Dave Gettleman’s past mistakes continue to hang over Giants

The Giants had done such a terrific job scrubbing clean the bacteria that affected — and infected — the franchise. It’s funny what two wins in two games can do for a team’s mindset and for the narrative surrounding it. Success breeds success. Winning breeds winning. 

Monday night, we were reminded that there is still a residue of rigor mortis residing in the team’s foundation. Some things don’t simply vanish, even if you throw gallons of bleach and detergent at them, even if you hire what certainly seems to be a dynamic 1-2 punch of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll, even as that twosome infuses the franchise with competence. 

For there is still a strong Whiff of Gettleman in the air. 

Monday night, the Cowboys walked into MetLife Stadium and hit the Giants in the mouth for 60 minutes, walking away with a 23-16 victory that was only that close because the Giants play awfully damn hard for Daboll — and for themselves — and that’s going to make a difference most every week. 

“Tough game; give Dallas credit,” Daboll said. “We didn’t quite get it done tonight. They made more plays than we made. 

“We didn’t play our best, but the guys played their tails off, competed to the end.” 

But there are still lingering problems that doomed the Giants, loitering issues that will be there all season long. Dave Gettleman’s legacy was always going to be damaging, everyone understood that from the start. The Giants lost a lot of games on Gettleman’s watch; it feels inevitable that they will lose a few more before the damage he did officially is exorcised. 

Kenny Golladay drops a pass during the Giants' loss to the Cowboys.
Kenny Golladay drops a pass during the Giants’ loss to the Cowboys.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Now, look: If there is one thing that makes Gettleman smile in his exile, it is when Saquon Barkley has a moment like he had last night, a 36-yard scamper that gave the Giants a 13-6 lead in the third quarter. He may not be touched by the hand of God, as Gettleman believed, but he’s back to being one of the most enjoyable players in the game. That counts for something. 

So give Gettleman that (even as you watch Josh Allen win 13 or 14 games this year and operate the greatest football show on earth). 

But then we reach the flip side. We can start with Kenny Golladay, who has made almost zero impact 19 games into his Giants career and may well go down as the single-worst free-agent signing in team history by the time he’s through. His one reception Monday night was nullified by a penalty; other than that, Golladay’s line read this way: 

Three targets. 

Two drops. 

Zero catches. 

A reminder: The Giants are paying him $72 million for four years to be a complete donut, and now they may actually need him since it sure looked like poor Sterling Shepard hurt himself badly on the Giants’ last snap of the night, a noncontact play that dropped him in a flash. 

Daniel Jones is sacked during the Giants' win over the Cowboys.
Daniel Jones is sacked during the Giants’ win over the Cowboys.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Gettleman never could get the offensive line figured out, and while the line has looked much better most of this season, they were overrun Monday night, looking downright noncompetitive on a lot of snaps. Only Daniel Jones’ skill in avoiding some looming large hits averted disaster. 

But it certainly makes you wonder about how much longer Jones can keep ducking out of the way of calamity. Gettleman’s other prized commodity was fine Monday night (20-for-37 passing for 196 yards, 79 yards on the ground), but he simply can’t keep running for his life and absorbing the kind of punishment he does. 

As much as anything, that might’ve been Gettleman’s biggest fail as GM, drafting as a foundational piece a quarterback as gifted with his legs as he is with his arm and never pairing him with a remotely competent line. The Cowboys do have one of the best defenses in the league, but nobody will ever confuse them with the ’85 Bears (though Micah Parsons would’ve fit in nicely in the 46). 

You hope this turns out to be wrong. 

But one of these weekends, the wrong edge rusher is going to get a free shot at Jones, and Jones isn’t going to be able to escape, and he won’t be able to get up. If that happens, that’ll be one last parting gift from one of the most wretched reigns we’ve seen around here in a while. 

Dave Gettleman
Corey Sipkin

The Giants are better. They are in better hands in the front office, better hands on the sidelines, and they seem to enjoy their new leadership. It’s been fun to watch so far. 

Monday wasn’t fun. Monday was an unwanted throwback, a reminder of the muck from which they are trying to emerge. They have, to a degree. Just not all the way. Not yet. Probably not for a while.