EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Of the 46 players active for the New York Giants in their season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, just 14 were drafted by Jerry Reese, who has been the team's general manager since 2007.
And it's the coach who has to go?
Look, you can make the case that it was time for the Giants to move on from Tom Coughlin, who stepped down Monday after 12 seasons. He had a rotten year with in-game decisions, he missed the playoffs six of the past seven years and his franchise just had three straight losing seasons for the first time since the late 1970s. Any coach who fits that description knows his team is likely to want a change, and Coughlin is no exception. Two Super Bowl titles notwithstanding, this is the life he has chosen. Nobody gets to coach forever.
But it's absurd to look at the Giants' current predicament and conclude that the accountability should stop with the coaching staff. The team that Reese and his front office asked Coughlin to coach this year was the worst he has had since he was in Jacksonville, and it wasn't all that much worse than the ones they gave him in 2013 and 2014.
Years of unproductive drafts have hollowed out the roster. Of those 14 drafted players active for the Giants on Sunday, half were picked in the past two years and one of the others, Hakeem Nicks, really shouldn't count, because he left and came back as a street free agent.
This is a system failure, of course. The Giants' scouts aren't doing a good enough job finding players with NFL upside. Reese has spent too many years taking too many midround chances on projection players such as Damontre Moore, Rueben Randle, Adrien Robinson and James Brewer. And Coughlin and his coaching staff haven't developed enough of these guys.
Pinning this mess on Coughlin ignores the extent of the list of people responsible. The Giants' front office has proved itself delinquent when it comes to roster building, and that falls at the feet of Reese. He's not going anywhere, because the Giants' owners are loyal to their people and they don't fire GMs. But no one who's looking at this from the inside or the outside should conclude that changing coaches will fix everything that's wrong.
These Giants remain in the midst of a roster rebuild, and it's not going well. Reese gets deserved credit for picking dazzling wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round in 2014, and his recent high-pick focus on the offensive line shows a promising shift in priorities. But overall, Reese has not done a good job as GM and he needs to accurately assess the ways in which his own failures and mistakes have led the Giants to this point. He needs to make (or be forced to make) changes in the way the Giants' front office assesses and acquires players. He deserves to feel at least as much heat as Coughlin was made to feel this year, because he's at least as responsible for the team's current predicament as Coughlin or anyone on his coaching staff was.
Four years in a row and six out of seven outside the playoffs is not acceptable, and it's fair that changes are being made. But to lay all of this on Coughlin would be a shortsighted error, and those left behind need to make sure they don't lay all of the blame on the guy walking out the door. They need to look in the mirror.