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Giants President John Mara reviews season

Posted Dec 30, 2013

Giants President and CEO John Mara, speaks to the media about the Giants 2013 season



Good afternoon. Obviously this was a very disappointing season, as disappointing as any in my memory, and nobody is happy being 7-9. I never expected 0-6 and I’m the same person that stood up here in the preseason and said that this was as talented a team as we’ve had in years and I thought we had a chance to make a run, and obviously I was gravely mistaken. There are some improvements that we’re going to have to make in the offseason and we’ll start that evaluation process later in the week, but suffice to say, I know I speak for Steve Tisch that we were bitterly disappointed with the results this year. I think our fans deserve better and we vow that we’ll do everything that we have to do to improve the team for next season. Just to get to some of the points that I know you’re going to raise right away, I expressed to Tom this morning that we do want him back as our head coach. We still have every confidence in him. Beyond that, in terms of his contract and everything else, that’s a discussion for a later date, but we do want him back as our coach in 2014 and in terms of other changes that may or may not be made, we’re going to have those discussions later in the week. I certainly have my opinions. Jerry has his. I’m sure Tom has his, and we’ll have to put all of ours together and see where we come out. With that, I’ll be happy to take your questions.


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Read Quotes from Monday's Interviews
Q: With possible changes to the staff, would you force staff changes or would you leave that up to Tom?
A: I’m not sure how to answer that. I have opinions and Jerry has opinions. I’d like to think that at the end of the day we’re all going to be on the same page, so I don’t think it would ever come to that.

Q: Would you be willing to come back with the same coaching staff with the way things went this season?
A: That’s obviously one of the main topics of discussion that we’re going to have at the end of the week and until we have that, I don’t want to comment on it. Certainly there are some changes that need to be made within the entire organization and whether that ends up being one of them or not, I’d rather wait until we have those discussions first.

Q: You said this was as disappointed as you’ve ever been. Very often the next thing is to get rid of a coach, but you said you don’t want to do that. Does this speak more to a personnel issue in your mind, that this team is not good enough?
A: I think it’s everything. Nobody had a good year, starting with me talking about what a great roster we had, but certainly personnel wise, I think we obviously overvalued certain people. I think we have not gotten the production that we wanted out of certain draft slots. We had an inordinate number of injuries this year. That’s no excuse for going 0-6 out of the gate, but let’s face it, it did have an effect, particularly I think on the offensive side of the ball with the offensive linemen and the running backs, but we need to do a better job overall. I’ve read some stories about how our draft picks haven’t measured up and really if you look at it and look at each year and compare it with most other teams, I still think we have as good an evaluation system and group of people here as anybody. We have missed on some guys. We’ve had some bad luck with second and third round picks being hurt, first round picks in the case of Kenny Phillips, who I thought was going to be a Pro Bowl safety for us for years. We have missed on guys, no question about it. There are a few cases where we took a chance, knowing that we were taking a chance, thinking that if we hit on this guy, maybe we’ll knock it out of the park. If we miss, we miss, and we missed a few times, but that’s going to happen.

Q: Is this a big turnaround? Is this a situation where you need wholesale changes or you’re looking at it similar to other years where it’s smaller changes?
A: I think our offense is broken right now and we need to fix that and we need to make some improvements on defense, too, but obviously the offensive side of the ball we’ve got to improve there and we can’t go into next season with the same personnel. My biggest concern coming into the year was would our offensive line stay healthy because I was concerned about the depth that we had there and, of course, we get the center (David Baas) and Chris Snee hurt right off the bat and then the backup center (Jim Cordle) gets hurt and we just never seemed to be able to protect Eli well enough or get a ground game going well enough and that to me is the number one personnel priority going into the offseason, is we need to improve the offensive line.

Q: How much of the offense’s problems should be put on Eli?
A: Well listen, he did not have a good year. He’d be the first one to tell you that, but he had a lot of company. He had a lot of company there and I think with Eli, sometimes he tries to do too much. He competes so hard out there and he has so much confidence in his ability to get the ball into certain areas that, unfortunately, he makes mistakes sometimes, but I still have every confidence in him. He’s still the face of the franchise and we need to help him. We need to give him some better tools and do a better job around him next year.

Q: Do you plan on evaluating the scouting department? Do you think you need any changes there?
A: We do that all the time, but I think we have as good a group of scouts as any team in the league. Now we may have taken some calculated risks on players in the past, knowing that they were risks thinking that maybe we’d hit big and we didn’t, but that’s not necessarily a function of the scouts. That’s as much on me as anything else. I knew what the risks were in certain cases and we took them and they didn’t work out, but we’ve had a lot of guys that have worked out, too, as lower round picks. So you take the good with the bad, but to be successful in this league, you have to do a good job in the draft, especially on those middle round picks, and there’s no question over the last few years we’ve missed on a few of them for whatever reason. I’m not sure why it took us three years to find out that Jerrel Jernigan can play. We finally put him in the game and he starts making plays, so you have those instances also.

Q: Has any of the missed draft picks or overvalued people shaken your faith in Jerry Reese or do you still believe he is the right guy going forward?
A: No. I firmly believe that he is the right guy going forward. I’ve spent enough time around him to know that he is the right guy. He is not afraid to make tough decisions and he knows what the risks are and sometimes you have to take those calculated risks, and he is a very confident guy. Nobody works harder than he does. I still trust his evaluation skills. I like the way he deals with players. He’s very honest and direct with them. He’s got a very good relationship with Tom. Yes, I am convinced that he is the right guy to lead us going forward.

Q: Are you more inclined to take less risks going forward given the success rate in the draft the past few years?
A: Possibly, depending. Certainly you want guys coming in there healthy and don’t have any off-field issues, but that’s not necessarily what you get coming out of the colleges and sometimes you have to take those risks.

Q: Are you surprised or disappointed by what you saw from Hakeem Nicks this season?
A: Well, he did not have his best year, but he played hurt all year also. We had so many issues on offense. It’s hard to just pin anything on him. It was not his best year, but he competed hard. It’s shocking to me that he didn’t get into the end zone this year, but he still was out there trying to make plays and again we had a lot of problems on offense.

Q: You mentioned Jernigan taking a long time to get on the field. What is that a function of?
A: Sometimes you have to put younger players in the game and give them a chance to fail or succeed, and it’s true not only of him but other guys, too. It would have been nice if he had gotten in a little bit earlier, but that’s not my decision.

Q: Is it now the time to extend Eli’s contract and do you need to do that in order to create enough cap room?
A: I don’t think we need to do it. It’s certainly something we’re going to talk about, though. It depends on how aggressive we want to be in free agency and you know we’ve never been and there have been certain years where we have been, but that as a long term solution, it is not a good idea being too aggressive in free agency. We’re going to talk about that through. That’s obviously one of the major decisions we have to make this year.

Q: Would you anticipate keeping with the organizational philosophy of not allowing the head coach to go into the final year of his contract without renewing it?
A: Again, that’s a discussion for a later date. That has been our philosophy in the past. There’s no secret about that. Whether it continues or not is yet to be decided.

Q: When you talked about your disappointment, was that based solely on the past 16 games or does not making the playoffs in four of the last five years outweigh that?
A: The second half of 2012 and this season has not been a good season and a half for us and I’m not very happy about it and they know I’m not very happy about it, but neither is anybody else. Tom is not happy about it. Jerry isn’t, either, but I was less upset that we won seven of our last 10 games, but we’re still 7-9 and 7-9 isn’t very good.

Q: Mike Sullivan is now available. He worked well with Eli and won a championship with him. Is he a guy that you would consider bringing back?
A: Well, that’s a topic of discussion with Tom and Jerry. We obviously think very highly of him, but that has yet to be discussed.

Q: You said the fans deserve better. Is that solely based on won-loss record or is style of play or sloppiness?
A: All of the above. It kills me that you go into these other stadiums and you see these large collections of Giants fans that are there and that’s their one time to see us all year or maybe in several years and they come out there and they’re supporting us and we put on performances like we did in Kansas City, in Carolina and San Diego. It’s painful to watch that and we had some performances at home that weren’t very good either, especially when you look at our division. There was no reason why we couldn’t have won the division this year if we just come out of the gate something other than 0-6. Just make a couple of plays in those games.

Q: Was the whole experience yesterday difficult to watch because the building was empty even though you won?
A: Seeing all the empty seats? Yeah, I do say this though, I think that was more a function of the weather and let’s face it, that was a miserable day to sit out there. I was quite frankly surprised that there was that many people there because that was pretty miserable. I’m very cognizant of that. I notice empty seats and there were some other games there where we had good weather days where there was some empty seats and obviously the fans were not very happy with us and I hear it from them, believe me, usually in letter form, and they range from ‘you’ve got to clean house’ to ‘you’ve got to get rid of the quarterback’ or ‘you’ve got to get rid of yourself.’ They span the globe on that.

Q: Is your job safe?
A: Well, not according to my mother, it’s not. She’ll be up here next, by the way.

Q: What is your message back to the fans?
A: You’d like to think that after a certain period of time you’ve earned a little bit of credit that we’re going to do whatever we have to do to build this team back to where we think it can be and that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to make the moves that they want us to make, but nobody wants to win more than Tom Coughlin or Jerry Reese except maybe myself. This is a lifelong thing with me and we’re going to do what we have to do, but we’re going to do it in an intelligent fashion. We’re not going to make these sweeping changes. Stability is important. It’s one of the reasons we’ve had some success here, but there are times when changes have to be made. If we agree on those changes, then we’ll make them going forward, but we’ll do whatever we have to do to improve this team and put a team on the field next year that our fans can be proud of.

Q: When you talk to Tom about his staff and everything else, at any point will you address with him when he wants to retire? Do you need an exit strategy or contingency plan in some form?
A: I’ll probably have that discussion with him, but I’m not sure what value is there. I’m not sure he knows yet how much longer he wants to coach. I haven’t had that discussion with him and guys can tell you that this is their last year or whatever and then change their mind at the end of the year. It’s very tough to have an exit strategy in the National Football League.

Q: Was it tough for you to remain quiet this year?
A: Well, those of you that were with me in the press box would tell you that I wasn’t very quiet during the year and it’s tough. Those first six games, nobody took them harder than me and it was tough to sit there and watch that. It really was, but the one thing I will say, if there was one positive out of this season, I’ve been around a lot of teams, both winning and losing, in my lifetime and at least the locker room held together. There wasn’t any finger pointing. There wasn’t any mutiny down there and I’ve seen a lot of that over the years and I think that’s a credit to the way the coach and some of our captains kind of held it together.

Q: Do you have a different feeling now about the Super Bowl now that another team is going to come into the facility and use it at the end of the month?
A: I haven’t had enough time to think about that yet. I think when it happens, I’ll probably feel it, depending on who it is, but it probably will affect me when it does happen.

Q: Does it make you feel a little bit better it won’t be Dallas?
A: No comment.