What the Giants' six-game skid means for their decision-makers

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As the losses continue to mount, so do questions about the future of the New York Giants' top decision-makers. The hot seats are inevitably getting warmer.

It's the way this production-based business works. The Giants (2-8) enter their bye week on a six-game losing streak, with a worse record than they had at this point last season.

Walking out of MetLife Stadium on Sunday night, Giants co-owner John Mara didn't break stride when asked if he wanted to comment on the state of the team following a 34-27 loss to the New York Jets. He isn't expected to make any decisions during the bye week.

More likely, the Giants will put off any sweeping change until the postseason. But Mara can't be happy about what has transpired this season, especially after last season -- and the season before that, for that matter.

"We all know this league is a business, and winning is everything in this league," safety Jabrill Peppers said. "When you don't win, everything starts to look different."

As we enter the bye week, here is a look at where coach Pat Shurmur, defensive coordinator James Bettcher and general manager Dave Gettleman stand.

Shurmur was asked Sunday if he was worried about his job. "My concern is putting a team on the field that's going to win a football game. That's my concern," Shurmur said. He hasn't been getting that done so far, with the lack of legitimate talent a big part of the problem. Shurmur noted Sunday that the Giants' three cornerbacks -- DeAndre Baker, Corey Ballentine and Sam Beal -- hadn't taken an NFL snap prior to this season. He has been forced to play them because there are no other choices.

"Well, the decision to go with [young players], in most cases, there is no decision," Shurmur said.

That's a tough way to live, but Shurmur's playcalling and ability to maximize the potential of running back Saquon Barkley have come into question. Barkley had 1 yard rushing on 13 carries Sunday and is averaging 2.6 yards in the four games since his return from an ankle injury. This problem is at least partly attributable to Barkley's health. In Shurmur's defense, that wasn't a concern last season, when Barkley was smashing rookie records, and it might be because of the deterioration of the offensive line.

There have also been some questionable in-game decisions from Shurmur in his two years with the Giants. That includes inconsistency on fourth down and 2-point conversion decisions and questionable challenges and timeouts. This is perhaps the most disconcerting critique, considering that Shurmur should have ironed out these matters during his first stint as an NFL head coach with the Cleveland Browns. Instead, as things stand, Shurmur has the seventh-worst winning percentage (.288) of all time and is 7-19 with the Giants.

What works in Shurmur's favor is the job he has done with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, who has nine touchdown passes and one interception in his past three games. Shurmur can take credit for selecting Jones with the sixth overall pick and helping coach him up. Jones has looked reasonably good most of his rookie season, except for his 17 turnovers, which include eight interceptions and nine fumbles. Jones is of utmost importance to the future of the organization.

Jones likely buys Shurmur time, at least until the end of the season. Although ownership is upset with the job Shurmur has done to date, the Giants seem reluctant to leave their QB stranded. It wouldn't benefit the rookie quarterback to fire Shurmur and leave him at the mercy of an interim coach. So don't expect Shurmur to go anywhere during the bye week.

Bettcher is in charge of the league's 26th-ranked defense. On the surface, that sounds bad. But is it really, considering the talent at his disposal?

"This is a production-based business," veteran safety and captain Michael Thomas said. "Still, definitely would be disappointed [if Bettcher is fired]. I think he calls great games. Puts in great game plans. Puts guys in position to win. We just have to make plays. We haven't made enough."

The Giants lack playmakers on defense. It's possible that recently acquired defensive end Leonard Williams is their best defensive player. That's disconcerting, considering that the Jets, who traded him to the Giants, had no intention of committing to Williams long-term.

This is what Bettcher is dealing with. He has no game-changing edge rusher. He has no middle linebacker or No. 1 cornerback, with Janoris Jenkins' play having tailed off in recent years. It's hard to field a serviceable defense without those key pieces.

That has forced Bettcher to alter his approach. He came to the Giants known for his propensity to blitz. He sent extra men at opposing quarterbacks 33-45% of the time as the coordinator of top-10 defenses in Arizona. Now, he's blitzing 27% of the time this season, compared to 25% last season, according to Next Gen Stats.

This is a result of his inability to trust an inexperienced secondary. Baker, a first-round pick, has been a disaster as a rookie. Safety Antoine Bethea appears to have lost a step. The Giants don't have a proven nickel cornerback, and the other safety, Peppers, isn't known for his coverage.

Bettcher has been placed in an almost impossible position. Gettleman traded several starters in the middle of last season, traded his top pass-rusher (Olivier Vernon) this past offseason and allowed the unit's best player overall (Landon Collins) to walk in free agency.

Bettcher hasn't been able to get through to younger players quickly enough, which has led to some head-scratching missed assignments and way-too-easy explosive plays. The Giants have allowed 12 pass plays of 40-plus yards, the most in the NFL. They allowed eight last season.

It seems likely that Bettcher will be evaluated throughout the remainder of the regular season. Shurmur doesn't want to part ways with his defensive coordinator now. "I'm not going to make any coaching changes," he said Monday of his staff. Of course, as we've seen before, this isn't always the coach's decision. Ownership could step in and force his hand.

Then again, the Giants don't have a clear-cut replacement on staff. Who is going to do better with this group?

Gettleman assembled this roster. That isn't going to help his case when he sits down with ownership at the end of the season.

The Giants tried to win while rebuilding this season ... again. That is why they brought back a 38-year-old quarterback (Eli Manning) who is counting $23.2 million against the salary cap. The Giants have more than $60 million counting against the salary cap invested in players who are not on the roster or not in the starting lineup.

That is almost a third of their allotted money bringing back zero production.

Although all of that works against Gettleman, his trump card is the selection of Jones. That seems to have been the right choice and a gigantic one for the future of the franchise. His drafts have also borne some late-round potential (receiver Darius Slayton, linebacker Ryan Connelly and defensive lineman B.J. Hill).

Gettleman's free-agent acquisitions have not been nearly as successful. Golden Tate and Thomas are the rare bright spots. Nate Solder, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Remmers, Bethea, Patrick Omameh, William Gay and Curtis Riley are a few of the bad misses.

Perhaps most disconcerting is Gettleman's philosophical approach. He has built a run-heavy team that prioritizes culture over talent in a league in which talent is imperative, and you score points by throwing the football. The selection of a running back with the No. 2 overall pick (even though Barkley is a great player) can also be viewed as a waste of resources while trying to "win now" when the team had so many premium positions unaddressed.

Gettleman didn't step into a good situation, inheriting a 3-13 team, but he hasn't made it much better. His future will likely be contemplated at the end of the season. Do the Giants really want him in charge of the rebuild and spending millions in free agency this offseason? There are some doubts at the moment.