Part 13 in a series analyzing the New York Giants.
There is this contingent of fans who almost prefer to see the Giants slip-slide away, so as to confirm in their minds general manager Dave Gettleman is the culprit and needs to go.
This is strange. Gettleman certainly is not without his failures in his two-plus years in charge of the entire football operation and his homespun verbal style — “computer folks’’ when referring to IT staff — can sound as if he is out of touch in a crazy old uncle sort of way — if said uncle had a wicked-haaaard Boston accent interspersed with Yiddish terms your Eastern European grandparents might have forgotten.
Sometimes Gettleman does not help himself with his offhand comments. But far more often than not, he tries to be informative and entertaining, and he can turn a phrase that makes you laugh, and think.
The critics of his tenure with the Giants at times conveniently dismiss or ignore the mess he inherited, the litany of failed draft picks left over from the previous regime, the salary-cap bill he had to pay from the wild 2016 free-agency spending spree.
Gettleman is 69 years old and is not going to be carried away from his desk; he has an exit plan. He wants to get the Giants moving in the right direction before enacting that plan. This is a loyal NFL lifer, in the league for the past 34 years, including 15 years previously with the Giants — 13 as their director of pro personnel.
Those old enough to remember the rebuilt offensive line that helped the Giants get to the Super Bowl after the 2000 season need to credit Gettleman for that construction project. Without Gettleman’s hand in the signings of Antonio Pierce, Plaxico Burress, Kareem McKenzie, Shaun O’Hara, Sam Madison and Kawika Mitchell, the Giants do not get to and win Super Bowl XLII. If not for Gettleman’s prodding for the signings of Michael Boley and especially Antrel Rolle, the Giants do not get to or win Super Bowl XLVII. It was Gettleman who added Lawrence Tynes, the kicker who hit key field goals in both Super Bowl charges.
It is true Gettleman inherited Cam Newton with the Panthers, but it is also true he won three consecutive NFC South titles in his four years as the Carolina general manager, including a 15-1 regular season and a Super Bowl appearance.
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His first two drafts after his return to the Giants look promising, and his legacy is now forever tied to taking Daniel Jones at No. 6 as Eli Manning’s successor as the franchise quarterback. Jones did far more good than bad as a rookie.
“I don’t know why people have so much hate for Dave,’’ a former Giants player told The Post. “He got a franchise quarterback, a generational running back and a top, cornerstone-franchise left tackle in three straight drafts, and he didn’t give up a single draft pick to get any of them. There’s not a lot of franchises that can say that.’’
The signing of offensive lineman Patrick Omameh in 2018 was a swing and big miss. Trading up for DeAndre Baker could be a disaster, unless Baker turns around his play at cornerback and gets out of his serious legal entanglements.
Spearheading the hiring of Pat Shurmur was problematic, given the terrible results. Saying the Giants could win while rebuilding was a mistake. The trade for Leonard Williams was not popular and might turn out be bad value. Trading away Odell Beckham Jr. will be in the first paragraph of Gettleman’s evaluation of his GM tenure with the Giants. Too soon to tell on that one.
The 9-23 record in his two years put Gettleman on notice with ownership. John Mara promised to be more patient with Joe Judge, the 38-year old first-time head coach, than he was with Shurmur and Ben McAdoo. Nowhere did Mara express that patience carried over to Gettleman, though Mara has great regard for him as a person and employee.
Kevin Abrams, the longtime assistant general manager and vice president of football operations, is renowned for his work with the salary cap, and along the way has added scouting and football analysis to his portfolio. He would be the logical successor to Gettleman. Abrams was impressive with the media and in how he handled himself in his brief audition as the interim GM after Jerry Reese was fired late in the 2017 season.
Ken Sternfeld and Mark Koncz are experienced pro personnel executives, and Chris Pettit, elevated from area scout three years ago to director of college scouting, is the sort of non-ego driven draft evaluator the Giants prefer. Tim McDonnell as the assistant director of player personnel is a riser in the organization.