EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants keep hitting new lows. It has reached a point where co-owner John Mara admitted he has never been this embarrassed by the state of his franchise.
“Yes. Yes it is [the most embarrassed I’ve been],” Mara said. “I kept thinking during the season we hit rock bottom and then each week it got a little worse.”
The Giants (4-13) finished this past season with six straight losses, topping 10 points just once during that stretch. They fired coach Joe Judge on Tuesday, and general manager Dave Gettleman retired Monday.
Mara admitted he wasn’t thrilled with Judge’s 11-minute rambling at a news conference after a 29-3 loss in Chicago. The back-to-back quarterback sneaks in this week’s loss to the Washington Football Team were obviously not his favorite playcalls.
But he insists they were a “minor factor in the overall scheme of things.”
The Giants moved on from a coach for the third straight time after two seasons or less in large part because they felt there was no other option. They were about to embark on a search for a new general manager and likely needed massive changes to the offensive coaching staff.
Mara didn’t see it working if they kept Judge for a third season, even though he still believes there is a good coach inside of him.
“Dug a hole so deep that I didn’t see a clear path to getting out of it unless we completely blew it up and started all over again with a new [general manager] and head coach,” Mara said.
The Giants are now looking for a general manager who will subsequently drive the coaching search, even though ownership will have final approval. The move to dismiss Judge seems to largely have been made to give the new GM flexibility.
Not that Mara is looking at it as a package deal for the general manager and coach. That does not appear to be the case at all.
The Giants are intent on having a more thorough and comprehensive general manager search this time around. Mara admitted it was “rushed” when they hired Gettleman days before the end of the 2017 season.
Gettleman went 19-46 in his four years as general manager. His tenure took down Pat Shurmur and Judge. It has the Giants currently stuck in this vicious cycle (for the third straight time) of firing a coach within two seasons.
Mara still insists the jobs are desirable despite the litany of recent mistakes and miscues.
“All I can tell you is based on the number of inquiries I’ve had from prospective candidates, we’re not going to be able to interview even 20% of all of them. This is a very desirable job,” he said. “We happen to have a lot of draft capital coming up. I think this is an organization that people want to work for. I have been heartened that so many people have expressed an interest, including people who are very talented and have a legitimate shot to get the job. We haven’t been turned down by anybody.”
The new general manager and coach will also be making all the big decisions, including on the futures of quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants have to make a decision this offseason on whether to pick up the fifth-year option on Jones’ rookie contract. Barkley, who has struggled with injuries the past few years, is set to play on his fifth-year option next season.
But it’s Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch who perhaps have the biggest job of all. They have to finally get these hires right to get the Giants back on track. The franchise has made the playoffs just once in the past 10 seasons.
Fans have every right to be skeptical about whether they will, in fact, get it right.
“Well, I haven’t given them any reason to believe that,” Mara said. “It’s up to me to make the right choice; it’s up to Steve and I to make the right choices going forward to earn back their trust. And that is not going to be an overnight process. That is going to take some time. It starts with getting the [GM] pick done correctly and then hiring the right head coach. That is going to be a process where we have to earn their trust again. Like I said, it’s not going to happen overnight.”