Dave Klein was the Giants' beat
writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books
and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls.
Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.
BEFORE A NEW HEAD COACH,
PERHAPS GROUND RULES SHOULD BE SET BY THE FRONT OFFICE
By Dave Klein
you are busy getting yourselves together to watch the weekend's variety of non-Giants
playoff games, consider this: The last time the Giants had any post-season action
was 2016, a one-game-and-done affair, and before that they won the Super Bowl
(in February of 2010).
Seems like a
lot of empty Januarys, doesn't it?
now it's just the same old thing for Giant fans, a massive letdown after another
disappointing season ... rumors circulating on the identity of the next head coach
... questions about why the general manager has been retained ... wondering if
quarterback Eli Manning is definitely going to leave (yeah, he is) ... it just
goes on and on.
Will it be Mike McCarthy
or Matt Ruhle ... Jason Garrett or Jim Harbaugh ... Josh McDaniels or Joe Judge
... Don Martindale or Greg Roman?
it doesn't matter. The identity of the new head coach is going to be sublimated
by the decisions made by the general manager, Dave Gettleman, and the two owners,
John Mara and Steve Tisch. Whether right or wrong, it is not likely that any of
them will pass full responsibility to the head coach.
One of the problems this season when Pat Shurmur was struggling to find his way
in just his second year was the presence of too many young players. Normally,
this is a good thing, and for the most part it was a good thing for the Giants.
But it led to decisions that no football man can make, since no one knows exactly
when an aging quarterback cannot do it any longer (Eli Manning) and when a rookie
quarterback is ready to take over the most demanding, difficult job in the game
(that would be Daniel Jones).
had to choose, and perhaps he didn't wait long enough before sitting Manning and
starting Jones, but that was his decision, and we are now aware that he had more
to do with the drafting of Jones as the sixth overall player taken last spring.
He saw something in Jones, and later in the season so did the rest of us, but
it was probably a little too soon.
insertion of Jones into the starting lineup was also complicated because the offensive
line was not playing well. So his protection was not as good as it should have
been, and plays (called by Shurmur) didn't seem to take that into consideration.
The use of superstar running back Saquon Barkley, who is a lethal weapon when
he can get free to the outside, was questionable, since too many (in this reporter's
opinion) plays sent him straight up the middle like a battering ram.
first order of business in the hiring of a new coach must be the decision on the
part of those above him to relinquish personnel decisions. If a coach with extensive
offensive experience, for instance, is restricted in terms of who he can use,
then the presence of all that expertise is wasted and meaningless.
If the front office decision is to continue to count on tight end Evan Engram,
for instance, that might prove detrimental to the offense since he doesn't seem
capable of staying healthy. If the offensive line is allowed to proceed untouched,
that will hamper Jones' development because it's hard to throw a ball downfield
when you are in the grasp of a few salivating 300-pound defensive linemen.
But Gettleman did draft Jones along with wide receiver Darius Slayton (fifth round),
both of whom rocked the offense and should continue as mainstays in the future.
And in the 2018 draft he provided guard Will Hernandez, perhaps the only drafted
offensive lineman who will stay for a while.
Gettleman also did a praiseworthy job of restocking the defense in 2019, drafting
such as cornerback Deandre Baker, tackle Dexter Lawrence, linebacker Oshane Ximines
and linebacker Ryan Connelly.
who has recorded two 1,000-yard seasons in his first two years, was a first-round
pick in 2018 (second overall selection).
But he also made some highly questionable veteran free agent signings (tackle
Nate Solder, running back Jonathan Stewart, tackle Mike Remmers) to go along with
exceptional free agent signings (wide receiver Golden Tate, linebacker Markus
Golden, safety Antoine Bethea and tight end Kaden Smith).
point here is to allow the personnel people (which includes Senior V.P. of Personnel
Chris Mara and Gettleman, along with the scouts) to deal with the players, with
input from the head coach, and to allow the coaching staff to deal with playbooks,
systems, game plans and starting lineups.
Oh, and enjoy your Giant-less playoff games.
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