Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 10-16-18

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Aaron Klein

It's tough to argue that the Giants are just going through growing pains, though there is an argument that it might take a quarterback, let alone other players, nearly a season before being comfortable in a new system. It's also hard to argue that players earning $5, $10, $20 million or more can use such an excuse.

After last Thursday's debacle at home in a 34-13 loss to division rival and defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, there were cries from GiantLand that Eli Manning is finished, that rookie Kyle Lauletta should be prepped to start “to see what he can do” and that the team missed their opportunity to get their hands on a franchise quarterback for the future in the April draft.

There are other issues as well besides quarterback play. Odell Beckham Jr., inadvertently or otherwise, has drawn attention to real problems on the offense as well as those he perceives. Mostly, though, he has drawn attention to himself.

The offensive line still struggles and before you jump up and yell about Manning being washed up and immobile, show me a quarterback who could take 20 sacks and dozens of hits and pressures in six games and show much progress. No excuses, but it is a factor that cannot be ignored. Veteran free agent Nate Solder is here to stay and has been up and down under the weight of his humungous contract. Rookie Will Hernandez is coming along nicely but he's not dominant yet. Center John Greco has been fine at center despite the loss of Jon Halapio (knee) and the off-season trade of Brett Jones. Patrick Omameh has been fair and right tackle Chad Wheeler is holding on but has miles to go to be a solid starter.

We could go on and on about various nuances and strategies of the offense, but there is a topic that needs to be addressed. So many of us have been fairly talking about Manning and general manager Dave Gettleman's decision to draft Saquon Barkley instead of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Josh Rosen. The choice was based, at least publicly, on the idea that Manning was hardly finished playing at a high level, that the Giants wanted to get into a win-now position and that Barkley is a “generational” running back.

Following the selection by Cleveland of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Giants had the pick of every other player available with the No. 2 pick. There sat Darnold, probably the only other quarterback worthy of being taken second, despite what you might think of Allen, Rosen or even Lamar Jackson. There was also a guard (Quentin Nelson) and a few defensive gems, but the Giants had publicly settled on Barkley days before the draft. Of course, many thought it was smoke or at least an attempt to bait another team into making a tremendous trade offer for the No. 2 pick.

With the selection of Barkley, the Giants signaled their intention to stick with Manning for at least another year or two. There is nothing wrong with Barkley and he will be great for years to come. Manning clearly looks to be on the wrong side of his career arc, but he remains at least for this season.

One factor that few have considered needs to be made clear: Right or wrong, it's very possible that Gettleman and his office did not like any other quarterback option nearly enough to pass on Barkley. They would never have taken a potential franchise quarterback in whom they didn't see a bright future filled with greatness. Never. That's not how any of this works. Instead, they took the best player in the draft, stuck with their starter, drafted Lauletta in the fourth round, signed veteran journeyman Alex Tanney and plenty of other things went wrong that had nothing to do with the draft.

Right, had they drafted Darnold, Manning would still be the starter until they felt Darnold was capable of playing better than Manning. It might have been a repeat of 2004, when the Giants signed Kurt Warner before trading for Manning in the draft, then waited until mid-season to give the rookie the ball. The point is, Gettleman and the rest, probably head coach Pat Shurmur, Senior Vice President/Player Personnel Chris Mara and maybe President and CEO John Mara, didn't feel that Darnold or Rosen or Allen were good options at No. 2, or at all.

It also may mean that the team gambled not only on Manning but also on the 2019 draft. If everything worked out well, they might have thought, then the Giants would make the playoffs and there would be more time to stick with Eli while developing Lauletta, Tanney and/or someone else. If things went badly, and it looks like that's what's happening now, then they'd have a high pick next spring and be able to grab a quarterback they liked more than anyone else available this season except, maybe, Mayfield.

Who's that? Teddy Bridgewater? While he has managed to mount a strong comeback, did you really think the Giants were prepared for the kind of gamble it would have taken to sign him, given his devastating injury and nearly two-year break from football? Would signing Bridgewater have made a difference with Manning on the roster - and along that line of thinking, that he would unseat Manning at the start of the season?

Before you yell about Bridgewater's amazing and courageous comeback, remember that the Jets weren't prepared to start him and traded him to New Orleans, which has no intention of benching their starter, a guy named Drew Brees. Maybe they'll sign him next year, if he hits the open market in March, but that would be just a Band-Aid.

There are those who think that the Giants really believe Lauletta is the future franchise quarterback, even while lacking a shotgun for an arm. He hasn't been active yet this season and while Shurmur has said that the rookie gets as many reps as Tanney, we have yet to see any action that might signal a sea change. If and when Lauletta is moved up to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, you might prepare yourself for a late-season appearance or even a start.

Like it or not ... warranted or not ... a change may very well be on the horizon.

One more quick thought, and this is a doozy: Have the Giants allowed themselves to fall into a Bermuda Triangle-like rut in which they can't seem to get anything to work? Shurmur is their third coach in four years, yet the team still seems to fall into a fog at times during games and allow big plays, and become dramatic and frustrated and mystified. The Giants have looked like the same old Giants for several years and the solution seems just out of reach and impossible to see in the fog of losing. And while little of it is not the fault of Shurmur or Gettleman, it's their circus now and they have to get it together, a task that could be monumental and take longer than anyone wants.

Gettleman, Mara, Shurmur and Manning (and the rest of the crew) admit that everyone has to do a better job on and off the field, but that these things take time.

Patience? Easy for them to say.

Send it all over to and follow me on Twitter @_AaronKlein
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @E_Giants

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

NOW - Send a request to for a free week's worth of news!

Previous Articles
Special Report

Pat Shurmur
Special Report

Giants Roster
Special Report

Victor Cruz
Special Report

Major Changes

Click on the Team Giants logo to be informed of all Giants game previews,
reviews and off season football news.

Stop in and visit "Mike's Keys to the Internet" at
Website by Mike