As the old cliche explains, you can’t replace every player on an underperforming team; that means the head coach or general manager usually ends up paying the price. The New York Giants chose the latter to be their fall guy on Black Monday, as they fired Pat Shurmur and retained Dave Gettleman.
While it’s admirable to value stability and avoid tearing everything down, moderation won’t get the franchise back on track. By keeping Dave Gettleman in the organization, the New York Giants are just hamstringing their future.
The New York Giants’ fall from grace
Despite their status as one of the NFL’s premier franchises, the New York Giants haven’t done much in the past several seasons. The G-Men won the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011; since then, they’ve only made the playoffs once, losing in the Wild Card round.
After a dismal 2017 season, the organization hired Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman to serve as their head coach and general manager, respectively. The pair were tasked with a one-year project: make the best use of Eli Manning and take one final shot at glory. That plan led to selecting Saquon Barkley with the second-overall pick and, when the dust cleared, a 5-11 record.
Manning returned for the 2019 season but was benched for Daniel Jones after two weeks of action. The rookie quarterback won back-to-back games, but then the bottom fell out. At that point, the Giants were in free fall; they ended the year with an abysmal 4-12 record.
Making personnel changes, but only in half-measures
On Black Monday, Pat Shurmur lost his job. That move, however, won’t automatically turn the Giants around.
At the end of the day, Pat Shurmur wasn’t a good head coach during his time in New York. For all of the team’s flaws, Saquon Barkley is an elite running back; Daniel Jones, for all of his youthful inexperience, didn’t look that bad under center. It’s a coach’s job to make the best use of whatever tools he has at his disposal and win football games. Shurmur simply didn’t do that. When the offense is bad, the defense is even worse, and there are no signs of life, it’s hard to stand behind the man on the sidelines.
The issue, however, is that Shurmur is taking all of the slings and arrows while Dave Gettleman stays in a job. Gettleman constructed the roster that doomed the head coach; he traded the franchise’s star receiver and failed to properly stock the cupboard for the future. If you’re going to be a bad NFL team, you have to use your downtime to prepare for the future; beyond Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Darius Slayton, Gettleman doesn’t have too many pieces to build around. As much as front offices love to talk about building culture, culture has never won a football game.
Even a new head coach might not be enough for the New York Giants
With Pat Shurmur gone, the New York Giants will have to find a new head coach. The question, however, is which candidates will want to come work in the Big Apple.
While Jones and Barkley are two key pieces for any head coach to build around, the presence of Dave Gettleman could be a complicating factor. Not every head coach is going to want to work under a general manager from the previous regime; it wouldn’t be unreasonable for a candidate to wonder if he’ll receive more support than Pat Shurmur did.
Right now, the New York Giants could hire one of two coaching types: an established veteran to whip the franchise back into shape or a fresh, new mind who could oversee a revival. No matter who’s on the sidelines, though, things will also need to change upstairs.