Entering 2022, it has been years since the New York Giants won their regular season opener. In recent years, many of their wins have been out of luck, or just sneaking by. Then, optimism was delivered with the hiring of Head Coach Brian Daboll and General Manager Joe Schoen. Until injuries, positional question marks, and good players getting cut made it appear it would be a long season.
That lasted until the Giants beat Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans. On Sunday, it was players from the former General Manager Dave Gettleman‘s era that shined. Somewhere off in retirement, Gettleman is certainly smiling.
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Somewhere Dave Gettleman is Smiling over New York Giants
This game was Saquon Barkley’s. It has been a while since Barkley has gone off, and he quickly reminded fans of his ability. Certainly, something that is music to Gettleman’s ears. From the moment Barkley was taken from Penn State, this became his offense. They parted with Odell Beckham Jr., prioritizing running the offense through Barkley. The second overall pick in 2018, the Giants chose Barkley over any Eli Manning replacement at quarterback.
But the offense was always supposed to run through Barkley, and he was supposed to run and catch his way to days like today where he put up almost 200 total yards, a touchdown, and a two-point, game-winning conversion. Who knows if Gettleman watches the Giants game today? But if he does, he had to have celebrated when Barkley scored the game-winner.
The irony of the moment was that Gettleman took a lot of flak for picking a running back so high and wanting to operate an old-school offense through the run game. It’s ironic because the team they beat has an old-school offense that operates through the run game. The Giants out-played the Titans and Barkley out-ran Derrick Henry. And Dave Gettleman’s precious defensive line, with his hand-picked hog-mollies Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence (minus Joe Schoen addition Kayvon Thibodeaux), held Henry to under a hundred yards and under a four yards per rush average. That’s what a Gettleman line was always supposed to do, and it must have given the Giants former manager a lot of pleasure to see two run-heavy offenses line up against each other and batter away, with his boys winning the battle of the bigs.
The secondary didn’t play particularly well and gave up a 106 passer rating to Ryan Tannehill, but the unit was missing two of Gettleman’s productive trades in James Bradberry and Blake Martinez. (Bradberry had a pick-six on Sunday for the Eagles, for what it’s worth.) Since this is an article about Dave Gettleman, one has to give him credit for two good players that he brought in who likely would have made a difference on the defensive side of the ball, while his picks on the offensive side were winning the game.
Gettleman’s Most Controversial Pick Playing…Like He was Supposed to?
This of course brings us to Daniel Jones. Few know why Gettleman loves Jones so much, and who knows exactly what he expected of him, but given his run-first philosophy, one can’t imagine he expected him to be much more than a game manager. But if that’s what drew him so heavily to the Duke product (the very same thing that turned everyone else off), Gettleman will frame this game on his wall and point to it as proof of Jones’ potential.
Jones had a good if un-explosive game, with a very high completion percentage, a very Jones-like 188 yards, and two touchdowns plus an interception for a crisp 116 passer rating. When taking his fumble into account, his rating should be lower. At the same time, it can be higher when considering his two first downs and 25 yards rushing on the ground. He didn’t have to be the savior of the team (no one is with 188 yards through the air), but he balled out in 1960’s Dave Gettleman style while Saquon Barkley Jim Brown’d the team to a win.
Dave Gettleman’s Temporary Credit
To recap – Daniel Jones is a functional game manager. Saquon Barkley is healthy and can put the team on his back. The defensive line shut down one of the game’s best rushers. While Gettleman may not have danced like Daboll, he did help build the roster that won this game.
Daboll and Schoen don’t seem likely to stick with an old-school philosophy (not with drafting very un-Gettleman players like Wan’Dale Robinson and Cor’Dale Flott), but they haven’t yet had the chance to fully build the team in their image. The roster still features Gettleman-era players, although to start the year that influence is paying off. And for that, Dave Gettleman has to be smiling.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images