Giants, Thibodeaux

Like it or not, this is Gettleman’s team

It took a while, but former Giants general manager Dave Gettleman’s roster is finally bearing fruit.

When the Giants make the playoffs for the first time in five years Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis as they play the Minnesota Vikings, it will be because the players that were drafted by Gettleman contributed to this team’s success. Players such as Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Andrew Thomas, Dexter Lawrence, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love and Azeez Ojulari will make up the roster that he drafted.

They did not pan out quickly enough for him to save his job. That’s the unfortunate part of pro sports. Gettleman knows that’s the way it goes.

Look, the disgraced Giants general manager deserved to lose his job. He had the Giants in cap hell. He struck out in hiring two head coaches in Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge. He was often condescending to the media by acting like he was the smartest man in the room. He credited himself way too much for building the 2007 and 2001 Giants championship teams. Shoot, you can even say he had no business drafting Barkley this early in the first round of the NFL draft. One can even say he took a risk in Jones.

Still, his critics can’t take this away. They know it.

Question drafting Barkley, Gettleman’s very first draft pick, this early. It was foolish to draft a running back as the No. 2 overall pick, because of the wear and tear on his body that could make him useless in a few years. He’s been injury-prone. No matter, Barkley rushed a career-high 1,312 yards on 295 carries this season, and he played all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season. He made this offense go all year, and he made Jones’ job easy.

Barkley did enough to earn an extension. This should be a plus for Gettleman, who kept the faith in him despite some frustrating NFL seasons.

Gettleman took a leap of faith in Jones by drafting him to outsmart everyone when no one thought he was NFL quarterback material. Jones has had his ups and downs in the NFL, especially when he was injury prone, but he did have the best year of his career this season. He picked up his play last month after the Giants were fighting for their playoff lives.

It remains to be seen if Jones can continue to elevate himself into a star, but no matter what, he did enough to be the quarterback of the New York Giants for the next few years.

The role players in the trenches have come into their own. This was going to take time whether fans like it or not. Gettleman even said so.

If nothing else, no one can say Gettleman’s tenure was an all-time failure. He actually achieved some sort of success, which explains why he enjoyed a retirement ceremony rather than receiving an all-out firing.

Gettleman has every right to be proud of his players. He should have some pride in his contributions to the playoffs. It’s only right that if we criticize him for his mistakes, he deserves credit for his drafts.

This is not to say he should have kept on as general manager. His time has come and gone. The Giants needed new ideas in building a team for the modern NFL. His 19-46 record during his Giants general manager tenure was hard to ignore.

Critics in town don’t want to give Gettleman his due, as he traded Odell Beckham Jr. He wasn’t actually wrong in trading this petulant and constantly injury-prone wide receiver. He was the one who realized those facts - unlike most fans, who thought Beckham was untouchable.

It wasn’t like Beckham was Jerry Rice here. He won nothing with the Giants. He has been overrated throughout his career. He has been put on a pedestal based on that one-grab lucky catch he made against the Dallas Cowboys in his rookie season that jumpstarted his career. The reality was that he wasn’t that good here, and he never won much here. All he did was create headaches for an organization.

To crucify Gettleman for that is wrong. There are many things to put on Gettleman, but this is not one of them.

Unfortunately for him, this was a sin he could never recover from. The losing seasons and non-playoff seasons made it even worse for him.

Giants head coach Brian Daboll and Giants general manager Joe Schoen are reaping the benefits of Gettleman’s work. Neither should apologize for that. Daboll maximized most out of his roster and got them to nine wins this season, and Schoen did hire the head coach to make all of this work.

But with all that said, Gettleman can take a bow when he watches the Giants at Cape Cod on Sunday.

This is his team.

You can reach me or follow me on Twitter: @LMonteiroJSN

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