Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 06-28-19

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.


By Dave Klein
There must be times when Giants' general manager Dave Gettleman would like to pick up one of the voluminous scouting books from his desk and toss it out the window.

He is constantly riddled by doubt and uncertainty, not to mention criticism.

Who to release? Who to sign? How much to offer on a new contract? Will another team embark on a raiding mission and snatch away one of the players he is counting on? Will he spend too much to keep that player? Did he do the right thing in the draft? Was he correct in assuming the seven-year veteran with an existing injury can still play and will be of help to the Giants?

The 68-year-old native of Boston, despite all his accomplishments and achievements in a 34-year NFL career, is often criticized and questioned for not only his decisions but the abrupt manner in which he makes them.

For instance, he signed wide receiver Odell Beckham to a monstrous contract, which seemingly put to rest all the rumors about the unpredictable man-child being traded. In fact, Gettleman's famous statement was: "We didn't sign him to trade him."

So then he traded him, to the Cleveland Browns along with defensive end Olivier Vernon, in return for safety Jabrill Peppers, guard Kevin Zeitler and first- and third-round draft picks last April. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was the first rounder; linebacker Ximines Oshane the third).

So if you didn't sign him to trade him, why did you trade him? "We needed to build this team," he says, "and we were able to help ourselves in several critical positions."

Well, the offensive line needed help, hence Zeitler. There was a crying need for a young and dynamic safety (since he allowed Landon Collins to walk off to Washington), hence Peppers. The Giants were desperate for a quarterback to replace (sooner than later) veteran Eli Manning, and the ones on the roster (Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney) just didn't seem capable.

So he used the first-round pick - sixth overall - to take quarterback Daniel Jones, which caused paroxysms of outrage and criticism (too high, too high) and the linebacker situation needed immediate repair, which led him to use the third-round pick on Ximines.

Did he help the team? That remains to be seen, but from the spring practices it appears he did the right thing.

The offensive line, for instance, should bear a metal plate that says, "made by Gettleman." The tackles are Nate Solder and Mike Remmers, both signed as free agent veterans by Gettleman. The guards are Will Hernandez (drafted in 2018 by Gettleman) and Zeitler (acquired in his trade of Beckham). The center might be Chad Wheeler or Jon Halapio, both of whom were on the roster just months before Gettleman arrived.

When DG took over, the tackles were Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart, the guards were Justin Pugh and John Jerry, the center was Weston Richburg and some of the subs were Wheeler and Brett Jones.

Notice any difference? Just keep in mind this might be the best offensive line Manning has had in years. "Offense starts with the offensive line," Gettleman says. "You can't run the ball without a good one and you can't pass without one, either."

He has referred to them as "hog mollies," the big, mean, square-shaped linemen Manning was accustomed to in his Super Bowl years, with guys like Rich Seubert and Chris Snee. So now he has a full complement of hog mollies.

"I like that," he smiles.

It is virtually impossible to criticize Gettleman's initial first-round draft choice in 2018, when with the second overall pick, and with a quarterback need brewing, he took running back Saquon Barkley of Penn State.

Anybody want to knock that decision? Barkley earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, gained 1,307 yards in 261 carries, added 91 receptions for 721 yards, and scored eight touchdowns.

"I guess we did all right," he smiles. "Now I want to see him get better."

So Gettleman's first-round pick this spring was a quarterback, Daniel Jones, which was almost universally called "too early, an over-reach and wishful thinking."

We'll see.

For information's sake - Flowers is with the Redskins and is fighting for a starting job at guard; he was a first-round pick. Pugh is with Arizona, hoping to win a job at guard. He was a first-round pick. Richburg, a center with San Francisco, was a second-round choice. Hart is desperately clinging to a roster spot in Cincinnati; he was a seventh-round selection.

What do they all have in common? They were draft selections made by former general manager Jerry Reese, and for a team that has been desperate for offensive linemen for a long while, they represent the ONLY first- and second-round offensive linemen picked by Reese in his 11 years as the GM.

EXTRA POINTS - Rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker, the third of Gettleman's three first-round picks, recently gifted his mother with a new Bentley (that's an automobile for those who don't know, which is most of us). ... The only two draft picks yet to be signed are Jones and Oshane Ximines.

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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