Giants’ worst-to-first turnaround could be stunningly fast

The Giants will win the NFC East in 2018.

If you do not believe this, you have not been paying attention to life in the NFL, where worst-to-first is not only possible, but probable.

A remarkable and confounding trend was strengthened this season. The Jaguars and Eagles, last-place finishers in 2016, won their division titles this season. If the Panthers do the same, three last-place finishers winning their divisions the next year would tie for the most in NFL history.

For the 14th time in the past 15 years, at least one team coming off a last-place finish won its division the following year. Some doormat always rises to the penthouse. Considering how firmly the Giants (2-13) are buried in the basement, using precedent as a guide, perhaps they follow history’s lead and go from wearing clown hats to division crowns.

This may all sound ridiculously optimistic for a franchise that has lost its way and heads into 2018 not knowing the identity of its general manager, head coach, entire coaching staff or starting quarterback. A loss Sunday against the Redskins would, fittingly, have them ending this season on a six-game losing streak and guarantee the Giants the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft. They do not yet know who will be making the call, a winning lottery ticket sitting out there for whoever is fortunate enough to be hired to claim the prize.

Four candidates for the general manager job have interviewed: Two (Kevin Abrams, Marc Ross) are presently employed by the team, one (Dave Gettleman) previously employed by the team and one (Louis Riddick) with no ties whatsoever to the team. The search is not complete.

The candidate pool will expand after the season and the Giants will dive in. The Packers are done after this weekend, meaning Eliot Wolf can be called in for an interview next week. Eric DeCosta (Ravens) might also be available at that time. Playoff teams do not have to grant permission for interviews until their season is over, so if the Giants want to speak with someone (Nick Caserio?) from the Patriots, for example, they quite possibly could have to wait until after Feb. 4 and Super Bowl LII.

There is a seeming contradiction at work here that needs to be cleared up. Co-owner John Mara’s decree that there is a need for “wholesale changes’’ could indicate hiring an in-house replacement is not the way it is going to transpire. “Wholesale changes,” though, should not be equated necessarily with bringing someone in from outside the building. It is believed Abrams offered his own ideas and plans for future team operations that would represent dramatic change, even though Abrams spent the past 16 years as assistant general manager, the past 11 years working directly under Jerry Reese.

The wholesale change could also be reflected in the personality of the new general manager. Reese had no interest in media interaction, obliging only the very minimum, and, in keeping with the policy he set down, Ross and Abrams were kept behind a curtain, with Ross peeking out only for draft-day analysis. The new regime will be more accessible, hearkening back to George Young and Ernie Accorsi, who believed in dialogue.

“Jerry’s not a schmoozer … he was very standoffish but I know where I stand with him,’’ a prominent player agent told The Post. “I had no problem with him. I think he’d done a very good job up until this point. If he’s guilty of anything, the Ereck Flowers experiment is a disaster but so many people miss on linemen. Odell Beckham, you can put your career on a pick like that.

“Kevin Abrams handles a lot of the cap-type things. He knows exactly what he’s doing with the cap, there’s no BS, it’s a very easy negotiation. We can be honest with him he can be honest with us, all good.’’

A successor from in-house — someone owning two Super Bowl rings (thanks, Eli Manning!) might look at what comes next as a course adjustment, while someone such as Riddick could view this as a total rebuild, starting with identifying a new franchise quarterback. Anyone who takes over with any sense of the league will know how quickly dire and dreary can turn into bright and promising.

The meek inheriting the earth is a way of life in the NFL. Of the eight teams currently in first place, five of them were third- or fourth-place finishers in 2016. In every season since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams qualified for the postseason after missing the playoffs the previous season.

Then there is this: Eight teams that missed the playoffs in 2016 are currently in the playoffs, if the season ended today. That would tie 2003 for the most in NFL history.

So, there is hope for the Giants.

Source: https://nypost.com/2017/12/26/giants-worst-to-first-turnaround-could-be-stunningly-fast/

Leave a Reply