EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dave Gettleman knew exactly what the struggling New York Giants needed in taking over as general manager in late 2017.
The four-time Super Bowl champions needed some “hog mollies,” those big, mean road graders who opened holes for the running backs and gave quarterbacks time to throw.
If a team has them, they have to chance to challenge. Add in a couple of hog mollies on the defensive side and a franchise can win a title.
Gettleman saw the solution. He couldn't deliver.
The Giants announced the 70-year-old Gettleman retired Monday, a day after New York (4-13) dropped its season finale 22-7 to Washington. It was the sixth straight loss and it ended a dismal, injury-plagued second season under coach Joe Judge.
Gettleman, who won a battle with cancer in his first season, probably would have been fired had he not stepped down.
“It was a privilege to serve as the general manager of the New York Giants the last four years and to have spent so many years of my career with this franchise,” Gettleman said. “We obviously have not had the on-the-field success I expected, and that is disappointing.”
Judge's future also is in question after the late swoon marked by inept offensive performances, particularly the injury ravaged line. He plans to talk to team co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch this week about returning for a third season.
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams and quarterback Daniel Jones said Judge talked to the team Monday about preparing for next season, which some took as an indication he was coming back. The team has not confirmed that.
“It’s obviously disappointing," Williams said "But we know this is a big man’s league and is different from any other league. It’s competitive and and we obviously want to win. It’s been a tough day. I think exit days are always tough unless you won a Super Bowl.”
The last time the Giants did that was in February 2012. They went 19-46 during Gettleman's tenure and were rarely in playoff contention. They have made the playoffs once in the last decade.
“It is an understatement to say John and I are disappointed by the lack of success we have had on the field," Tisch said.
This past season was hard to watch. The Giants had high expectations coming off a 6-10 campaign that saw them close with a 5-3 run to finish second in the weak NFC East, a game behind Washington (7-9).
The anticipation grew in the offseason when New York signed playmaking wide receiver Kenny Golladay, drafted speedy receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round, and signed veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph to help with the blocking.
Nothing went right.
The offensive line lost left guard Shane Lemieux (knee) and center Nick Gates (broken leg) in the first two weeks of the season. Golladay didn’t catch a TD pass all season. Toney missed seven games with an assortment of injuries and Jones missed the final six games with a neck injury. Defensively, inside linebacker Blake Martinez and safety Jabrill Peppers were lost to ACL injuries.
The team's four wins were its fewest since a 3-13 mark in 2017 led to the firing of coach Ben McAdoo and two-time Super Bowl- winning GM Jerry Reese early in December.
Mara and Tisch wanted a veteran with a proven track record and decided the then-66-year-old Gettleman fit. He had been a part of seven Super Bowl teams, including three winners: the Broncos in 1997, the Giants in 2007 and '11.
Gettleman has been questioned about many of his moves. Hiring Pat Shurmur (9-23) as head coach in 2018 was a bust that lasted two seasons. Drafting Jones with the sixth pick overall in 2019 is still a major question mark considering Jones' inconsistency.
Gettleman overpaid for Patriots tackle Nate Solder as a free agent in 2018. He also drafted guard Will Hernandez in the second round that year. He traded popular and controversial receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to Cleveland the following offseason for guard Kevin Zietler, Peppers and a first-round pick.
He did bulk up the offense in his tenure. He drafted running back Saquon Barkley with the second pick overall in 2018, and Barkley went on to be the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Jones came the following year. Left tackle Andrew Thomas was grabbed with the fourth pick overall in 2020, a draft that also landed Lemieux.
A midseason trade with the Jets for Williams in 2019 got the Giants their best defensive lineman.
Gettleman also revamped the scouting department.
The Giants have had four general managers since 1979: George Young, Ernie Accorsi, Reese and Gettleman. Young had no previous ties the Giants, the others did. Expect Mara and Tisch to look outside the organization again for a replacement. Change is needed.
Solder, Hernandez and Billy Price are free agents. Gates' future is uncertain coming off a broken leg and Lemieux is back from a knee injury. The only starter coming back is standout left tackle Thomas. With the fifth and seventh picks overall in the draft, don't be surprised if the new GM takes linemen.
The Giants have three free agents they may want to keep. Tight end Evan Engram led the team with 45 catches but never met the expectations of a first-round pick. Peppers is a team leader but he struggled in coverage. Linebacker Lorenzo Carter closed the season strongly, recording sacks in the final four games.
The Giants have to hope a better offensive line will allow Saquon Barkley to thrive in his second year following ACL injury. He was limited to 563 yards rushing on 151 carries, a 3.7 yard average. He scored four TDs overall and also dealt with injuries.
OFFENSE IN FLUX
Jones will be starting his fourth season with the Giants in 2022 and he will be playing in his third offensive system. There was Shurmur's in 2019, Jason Garrett's the past 1 1/2 seasons, with Freddie Kitchens finishing up. A new offensive coordinator is on tap next season.
The search for a general manager is under way. Giants assistant general manager Kevin Abrams will be interviewed. New York has also asked for permission to speak with Bills assistant general manager Joe Schoen; Tennessee director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort; Titans VP of player personnel Ryan Cowden; and Chiefs chief executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles.
Mara wants a GM to oversee all aspects of the team’s football operations, including player personnel, college scouting and coaching.
The Bears and Vikings also are looking for a new general manager, too.
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