For the second consecutive year the New York Giants are well on their way to being one of the worst teams in the National Football League. Through eight games the Giants record is 1-7 and the only thing that they can do over the second half of the season is to assess young talent, while also potentially playing spoiler to some playoff contenders.
Since 2004, Eli Manning has been the Giants starting quarterback, and he has seen his fair share of highs and lows. Manning’s greatest moments with the Giants came as he helped the franchise win a pair of Super Bowl Titles. But as good as those times were, they are a very distant memory as both Manning and the Giants are struggling with just one playoff berth since the team’s last title in 2011. Manning has become a whipping boy for the Giants futility as there are plenty of observers who feel that the 37-year old quarterback can no longer get it done. However for anyone who feels that Manning is solely to blame for all of the Giants struggles, they need think again.
When the Giants appointed Jerry Reese to be their general manager in 2007, he was given that position due to his ability to evaluate and draft talent. And when the Giants won a pair of Super Bowl Championships in 2007 and 2011, it was their depth on the defensive line as well as possessing one of the better offensive lines in the National Football League. But after New York’s last title win, things drastically changed.
All of a sudden Reese began to miss on his draft picks (especially in the first round) as what was once a strong point for the Giants was now a huge liability. Of the Giants first-round selections from 2012-2016, only wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is still with the team. And if teams in the National Football League miss on these early choices, it tends to set the franchise back. But if that is not bad enough, only five draft selections overall from 2012-2016 are still with the Giants which has greatly hindered their chances to being successful. And these struggles in the draft by Reese would lead to the Giants giving him his walking papers last December.
Reese deserves his fair share of the blame for the mess that is currently the Giants, but we cannot forget about team co-owner John Mara. Mara along with Steve Tisch are the co-owners of the Giants as they each assumed controlled of the team following the respective deaths of their fathers Wellington Mara and Preston Robert Tisch in 2006. Mara is the flash to the duo, while also being a big wig within the National Football League’s ownership circle. However Mara took too long to recognize that the Giants needed to rebuild, while also making some dicey personnel decisions.
Following the 2015 National Football League season, Mara made the questionable decision to part with Tom Coughlin as the team’s head coach following 12 years with the club. Publicly Coughlin would announce that he had resigned, but the writing was clearly on the wall that he was forced out. And following an icy departure from North Jersey, Coughlin would land on his feet with the Jacksonville Jaguars where he would become the team’s executive vice president of football operations as he helped the franchise reach the AFC Championship Game last season. Mara would replace Coughlin with Ben McAdoo who spent 2014 and 2015 as the Giants offensive coordinator. In McAdoo’s first year as the Giants head coach, the team would go 11-5 en route to making the playoffs, but his “player’s coach” style quickly waned, while he also became public enemy no. 1 in New York City when he decided to bench Manning last season which would be the final nail in his coffin as he was fired on the same day as Reese. And in the case of Manning’s benching in 2017, Mara left McAdoo out to dry as no decision is going to be made like this for the Giants organization without the consent of Mara.
Following Beckham’s spectacular catch versus the Dallas Cowboys during his rookie season, Mara has been open for business in regards to letting the wide receiver do whatever he wants. Beckham is as flamboyant as they come for the diva position of the National Football League. The Giants have been okay with Beckham’s penalties on the field hurting them, while we cannot forget about the infamous boat trip in South Florida that he spearheaded for the team’s wide receivers ahead of their playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers in January 2017. And Beckham won’t be getting better anytime soon after Mara gave him a five-year deal for $95 million just prior to the start of the season. Mara paid Beckham to produce on the field while also being a “leader”, but the latter is something that he is not which is also hurting the franchise.
Instead of holding Beckham responsible for his actions, the Giants have instead decided to coddle him, while throwing their aging quarterback under the bus. I admit that Manning is not the player that he was a decade ago, but for his 15 years with the franchise, he has always showed up for work to do his job. From 2012 until now, the Giants have consistently failed to put a quality team around Manning, while they were never able to players such as Chris Snee and David Diehl on their offensive line, or a Justin Tuck on the defensive line which has resulted in some wasted years on Manning’s career. And on top of that the Giants have never found Manning’s heir apparent at the quarterback position.
Current Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was the last signal caller that the Giants selected in the first round of the draft as he was swapped for Manning on draft day in 2004. Since then we’ve seen the Giants use mid-round picks on Ryan Nassib and Davis Webb, but neither player is still with the team, while Kyle Lauletta who was selected by the Giants in the fourth round of the draft this year was arrested last week in New Jersey for multiple counts which included reckless driving. The Giants organization failed to discipline Lauletta for this altercation, and for anyone who thinks that this was an isolated incident, he was also arrested for reckless driving last year in Virginia.
The Giants franchise would like to be considered as a classy organization, but let us not forget that this is the same franchise that throughout the 1980’s camouflaged many of the indiscretions of Lawrence Taylor. And prior to that when the Giants were struggling to win games during the late 1960’s and 1970’s, it was due to the non-existent relationship that Wellington Mara had with his nephew Tim which led to the issues as the co-owners could not co-exist.
Dave Gettleman is now calling the shots as the general manager of the Giants and he has recognized the need for this franchise to rebuild. Gettleman went against what most people would have done with the second overall pick in the National Football League Draft this past spring when he selected running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants could have gone with a quarterback there, but Gettleman felt that Barkley was the best play maker available. Barkley is on pace to gain 1,000 yards receiving and rushing this season as he appears to be a building block for this team both on and off of the field as the Giants are in need of a culture change inside of their building. But one draft class is not going to turn around the fortunes for the Giants as this team needs playmakers at each level.
The offensive line is in shambles as their big free agent acquisition of former New England Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder is not working out, while their defensive line is also in need of an upgrade as the Giants have only amassed 10 sacks this season which is 31st in the National Football League.
Undoubtedly we’re seeing the last days of Manning as the starting quarterback for the Giants, and as the franchise is set to get a new signal caller, will they use a first-round pick on one next spring, or will they look at another avenue?
Like the Giants, the Oakland Raiders are in the midst of a rebuild, and after they have traded defensive end/outside linebacker Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper this year, could quarterback Derek Carr. Carr has been the Raiders starting quarterback since 2014, he does not appear to be on the same page with head coach Jon Gruden in Oakland. I would not be surprised to see Gruden attempt to trade Carr this off-season, but what would the price tag be for a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, and more importantly, would the Giants be willing to meet it?
Gettleman believes that Pat Shurmur is the right man to be the head coach of the Giants which led to his hiring this past February, but they are at the crossroads less than a year on the job. The writing is on the wall that Manning will be benched at some point this season, but it is also time for them to move on from Beckham as he is not championship material due to his “me first” persona. And how can Lauletta be the future at quarterback for the Giants if he is getting fingerprinted by the cops?
Just like it was with former defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, Coughlin, and McAdoo, the Giants organization has now left Manning out to dry. Yes Manning is not the same player that he once was, but he won’t be fully appreciated until someone else is playing quarterback for the Giants. Manning is responsible for his play, but he is not responsible for the Giants bad drafting in recent years, a teammate literally shooting themselves in the leg, and another losing parts of two fingers during a fireworks accident. Mara will attempt to soon save some face as when Manning’s career is done as the Giants will undoubtedly pull out all of the stops to honor him which will include him getting his jersey retired at MetLife Stadium, but the better way to have honored him would have been to have done a better job in regards to putting a quality team around him for the last five years instead of having him finish his career playing on losing teams.