EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — After almost three years of rebuilding, general manager Dave Gettleman believes the young and feisty New York Giants are on the verge of being a competitive, winning team under new coach Joe Judge.
Speaking Wednesday for the first time since training camp opened last month, Gettleman said the Giants have a solid young quarterback in Daniel Jones, a talented halfback in Saquon Barkley, and some nice pieces on offense and defense.
A negative, though, is the franchise’s recent history. It is coming off a four-win season, has won 12 games over the past three seasons, and made the playoffs once since winning a fourth Super Bowl in February 2012. There have been four coaches since the start of the 2017 season.
The 69-year-old Gettleman believes the Giants are finally improving.
“I just feel the roster is going to be competitive and it is going to have the ability to win games,” Gettleman said. “I’m not putting a number on it. You put a team out there and they will be the Fighting Joe Judges. I have no doubt. It is going to go well.”
Judge, hired in January to replace Pat Shurmur, has invigorated the Giants. The 38-year-old former Patriots special team coordinator is energetic, demanding and detailed. He has a coaching style that has revived the smash-mouth approach of Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin, combined with a smart out-of-box approach that looks to turn disadvantage into advantage.
“We are getting there,” said Gettleman, who was hired late in December 2017. “We’re getting there and I believe we are going to be better.”
Gettleman covered a number of topics in his roughly 30-plus minute virtual conference call.
He said he was disappointed by the offseason arrests of placekicker Aldrick Rosas and cornerback DeAndre Baker, and that nothing in the team’s background check of them prior to their signings indicated they had issues.
Rosas, a 2018 Pro Bowler, was released before training camp because he did not kick well last season and for his involvement in a hit-and-run accident.
Baker, the last of three first-round picks in 2019, was arrested for armed robbery. He is on a commissioner’s exempt list. Gettleman said the team is discussing whether to keep him on the roster.
Gettleman, who took a lot of heat for drafting Jones with the sixth pick overall, said he has no doubt the Duke product will be a fine NFL quarterback. He said Jones accomplished a lot last season but it was overshadowed by his 23 turnovers, including 11 lost fumbles.
The Giants bolstered their offensive line by grabbing tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth pick overall in the draft. It turned out to be a smart move when veteran Nate Solder opted out of the season because of concerns about COVID-19.
Thomas probably will replace Solder at left tackle. The guards remain the same with Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler. Third-year handyman Nick Gates is emerging as the center and Cam Fleming is getting a shot at right tackle.
“The closest we have ever been,” Gettleman said of the rebuilt O-line which he labeled a priority in taking the GM job. “I think and I feel we have the right guys. They just have to learn to play together. They have to grow up. We have puppies.”
The 2020 season is going to be a challenge on several fronts, including the pandemic, racial and social injustice. Gettleman said the Giants have opened the lines of communication with players and staff. Talking about issues regarding life and society and listening to what others say has been paramount.
“It’s important anyone in our organization can walk into my office and say: ‘Gettleman, you knucklehead’ and not worry I am going to get upset by it or worry I am going to hold a grudge,” he said. “That culture of safety has been created here and guys are comfortable talking about things.”
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