Often times during Jerry Reese‘s tenure as general manager of the New York Giants, fans would accuse him of being too robotic in his press conferences. Too diplomatic, they would say. After watching Dave Gettleman — who was hired by the Giants last Thursday to take over for Reese and was by most accounts the team’s first choice — during his first press conference, it’s safe to say he’s pretty much the opposite of that.
“My plan is to come in here every day and kick a–,” he said Friday as he was introduced as the Giants’ new general manager. “I’ve been hired to win. The only promise I will make is I’m going to do everything in my power to lead this organization back to where it belongs. That’s my goal. That’s my intention. It’s going to get done.”
Can you say fire? Gettleman has a passion for the game, that much is obvious. He might also have a chip on his shoulder after being unceremoniously fired by the Carolina Panthers before the 2017 season despite only missing the playoffs once in his four seasons. He was let go, shockingly, over the summer, which is an odd time to be fired given he had gone through the free agency period and 2017 NFL Draft. He built the current 2017 Panthers roster, make no mistake about it, and they are 11-4 looking to get to 12-4 as of this writing.
Making the playoffs four times in five years with a Super Bowl appearance is not a fireable résumé.
For Gettleman, the Giants job is a chance to come back to a place he spent so many years in the front office. He was hired as a part of the pro personnel department in 1998, then promoted to Pro Personnel Director in 1999. He held that title through three Super Bowl appearances and two victories, then was promoted to Senior Pro Personnel Director in 2012 before leaving for the Panthers GM job.
Gettleman recently called the job something he’s “only dreamed of.” That echoed throughout his press conference when the team introduced him.
“At the end of the day, I guess this is home,” Gettleman said. “This is home. I mean, I’ve been with four teams, I was here a long time and loved every minute of it, and we had a lot of success here and it’s important to me. It’s important to me to get this place back.”
“I’m not going to stand up here and tell you I’m going to fix it in two years, because then John [Mara] is going to run me out of the building,” he said. “I expect us to be a good team in 2018. You go from last to first or first to last, teams do that every year. We do have some talent on this roster. We obviously have a lot of holes to fill as well, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a successful team next year.”
“There’s two kinds of players in this league, folks,” Gettleman said. “There are guys that play professional football and there are professional football players. And the professional football players are the guys we want. I don’t want guys that want to win. I want guys that hate to lose. That’s the professional football player. That’s what you want.”
Some of that culture change has already taken place over Gettleman’s first weekend in charge. Bobby Hart and Ereck Flowers, the team’s starting right and left tackle to begin the season, respectively, each told the coaching staff they would not be playing against the Washington Redskins in the 2017 season finale.
Gettleman wasted no time in cutting Hart and promoting Adam Bisnowaty to the active roster. Bisnowaty and fellow rookie Chad Wheeler got the start on the offensive line while Flowers was inactive for the game. Sources around the team have been all over Hart’s bad attitude this season and suggested that both players had mentally checked out on the season.
All of this is par for the course for the 3-13 Giants, who had suspensions, questions of effort and about the locker room losing respect for the coaching staff all season. The decision to release Hart and make Flowers inactive is in line with Gettleman’s promise to get back to “big-boy football” and improve the offensive line. His plan to turn the Giants around is to “run the ball, stop the run and rush the passer.” All of this is music to Giants fans ears.
The cleaning house didn’t stop with the Giants’ ex-starting tackles. Gettleman also fired VP of Player Development Marc Ross. Ross had been in the scouting department for all of Reese’s tenure and worked with Gettleman in their many years together with the Giants. Ross had been running the draft for the Giants under Reese and is someone Gettleman apparently has no plans to replace.
“I worked with Marc when I was with the organization before,” he said. “I have great respect for him and high regard for his work. Clearly, we’re going in a different direction, but that doesn’t make these kinds of decisions any easier.”
Sending a message to the offensive line that poor play will no longer be tolerated seemed to have an effect on the Giants in their season finale. They rushed for a season high 236 yards behind a unit that was different at all five positions than when the year started. They would go on to win the game 18-10 and finish the season on a high note.
Gettleman has his work cut out for him, but it’s not inconceivable they could be competitive in 2018. They are not far removed from an 11-5 season and playoff birth from 2016. The defense returned almost everyone but it was the offense, and specifically the offensive line, that led to the 0-5 start and ended this season that began with Super Bowl aspirations.
If his press conference and first several moves as general manager are any indication, Dave Gettleman knows exactly what this team’s biggest weakness was this year and will do whatever he can to fix it. Can you hear the Giants fans singing?