It was New Year’s Day in 2017… the Giants had just beaten Washington to cap off an exciting 11-5 season. All was well. And then, it wasn’t.
Following the game, a few Giants receivers decided to take a spontaneous trip to Miami. Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr, and Sterling Shepard were among the crew. The next day was an off day and the team had secured a playoff spot, so what was the problem? Really, there wasn’t a problem… until someone (we don’t know who) decided it would be a good idea to take a picture and post it. Cue the internet going crazy.
All week, the players and the coaches were swarmed by questions about the trip. Everyone assured that it was no big deal. Eli Manning stated, “I think what guys do on their off day is not a big deal. I saw it. I just kind of laughed.”
And then, the Giants proceeded to get demolished by the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card game. In fact, the 25-point loss was the worst of their season, as their top-ranked defense allowed a season-high 38 points, while the offense scored under 14 points for only the 2nd time that season.
The biggest storyline, though? The wide receivers. Odell Beckham Jr. had 4 catches on 11 targets for just 28 yards. Victor Cruz had 3 catches for 30 yards. Sterling Shepard had 4 catches for 63 yards. A barrage of drops, including multiple dropped touchdowns, sealed the Giants’ fate. The biggest impact OBJ had in Lambeau that day was the hole he left in the wall after punching it in frustration.
Instant regret of the trip had set in.
But it couldn’t get any worse, right? The Giants can only improve from here, right? Wrong. This was just the beginning of 5 years of torture. Since the infamous boat trip, the Giants are a whopping 22-60, which is good for the WORST in the entire league. What the hell went wrong in that span? Well… a lot. So buckle up.
Going into 2017, fans were excited. The team had won 11 games the previous year. That offseason, they added veteran WR Brandon Marshall through free agency and drafted talented TE Evan Engram in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. On the defense, veteran pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul was given a contract extension, and DT Dalvin Tomlinson was added through the draft. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction.
But, everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. The Giants started the season 0-5. Age had caught up to Brandon Marshall. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a season-ending ankle injury. The offensive line was still atrociously bad. Both the offense and the defense were at the bottom of the league. That’s not even the worst of it. The biggest story to come out of that season? Eli Manning was benched in week 13, ending his streak of 210 consecutive games started, which was the longest active streak at the time. This decision was met with intense criticism by fans, former and active teammates, executives around the league, and many more.
The most confusing part? The fact that they benched him for Geno Smith. Yes, Geno Smith. Not Davis Webb, the guy they had taken in the 3rd round in the NFL Draft. No, that would make too much sense. They started a veteran QB instead of testing their possible Eli Manning replacement. Not surprisingly, the Giants lost to the Raiders that week. HC Ben McAdoo, who was only in his 2nd year, and GM Jerry Reese were both fired shortly after the loss. Eli Manning was given the starting job back the following week, but the damage was already done.
The Giants would finish the season 3-13, their worst record in franchise history. They finished last in the NFC East for the first time since 2003. It was just an utter embarrassing year for the team. What seemed like a playoff-hopeful team quickly became the worst team in the NFC. The only reason they weren’t the worst in the league was because of the 1-15 Cleveland Browns. Oh, and to cap it all off, the division rival Philadelphia Eagles went on to win their first Super Bowl.
But the pain hadn’t even begun.
Enter GM Dave Gettleman. The biggest blunder of his New York Giants tenure came in his first offseason. He preached building the offensive line. However, he somehow managed to make it worse. He let Justin Pugh walk in free agency, and brought in Nate Solder. The 4 year, $62 million contract made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league at the time. At first, this seemed like a great signing. Solder was one of the best in the league at the time.
As you now know, that signing backfired tremendously. Solder has been one of the worst offensive lineman in the league since signing the record deal. He allowed 7 sacks in his first year as a Giant, and then went on to allow 11 sacks the following year. It was just an awful start for the Dave Gettleman era.
Maybe he could make up for it in the draft. Wrong again.
With the 2nd overall pick in the NFL Draft, he took RB Saquon Barkley. He followed up with that pick with G Will Hernandez in the 2nd round. Now, both of these players had promising rookie seasons. Saquon Barkley had one of the best rookie seasons from a running back ever, where he posted 2,000 scrimmage yards en route to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Hernandez’s rookie year was not as glamorous, but he seemed good enough to be a long-term offensive line piece. However, all of this soon fell apart. While Saquon Barkley was and still is extremely talented, he has proven why you should not take a running back at 2nd overall.
Barkley had a solid 2nd season, rushing for 1,000 yards while dealing with an ankle injury for the majority of the year. Then, in his 3rd season, he tore his ACL, and has yet to return to form since coming back from the injury. Now, there is still time for Barkley, but it’s looking really dim right now.
As for Will Hernandez, he has been pretty bad. He’s had solid numbers in terms of sacks allowed, but it’s clear he isn’t cut out to be a starter.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but Gettleman could’ve had All-Pro Quenton Nelson and Nick Chubb. You still get a guard and a running back, but it looks a whole lot better. There was also the fact that the Giants selected Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill over Fred Warner, but let’s not stretch it too much.
The Giants would improve just barely on their 3-13 season, going 5-11 in 2018. The year was highlighted by a lot of close games, as the team lost 8 games by 7 points or fewer. The Giants finished last in the division for the 2nd season in a row, a feat they hadn’t accomplished since the 1970s. Giants fans just wanted it to be the offseason already. Spoiler alert: be careful what you wish for.
That offseason, the Giants shipped star WR Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns for Jabrill Peppers, a 1st round pick, and a 3rd round pick. Now, compared to some other notable trades we’ve seen involving star WRs in recent years, like Deandre Hopkins, the Giants got a great return. But, considering OBJ had signed a record-breaking extension the prior offseason that would keep him in New York for 5 years, fans were devastated. It was even more of a surprise after Gettleman had said this less than a month prior: “We didn’t sign Odell Beckham to trade him. I know that’s all over the place right now, but we didn’t sign him to trade him.” Welp, guess that was a lie.
In addition to the departure of Odell, the Giants also lost Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins to their division rival Washington. He was replaced with a stud in Jabrill Peppers through the OBJ trade, but another fan favorite was gone.
Looking back, it doesn’t seem SO bad, right? Beckham never managed to get going in Cleveland and Peppers has been a very good replacement for Collins. I’ve used the word “worst” a lot so far, but there’s no other way to describe this span. So I’m going to use it again. The worst was yet to come.
Just days after the OBJ trade, the Giants announced they were signing veteran WR Golden Tate to a 4-year, $37.5 million deal. Wow, what a replacement Dave! You really outdid yourself. Golden Tate didn’t even play a game before fans realized this was a bad idea. Tate was suspended 4 games for violating the league’s PED policy. As you should be able to predict by now, the signing backfired. Tate’s inability to stay healthy coupled with his lack of production when he WAS healthy made the move a total nightmare. The Giants, in an attempt to save themselves from a horrifying contract, cut him before the 2021 season.
The 2019 NFL Draft was… something. And a recent bombshell article from journalist Tyler Dunne makes it even crazier (that’ll come back later). The Giants went into the draft looking for a QB. Unfortunately for them, Justin Herbert opted to stay in college for one more year. With Kyler Murray going off the board immediately, the Giants had a choice to make. They could take the stud defensive player Josh Allen, or QB Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State. These were the obvious two choices. These were the two guys that fans were divided on. So which one did they take?
Neither. Instead, they took QB Daniel Jones out of Duke. Fans were just stunned. The funniest part, though? So were the Giants’ SCOUTS. That’s right. Dave Gettleman had never said a word about Daniel Jones to his staff until he drafted him. One scout said, “Dave never said anything,” said one scout. “I was wondering, ‘What he’s feeling? What he’s thinking?'” According to Dunne’s article that was mentioned above, Gettleman ‘fell in love’ with Daniel Jones at the Senior Bowl. Most scouts don’t even stay to watch the Senior Bowl, let alone use it as a major evaluation for the draft. Yet, that’s exactly what Gettleman did.
Jones has been far from worthy of a top-10 pick so far in his career. While he possesses a great deep ball and has good mobility, he lacks the elite traits that other recently-selected QBs have such as Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Kyler Murray. In all fairness to Danny Dimes, he’s had very little help in his career thanks to Dave Gettleman’s incompetence. The Giants will have to decide soon whether they pick up Jones’ 5th-year option.
This wasn’t the only mistake Dave Gettleman made in the 1st round that year. After taking DT Dexter Lawrence (one of his only good selections) with the pick acquired through the OBJ trade, Gettleman decided to trade up from 37th overall back into the 1st round of the draft to select CB Deandre Baker. This was a confusing pick, as Baker arguably wasn’t even the best corner available and there were concerns raised about his character prior to the draft.
But, Gettleman picked him anyway. And he sucked, shocker. Apart from the final few games of the season, Baker struggled tremendously, and was looking like another Eli Apple type pick for the G-Men. All the Giants could do was hope Baker would build off the end of his rookie season and be a vital part of the Giants’ defense going forward. He never got the chance.
In May 2020, Baker was accused of committing armed robbery. The situation was very messy and the details are still very confusing. The bottom line is that Baker was placed on the exempt list, and was later cut by the Giants. He was eventually cleared of all charges, leaving Giants fans wondering why the team didn’t wait. Either way, the relationship between Baker and the organization was already tarnished, and the Giants made it clear that they would not be bringing him back.
Who could the Giants have had instead? After trading up, they could’ve selected Byron Murphy. Or, they could’ve stayed where they were originally and selected Sean Murphy-Bunting. While neither of these corners has been outstanding in their short time in the league, they both would’ve been much better picks than Baker.
The only good thing to come out of the 2019 season was that Eli Manning got the sendoff he deserved. Following losses to start the season, Eli was benched for Daniel Jones, who won his first two games before the team went on a long losing streak. Following an injury to Jones, legend Eli Manning returned for weeks 14 and 15. The latter of the two resulted in a great win over the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Eli left the field to a standing ovation, and that was the last game he’d ever play, as he retired in the offseason.
Besides that, there really was no positive to look at. Following a week 17 loss, the Giants finished 4-12, a worse record than the year prior. The Giants failed to send a single player to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 1995. Pat Shurmur was fired after 2 seasons as head coach, becoming the 2nd Giants coach in a row to only survive for a couple of years. Dave Gettleman, for some reason, retained his job. And so the cycle continued.
In came new HC Joe Judge. Judge had coached under Nick Saban at Alabama and then under Bill Belichick as a special teams coordinator for the Patriots. Judge had been able to work with two of the greatest football coaches of all time. Fans were excited, especially after Judge’s introductory press conference. He promised to “punch the opponents in the mouth for 60 minutes” and said that fans “would be proud” to watch Giants football again. He failed to keep that promise. The Giants won 10 games in two seasons and in that time, Joe Judge has become the laughing stock of the league.
He is the definition of “all talk.” His old-school mentality was unable to produce a good football team. He can have his inspirational speeches every now and then, but it does not matter because he is absolutely clueless once it comes to games. Until he starts winning games, he is just a glorified drill sergeant.
The Giants finally made some good draft picks in the 2 years Judge was coach. Of course, it was no thanks to Dave Gettleman. In the report I mentioned earlier by Tyler Dunne, it was revealed that OC Jason Garrett had to push hard for franchise LT Andrew Thomas. This is probably the best draft pick in the Gettleman era, and Gettleman wasn’t even the one who wanted him. That same year, the Giants took Xavier McKinney. Rumors are, he had Joe Judge’s attention, as Judge had previous connections to Alabama.
The Giants went 6-10 in Judge’s first year, but because of some solid offseason signings and an almost-playoff appearance, Dave Gettleman once again retained his job.
He then proceeded to give WR Kenny Golladay a mega-deal that quickly proved to be a big mistake. Golladay has been plagued by injuries for most of his career, and this year was no different. Additionally, the Giants’ offense failed to use Golladay properly. In fact, they failed to use anyone properly.
After Daniel Jones went down with a neck injury, the offense was almost invisible. Daniel Jones deserves credit for even getting the offense into the redzone. Backup Mike Glennon and 3rd-string Jake Fromm led the Giants to possibly the worst offensive stretch we’ve ever seen from a team in NFL history. No, that isn’t an exaggeration. The last 6 games of the season were likely the tipping point for owner John Mara.
In those final weeks, Joe Judge went on an 11-minute rant, criticized well-respected coach Ron Rivera in the process, then went on to lose to Ron Rivera for the 2nd time that season. And I’m sure you’re already aware of the QB sneak Judge ran on 3rd down with 9 yards to go. Seems like he gave up, which is odd considering he said “We will never do that as long as I’m the head coach of the New York Giants,” after the Eagles’ week 17 game against the Washington Football Team last year. Classic hypocritical Joe Judge.
On Monday, following the game, GM David Gettleman “retired.” Joe Judge was fired the next day. Giants fans rejoice. However, there is still one problem that stands. In the end, these last 5 years have been the fault of one man: owner John Mara.
Mara has been the center of the most embarrassing eras in Giants football. Having family members involved such as Chris Mara, as well as being unwilling to part with guys like Chris Petit, have hurt the Giants tremendously. The Giants’ entire front office has been a joke for years, and Mara has yet to do anything about it. One former Giants scout has even expressed his feelings on Twitter, writing that the dysfunction is rooted deeply within the franchise and Mara is “blind” to it all. If the Giants want real success moving forward, the entire front office must be completely cleaned out, even if it means firing family. Gettleman and Judge being gone is a good start, but more must be done.
Speaking of Judge and Gettleman, the way Mara “let them go” was a little questionable. Dave Gettleman was allowed to peacefully retire from football without officially being fired, while 2-time Super Bowl-winning Jerry Reese was fired midseason. Joe Judge, who should’ve really been fired immediately after that humiliating loss in the final game, was fired TWO days later, not even on the “cutdown day” that saw Brian Flores get surprisingly fired.
You may think this article is all over the place. That’s because it is. The Giants as a franchise have been so terrible that it’s hard to even describe it in an organized way. This well-respected franchise has hit rock-bottom since that fateful boat trip 5 years ago. Before I set off to write this, I had a few ideas in mind, but I never imagined I would have this much to talk about. That’s how dysfunctional this organization has been.
Sterling Shepard is the last remaining player from that boat trip. His future with the Giants is in doubt, as he is hurt and his contract is a liability. Once he’s gone, maybe the curse will finally be lifted.
Until then, Giants fans can only hope that the team moves in a positive direction from here. First, they must get the GM and HC right.