On The Giants Way
My rooting interest in the Giants goes back more than 40-years. Therefore I'm in no mood for being sold on false hope. That's why I say back-to-back victories be damned. Watching the Giants defeat the Niners and Buccaneers did nothing to sway my opinion. An arguably gamely effort against the Eagles on Sunday only confirms my position.
I maintain the belief this team must finally commit to a full blown rebuild. When a football team manages just six victories over their last 27 games, not only are major changes in order, reconciliation between emotions and opinion versus cold critical analysis and corrective action are prerequisite.
What I find slightly bewildering is that John Mara understands this. He is a third-generation football man, born in a football world, raised by a football family. He is a witness, and therefore knows exactly what both building and rebuilding sustained success entails. He's been through this before and understands the process perfectly. Yet, John Mara presently makes no clear distinction between rebuilding and retooling. To be fair, John Mara's father was never burdened by costs involved with building a new stadium. Thus when you consider Giants Football is indeed the family's primary business enterprise, calling for a full blown rebuild understandably poses a resistible proposition. Nevertheless, I believe there's only one manner at this juncture in which Mr. Mara can correct this huge mistake, and that's by moving forward with unwavering conviction.
The mess Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur are presently charged with cleaning up was created by John Mara's unyielding loyalty to former general manager Jerry Reese. And for good reason: Jerry Reese begins his Giants career in 1994 as a college scout at a time when Wellington Mara is still hanging out at practice, George Young is still general manager, and Dan Reeves is head coach. John Mara is also around, serving in his sixth year as a team executive. Meanwhile, Ernie Accorsi is beginning his first season as assistant general manager. When George Young in 1997 hands the reigns over to Accorsi, Jerry Reese spends the next decade serving as pro scout and director of player personnel. When The Duke passes away in 2005, John Mara assumes the role of team president. In 2007, Jerry Reese succeeds Accorsi as general manager.
We fans call this, the Giants Way. And we appreciate the organization's respective families greatly for it.
Giants history further speaks for itself ...
When Ray Perkins accepts the head coach position at Alabama, George Young elects to promote from within by elevating defensive coordinator Bill Parcells. Two Super Bowls later, Parcells retires. Pitifully, the Giants have no plan in place geared towards retaining Bill Belichick. Two miserable seasons under Ray Handley lay ahead. Former Broncos head coach Dan Reeves watches from afar, and calls George Young offering his services. Young accepts, and in 1993 Reeves squeezes the last bit of goodness out of that old school Giants team in the form of a playoff victory over the Vikings.
How do the Giants follow up? They cut Phil Simms, as George Young and Dan Reeves commit to a full blown rebuild. Three years later, Ernie Accorsi and new head coach Jim Fassel pick up where Young and Reeves leave off. By the late 1990s the Giants are contending again, and by 2000 they're back in the Super Bowl. After which, the team culture goes somewhat awry. But Accorsi medicates the situation with an apple picked off the old Bill Parcells tree.
Enter head coach Tom Coughlin, and the dawn of the Eli Manning era. The stage is set for a second run on Super Bowls (eerily reminiscent of the first). Only this time, the Giants woefully mismanage the aftermath. John Mara above and beyond the dictates of today's colder impersonal NFL remains paralyzed by loyalty and commitment to Jerry Reese. As such, Mara allows Reese to oversee the deconstruction of a championship operation. Draft results, salary cap management, and the team's overall level of success since 2011 all speak for themselves. The list of scapegoats is also numerous: Kevin Gilbride to Tom Coughlin, Perry Fewell and even Ben McAdoo. When truth be told, the fall from Super Bowl contender to NFL bottom feeder starts with Reese.
Ben McAdoo is this era's Ray Handley. And the Giants reappearance in the 2016 playoffs turns out being less than that of their 1993 playoff victory under Dan Reeves. However, whereas George Young recognizes the time to rebuild has come; whereas Ernie Accorsi recognizes a need for culture change has come; Jerry Reese fails to recognize either. And unless John Mara further clarifies his intentions for the team's future, he likewise remains guilty as charged.
Trading JPP during the off-season, trading Snacks Harrison and Eli Apple in-season, are trivial salary cap maneuvers. Whereas the Giants present deficiencies and future needs are great. After Odell Beckham, Saquon Barkley, Landon Collins, and even Will Hernandez, who else is worthy of debate and/or retention? Janoris Jenkins?
I agree with naysayers insofar Eli Manning deserves his full share of criticism. However, I feel at times as if he receives too much blame for the team's greater malfunction and misfortunes. I'm on record saying that if the Giants had no intention of selecting Eli Manning's replacement during the most recent draft, I would have preferred they trade out of the number two pick. Because far beyond Eli's own personal decline, the depletion of complimentary talent and deterioration of supportive play have been far more debilitating.
Eli is who he has always been, which is a non-elusive pocket passer. Once upon a time, he was allowed to develop behind a record-setting offensive line constructed by Ernie Accorsi. Jerry Reese however would inexplicably stick through thick and thin with a woefully inept cast of replacements, or lack thereof. Dave Gettleman after just one year on the job has now employed at least ten different offensive linemen to date with little variance in results. The signing of Nate Solder is again demonstrating how throwing money at a problem often proves ineffectual. Hence, no other quarterback in the NFL this season has been sacked more than Eli Manning (3.6 times per game according to TeamRankings.com).
Eli surpasses 3,000 yards passing this Sunday against the Eagles. With a slightly better performance of late from the offensive line, he demonstrates that he indeed is still a very capable NFL quarterback. I've said it before: in light of a new generation of quarterbacks, I still trust him. I'm merely calling it like I see it.
- WIN vs. Niners: 19/31 for 188 yards; 3 touchdowns; no INT; 1 sack; 4 QB hits.
- WIN vs. Bucs: 17/18 for 231 yards; 2 touchdowns; no INT; 4 sacks; 6 QB hits.
- LOSS vs. Eagles: 26/37 for 297 yards; 1 touchdown; 1 INT; 2 sacks; 5 QB hits.
Make of it what you will. But, is it coincidence the Giants, Packers, and Ravens, have absurd portions of respective salary cap devoted to quarterbacks, while everything else is collapsing around them (if it hasn't already)? The Falcons are arguably making the same mistake.
Tom Brady has throughout his career worked out financial deals with the Patriots for sake of greater quality turnover. And lest we forget Bill Belichick routinely trades top talent a too early (rather than too late) for sake of draft picks and maintaining quality control. How has that worked out for them?
Drafting is still the way to lay and build upon a solid foundation. Meanwhile, young quarterbacks are proving extremely cost effective in today's NFL. In turn, that money theoretically gets spent elsewhere. In the most recent draft, however, the Giants arguably had one or two available quarterbacks for the taking. They select a running back instead. In lieu of a quarterback I would have swapped the number two overall pick (in return for two picks) and devoted them towards reestablishing a dominant line of scrimmage (which in part involves drafting a potential Pro-Bowl caliber center).
I love Saquon Barkley, by the way. And it's a shame that both he and Odell Beckham are such superior talents. I can not say the same about 80% of starting players on either side of the ball.
The Giants lacking a legitimate pass rusher is just one example. That said, how well are the huge sums of cash Jerry Reese poured into the defense serving the team now? How did that work out Sunday against the Eagles?
Again, spending bad money while simultaneously accumulating dead money is not the answer. Initiating a rebuild breaks this vicious cycle. The resulting byproduct of drafting and development is replenishment of salary cap reserves. Talent and spending are reset, together.
Contending in a weak NFC East is also false justification. It's nothing short of complete folly. This team is ill-equipped to go up against any of the NFL's other division leaders; not last season; not this season; not next season. Exactly when, is up to Mr. Mara (and Mr. Tisch), for I believe vision and directive come from the top. In turn, the executive's responsibility lies in planning and execution.
For all these reasons I believe Dave Gettleman needs orders post haste to begin rebuilding anew ... like Ernie Accorsi did, and George Young did before him.
Do It For The Duke.