Dave Gettleman’s Giants fate appears to be decided

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That the Giants did not know exactly and nearly to the minute when their season would end was a step forward for a franchise that for nearly the past decade grew accustomed to packing up and parting ways in an orderly and previously scheduled fashion. The Giants were not eliminated from the playoffs until the very last game played in the NFL season, and that is a sign of progress, however unimpressive their 6-10 record turned out to be.

The major decision of the offseason, determining if there is a change at the top, appears to be headed for continuity. General manager Dave Gettleman is expected to return for his fourth year on the job, as ownership is viewing what went down in 2020 in Joe Judge’s first year as head coach as evidence the team is heading in the right direction.

Gettleman, along with co-owner John Mara, will speak with the media either Tuesday or Wednesday, an announcement that amplifies Gettleman will be on board in 2021 to continue the process of returning the Giants to the postseason. If the Giants were going to oust Gettleman, they would not be carving out space for him to talk this week. Unless he is thinking of retirement, it appears Gettleman and Judge will move forward together.

The Giants were 9-23 in Gettleman’s first two years. The litmus test put out there one year ago by Mara was that the team had to show signs of progress, that the arrow was pointing up, that Gettleman improve his batting average in player personnel moves and that there were pieces in place to boost the franchise into Super Bowl contention. The 6-10 record is a slight uptick from 4-12 in 2019. Gettleman’s rate of return in the draft and especially in free agency in 2020 was quite high, and his commitment to Leonard Williams paid off in a huge way.

Gettleman’s return is not the only issue or decision upcoming as the offseason kicks in. Here are a few of the list toppers:

The offensive coordinator

The Giants finished up averaging 17.5 points a game, 31st in the league. They were 31st in total yards per game, 29th in passing yards and 19th in rushing yards. In a season when the NFL set scoring records, the Giants surpassed 30 points once in 16 games. It is no secret where to point the finger for the sub-.500 record. Jason Garrett in his first year running the Giants offense built the attack around Saquon Barkley and the plan lasted six quarters before Barkley went down in Week 2 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Garrett struggled to take Daniel Jones to the next level and could not create many chunk plays down the field in the passing game. There are no indications he and Judge are at odds but the results indicate some sort of change is in order and not merely in talent upgrade.

The defensive lineman

When the Giants secured Williams for the season with the franchise tag of $16.1 million there did not seem to be a way for Williams to live up to that money or the two draft picks Gettleman gave the Jets to acquire him. Williams more than did so with a remarkable showing. Williams in his first five NFL seasons managed to get only 17.5 sacks. Williams’ virtuoso performance in the finale against the Cowboys boosted his sack total to 11.5, to go along with his 57 tackles, 14 tackles for losses and 30 quarterback hits. He did it all and will be paid handsomely and accordingly as he enters free agency.

The running back

The entire organization cannot wait to see Barkley back on the field taking handoffs and snatching the ball with his vice-grip hands in the passing game. The expectation is Barkley will be recovered from ACL surgery in time for the start of the 2021 season. Barkley missing the final 14 games was a massive blow to the offense. He is entering the final year of his four-year, $31.1 million rookie deal. If he did not get hurt, this would be the time for a lucrative extension. This is not the time for that, though, with Barkley needing to reestablish himself as one of the top running backs in the league. To do that, he needs to prove he is healthy and has not lost anything. Perhaps the Giants find a way to extend his contract for a year to give him a bump up from his $920,000 salary for 2021, but both sides need to wait before the next major commitment.

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