The Giants desperately need to find their Mike Tomlin. Their Kyle Shanahan. Their Sean McVay. They’ve been lost since the end of the Tom Coughlin Era. You can’t keep firing head coaches every two years.
You can quarrel with the owner’s decision to retain GM Dave Gettleman, but the Giants never whack GMs after only two years, only head coaches, and at least Hit-And-Miss Gettleman was put on notice when John Mara said: “He does know that the batting average has gotta increase going forward.”
But the fact of the matter is Gettleman did draft Daniel Jones as Eli Manning’s successor, which in and of itself gives him a better batting average than Mara and Steve Tisch have had picking successors to Coughlin. Which, of course, isn’t saying much.
Matt Rhule gives them their best chance to raise up to a .333 batting average after striking out with Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur.
If ever there is a time when Mara and Tisch need to regain the trust of their ticket buyers, it is now.
“I believe we will get it right this time,” Mara said.
Rhule gives Gettleman a better chance to get it right this time because he would better motivate Gettleman’s army of young draftees better than Shurmur did.
“There were so many games that I felt like we should have won. We just didn’t get the job done,” Mara said.
He is a child of New York City, so New York won’t scare him.
He is the best bet to save Gettleman and mitigate the admitted risk of saddling the next head coach with a different GM should Gettleman’s batting average slump further.
Rhule possesses the single most critical trait that Mara and Tisch should and do crave:
“I’m really looking for leadership, that’s the big thing going forward,” Mara said. “Somebody who can come in take control of this roster, help build a culture that is gonna lead to winning. Somebody’s who’s gonna help us with our football reorganization we’re in the process of undergoing right now.”
A reorganization that Mara indicated could result in the next head coach having more power over personnel than previous Giants head coaches.
“I’ve always believed that the toughest decision that Steve and I ever have to make in this business,” Mara said, “is finding the right guy to stand up here in front of the team and lead them and develop a winning program going forward.”
It is all Rhule has done since winning Coughlin’s respect and admiration as the Giants’ assistant offensive line coach in 2012. Rhule was disappointed he didn’t receive an official interview when the job was open in 2018, a source told The Post. But now there is serious mutual interest as the Giants are one of several NFL teams that have Rhule on their radar.
Rhule — who couldn’t reach a deal to become the Jets head coach last year due to staffing disagreements — is a leader of men. He has coached both sides of the ball. He is a builder who has resurrected downtrodden programs at Temple and at Baylor. And heavens to Wellington Mara, the Giants are a downtrodden program.
“We’ve had three losing years in a row and, quite frankly, we have lost some standing as an organization,” Mara said.
Giants safety Sean Chandler played for Rhule at Temple.
“He’s able to connect with all his players, so that just makes you want to be able to play for him that much harder,” Chandler said.
Chandler, from homeless shelters in Camden. Rhule, son of a minister.
“Me and him, we come from different walks of life, but it was like I was talking to my friend when I was talking to him, it wasn’t like I was talking to a coach, and I feel like he could do that with all his players,” Chandler told The Post.
I asked him if Rhule gave him one piece of advice that had stuck with him.
“The main one I would say,” Chandler said, and smiled, “is that, ‘The lions, they don’t walk with the sheep.’ Through all my years at Temple, even when he left, and now when I’m in the league, just be a lion at heart.”
A lionhearted coach.
Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson also played for Rhule at Temple and is forever thankful he did.
“I texted him thanking him because there were things he did and put me through in college that I used to get mad about, but now I really understand why he was doing those things,” Anderson said. “He didn’t want me to just rely on the fact that I was talented. He taught me work ethic. I always said when I got here in practice, I was like, ‘Damn, this is kind of easy compared to what he had us doing there.’
“He fought to get me back into Temple. I was kicked out, and he really fought. He got them to like change the rules in the school. If it wasn’t for him to give me the opportunity, I probably wouldn’t have gotten my foot in the door in the NFL. I was about to go to a Division II school, but he fought and believed in me and put his name and put himself on the line to make me get that second chance and get right. There were a lot of times we didn’t see eye-to-eye about a lot of things because when I was young, I was a little stubborn. But he always had my best interests at heart. He’s a hell of a coach. He’s a great man, too.”
Rhule once recommended Nick Sharga, a 2018 undrafted fullback he coached at Temple, and Raiders coach Jon Gruden listened. Sharga wore a single-digit number, which was awarded by Owls teammates for being among the toughest players on the team.
“I usually listen to Matt Rhule. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.” Gruden told SicEm365.com before the 2018 NFL season.
Mara is right when he says, “It all starts at the top,” and while it might comfort Giants fans that Mara and Tisch emphatically deny there has been any friction between them, their poll numbers among Giants fans aren’t much better today than Tom Steyer’s among Democratic presidential candidates.
“I say to the fans, ‘I totally understand your frustration, your concern. I read your emails. I get it,” Tisch said.
Matt Rhule gets it.
Get him, and you won’t be humiliated again two years from now.
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