Which Giants players, coaches, and executives correctly fulfilled their roles in 2021? Which didn’t?
Christmas is nearly upon us; so is the conclusion of the 2021 NFL regular season.
And boy has it been another disappointing and embarrassing one for the New York Giants.
The franchise that many had hope for entering this campaign has solidified a fifth consecutive season with double-digit losses.
While some individuals within the organization have stepped up, others are (partly) to blame for the Giants’ misfortunes.
Who shall end up on Big Blue’s 2021 naughty and nice lists?
GM Dave Gettleman
This is Dave Gettleman‘s last season most likely. Whether the general manager concludes his Giants tenure via retirement or ownership firing him, he absolutely needs to go.
The Giants are now 19-43 since the start of the 2018 season (Gettleman’s first full year as the GM) and you could certainly point the finger at Dave for many of the issues that have arisen since that campaign.
Gettleman was the one who used the No. 2 overall draft pick on a running back, signed various players who were nearing the end of their respective careers (Golden Tate, Antoine Bethea, Connor Barwin, Jonathan Stewart, etc.), and failed to correctly address many of the issues on the offensive line.
DG must be shown the door.
HC Joe Judge
The Giants are now 10-20 under Joe Judge. Many believed the culture would change when he took over the head coaching position at the beginning of 2020, but the honeymoon between him and the fans is long gone and supporters of this franchise are heavily impatient.
Judge is clearly not the answer for the head coaching role and it would be in the Giants’ best interest for them to make a change this offseason.
Former OC Jason Garrett
The Giants should’ve parted ways with now-former offensive coordinator Jason Garrett following the 2020 campaign, a year in which they finished second-to-last in both total yards and points.
But instead, the organization decided to give Garrett, who lacks creativity as a play-caller, another season — what ended up being a horrific move. The Giants offense continued being one of the league’s worst and you can make the argument Garrett hindered the overall development of Daniel Jones.
Garrett seemed out of touch with the modern-day NFL offense and took a more conservative approach week-in and week-out, which killed the team on various occasions.
QB Daniel Jones
The third-year signal-caller finished the season with only 10 touchdowns and seven picks through 11 games (4-7 record as a starter). He additionally fumbled seven times, losing three of them.
It’s unclear whether Jones will ever be playing in a Giants uniform again. But regardless of his future, the signal-caller did not have a consistently productive 2021.
RB Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley has not been able to produce all year long. He’s experienced another injury-plagued season (he missed four consecutive games due to an ankle injury) and has been nowhere close to the dynamic running back he was during his incredible 2018 rookie campaign.
The Giants should absolutely part ways with Barkley in the offseason via the trade market. They would be better off earning draft capital than moving forward with him for a fifth season. The Giants could then use that capital to potentially address the running back position in one of the middle draft rounds.
LT Andrew Thomas
This team entered the season with various question marks surrounding left tackle Andrew Thomas. The 2020 first-round draft pick struggled during his rookie campaign as well as in this year’s preseason but has drastically turned a corner during the regular season.
Thomas has been far and away the team’s best offensive lineman and is proving to be the left tackle of the future.
The Giants have experienced many issues on the offensive side of the ball this year but Thomas hasn’t contributed to any of them.
S Xavier McKinney
Xavier McKinney is putting together a dominant second NFL season and is proving to be much more of a staple on this defense than Jabrill Peppers.
In a passing league, McKinney is not the liability in coverage that Peppers is and the Giants should certainly move forward with the former on his rookie deal than re-sign or franchise tag the latter.
Expect McKinney to grow into one of the better safeties in the league next year.
K Graham Gano
Graham Gano has been dominant ever since he joined the Giants for the 2020 campaign. The veteran placekicker has converted 27 of 31 field-goal attempts and all 15 of his extra-point attempts this season.
In another year in which the Giants offense has struggled mightily, Gano has helped the team put at least a few points on the board (the Giants only scored six points in the most recent loss to Dallas, all thanks to Gano).
Sometimes, it seems Graham is the only one doing his job correctly on a constant basis — he should absolutely remain with the team in 2022.
EDGE Azeez Ojulari
I’ll give Dave Gettleman props here — he made the right choice selecting Georgia edge rusher Azeez Ojulari in the second round of the 2021 draft.
Ojulari has really come into his own and proven to be a talented pass rusher who can get to the quarterback. Ahead of Week 16, Azeez leads the Giants with 8.0 sacks and is tied for first with 11 quarterback hits.
While the Giants definitely could draft another talented edge rusher in the 2022 first round, Ojulari seems to be a long-term component of the defense.
ILB Tae Crowder
Can we talk about how great Tae Crowder has performed the last two years, especially considering he was literally a Mr. Irrelevant draft pick back in 2020?
The second-year inside linebacker leads the team with 108 combined tackles and has been a talented run-stopper in the middle of the defense while Blake Martinez nurses an ACL tear.
If Crowder remains healthy and performs well in 2022, there’s a real good chance the Giants award him with a second contract at some point or another. His current rookie deal expires at the end of the 2023 campaign.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY