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New York Giants GM Joe Schoen's Introductory Press Conference: Thoughts and Takeaways

There's a lot of hope for sunnier skies ahead in the land of the Giants. A look back on the start of the Joe Schoen era.

Having had a chance to digest the busy day that kicked off a new era of Giants football, here are a few remaining thoughts following the Joe Schoen introductory press conference.

1. Whether he meant to or not, John Mara let it slip that he was thinking bout making a change at general manager long before Dave Gettleman retired.

When he was asked how Joe Schoen landed on his radar, the revelation was made.

"I started doing a lot of research, I would say six or eight weeks ago, maybe a little longer," he said. "Just looking at the different teams that I have a great deal of respect for and looking at their personnel, and Buffalo has done it the right way. So, I started making calls about Joe and others."

Mara apparently liked what he heard in assembling the nine-man general manager candidate list. But for those who have wondered why the Giants didn't move faster on the hiring process, they couldn't because every single member on their candidate list was with another team, and they had to wait until the season ended to make calls and request permission.

Not that it matted. For those who felt that Gettleman should have been kicked out a lot sooner, a new general manager coming in wasn't going to have cap space, he wasn't going to be able to fix a broken and injury-filled roster or address the coaching staff. So yes, it was painful to watch the Giants continue to crumble into a mess, but the fresh start we were all hoping for is finally here.

2. Mara didn't join the Giants full-time until the 1990s, but he mentioned that the team has always had a system where ownership signs off on all major decisions, e.g., the head coach, top free agents, etc.

That might be the case since he was named team president, but back in the day, George Young, the first true general manager hired by the Giants, had full autonomy to make all the football decisions without interference or feedback from the team owners.

That won't be the case for Schoen, though Mara has stressed that in 99.9 percent of the cases, he won't deny the new general manager if he wants to do something. Even Schoen said that both Mara and Steve Tisch have pledged whatever resources they need to get the franchise back on track.

Let's hope that moving forward, they mean that, as the last time team ownership allowed full faith and trust in their general manager, it resulted in a couple of Super Bowl championships, not to mention a decade-plus of some solid and winning football.

3. Joe Schoen was slightly nervous as he addressed a sizeable crowd gathered for his introductory press conference, not to mention the countless Giants fans that tuned in to watch him speak via the team's live broadcast.

But Overall, he handled himself well, and if there's one thing that jumped out, it's that he doesn't have that "bull in a china shop" mentality when it comes to change.

By that, I mean Schoen isn't coming in here, broom in hand, looking to sweep out every last trace of the Gettleman regime. Instead, he's looking to introduce his expectations and processes and see who fits into the big picture. Those who do, get to stay. Those who don't won't be here.

"I’m not a big tear it up, rebuild – I think you can truly build a roster when you can compete for today and build for tomorrow," he said.

"We’re going to do the draft, free agency. Whatever avenue we can, we’re going to continue to build a competitive roster, and we want to see progress. We’re going to continue to build with the long-term in mind as we build it, but I think you can compete today and still build for tomorrow."

Now for a fan base that is understandably frustrated about how things have transpired for most of the decade, this might not be good news, but it's really a prudent way of doing things, and more importantly, it shows that Schoen isn't impulsive.

When it comes to major decisions, one can't go on a gut feeling; there are pros and cons to everything, and Schoen came across as a person who's going to weigh the good against the bad and let that help decide what direction he takes.

4. Piggybacking off that last item, Schoen's words, "I think you can compete today and still build for tomorrow," initially struck up memories of something Dave Gettleman said when he was first hired as general manager.

But this is where context comes in. Gettleman opined that a team could rebuild and compete simultaneously, an opinion that proved flawed once the realization over how bad the roster had deteriorated set in.

I equate this to building a house. Gettleman's thinking seemed to indicate that he believed you could construct a house and live in it simultaneously, even if it wasn't complete and certified as inhabitable.

Schoen's thinking is that the house's foundation is in place (which one might argue is given that there are some core players they can build around), and the house can be occupied, even though additional rooms are being added to the building.

Only time will tell if Schoen is correct, but let's hope that ultimately when the house is closer to being done, it looks more like a modern-day structure than the dilapidated model it's mostly resembled since 2013.

5. I was glad to hear John Mara finally admit--and take the blame--that the organization has screwed Daniel Jones, (Admitting a similar screwing of Eli Manning in his final seasons would have been nice as well, but I digress.)

The Giants certainly did screw Jones every which way, from not having the offensive line set to not having one system for him to grow into to the coaching carousel they created. Given that kind of environment, how anyone expected Jones to flourish is a mystery.

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6. Schoen didn't come right out and say it, but it doesn't sound like they're going to exercise Daniel Jones's fifth-year option--nor should they exercise the option year, which would cost them upwards of $21 million guaranteed.

The Giants still don't know what they have in Jones, though again, it's not wholly his fault, as John Mara admitted. Then there is the matter of his injury history, which has to be considered.

But the other reason why it doesn't make sense to pick up the option year is cap-related. If Jones has a strong 2022 season, they'd probably look to extend him anyway, and they'd probably want his 2023 cap number as low as possible.

That won't happen if they pick up the option because once that money becomes fully guaranteed, if the Giants were to want to lower Jones's cap number at any point, they'd have to move money around to future cap years since in 2023, he'd have to pocket the equivalent of his guaranteed money.

Bad cap management comes when one has to start mortgaging the future by kicking the can down the road. That's partially why the Giants are in the mess they're in now and why it would be surprising if Schoen goes down that road.

7. I was on a Florida sports talk radio show Thursday morning, and one f the questions I was asked was what does John Mara have to do to win back the trust of the fan base that he himself acknowledged he's lost over the last decade.

The answer comes from the Tom Coughlin school of thought: Talk is cheap; play the game. Okay, maybe not play the actual football game (though how many of us would sign up for the kind of football we saw in last weekend's divisional round?), but rather let your actions do your talking for you.

Don't make promises that are beyond your control. Hire the best people and let them do their jobs without you interfering, and that includes the still to be determined head coach and his assistants.

It's difficult to do when you're signing the checks because you want results, and you want to have your say. But if Mara is genuinely determined to get off this train ride that has seen more turnover at the top than on the roster since 2016, it's the only way to go.

8. If there's one question that doesn't have a definitive answer, it's how the Giants plan to measure progress under the new regime of Schoen and the still to be named head coach.

So what's the answer?

"I’m looking at this as a process," Mara said. "I haven’t told him, ‘Joe, we better make the playoffs next year, otherwise you’re out of here.’ I’m not making any statements like that. I want him to build the thing the right way and give us a chance for sustained success. I’m not giving him any specific demands for next year. Just build the team the right way."

Building the right way takes time, which is something the Giants have wasted a lot of in the past. But rather than give a timetable, Mara said, "I expect us to be a heck of a lot better than four wins next year, but again, I haven’t given him any specific number that he has to achieve. Get the right coach, build the right program and let’s see some progress at the end of the season."

The last time the Giants started fresh with a new GM-head coach combo was in 2018 when Gettleman and Pat Shurmur came in together. They finished 5-11 that season, better than the previous year's 3-13 mark, and notched a 4-4 mark in the second half of the season, giving management hope that things were headed in the right direction.

That "progress" was short-lived, and after a 4-12 mark the following year, Shurmur was fired, replaced by Joe Judge.

Before 2018, you'd have to go back to 1979 as the last time the Giants had a new general manager and a new head coach come in together. That was when George Young, hired from outside of the organization, came in as general manager and Ray Perkins as head coach.

That season, the Giants finished 6-10, the same record they had the year prior when the organization had indeed hit rock bottom. Then in 1980, the Young-Perkins duo finished with a 4-12 mark.

But what drove hope that sunnier skies were ahead was that Young began adding solid pieces to the puzzle via the draft and the change at the head coach when Perkins left the team to become the head coach at Alabama, and Bill Parcells took over.

Once everything jelled, the Giants were "must-see TV" on Sundays, going on to record seven straight seasons with a record of .500 or better (not counting the 1987 strike-shortened season played with the replacement players).

Mara thus far hasn't shown quite the level of patience his late father had back then in an era that admittedly was quite different than the one we're in today. Will he this time?

History says no, but then again, history would have indicated a preference to promote the new general manager from within, something Mara realized couldn't happen if he wanted to be in the postseason again.

9. Another thing Mara said that caught my ear was his admission that communication inside the Giants building hasn't been great over the last couple of years.

Here's the quote in response to what qualities attracted him to Schoen as a general manager candidate:  

I also think he has really strong communication skills and is going to be able to unite the building. The communication hasn’t been the greatest in the building over the last couple of years, and I think with (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Joe’s (Schoen) addition that’ll get straightened out.

When things start to fall apart due to losing, often times you have dissent among the ranks. Coaches want what they want to fix things and then you have the decision makers above them who have different opinions or who can't give them what they want due to cap restrictions. 

That's why it's so important that the Giants get the head coaching hire right because if things should go south a any time, the last thing the organization needs is more in-house disagreements to further add to the strife.   

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