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Takeaways from contentious Dave Gettleman press conference

GM addresses wide variety of topics

NFL: New York Giants-Rookie Minicamp Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman held a lively press conference Tuesday. Here are some of the takeaways.

Gettleman knows the results have to improve

His grade for his work over the first two years of his time as Giants’ GM?

“Over the last two years? Not good enough. Really, it hasn’t been good enough. It will get better.”

He knows nine wins over two seasons isn’t good enough.

“Oh absolutely. We’re all on notice. We truly are ... I feel that pressure every day, whether I’m in my first year or 15th year.”

What he thinks he can do better.

“Well, I know this may sound crazy, but I met recently with a big analytics guy. I’m going to learn from my mistakes. I never stop asking myself the question, ‘What could we have done differently? What could we have done better?’ That question never stops getting asked. I always ask that question. We evaluate, we re-evaluate, we go backwards and forwards with it. And that’s what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to talk to other GMs, inside and outside the industry, and continue to grow.”

Valentine’s View: Gettleman is a traditionalist. He has a viewpoint honed over 40 years or so of doing work finding NFL talent and helping to build rosters of how it should be done and what it should look like. I get it. I’m only nine years younger than he is. Still, we all have to adapt and learn and incorporate new ideas and new technologies into our thinking, which you can do while holding on to your core beliefs. I’m going to take Gettleman at his word that he is trying to do that.

On the direction of the franchise

“When I came here, I had two major goals. Number one was to find a quarterback, and I really believe we’ve done that. Daniel (Jones) had a terrific year, came on, did some great things and we have seen great things for him in the future. The second accomplishment I had as my goal was to set the team up for sustained success. So, over time since I’ve been here, we have regenerated, we have rebooted, so to speak, and done a lot of things behind the scenes that needed to be done. John alluded to them yesterday. We have completely redone our scouting situation, how we look at college personnel, how we look at pro personnel. We are in the process, we have hired four computer folks, software, and we are completely redoing the backend of our college and pro scouting systems. As John alluded to yesterday, we have hired a full-time clinician. We are doing a lot of things behind the scenes. In terms of being forward thinking, we have also in the last few years (been) ramping up the analytic and technology piece. So, that’s where we’re going. I know that sometimes it’s difficult, the instant gratification piece. But that’s where we’re going, and I really feel good about the direction we’re headed.”

Explaining the Leonard Williams trade

Gettleman fielded a number of questions about his midseason decision to surrender a pair of draft for defensive tackle Leonard Williams, a free-agent-to-be. Here are some of the things Gettleman said as he struggled to frame a satisfactory answer.

“ ... we felt he could be a disruptive force inside. And, he has been. He has been.”

“We felt we needed him. Again, we felt good about it and we feel, and he’s proven, he’s disruptive in there. He improved our rushing defense with him in there, he buzzes around the quarterback, we’ve just got to get him to finish now. But, the bottom line is we felt it was worth the deal. The juice was worth the squeeze.”

On potentially losing Williams via free agency: “He was in my office yesterday and he told me he wants to be here.”

On giving up two draft picks for a player who might not be a Giant in 2020: “If we hold our water, we will get a third-round comp (compensatory pick).”

On why Williams was worth the draft picks: “Leonard is 25 years old, he’s young, he’s about to enter his prime. I felt that what he gave us with the potential that he gives us was worth those two assets.”

Valentine’s View: The Williams trade has always been hard to understand. Nothing Gettleman said on Tuesday changed that.

On committing to better use of analytics after seeming to mock them

“Here’s what I would say to you about that. I did that kidding around. You turn around and learn very quickly, I’ve learned there are no throw away lines here. You guys will take anything and do that. In terms of the analytics and devaluing the running back and this and that, Saquon’s special and that’s what I should have said. Saquon’s special, he’s an outlier. We are committed to being forward thinking. We are committed to being the best in every area. We are making a determined effort to move that way. We are in the process of that process.”

Valentine’s View: Maybe that is what Gettleman should have said two years ago.

On expectations for 2020

“It all depends upon how quickly the puppies come along. We have a lot of young kids. We led the league in snaps by rookies. A big part of it is how quickly they come.”

Valentine’s View: While Gettleman called former head coach Pat Shurmur “as fine a man as I’ve ever worked with,” it’s not hard to believe that concern about proper development of all of those players is a big part of the reason the Giants are looking for a new head coach.

On the idea some coaching candidates might not want to work with him

“I don’t understand the notion that I’m tough to work with. I think it would be from people who don’t know me. Obviously, as we move forward in the coaching search, it’s the dating game. There will be an opportunity for them to look me in the eyes and say, ‘Hey Dave, what up?’ I don’t understand that. I really don’t. I don’t know where it’s coming from. I would say this. I went to Carolina, Ron (Rivera) was there. I didn’t fire anybody there and three years later, we were in Santa Clara at the Super Bowl.”

Gettleman was also asked why coaching candidates and potential free agents should trust him.

“The bottom line is with why should people trust me, why shouldn’t they?”

Valentine’s View: Whether he understands it or not, that perception seems to be real. All of the mention of analytics, being forward-thinking and the changes in front office process appear designed to combat that idea.

On entering free agency flush with cap space

“Well, first of all, whatever amount of money we end up having, you have to put $20 million and put it to the side, put it in a passbook savings account because you want to be in a position in-season to do extensions. If an attractive player is there, you want to have the cap space to make the decision, instead of saying ‘We can’t afford this guy, we can’t afford that guy.’ So, you take $20 million aside. You build the team through the draft. Free agency is really to a certain degree, and I’ve said it before, free agency is to set yourself up so that in the draft … You address issues with free agency so that you can set yourself up in the draft so you take the best player available.”

Valentine’s View: I agree with him. I wouldn’t expect or want the Giants to go wild in free agency. I would hope they are judicious and bring in a handful of players who fit specific holes the new coaching staff wants addressed.

On why he doesn’t speak to media more often

“Here’s what I would say to you. We looked at it. We probably need to address it, and it may change next year. But there are very few GMs that talk in-season. Most GMs, and I did this in Carolina, I did not talk. Once the season starts, to me, it’s about the players and coaches. It really is. Even in the Super Bowl season, I was behind the scenes. The only time I talked in the Super Bowl season once the season started was in the first or second week of the playoffs when Ron was getting inundated by requests. So, I stepped in for 20 minutes one day before practice. But that’s it. I really and truly believe, and if you go around the league… you know, I was feeling guilty about it. I felt guilty that Pat was up there taking the bullets. So, I turned around and had Pat Hanlon go around the league and see what people are doing. Most GMs, if the GM talked in-season this year, it was because of a big deal. That was it.”

Gettleman also said it was “hard” watching Shurmur speak on moves the organization had made.

Valentine’s View: I think Gettleman knows he should have addressed media at least once during the season, in particular when the curious Williams trade was made. I will be surprised if he goes the entire regular season without speaking next season.

On sharing some personnel control with a coach

“Number one, whatever’s in the best interest of the New York Football Giants, I will do. Whatever’s in the best interest of the club. Number two, what I would say is there were no major decisions made without everybody’s opinion. For some reason there is a—we’re collaborative here. We are collaborative.”

Valentine’s View: The best coach-GM relationships happen when the GM understands what the coach and his staff want and need, and does everything he can to deliver that rather than impose his own agenda or beliefs on that staff. I think Gettleman has tried, and will continue to try, to do that.

On struggling to find the right ‘hog mollies’

“That part of it has been frustrating. George Young, may he rest in peace, used to call that the ‘Dance of the Elephants,’ and those five guys have to work together as a unit, and if they don’t, it’s messy. We feel like, unfortunately, Pio (Jon Halapio) got hurt again, he tore his Achilles as you guys know, so now he is not going to be ready until camp most likely, but we feel like we’ve got some good pieces there, and they’ve just got to continue to work together and improve. We’re always going to look to add, we’re not afraid to draft over anybody, so we’ll continue to work that.”

Valentine’s View: The Giants probably have more work to do there than Gettleman admitted.