When Dave Gettleman was hired by the New York Giants in 2017, there were several challenges laid out ahead of him following a two-win season. He was tasked with ushering in a new era for a once-proud franchise. Job one was addressing the quarterback position, as Eli Manning failed to keep the Giants competitive throughout the season. In the 2018 draft, Gettleman ignored the quarterback position until the 4th round. Finally, he selected Kyle Lauletta, who is best remembered for his off-field transgressions rather than on-field progression.
Trading Jason Pierre-Paul in one of his first moves as general manager implied an incoming rebuild. However, by trading for veteran Alec Ogletree, Gettleman seemed to be taking measures toward being competitive with a roster that otherwise was not capable of making a run.
In 2018, drafting Saquon Barkley was a controversial decision, as he passed up a plethora of quarterbacks who had the physical tools to turn any franchise around. Nonetheless, getting the best player in the draft was an understandable move. What happened next, on the other hand, was not. Failing to surround Barkley, the new face of the franchise, with a talented offensive line was a recipe for disaster. Considering the daunting history of running back longevity, this ignorance was all the more confusing. The lack of a plan was apparent yet again, as the franchise’s new toy was at risk of being run into the ground before the team had a chance to regain relevance.
Trading fan-favorite Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns was initially an unpopular move, but it has proven to be a shrewd one. Committing to a rebuild by adding talented youngsters Jabril Peppers and the pick that became Dexter Lawrence showed the direction for a franchise in desperate need of a rebuild.
The signings of Nate Solder and Patrick Omaneh were attempts to rehabilitate the offensive line and pound the ball with Barkley. With Omaneh cut before his first season ended and Solder moving to right tackle two seasons into his record-breaking contract, fans were left to wonder how their general manager would next try to build this unit.
Despite two years of subpar results, owners John Mara and Steve Tisch showed confidence in Gettleman, while exiling head coach Pat Shurmur. It is anyone’s guess how long they will give him going forward.
With this new life, he sure has taken off running.
In his third season, he has compiled a roster and coaching staff that puts his biggest investment, Daniel Jones, in a position to succeed. If Jones is going to step up to the task of becoming a franchise quarterback, he now has the pieces around him to prove it. By adding Will Hernandez in 2019, as well as Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart in 2020, Gettleman has committed to getting younger and stronger in front of his franchise QB. One of Jones’ biggest strengths is his ability to stretch the field. He recorded nine touchdown passes of over 20 air yards in his shortened rookie campaign, putting him in a tie for second in the NFL. This makes the protection in front of him essential, as he needs time to find dynamic veteran playmakers Evan Engram, Golden Tate, and Sterling Shepard. Not to mention electric vertical threat Darius Slayton, who is coming off a rookie season highlighted by big plays and a rapport with Jones that indicates he can be the quarterback’s big-play running mate for years to come.
Gettleman has put together a group that can work cohesively to physically dominate the opposition, leaving the defense exposed to the threat of play-action. This allows Jones to use his legs and scan a field with one-on-one matchups across the board, putting him in a position to succeed.
Jones struggled with turnovers in his freshman season, which is a significant issue, but being thrust into a situation where he would go on to be sacked 38 times in under 13 full games would make any rookie quarterback uncomfortable. With more time in the pocket, a healthy cast around him, and a full (albeit limited) offseason under his belt, now is the time for Jones to prove that he is the quarterback of the future for the New York Giants.
The addition of Jason Garrett to the offensive coordinator position is a seemingly ideal fit. A young and physical offensive line, paired with a young quarterback surrounded by dangerous playmakers, models Garrett’s old Dallas Cowboys’ rosters. Furthermore, Garrett’s nine seasons as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys make him the perfect voice to guide inexperienced but innovative coach Joe Judge in an attempt to bring the New York Giants back to relevance.
The current model of consistency among NFL Super Bowl winners is building a strong offensive line with a quarterback who limits mistakes. In recent seasons, the Patriots, Chiefs, Niners, and Eagles have all followed this model to build impressive rosters that competed for super bowls. Building a strong offensive line will allow Jones to feel comfortable and improve his decision-making, setting the organization up for consistency at the highest level.
The job is not done yet. Steps need to be taken on the defensive side of the ball, but progress has been made. In spite of a serious hole at the inside linebacker position and a lack of pass rushers, an improved secondary that is highlighted by promising young athletes such as Jabril Peppers, Xavier Mckinney, and James Bradberry offers hope that there is a young foundation budding for years to come.
Being able to run the ball effectively will increase the time of possession and mask the flaws of the defense. As the old adage goes, the best defense is a good offense, and this will likely be the New York Giants best chance to field a competitive defense in spite of only having a few strong cornerstone defensive players.
As it stands, the Giants are gearing up for a 2021 playoff run. This year will provide tape for the brass to decide where they stand at several key positions. Although the idea of winning the offseason is generally a trap, there is finally hope for Giants fans.
After two directionless seasons, Dave’s plan is starting to take shape.