For Giants, A Clean Slate Means Cleaning The Roster

For the New York Giants, the bye week is the time to continue the building process started this past offseason, something that head coach Pat Shurmur is clearly signaling. There is a commitment to this rebuild, even if that means that the losses may continue to build as well.

It has been a disappointing season for the Giants, who at 1-6 are already eliminated from any serious talk about the postseason. It isn’t the year that general manager Dave Gettleman and Shurmur, both hired this offseason, envisioned when they took over a team that was 3-13 a year ago. There was (and is) plenty of star power on the roster they’ve inherited.

Turns out that there simply isn’t enough talent from top to bottom on the two-deep to win right now, a top-heavy roster only able to take this team so far it seems.

And while Shurmur says that the focus remains on winning games and being competitive, it is clear that the focus of the season has already shifted to 2019. This is a team that over the past week has blown up its roster, trading away star defensive tackle Damon Harrison and former first round pick Eli Apple (who coincidentally had nine tackles last week in his debut with the New Orleans Saints).

It is a team that is fully invested in thinking about next year, the emphasis now on seeing what they have in the young players on this team. But the bye week won’t see a massive roster shake-up or a directional shift in things schematically.

Instead, it is just a chance for Shurmur and his staff to evaluate, look within and sense the direction of this team.

Pat Shurmur discusses the Giants performance on offense in the Week 8 loss to Washington.

“It’s not like you’re going to come out and we’re going to be running the Wing T,” Shurmur said Monday. “But what you try to do is, within the things you think you do well, you go back and say this route combination has worked against these types of coverages, we’ll do this more, this less, this is what the quarterback can do well. So we have a pretty good sample size now, half a year, and then try to refocus on those things.”

The trades already made this season, including shipping off right tackle and former first round pick Ereck Flowers several weeks ago, shift a cleaning of the house. Gettleman, in his role overseeing the roster, had tried to patch things up with this team over the offseason and become more competitive this year.

After all, the Giants were 11-5 two years ago and a playoff team, featuring a number of the star players on this current Giants roster. It made sense to try to fill some holes and find some stopgaps on the team and try to give it a run this year.

But one win in the first eight weeks has caused a re-evaluation of priorities. Trading the likes of Harrison and Apple, and to a lesser extent Flowers, shows that the Giants are willing to blow this thing up and begin a true rebuild in earnest.

A team focused on a clean slate this offseason under a new head coach who inherited a number of players from last year’s under-achieving team now might be wiping the slate clean entirely.

“Whenever you have a coach in his first year, you hear people say everybody’s got a clean slate, everyone wants to put their best foot forward and that’s the benefit of having a coach in his first year,” linebacker Conor Barwin said.

“I think it’s more so, I think Shurmur is doing a great job leading, sticking to the message that is just keep fighting, just keep playing for each other, keep playing hard and we’re going to get this fixed and we’re going to find a way to kind of get over the top and start getting wins. There’s an opportunity in everything and this is really bad, but adversity can bring teams together and you could see people’s true colors. You can see who’s tough and who wants to be here and all that stuff is what can be happening now over the next two months.”