We’re disappointed about the inconsistencies of the season and the up and down play that we had. In the beginning of the season we thought we had a great looking roster, thought it had some depth, but as you all know, injuries are a factor. You don’t like to use that as an excuse and we are not using that as an excuse, but injuries did play a part in what happened. There are a lot of things that happened that caused us to end up 8-8, which is very disappointing for everybody involved, for myself, for our coaches, for our players, for our owners. It is very disappointing that we are in this situation right now. But we are here, and all we can do now is move on. We have some things that we need to address and correct. Every season, there are changes in the offseason personnel-wise. There are definitely changes on Super Bowl teams, there were changes on the team that was 12-4 last year, there will be changes this time in that respect. We will take the positive things we can take out of this season and move forward. We will try to correct all the negative things that happened during this season.
Q. The last time you were 8-8 was right before you became GM. When you took over you were pretty adamant that you had a good team that didn’t need to be completely overhauled. It ended differently that year, though. Do you still have that same feeling or does this look like you have a lot more work to do?
A. Well, there is work to do. But I don’t think you need to blow the whole thing up. I still think we have a good nucleus of players here. There are some things that we have to address. The evaluation process is starting. We will do that. We look forward, like I said, to taking all the positive things that we can. The negative things, we will try to correct those things. But I don’t think we need to blow this team up.
Q. In the off-season you went out and spent some money on some defensive players. Is that the greatest disappointment, that the defense played the way it did this year?
A. It is disappointing that the team as a whole, we don’t single out any position, any coach, any player. We won as a team, we lose as a team. It was disappointing that the defense didn’t play as well. We thought that was going to be one of our strong suits. It seems like the offense carried the defense for a little while. We expected the defense to be able to carry the offense because we had some young receivers. There were a lot of questions about the young receivers and everybody was concerned about that. The receivers held their own and the defense struggled. The National Football League, you never know what you are going to get.
Q. You felt like you had good depth on this roster coming in. Did some of that depth not respond the way you thought it would?
A. The injuries, you know, we go into training camp and we’ve got injured guys coming out of the summer. You go into training camp and you get guys injured right away. I think Canty’s injured right away. Richie (Seubert) blows his shoulder out right away. Hedgecock’s got a shoulder. So, the injuries right away, personnel people like myself, we don’t like to talk about depth. A 53-man roster, that is not a lot of depth for 16 games, really with the preseason, 20 games. If you can make it to the tournament, even more games. So 53 guys is not a lot of depth. It looks good on paper but like I said in the preseason, I liked a lot of things about the team. This roster looked good. I thought it was a thorough roster, actually more than the Super Bowl roster and the roster after that. But those two rosters had skins on the wall. This team, it is a ‘show me’ business. You have to get out there and do it. We weren’t able to do it like we expected to do it. 8-8 is not acceptable. It is not what our standards are. We will correct that.
Q. You had injuries, but it wasn’t like you were wracked with injuries?
A. What do you mean wracked by injuries? What do you consider wracked by injuries?
Q. Across the board. Other teams have had worse situations recently.
A. I think we had a significant amount of injuries. That is your opinion, but I think we had a significant amount of injuries.
Q. Given what happened the last two last weeks and now the emotions are high, how hard do you have to suppress them when you make your evaluations? Do you maybe wait a little bit to make those evaluations to let this pass?
A. You have to be professional about it. The evaluation process has already started. You have to take your emotions out of it. It is easy to be negative right now when you are coming off two bad games like we played the last couple of weeks. But we are all professionals in this business. You evaluate the players for what they are. You take the emotions out of it and give them a fair evaluation. That is what we plan to do.
Q. If there are coaching staff changes, is that all up to Coach Coughlin or will you participate?
A. We like for Tom to evaluate the coaches. We are involved in the process, as well. We like to do things as a unit around here. But we like coach Coughlin to have his call on the people he would like to bring in on his coaching staff. We will all be a part of that process.
Q. Would you be comfortable evaluating what type of job you think Bill Sheridan did as a defensive coordinator?
A. Again, all that is part of the evaluation process. We evaluate the coaching staff, we evaluate the players, evaluate myself. All I can tell you is our ownership gave us all the resources we needed to have a successful season. We added to the roster and we thought it was a strong roster. We ended up 8-8; it’s not where we want to be.
Q. Do you think this team lost its physical, tough identity?
A. That was part of what the problem was. I thought half the time we were a physical team, the other half we were not physical. That is one of my three things. The first thing you have to do when you play in the National Football League, you have to go out there and be physical. That is the number one thing that you have to do. You have to go out there and match the physicality of the other team. If you do that, you give yourself a chance to win the game. The other thing is bad fouls. You can’t have a lot of unnecessary penalties and those things. You have to play as a team. If you do those three things, you will be in a lot of games, you will win a lot of games. It all starts with the physical play. That is what is most important in my eyes. We were physical half the time, I thought.
Q. Last offseason when you were changing the roster, you went to younger players. Did that dilute some of the leadership in the locker room?
A. Leadership is part of it. But at some point you have to move on from older players because that deteriorates as well. Somebody has to step up. This is a great opportunity for some people to step up and be the leaders. We felt like we would have more leaders to come forward, and I still do think there are some leaders on this team. But they have to come forward and be the leaders. We expect them to do that. There are some guys that I think are leaders, and we expect them to do that.
Q. Perception amongst the fans is that your players gave up the last two weeks. Do you share that perception?
A. No, I don’t think that. Obviously when you don’t play well, it looks bad out there. But you watch the tape and I look for that. I look for guys who are not playing hard. I think our players played hard and tried hard. But the last couple of weeks we were not a good football team. Things didn’t work out. No matter what we tried to do in the game, it didn’t work out for us. The perception is that they laid down and didn’t compete. I didn’t see that. I saw a team trying, but we weren’t playing well.
Q. If a team is playing hard, trying hard, how do you reconcile the performances?
A. Again, you put all the variables involved. What scheme are we playing? Bill Sheridan has been hammered by everybody it seems like. But Bill can’t go out there and make a tackle. When three or four guys have got a guy in the backfield stopped for a play and nobody tackles him, that is not Bill Sheridan’s fault. So you have to evaluate the whole body of work from our good games to the bad games. You don’t just pick a couple of games. You don’t pick the last two games and just evaluate the last two games. You evaluate the entire body of work and that is what we will do.
Q. You fortified the defense tremendously in the offseason, everyone thought, through free agency. Looking back now, some of those guys started with injuries, but they ended up playing. When you look back at those moves do they look like mistakes now?
A. Hindsight is 20-20. You can always look back and say they didn’t pan out like we thought. The injuries were involved. Chris Canty never missed a practice or a game when he was in Dallas. He was a strong, physical player the whole time there and he gets here and he has some unfortunate luck. He was injured most of this season. It is easy to say we brought the wrong guys in. Maybe we did bring some of the wrong guys in. But it is not just a certain group of guys. This is an entire team. There are 53 guys that have to make the effort to win games. I thought we brought in some good players, and I still believe that.
Q. The fact that the team started 5-0, does that make it even harder to believe that this team did not make the playoffs?
A. Again, that is very hard for us to believe. We go into the season and even with the injuries, we felt like we had the depth. We are getting through it even though we’re pretty banged up from the very beginning of the season. We were 5-0 and feeling pretty good about ourselves. Then, all of a sudden we go on that four-game slide right there, and then winning three games out of the last 11 games. You’ve got to stop the bleeding somewhere. We weren’t able to get that done. What the answers are to that, we will figure that out and we will get that corrected. But it is very disheartening and disappointing. It has been a trying season in that respect. Again, there were some positive things and we will accentuate the positives. We will try to correct all the negative things that happened. We will move forward to the 2010 season.
Q. How do you explain the team being physical only 50 percent of the time?
A. I am not sure. We will have to evaluate that as well. I am not sure why the team comes out and plays more physical one week, then the next week not as physical. I am not sure why that is. It could be a combination of things. Maybe there is some confusion or some confidence issue going on. Maybe they are thinking too much and not really turning loose, playing hard and running to the ball.
Q. How do you explain beating the Cowboys twice, the eventual NFC East champs, and then two weeks later folding? There weren’t dramatic injuries from that game to the Carolina and Minnesota games.
A. It’s the National Football League. That is easy to explain. It is no easy game. You guys like the Cowboys, like nobody could beat that team or something. It is the National Football League, everybody is the same. It is men against men in the National Football League. There is no easy game, I have said that over and over again. There are no easy games in the National Football League, I don’t care who you are playing. If you don’t show up on Sunday prepared and play a physical game and beat yourself with bad penalties and don’t play as a team, you are going to lose the game.
Q. Coach Coughlin mentioned offseason surgeries for some of the players. Do those procedures have to take place before you can have a full evaluation?
A. That is part of the process. We have several guys who have surgeries on the docket in the next week or so. We don’t think there is anything catastrophic where we could lose a guy for the upcoming season. So we are expecting to have everybody back in the summer, by summer camp, training camp. Hopefully we will have guys back in the spring, but we don’t think there are going to be catastrophic surgeries. There are some significant surgeries but not season-ending for the next season.
Q. Bill Sheridan obviously couldn’t go out and make tackles for these guys. But some of these guys you believed in and were players who you have seen make tackles before. When they suddenly don’t for much of a season doesn’t that force your hand to point the finger at the coach and say it is his responsibility?
A. Everybody is responsible. The players have to be responsible. Coaches are responsible. I am responsible. Everybody is responsible for it and has to be accountable. The coaches are responsible for the game plan and getting a good plan to attack the opponent. The players have to execute it. You have to go out there and make plays. You can’t just go out there and think it is going to happen. You have to go out and make plays. Sometimes we made plays and sometimes we didn’t. Everybody has to be accountable.
Q. With the cloudy CBA on the horizon, how much more difficult is it for you to make the plans you need to make?
A. I don’t think that is going to affect us. If there is no salary cap, we have a fiscal responsibility. We will do what we can do to make the team better, but we’ll have some parameters.
Q. What have you heard about Antonio Pierce and his long-term prospects?
A. It is a wait-and-see deal. I am not sure how that is going. It is one of those slow healing injuries and it is a wait-and-see process. So that is what we will do. We will wait and see where that goes.
Q. If he fully recovers, is he in your plans?
A. That is part of the evaluation. Everybody is in the evaluation process right now. We will see moving forward.
Q. Is your payroll structure now such that you have financial flexibility to be as aggressive as you want to be this offseason?
A. I think we can do whatever we need to do in the offseason. Again, our owners are great. They give us all the resources we need to go out and try to make this team better. I don’t expect things to be any different this time.
Q. What kind of assurance can you give to the fans that you will return to be one of the NFL’s elite teams?
A. We have pride here. Again, I am getting plenty of calls and plenty of mail saying there is no pride, and I disagree with that. We have pride in this building and we are always going to have pride. I think the players are embarrassed about what happened the last couple of weeks. I am embarrassed about what happened. Our owners are embarrassed about what happened, our coaches. Everybody is embarrassed that is involved with this situation. This is not our standard. We are 8-8, that is not who we are. We don’t want that. We reject that. We are going to make every effort to correct that. That is all I can say. We will make every effort to correct that. I think our players are on board, our coaches are on board, and our ownership is on board. Again, we are all a team right here. Everybody is part of the team. Everybody pulls in the same direction. We will try to right the ship.
Q. When you signed Brandon Jacobs to his contract before the season you expressed confidence that he could be healthy for a full 16 games. Seeing what he went through this year and that his knee injury has been an issue all year long, are you still confident he is a 16-game back?
A. I hope so. I hope he can come back strong from this minor knee surgery. I think it is a minor knee surgery. So I think he can come back from that. We expect him to. But again, it is not just one back, it is usually two backs, three backs. You have to have a couple of healthy backs to get you through 16 games. It is hard for one back to get through 16 games in this day and age with all the pounding. We expect Bradshaw has got a couple of surgeries he has to go through. The backfield is kind of banged up, but we expect those guys to come back stronger than ever with a strong attitude and a determined attitude. What’s our identity? We call ourselves a power running football team and we were not that. The latter part of the season we didn’t run the ball like we did last year. What is the cause of that? Is it the offensive line, is it the running backs, what is it? Whatever it is, we need to correct it because you have to run the ball and you have to play defense.
Q. Do you have major decisions to make with the offensive line because they are getting a little bit older?
A. That is part of the evaluation process. We will see moving forward. The offensive line was great. We had a couple of years there, those guys were a unit and had nobody miss any games at all. If you look at some of the teams playing now, they don’t have a lot of injuries, a lot of the teams that are still playing. Most of them are pretty healthy. When you start to get some chinks in your armor with your offensive line, that affects everything. That affects the quarterback. That affects the running backs and that affects the receivers. Part of the evaluation process to see what moves we need to make in the offensive line, if we need to do any.
Q. Osi said he is unhappy. Do you know what that is about?
A. I hope nobody in the building is happy today. We are sitting at home. There are 12 teams playing and we are sitting at home. So I hope nobody is happy sitting around here today. I’m not happy. I hope all the players are disappointed. There is no question that our coaches and our owners are disappointed. I am glad he is upset that we are not playing or whatever he is not happy about. I hope, number one, that he is not happy because we are not playing right now.
Q. When you have a guy who is a major part of the nucleus for the last couple of years and then you signed him to a long-term deal, when he is not even starting late in the season, how disappointed are you, knowing that he is a big part of your nucleus?
A. He is still a big part of what we are trying to do here. When you are in the middle of the season and things are not going well, you have to do whatever you have to do. The coach tried to do some things to shake up the defense and shake up the team. Osi was a pro and went right in there and played his role. But Osi is a major part of what we are trying to do moving forward. We expect him to be a strong contributor as the years come.
Q. He said he wants to be back, but there have to be changes. Will you just let the coaching staff handle that or would you get involved?
A. Players always say stuff like that in the offseason. That’s not unique for a player to say something like that. There will be changes. We will try to make this thing better. We will make it better. But for a player to say something like that is not unique at all.
Q. Did you get what you expected out of your draft class this year?
A. Your draft class, we picked pretty late in the draft the last few years. Hakeem Nicks, you want to get a couple of players who can contribute right away out of your draft class and possibly get a starter or two out of your draft class, out of your first three or four picks. Hakeem came in and had some injuries early on, but he really came on and did some nice things for us. He has some growing to do. He has to take care of the football better when he gets the ball in his hands. But as you can see, he is a very talented player. (Clint) Sintim didn’t play as much as we expected, but he had some injuries early on as well. But we think he can be a strong contributor as one of the linebackers. (Will) Beatty came in and did some nice things for us. We think he has a bright future for us. (Travis) Beckum didn’t play as much as we would like to get him in there. So we expect those four guys, our top picks, are good players and we have a few more guys on the bottom of that list, Andre Brown, who blew his Achilles out earlier on in training camp. We are pretty happy with our draft class. We think we have some good players. Again, it is different picking 29, 30, than picking in the top five, so we think we did okay.
Q. What about Ramses Barden?
A. I’m sorry, I left him out. We think he has a bright future as well. He is really a talented kid. You can only dress so many receivers in the game and the receivers played well. We had a bunch of receivers, might have had too many receivers. We think he can be a strong contributor in a lot of ways for us. We are looking forward to getting him in the mix, in the rotation, and see what he can do. I think he will be a strong contributor for us.
Q. With no CBA, about 200 players will be restricted free agents instead of unrestricted, will that narrow the market?
A. A lot of things can happen. What you said, some of these guys will get what we call non-qualifying offers. Those guys will come into play. Probably more trades this offseason than you have seen in the past. That kind of stuff will probably come into play. But the market itself will be thin. It will be thin with older guys.
Q. With no cap, would you consider getting rid of some the long-term contracts?
A. All of it is in the evaluation process. We will put it all together and we will bang it out and try to come up with the best situation for the New York Giants.