It became obvious a year ago that the Giants desperately need an infusion of new talent, starting with the quarterback position. And the bumbling manner in which former Giants coach Ben McAdoo tried to bench Eli Manning sparked a chain of events that has led to the team’s current predicament.
The failure of the Giants to lay the foundation for a quarterback change and/or to read the mood and attitude of the fan base resulted in an unexpected blowback to the benching, which then prompted an overreaction by management. After the team cleaned house, firing McAdoo and G.M. Jerry Reese, ownership tied the hands of their successors, forcing them to stick with Eli Manning.
And so they did, deluding themselves into believing that splurging on left tackle Nate Solder and drafting running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick would make the 2018 edition of the team more like 2016 and not 2017. Seven games in, the Giants have admitted that it’s not working, and they’ve commenced the process of dismantling the roster, flipping players who won’t be part of the future for draft picks.
They may not miss cornerback Eli Apple (who was called a “cancer” by safety Landon Collins last year) or defensive tackle Damon Harrison (who doesn’t really fit in the team’s new defense), but the trades coming less than 48 hours after a Monday night loss to the Falcons sends a very clear message: We’re finally admitting that a quick fix isn’t practical, and we’re now tearing it down in the hopes of building it back up, eventually.
This is where they should have been a year ago, and maybe they would have been there if they hadn’t blown the Eli Manning benching so badly. An unprecedented number of free-agent quarterbacks were available, and the Giants could have selected Sam Darnold or Josh Allen with draft pick that became Saquon Barkley, who will spend the first few years of his career feeling a lot like Barry Sanders.
If, as it now appears, the Giants will be throwing in the towel on 2018 and planning for the future, it makes sense to trade as many veterans as possible, which in a roundabout way will aid the process of sinking to the bottom of the standings — and in turn rising to the top of the draft order. If, back in 2004, the Giants had been the first to pick and not fourth, they would have been able to get Eli Manning without giving up the extra picks needed to climb three spots. If they can earn the first overall pick this year, they can keep (and use) all of their draft picks in 2019 and 2020 in order to improve the team.
Some would call it “tanking.” And that would be an accurate description for it. Even if the mere mention of it would prompt co-owner John Mara to throw a chair or something.