After passing on potential franchise quarterback Sam Darnold for running back Saquon Barkley a year ago, dealing away 26-year-old superstar receiver Odell Beckham this offseason, and maintaining his belief in 38-year-old quarterback Eli Manning, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has become the most maligned executive in football. On Sunday, four days before the draft begins with Gettleman holding two first-round picks, Gettleman fired back at his critics.
During a one-on-one interview with NJ.com’s Steve Politi, Gettleman criticized his detractors, defended his resume, and continued to place an emphasis on running the ball despite the NFL‘s clear and obvious transition to a pass-first league.
Let’s start with what he said about his critics.
“What I find interesting, there are people reporting and making judgments on what I do and how I do my job who don’t know the game, who have never been involved with a team, and have just been on the outside looking in,” Gettleman said. “That’s not your fault, by the way. It’s just the way it is. But the problem is, to me, is when a reporter makes a judgment and doesn’t have all the information. That’s a thing I just shake my head at.”
According to him, “some people are still missing it.”
“Football is the ultimate team game,” he said. “If all 11 guys aren’t doing the right thing, you’re not going to be successful. There’s more to it that just collecting talent. There is a cultural thing to it that’s critical. I have not been on a team that’s gone to a Super Bowl that’s had a culture problem.”
In what could be considered a shot at Odell Beckham Jr., whom, Gettleman went on to say that he doesn’t think the Giants have a cultural problem anymore. The biggest changes the Giants have made this offseason have been and , and . So, it might not be a Beckham-specific criticism, although it definitely comes across that way.
Gettleman then defended his resume.
“I’ve been to seven Super Bowls,” he said. “I feel very strongly that I know what it should look like, what it should smell like, what it should taste like. And, so, you can look at me and say, well, I either know what I’m doing or I’m a big fat rabbit’s foot. Neither one’s bad, right? I like my resume so far.”
Gettleman’s not wrong about his resume in terms of wins, losses, playoff appearances, and Super Bowls — the criteria we often use to measure general managers, coaches, and players regardless if it’s fair or not. As the general manager of the Panthers from 2013-17, Gettleman’s team posted a 51-28-1 record with four playoff berths and one Super Bowl appearance. Before he became the Panthers’ general manager, he worked in the personnel department for the Giants from 1999-2012, meaning he was involved in the Giants’ two championships and three Super Bowl appearances in that span.
The problem is, everything he’s done since being named Giants general manager has been worrisome. He Browns less than a year after . According to ESPN, the 49ers likely would’ve beaten the Browns’ offer, .without even that could’ve netted them additional picks. Nobody is saying Barkley isn’t a great running back. He’s incredible. Nobody is saying Darnold is guaranteed to be a great quarterback. We still don’t know. But the impact a great running back can have on a bad team is significantly less than the impact a franchise quarterback can have on a bad team. Case in point: Despite Barkley’s sensational rookie season, the Giants limped their way to a 5-11 finish. And then he traded arguably the best receiver in football to the
The results just haven’t been bad. So has the process.
Let’s get back to the Barkley pick, though, because it relates to something Gettleman talked about during his interview with NJ.com. He doubled down on the importance of running the ball.
“Let me say this, OK?” he said. “There are three truths. Football evolves. The game evolves. The style of play evolves. But there are three truths that have not changed and will not change. OK? You have to run the ball. You have to stop the run. And you have to rush the passer.”
“Talk about — you mean Belichick’s not a dinosaur? (Look at) the Super Bowl,” Gettleman said. “Why isn’t he a dinosaur? Understand what I’m saying? Those are the three truths.”
The only key difference? The Patriots have Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback in football who is still playing at a high level, and while Brady did struggle in the Super Bowl, he also threw for 4,355 yards and 29 touchdowns in the regular season and beat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game with 348 yards through the air. He averaged 45 pass attempts per game in the playoff run up until the Super Bowl. The Giants, meanwhile, are running the ball with a great running back, but defenses know they’re running the ball because the alternative is throwing the ball with a washed up quarterback, who now doesn’t have a star receiver to target.
It’s also worth noting that the Patriots are afforded the luxury of running the ball because they’re often leading in games. And they’re often leading in games because they have Brady. But when they’re not leading in games, they have Brady to bring them back. The Giants don’t have a quarterback who can bring them back when defenses know they’re dropping back to pass.
In other words, running the ball is important. Nobody is saying it isn’t. But it isn’t as important as having a top-level quarterback.
To this point, most of the criticisms of Gettleman have been valid. And really, the only way Gettleman can silence his critics is by hitting on his picks in this year’s draft. It’s really as simple as that. The Giants just need to draft well and maybe find their future franchise quarterback in the process. Of course, that’s much harder than it sounds — even for the smart teams like the Patriots — andshouldn’t inspire much confidence.