Will Giants ownership make the right move, post-Gettleman?

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Earlier this year, Giants coach Joe Judge tried to take responsibility for his team’s underachievement by saying, “The fish stinks from the head down.” He was right; he was just pointing too low.

In New York (Giants and Jets, frankly), the fish actually stinks from ownership down.

Giants co-owner John Mara has a spoon as deep in the football stew as any non-football person in the NFL. His brother, Chris, is the team’s senior V.P. of player personnel, a position by virtue of placement on the online list of front-office jobs and the last name of the one who holds it presumably outranks General Manager.

But the Maras, unlike the Joneses in Dallas, stay nestled behind the people they hire to run the team. The G.M. and coach take the back-page bullets. They’re the ones who trot out press-conference cliches, who get grilled on WFAN and elsewhere when things aren’t going well. They’re the ones who get hired and fired by ownership, and then replaced by someone who is eventually fired because the Giants haven’t won a postseason game in a decade. (In their defense, they’ve played in only one.)

Now, ownership has either deliberately leaked or failed to secure the news that G.M. Dave Gettleman won’t be back next year. It’s likely a calculated half-measure aimed at making it known that the job will be open without actually opening the job. Especially with John Mara hours away from facing a potentially hostile home crowd during the retirement of Michael Strahan’s jersey.

Regardless of the timing of Gettleman’s departure or the team’s decision to allow the media outlet it partially owns to declare it to the world as a Week 12 Sunday Splash! report, the Giants — barring a swift and sudden denial of the NFL Media report — will be looking for a new G.M. to pair with its current head coach. Which necessarily limits the universe of candidates to those who will be happy to work with Judge.

Along the way, the Giants have to hope that the new G.M. truly does want to work for Judge and isn’t simply saying what needs to be said while biding his time until he can hire a new coach.

That’s why it’s always better to keep the G.M and the coach or to fire both of them. If those two jobs have different levels of accountability, they’ll each be inclined to try to stay on the job when things go sideways. And they’ll be tempted to blame the struggles on the other guy.

It’s easy to do. The coach complains to others during the week that the team doesn’t have enough talent. The G.M. whispers to the owner in the luxury suite during the game that the team is good enough to win and I don’t know why they aren’t winning.

The best teams have the coach and G.M. tied together. Both succeed or both fail. And if both fail, the new G.M. hires the coach he wants on the way in the door. Or, alternatively, the coach picks the table-setting G.M., if the coach will be the one with final say, officially or as a practical matter.

Of course, hiring the G.M. and the head coach at the same time didn’t work when the Giants hired Gettleman and, promptly thereafter, Pat Shurmur. The Giants fired Shurmur after two seasons, turning to Judge. Now, they’ll bring in a G.M. whom they hope will work well with Judge.

Shurmur got fired for going 9-23 in two years. Judge currently has a record of 9-17. But there’s no reason to think that the Giants will, for the third straight time, fire a coach during or after his second season on the job.

No, Judge by all appearances will stay. Some believe Kevin Abrams, the V.P. of football operations and assistant G.M. who apparently won’t be held responsible for the current state of the roster, will be the next G.M. Through it all, let’s remember that there’s a very fine line, if any, between John and Chris Mara and Jerry and Stephen Jones. And it’s the Maras who have made the biggest decisions that have kept the Giants in a chronic post-Coughlin tailspin.

Maybe the next move will be the one that turns things around. Maybe it won’t. Regardless, the one group that can never be fired — ownership — has a lot to do with the hole in which the Giants currently reside, and with the question of whether and when the Giants will climb out of it or just keep digging.

12 responses to “Will Giants ownership make the right move, post-Gettleman?

  1. Been saying this for years. The Maras are terrible owners. Other than the amazing run between 1980-2011 when the league “put” George Young in the GM role and he brought Accorsi with him the Giants have been a disaster. We were a laughing stick in the 1970s and we are a laughing stock again. Ownership is the constant. The league should step in again and get NY a GM who can turn this thing around.

  2. The Mara’s have won two super bowls since 2008. Only the Patriots have won more. Maybe we should all do more listening when John Mara speaks, instead of giving our advice. We might learn something about what it takes to win Super Bowls. Just a thought.

  3. Firing Gettleman without changing coaches is a waste of time. We fans have not seen anything that indicates that Judge is the next Parcells or Coughlin. Hire a GM and let him make the decision.

  4. No decent GM candidate will take the job if they have to accept Judge and his staff. You only get a three year window to turn things around as GM. Who wants to rely on this coaching staff to keep their job?

  5. Joe Judge is beyond terrible. I don’t understand the fascination with him and his fake tough guy schtick.

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