John Mara, 01.04.10

Q:  Regarding the evaluation process – are you waiting for Jerry and Tom to get back to you with their evaluations first or are you going to be a part of it?

A:  Tom is obviously going to talk to his coaches.  He and Jerry will meet.  We don’t have any formal procedure set.  There will be a lot of discussions over the next couple of weeks.

Q:  How disappointing is this?

A:  Probably as disappointed as I have ever been in my life with this team, given the expectations that we had this year, given the roster that I thought we had and given the way we started out and given the embarrassment of the last two games.

Q:  When you say ‘disappointed,’ are you disappointed in the effort?

A:  Everything.  I’m disappointed in everything.  I’m unhappy at everybody.  It is just not acceptable to perform like that.  There are 8-8 seasons and there are 8-8 seasons.  This one felt a lot more like 2-14 to me.

Q:  A lot of times guys will say they don’t want to react too much to what occurred late in the season.  But it sounds like you are in not in that mode right now.

A:  Well, I’m less than 24 hours after the end of the season.  So I’m sure I’ll cool down at some point and will try to make intelligent decisions going forward.  And I’ll sit down with the coach and the general manager.  We’ll do what we need to do to improve the team.  But, obviously, I’m not very happy right now.  They know that.

Q:  Did the last two games, particularly, tell you something?

A:  We had -- even before the last two games, there were at least four other losses where we were just not competitive.  And obviously the last two games were the worst.  But when you have that many games where you get blown out, there is something wrong.  That means that something has to be done. 

Q:  You have been around a lot of losing seasons here.  For you to say this is the most disappointed you have been in a team, what was it?

A:  Given the expectations that we had, given the roster that we thought we had coming into the season and we start out 5-0.  And you start thinking about the postseason.  We just did not expect it to end this way, particularly the last two weeks.

Q:  Was it a lack of fight, a lack of pride, those kinds of things?

A:  Lack of mental and physical toughness and, quite frankly, a lack of effort over the last two weeks.  That is just something that I never expected to see from this group of players.

Q:  What message would you want to tell your fans moving forward?

A:  We are going to do what we need to.  We are not going to leave any stone unturned.

Q:  When you start evaluating, are you going to start evaluating from the top?

A:  That is always the way we do it.  To answer your question, I’m not pleased with anybody right now.

Q:  Both Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese said today that, by in large, even the last two games, they did not think the team did not give effort.  Sounds like you don’t agree with that?

A:  Well, let’s just say it was not the effort that I expected. 

Q:  Did you address players?

A:  No, I haven’t.

Q:  I know your dad occasionally did that.   Did you consider doing that?

A:  I really didn’t, no.  I just really don’t think it is my place to do that.  But looking back, it probably couldn’t have hurt.

Q:  It seems like Jerry and Tom only think this team needs some tweeking.  You just said something has to be done.  It sounds like you are thinking a little more along the lines of something dramatic.

A:  Well, I don’t know how you define ‘dramatic.’  Obviously our roster isn’t as good as we thought it was.  So we need to take a look at that.  We are going to have to discuss everything at this point.  I don’t think we can take anything for granted after the way this season ended.

Q:  Any changes to the coaching staff?

A:  The status quo is not acceptable on any level.  I’m not going to get into specific positions or anything like that.  But we need to do something, and I will be expecting them to give me their recommendations on what we need to do.  And ultimately we will approve it or not approve it.

Q:  Are Jerry and Tom safe?

A:  Yes…There will be no change to the head coach or general manager, if that is what you are asking.

Q:  Do you want to kind of settle down a little bit and not let emotion drive you here?

A:  Well, that is always what you try to do.

Q:  How long are you talking, a couple of days?

A:  I have no idea.  It is going to be a while.  I don’t know that I will ever get over the last two weeks. 

Q:  But you need to get to the point where you can start making logical decisions?

A:  Yes.

Q:  You have no timeframe for that?

A:  No, there is no specific time.

Q:  In Jim Fassel’s last year – after that year you characterized the team a certain way – I forget the exact words.

A:  Franchise in trouble.

Q: Franchise in trouble.  Is this a ‘franchise in trouble?’

A:  I don’t know that I would put it the same way here.  I think we have a pretty good nucleus of players and a pretty solid organization, notwithstanding our performance over the second half of the season, so I don’t think I would be quite that dramatic.  I think I probably made that statement within that 24-hour period.

Q:  We were very interested in the talks you had with Tom after the ’06 season and what kind of changes he made.  Do you think – do you anticipate that maybe again – speaking with him along those lines again?

A:  I’ll certainly be sitting down.  I only spoke to him briefly this morning.  But I’m not going to tell him how to coach the team.  He has been doing this a long time and he knows how to do that better than I do.  But I am anxious to hear from both he and Jerry about what we are going to do to fix this.  We spent a lot of money this past offseason in free agency.  We didn’t get quite the results that we anticipated.  Obviously we were not as good as we thought we were.

Q:  Is that why it hurts so much?   Were you kind of blindsided by what happened here?

A:  Listen, when you perform the way we performed over the second half of the season, it hurts, period, regardless of what you have done prior.  I have been around a long time.  I thought I had seen everything.  But I certainly didn’t see this coming.  And I certainly didn’t see the last two weeks coming.

Q: The fact that the closing of the stadium was one of those weeks, was that especially tough for you to take?

A:  No question; no question.  That is not the way we wanted to go out in that building.  I felt that loss probably more deeply than any other, particularly the way we were so non-competitive in that game.

Q:  How much stock- if much at all – do you put in former players like Harry Carson or Carl Banks on the radio really questioning heart, character, that kind of thing?

A:  Well, I have my own eyes and ears.  I go to practice.  I’m at the games.  So I can see for myself. 

Q:  When you talk about ‘lack of physicality’ did you notice this all season?  Did you see this coming on?

A:  I think more toward the second half of the season.  I just think that --- we always used to pride ourselves on being a tough team both physically and mentally.  And I didn’t see any evidence of that over the second half of the season.

Q:  Do you have any theories on why?

A:  I don’t know why.  I know we had some injuries, but I don’t think we had catastrophic injuries.  There is no excuse for performing the way we performed over basically the last 11 weeks.

Q:  This could be a very unique offseason with the CBA and everything.   There could be an opportunity for a team to kind of break the bank if they really wanted to.   What is your sense of what it is going to be moving forward and how much of a bank do you want to break?

A:  Well, I think it has been proven that that doesn’t work.  If there are players that we are interested in, we are going to go after them.  But how many times do we have to see evidence of the fact that spending a lot of money on free agency doesn’t necessarily improve your team.  It is a lot of times about chemistry and having the right nucleus and having leadership in the locker room.  We are going to look at the free agency market and we will make decisions if we think we can improve the team. 

Q:  This could also be an opportunity for a team to unload some of the contracts without cap repercussions.

A:  Well, that is true.  But again we are not going to do anything that is going to hurt the product on the field.  If we think a guy can be a contributor, we are going to keep him.

Q:  Coach Coughlin’s contract – he has two more years on the contract.  Is that enough time for him to rebuild what you had here?

A:  Well, I don’t know. Two years is a lifetime.  I’m worried about next season right now and I am still trying to recover from this one. 

Q:  Do you question the leadership in that locker room?

A:  I think there was a lack of leadership in the locker room this past season.  I am disappointed that nobody emerged to act like a leader.  I think some guys tried.  I think a lot of guys have that in them. But for whatever reason, it didn’t come out this year. 

Q:  What do you make of this Osi situation?

A:  I don’t make a lot of it.  I can remember being in the locker room with Harry Carson where he was going to retire and lead a rescue mission into Iran to rescue the hostages.  You can’t place too much emphasis on it. Osi is a competitor, and I expect him to be a big part of this team in the future.

Q:  Do you see other guys on the field executing like Eli.

A:  Not enough.

Q:  When you talk about some guys having it in them to be a leader and you didn’t see it, was Eli in that group?

A:  Well, I’m not going to get into criticizing individual players.  It is just not the way I want to …..

Q:  Do you find it ironic that going into the season receivers were the big question mark and they may have been the best part of the team?

A:  They probably were; they probably were.  That happens a lot in football, though.  You always have to expect the unexpected.  What I didn’t expect was – and probably the biggest area of disappointment – was the lack of pressure on the passer.  We thought that would be our strong suit coming into the season.  For whatever reason we didn’t generate consistent pressure on the quarterback.  And I think that hurt us tremendously this year.

Q:  Is the lack of a defensive identity tougher for you to swallow because of the history of the franchise or does it not matter?

A:  I don’t think it matters what of side of the ball.  What disappointed me the most was the just the lack of physical and mental toughness.  Even in the game against Carolina, we go down the field – we get the touchdown called back with the penalty.  We fumble the ball and it is like we collapsed. 

Q:  Guys admitted they were demoralized. 

A:  I just don’t understand that.  It is still 0-0.  Just stop them, get off the field and go back down and score.  There were just too many instances where that occurred this year.  And that, to me, comes back to the mental toughness.  And maybe a lot of that is confidence, I don’t know.  But there was just a lack of that this year.

Q:  Regarding the evaluation process – are you waiting for Jerry and Tom to get back to you with their evaluations first or are you going to be a part of it?

A:  Tom is obviously going to talk to his coaches.  He and Jerry will meet.  I will be meeting with them on the procedures.  There will be a lot of discussions over the next couple of weeks.

Q:  You said the status quo is not acceptable.  If Tom came to you and said, "I can turn this around with these guys," would you be more inclined to let him do what he wants to do?

A:  You like to let the head coach made the final decision on those things. But that would be a tough one as well.  The status quo, after what we just went through, is just not acceptable.

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