The heat will be on the entire Giants franchise when they begin their quest to make the playoffs for only the second time since they won Super Bowl XLVI following the 2011 season, but a few of them will feel it a little more than the others. SNY made a list of the 5 Giants who’ll be under the most pressure this season.
No. 5 was tight end Evan Engram. No. 4 was defensive lineman Leonard Williams. No. 3 was head coach Joe Judge. No. 2 was quarterback Daniel Jones
The countdown now concludes with No. 1 …
General Manager Dave Gettleman
There were moments at the end of his second disastrous season as the Giants GM where the 69-year-old Gettleman wasn’t sure he’d be back for a third. His record was 9-23. He was going to have to hire his hand-picked head coach. And his popularity among the fanbase was dangerously low.
The Giants decided to bring him back anyway, recognizing that it takes more than two offseasons for a GM to turn a lost franchise around.
But Gettleman is well aware that this is it. He won’t get another shot at this if the results aren’t there.
So while Giants ownership won’t explicitly say it, this is most definitely a win-or-else season for Gettleman. There’s probably no magic number of wins he needs, and there isn’t necessarily an order to make the playoffs. But if the final month of the season turns into another solemn march to nowhere, there’s no doubt his office will belong to someone else next year.
What’s most interesting about Gettleman’s hot seat is this: His work is already done, for the most part, so there’s nothing he can do about his fate now. He needs to sit back and see his two-year plan come together. All the trades he made, the free agents he signed, and the promising young players he drafted, have to finally prove he was right.
And though the fanbase has lined up strongly against him, there has undoubtedly been plenty of good. He drafted Saquon Barkley, who has been every bit as good as Gettleman expected (even though some still think a running back should never have been drafted that high). He seems to have gotten the franchise quarterback right with Daniel Jones. And his three drafts have produced a ton of young talent on defense and along the offensive line.
Of course, most of that talent is still an unknown, and players like cornerback DeAndre Baker, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and linebacker Lorenzo Carter need to take a big step forward this year. And the offensive line is still such a mess, that the young talent like first-round pick Andrew Thomas and 2018 second-rounder Will Hernandez will need to take similar big steps this year.
And Gettleman’s track record in free agency hasn’t exactly been a success (see players like tackle Nate Solder, guard Patrick Omameh, and linebacker Kareem Martin), nor have his trades been very good (see linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive lineman Leonard Williams). His bosses know it too, which is why their tolerance for mistakes is virtually gone.
But the track record won’t matter if that pot-holed road back to respectability leads to a winning record this season, and if those young players are what Gettleman thought they were. Giants ownership is aware of how low the franchise was when Gettleman took over and they never expected the road to recovery would be perfectly smooth.
But they also don’t want that road to go on indefinitely. The rebuilding part has to come to an end. Gettleman doesn’t need to win a Super Bowl this season, but the Giants need to give everyone a reason to believe that the championship pieces are there. Otherwise, the road to recovery will continue and it could turn out to be longer than anyone imagined.
And if that happens, Gettleman won’t be along for the ride.