Anderson: Is Gettleman’s rebuild working?

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The quote “You can win while you build a roster,” said by the New York Giants General Manager, Dave Gettleman, has not aged well. 

The Giants have started their 2019 season 0-2 after losing their home opener 28-14 to the Buffalo Bills.

Fans have already become restless as the booing started before the first half was over. They will understandably want change.

The Giants quarterback situation has been talked about since Duke QB, Daniel Jones, was taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft. If the Giants continue losing it’s only a matter of time before you hear “Daniel Jones” being yelled in MetLife Stadium. 

After the game when asked if the team is thinking about replacing Eli Manning with Daniel Jones, Head Coach Pat Shurmur deflected.

“I don’t think that’s a conversation for right now,” Shurmur said

Something that Giants fans are going to have to accept is that the team’s problems are too formidable for any quarterback to overcome.

(UPDATE: Since this was written, Jones has been named the starting QB for week three.)

Eli Manning isn’t playing great, but he’s also not the reason for the disastrous start. Whenever Manning has had success in his career he’s had a good offensive line, a go-to wide receiver, and a bend-but-don’t-break defense. 

Gettleman got Manning the offensive line he needed with the acquisitions of Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers. With Jon Halapio returning from an injury, the Giants line has been able to impose their will, giving Manning time to throw and clearing the way for the generational talent that is the running back, Saquon Barkley.

Barkley has 227 yards on 29 carries this season but his efforts aren’t being as impactful as you would think. Most of Barkley’s yards come in the first half, especially on the first drive. In games one and two, the opening drives were spearheaded by Barkley’s running. Against the Bills, Barkley had a 26 yard touchdown run on the first drive, but afterwards the second year phenom was held in check. Bills adjusted to the run by loading the box and the Giants offense couldn’t counter with their passing game.

Every playoff contending team has a go-to wide receiver for their quarterback. Odell Beckham Jr. was exactly that for Manning before he was traded to the Cleveland Browns.

One of the looming problems for the Giants was how they would replace OBJ, and it’s clear two weeks into the season that they haven’t.

Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer were the team’s number one and two receivers for Sunday’s game. Before they were Giants they were their team’s third, fourth and even fifth best receivers. They don’t have the skill to give Manning the extra help he needs whether that’s making a great catch or creating enough space between them and the cornerback. Defenses don’t have to double team them so then they can put the focus onto the Giants few playmakers like tight end, Evan Engram, or Saquon Barkley.

Wide reciever TJ Jones was able to get open for a touchdown in the fourth and WR Cody Core was targeted three plays in a row so there could possibly be some chemistry between them and Manning.

Manning will have his best receiver, Sterling Shepard (concussion), back for game three against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Latimer will be out with a concussion he received on Sunday.

The Giants get their offseason acquisition, Golden Tate (suspension), back in week five, but, for right now, Manning doesn’t have many options. Fans will want to see Daniel Jones if the losing continues.

However, if wide receivers can’t get open or stay healthy, the Giants might postpone the move until they feel their offense is competent enough to support their young QB.      

The Giants don’t have a bend-but-don’t-break defense either. They break and then they break some more.

The defense allowed 21 points in the first half. When they had the Bills stopped for a field goal in the fourth, rookie Dexter Lawrence committed a penalty that gave the Bills a first down and led to another Buffalo touchdown.

Overall, the Giants defense is inconsistent and inexperienced. Players are missing assignments leading to wide open receivers and big running plays. Rookie first round draft pick, Deandre Baker, known for his aggressive man coverage in college, gave a lot of cushion to Bills receivers and had a lot of passes completed his way. The Giants tallied three sacks but when they aren’t getting sacks, the opposing QB seems to have all day to throw and cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, is becoming frustrated. 

“I can’t cover nobody for 10 seconds,” Jenkins said. “Who can cover somebody for 10 seconds? Go look at it within the first five seconds of the route. He’s not open. If [Josh Allen, Bills QB] is scrambled and we ain’t got no pressure what you want me to do?” 

The Giants defense isn’t built for come-from-behind games and neither is the offense. The roster is filled with young players who will inevitably make mistakes.

If Gettleman’s rebuild works, it won’t happen in year one. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley give Giants fans hope but they should expect another disappointing year.

There’s talent missing in key areas and if one unit isn’t pulling their weight, the whole team can suffer.