or less, while also scoring 5 defensive touchdowns.
Gruden also has the personality that is built for New York City which is something that was possessed by former Giants head coaches Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin who each won a pair of Super Bowl Titles with the organization.
This will be a very important off-season for the Giants as the moves that will be made by this franchise will affect them for at least the next decade. And for a franchise that is desperate to have some positive headlines about them on the back pages of the local newspapers, hiring Gruden would be very interesting for business.