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By: Ed Valentine
Hiring a head coach is just one of many things on Schoen’s to-do list
Joe Schoen, hired Friday as general manager of the New York Giants, knows that getting the job was only the beginning. “Now, the work begins” he said in a statement released by the team.
The work of resuscitating a team that has had five straight losing seasons and has made one playoff appearance since 2011 will be arduous. Here are five things Schoen needs to do fairly quickly.
Hire a new head coach
This is priority one. And Schoen knows it.
“My immediate focus is to hire a head coach, with who I will work in lockstep with to create a collaborative environment for our football operations,” Schoen said in that statement from the Giants. “We will cast a wide net, it can be former head coaches, first-time head coaches but, more importantly, it has to be a person who possesses the ability to lead an organization and the ability to motivate and develop players.”
The Giants have promised that Schoen will lead the search for a head coach. Oddsmakers believe the coach Schoen will land on is former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, fired recently after three seasons there.
Schoen could also turn to his Buffalo connections, where both Bills’ offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier are considered viable candidates in this hiring cycle.
The Giants are reportedly expected to interview both Flores and Daboll.
The Giants have also reportedly requested permission to speak with Dan Quinn, former Atlanta Falcons head coach and current defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys.
Straighten out the front office
This might be the key challenge faced by Schoen. A number of reports in recent weeks have detailed what appears to be a dysfunctional front office, including charges John Mara, along with Mara family members and front office employees Chris Mara and Tim McDonnell, exert too much influence and have no accountability.
Hiring a general manager in Schoen who has no previous ties to the organization is a good first step in getting the organization functioning properly again. Allowing him to lead the search for a coach is another. There was a recent New York Post report that ownership will give Schoen “carte blanche” to make organizational changes.
The question is, what will happen when Schoen tests the boundaries of that “carte blanche?” What will happen if and when he demands a personnel change in the front office, removing someone who falls into what some have called a “protected class” in that front office? Or, if Schoen bangs the table for the hiring of a head coach or the acquisition of a player that makes ownership uncomfortable?
The answers to those things will tell us a lot about Schoen’s ultimate chance of success/failure with the Giants.
Get a grip on the 2022 salary cap
The Giants’ cap situation for the upcoming season is a mess. The previous regime knew it would be before the 2021 season even began with Assistant GM Kevin Abrams admitting the organization knew they had put themselves in a difficult spot for 2022.
The Giants were so tight against the cap at the end of the 2021 season that they spent the final few weeks nickel and diming. They renegotiated contract after contract, and didn’t even both to fill all of the spots on the 53-man roster for the final few games.
Now, it is up to a new regime to clean up the mess.
Over The Cap has the Giants currently at $6.94 million OVER an expected $208.2 million 2022 salary cap. That likely means few of the team’s pending free agents will be brought back.
Players like cornerback James Bradberry ($21.863 million 2022 cap hit), linebacker Blake Martinez ($14.025M cap hit), wide receiver Sterling Shepard ($12.495M cap hit), tight end Kyle Rudolph ($7.408M cap hit), and Devontae Booker ($3M cap hit) could all be in jeopardy.
Develop an offensive line plan
Dave Gettleman walked in the door at the end of the 2017 season proclaiming his love for “hog mollies,” saying things like “big men allow you to compete,” and pointedly admitting that the offensive line had to get fixed.
The new GM now has to pick up the pieces. So, what’s the plan?
Andrew Thomas had an outstanding second season at left tackle and looks like a long-term fixture. Other than that, are there any salvageable pieces out of the offensive line wreckage Gettleman and departed head coach Joe Judge left behind?
Shane Lemieux will be back after missing the season with a knee injury. He is still on his rookie contract and likely at least gets an opportunity to compete for a roster spot, if not a starting role. Anything the Giants get from Nick Gates in 2022 will be a bonus after he wrecked his leg in Week 2 of last season. Matt Peart, like Lemieux, might deserve an opportunity to compete — if his torn ACL heals quickly enough.
Anyone else? Certainly no one you would want to bang the table for and say “he has to be a starter in 2022.”
Where will the reinforcements come from?
There isn’t going to be a ton of salary cap space, as we have already discussed. Do you want to try to carve out enough to find a capable starting guard or center on a short-term, low-cost deal?
What about the draft? Do you go all-in and use both of the top-10 picks on offensive linemen? As of now, Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu and Charlie Cross are the top three offensive tackles. How do you prioritize that trio? Do you have the guts to take Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum in the top 10? There are a host of Day 2 and earl Day 3 guard or center prospects. How are you going to sort them out?
How many picks can or should you use on the offensive line?
After the revolving door of offensive line coaches the organization went through during Judge’s two seasons, how are you going to help your new head coach solidify that critical spot?
Make a quarterback decision
Quarterback is only the most important position on a football. Entering 2022, and the reign of a new decision-making tandem at general manager/head coach, the picture for the Giants at that spot is as clear as mud.
Should the Giants proceed with Daniel Jones at quarterback in 2022, the final year of his rookie contract? If they are going to do that, do they pick up his 2023 fifth-year option for what is estimated to be $21.369 million or make 2022 a complete “prove it” (lame-duck?) year for Jones, thus punting the long-term decision into 2023?
If proceeding with Jones isn’t palatable, does the new GM really want to tie himself to a quarterback from this class with a top-10 pick in the draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper said recently that the ceiling for Kenny Pickett of Pitt, generally considered QB1 in this draft class, is Andy Dalton or maybe Derek Carr. Is that an investment you want to make in the top 10 of your first draft?
If you roll with Jones in 2022, would you use a Round 2 pick on someone like Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati, Malik Willis of Liberty, Sam Howell of N.C. State or another quarterback who might be on the board at 36?
Would you go all-in with draft capital and salary cap resources to make a deal for someone like Carr, Russell Wilson or Jimmy Garoppolo?
To get his tenure right, the new GM has to get the quarterback right. So, what will he do?
Originally posted on Big Blue View