Giants are NFLs laughingstock for 3 years running, and thats on John Mara | But heres who else you can blame

 nj.com  12/02/2019 04:56:00   Matt Lombardo | mlombardo@njadvancemedia.com

A belated Happy 65th birthday to Giants owner John Mara.

Did you hear the raucous chants from the majority of fans who were clad in green and gold and filed into a half empty MetLife stadium Sunday, chanting Go Pack, go?

Theyre on Mara.

As is the laughingstock the Giants have become, after being eliminated from playoff contention for the third consecutive year following Sundays 31-13 defeat.

Sundays loss was the eighth in a row and 34th since the Giants walked off the field a loser in a 2016 postseason game at Lambeau Field.

No team has won fewer games than the Giants (10) since the start of 2017. The lions share of blame for the futility of a once proud franchise falls on the head honcho: Mara.

As the Giants play out the season with fast-increasing odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick in next Aprils NFL Draft -- does anyone really think its out of the question that the Giants will lose to the Miami Dolphins and Washington? -- Mara isnt the only powerbroker who is culpable in the Giants becoming perennial NFC East doormats.

From Mara to Jerry Reese and Dave Gettleman to Pat Shurmur and Eli Manning, theres plenty of blame to go around.

Heres a look at how we rank who to blame for the Giants 10-34 since walking off the frozen tundra on Jan. 8, 2017 as NFC Wild Card losers:

1) Owner John Mara

The buck stops with Mara. Maras the one who kept general manager Jerry Reese well past his expiration date, as the roster never seemed to improve. That was compounded by poor drafts and a misguided plan to bring back Eli Manning the last two seasons, which only further delayed a necessary rebuild. Dave Gettleman was hired as general manager, and Pat Shurmur as coach, in part because they believed that the Giants could compete with Manning at quarterback.

How did that work out?

How have any of Maras decisions since the confetti fell at the end of Super Bowl XLVI worked out for the Giants?

2) GM Dave Gettleman

An argument can be made that hiring Gettleman as general manager perhaps set the Giants back a decade.

Mara had the chance to hire a forward-thinking general manager, such as Louis Riddick, who would commit to analytics and a progressive mindset centered around a young quarterback. Instead, Mara harkened back to the franchises glory days when winners were built around a ground and pound offense when he handed Gettleman the keys.

Gettlemans two-year tenure has created a talent-drain that makes it easy to see how his 7-21 record as Giants GM came to be.

The Giants traded superstar receiver Odell Beckham to the Cleveland Browns, let Landon Collins walk in free agency and chose a running back (Saquon Barkley) at No. 2 in 2018 without even entertaining any trade offers for the pick. Gettleman probably could have netted much more than a hot dog and pretzel to move back just one spot had he goosed the Jets into thinking the Giants were targeting quarterback Sam Darnold.

Remember, Gettleman also signed Nate Solder to the richest contract ever for an offensive lineman and handed running back Johnathan Stewart $6.9 million.

The Giants, an organization not exactly prone to considering analytics, have been left in the dust by rival organizations and Super Bowl contenders with their ineptitude.

Much of the shine is already off Gettlemans 2018 NFL Draft class, and with the exception of edge rusher Markus Golden, free agency has been a total bust for the Giants the past two years.

The lack of talent and roster construction falls on Gettleman.

3) Former GM Jerry Reese

In case youre wondering how the Giants sank like a boulder in pool to the bottom of the NFL, look no further than Jerry Reeses last three drafts as general manager before getting fired:

2017: 2 players currently on the roster (TE Evan Engram, DT Dalvin Tomlinson)

2016: 1 player currently on the roster (WR Sterling Shepard)

2015: 0 players currently on the roster

The bedrock for competitive teams in the NFL comes from homegrown talent. Draft classes typically dont fully hit their stride until three years into their careers, and while Shepard -- when healthy -- is one of the Giants most prolific offensive weapons, having just three players to build around from three full draft classes is the kind of epic failure that takes years to recover from.

4) Head coach Pat Shurmur

Was Shurmur hired because the Giants believed -- based on his track record as the Vikings offensive coordinator with veteran QB Case Keenum -- he could shepherd a quick turnaround with Manning? Or because Mara and Gettleman believed he was the right coach to groom Mannings ultimate successor? Shurmur already showed trying to win with Manning in the quarterbacks twilight was predictably a fools errand, but No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones cant stop turning the ball over in his rookie season. Theyre 2-8 with him as the starter.

It seems Shurmur isnt the quarterback whisperer theyd hoped.

In many ways, Shurmur was set up to fail by the mistakes of more powerful people who preceded his arrival.

Yet, Shurmur and his staff have done a poor job of developing talent and continue to make some of the same mistakes each Sunday. He lacks the thick-skin necessary to thrive in a New York market.

The players, too, seem to have adopted his milquetoast personality.

Shurmur may be a tremendous offensive coordinator and bright mind when it comes to developing young passers, but as his career winning percentage slides to .266, maybe the reality is that he simply isnt built to be an NFL head coach.

5) QB Eli Manning

Prior to getting benched after starting this season 0-2, Manning quarterbacked the Giants to a 47-66 since winning Super Bowl XLVI.

Manning was never the reason the Giants couldnt compete, he just was a key reason for the teams struggles in his latter years and did little to elevate the players around him in recent seasons. Hell probably go down as the greatest quarterback to ever wear a Giants uniform, but Manning also became the only NFL player to ever collect $250 million in career earnings. Unlike contemporaries such as Tom Brady, he never offered to take a pay-cut to help make the team around him better.

Perhaps Manning will one day be enshrined in Canton thanks to his two Super Bowl championships, but the fact is he was a mediocre quarterback over the final eight seasons of his career in which he threw 177 touchdowns, 112 interceptions and posted a record of 47-66 over his final 113 starts in a Giants uniform.

Matt Lombardo may be reached at MLombardo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattLombardoNFL

« Go back