Game Preview: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams, October 4, 2020
John Mara is running out of scapegoats. Contrary to those who have insisted that “blind loyalty” has gotten in the way of the Giants improving the product on the field, he has actually been pretty quick to pull the trigger in recent years. Since 2016, the Giants have fired Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese, Marc Ross, Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, and a host of coordinators, assistant coaches, and scouts. It is expected that Dave Gettleman will be “retired” by season’s end. If anything, the New York Giants have now become the NFL’s model of instability.
Being educated does not make someone smart. I had an aunt and uncle who worked in the university system and they were among the last people you would want to make real-world decisions. John Mara holds degrees from Boston College and Fordham University. He was raised by a father who lived, breathed, and died Giants football and I have no doubt he does the same. But there is mounting evidence that John simply does not know how to run a successful NFL franchise. Consider the following:
- When Mara decided to make a change after the 2015 NFL season, he came to the conclusion that Tom Coughlin was the sole problem. He not only retained Jerry Reese and Marc Ross, the men largely responsible for the rapidly deteriorating roster, but he too quickly promoted Ben McAdoo from offensive coordinator to head coach and retained much of Tom Coughlin’s coaching staff. There are some who say the Eagles actually goaded Mara into hiring McAdoo quickly because he feared they would poach him. Fast forward two years and it was clear that Mara had made the wrong decisions on Reese, Ross, and McAdoo. Two years wasted.
- Mara did not even wait until the end of the 2017 before firing McAdoo and Reese. Fine. But his first inclination was to hire former team general manager Ernie Accorsi to serve as his primary consultant in the team’s general manager search. It was Accorsi who strongly recommended that Mara promote Reese to the position in 2007, beating out Dave Gettleman, who eventually left for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fired Gettleman in July 2017. It was no surprise to anyone that before 2017 ended, Gettleman was already hired by Mara to be the team’s next general manager. There was no real “search” for a general manager. It was probably the easiest money Accorsi ever made. In effect, Mara had hired Accorsi’s 2007 runner-up ten years later. It was also somewhat unusual that the team was picking a 66-year old man to oversee what looked to be a long-term rebuilding project. Gettleman fired Ross the very next day.
- After interviewing a handful of extremely unimpressive coaching candidates, Mara and Gettleman decided to hire Pat Shurmur away from the Minnesota Vikings. Fast forward two years and it was clear they had made the wrong decision. Shurmur was fired at the end of December 2017. Two more years wasted.
- All during this time period from 2016 to 2019, the Giants kept insisting that the team needed more “tweaking” than rebuilding. That in itself was alarming to many on the outside who thought otherwise.
As troubling as the developments above are, what bothered me the most is what came next. While John Mara decided that the team needed to hire its third new head coach in five years, he also felt that the now 68-year old Gettleman should be intimately involved in that decision. It made no sense. And I said so at the time. An old, soon-to-be retired general manager should not be hiring the man who his successor will be forced to work with. Especially when you consider the fact that Gettleman’s efforts to rebuild the team to that point, including the hiring of Shurmur, had been a failure.
Joe Judge may or may not be a good hire. The jury is still out. He talks a good game, but we haven’t seen any early improvement. The bigger problem right now is that when Gettleman is let go in a few months, the new general manager will be saddled with a head coach he didn’t pick. UNLESS, John Mara has already decided that Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams is the man to replace Gettleman. That is troubling in itself as Abrams must share in the responsibility in the demise of this once-proud franchise since he’s been with the team for the last two decades. In other words, Mara has painted himself into a corner. He either has to promote Abrams or hire a new general manager who did not have role in hiring the head coach. And this could have all been avoided had Mara simply let Gettleman gracefully “retire” a year ago instead of not stupidly postponing it one year.
Let’s be blunt. Mara has made one blunder after another. These have not been little mistakes either. Keeping Reese and Ross two extra years was a mistake. Hiring McAdoo was a mistake. Hiring Accorsi as a “consultant” was a mistake. Hiring 66-year old, once second-choice Gettleman as the team’s new GM was a mistake. Hiring Shurmur was a mistake. Not “retiring” Gettleman after 2019 was a mistake. Now he has also painted himself into a corner. Tell me what the man has done right in the last decade? I’ll wait.
THE INJURY REPORT
- S Jabrill Peppers (ankle – out)
- S Julian Love (knee/ankle – questionable)
- S Adrian Colbert (quad – probable)
THE FINAL WORD
Barring something exceptionally bizarre, the Giants are going to fall to 0-4 on Sunday. They are double-digit underdogs to the Rams. Then we will see if they have any fight in them as they face three extremely unimpressive NFC East teams in a row.
A final note. In reading The Corner Forum, I still see that many fans simply don’t understand how bad the team’s personnel, especially on offense, is right now. Saquon Barkley was the only guy who scared other teams. Overnight, the Giants running attack went from feared (despite the state of the OL) to a joke. He was also the most dangerous receiving weapon the team had. His loss was catastrophic. Losing Sterling Shepard was also a huge blow to a now very unimpressive receiving corps. Evan Engram is just a tease. As I said last week, Daniel Jones is in a terrible position. He has very little surrounding talent and a fan base looking for scapegoats. Joe Judge and his coaching staff are also in a terrible position. They’ll be the next targets of fan ire.