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‘Things I think:’ Brandon Beane, Joe Schoen, Brian Flores, more thoughts

It’s time for some Sunday ‘things I think’

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AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans
Eli Apple celebrates Saturday’s victory by the Bengals.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As Joe Schoen begins his tenure as general manager of the New York Giants, let’s discuss some ‘things I think’ about the Giants, the playoffs, and more.

I think Brandon Beane deserves ‘Kudos’

Jerry Reese did not enjoy speaking to the media when he was GM of the Giants. He was generally made available only when he had to be — the beginning and end of each season, maybe at midseason, and around the draft. His answers were so predictable that I used to write posts predicting, with pretty good accuracy, what Reese would say when he did speak.

When he became GM, Dave Gettleman was on pretty much the same schedule. Over time, though, it seemed like the Giants — or Gettleman himself — realized his pressers were often disastrous, filled with statements that became meme-worthy. The longer he was GM, the less often he was trotted out in front of the cameras and the digital recorders.

Thus, it was really refreshing to see what Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane did Friday afternoon. Jarring, actually.

Beane spoke to assembled Giants and Bills media for more than 26 minutes to offer his thoughts on the Giants’ hiring of his former second-in-command, Joe Schoen, as their GM. He was cooperative, friendly and insightful. He even addressed questioner by name.

There are, obviously, things that a GM is not going to share with the media or the fan base. That kind of cooperation, though, was refreshing. Hopefully, Schoen brings that with him.

Putting in the work

Beane said on Friday that there is “no magic” formula to evaluating players or building a good team. He called new Giants’ GM Joe Schoen “a worker” and added that “it’s about doing the work and the New York Giants will never have to worry that Joe didn’t invest the right time in evaluating player, college or pro.”

Beane revealed a lot about how the Bills chose to make quarterback Josh Allen the No. 7 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. This is how Beane described that process, and Schoen’s involvment in it:

“Like every player Joe was very involved. He and I both saw Josh live, as we did some of the other quarterbacks that fall – the fall of ‘17. And then the next time we saw these, these guys was at the Senior Bowl, you know, we saw Josh, there, we saw Baker (Mayfield), Mason Rudolph, several others. Joe was there every step of the way,” Beane said. “We did private visits with these guys. We brought some of them here when you could do the 30 visits. Joe was there every step of the way. We had a meeting one time with our owners. It went about 17 hours and Joe was right in there, you know, Sean (McDermott), Brian Daboll. We went through all these guys again, over and over and watched them. And then again, Joe saw the whole process. ... He did all the evaluation, he gave his honest opinion on how he saw which quarterback, and again his opinion was very valued and then ultimately, I had to make a decision.”

I don’t know exactly what the Giants’ process was before drafting Daniel Jones. Let’s just say, though, that what the Bills before choosing Allen sounds way more extensive and thorough than what the Giants did before Dave Gettleman fell in “full bloom love” after watching Jones play three series at the Senior Bowl.

There have been a couple of stories written over the past couple of years by reporters for The Athletic that have come to light again with Schoen being hired by the Giants. Both are worth your time if you have an Athletic subscription.

In a 2019 piece detailing Schoen’s journey to the No. 2 chair in Buffalo, Beane said this:

“He’s going to be a GM,” Beane said. “The thing about him is that he’s smart enough to know that he’s still learning and growing, and he’s trying to get stronger at his craft. He wants to be totally ready when he gets in there.

“Instead of just rushing to the seat and then trying to figure it out, Joe’s that guy that he wants to have all the answers to the test before he goes and sits down. Very few people are like that. There’s so many people in this business that are just trying to get into that head coach seat, that GM seat, and maybe they’re not ready for it. I have no doubt he’s going to be ready for it. He’s a great communicator. He understands people. You’re not going to outwork him.”

There was also a tremendous piece detailing how Beane and Schoen hit the road together and once saw 30 prospects play in person over a 12-hour span. The post detailed the great lengths Buffalo has gone to since Beane became GM to see as many players as possible, learn as much possible, and ultimately make the most educated decisions possible.

Seeing the difference in results over the past few years, and the Giants’ general organizational failings of the last decade it makes me wonder if the Giants were putting in anywhere close to the kind of work Beane and Schoen were doing.

Reese was at one time a great scout and his early drafts paid dividends. By the end of his tenure, though, there were whispers that Reese at times didn’t even leave his office on a college football Saturday to drive to Rutgers or Temple to watch prospects.

Gettleman, perhaps partially because of health concerns, was rarely known to be on the road seeing college games in person.

The comparison makes me wonder just how good and how in-depth the information was that the Giants were working with in recent years.

Read those two posts from The Athletic and I think it is apparent that the way the Giants scout players at the college level is going to change.

Let’s talk about Brian Flores

Brian Flores, by all accounts, is a leading candidate to become the next head coach of the Giants. Flores did an excellent job revamping the Miami Dolphins, is a Brooklyn native who is interested in coaching the Giants, John Mara apparently has respect for him. If he gets the job, Flores will likely do well.

I think, though, that Flores has to come with a “Buyer Beware” label.

The Dolphins did not fire Flores because he can’t coach. He absolutely can. It was, though, a tumultuous tenure in Miami for Flores. There were reports of a power struggle with GM Chris Grier. There are questions about how easy Flores is to work with after he went through four offensive coordinators, two defensive coordinators and four offensive line coaches in three seasons.

There are questions being floated about how much power Flores wants. His only NFL experience before taking the Miami job was more than a decade spent with the New England Patriots, where Bill Belichick ultimately made every decision.

Does Flores ultimately want that model, where the GM functions not as an equal or a superior, but as someone there simply to serve the wishes of the coach?

As Scouting Academy Director Dan Hatman always drills into me, general managers usually get one shot at that job in the NFL. Joe Schoen now has his shot, one he put more than 20 years of work into getting.

Does Schoen want to gamble that shot on a coach he has never worked with who has a reputation for being strong-willed, and who just lost a job because of reasons that appear to have nothing to do with his ability to run a team from the sideline? Is he, perhaps, willing to cede some of the power he just got to a coach who may ask for final say over personnel matters?

Flores might be the best man for the job. I think, though, this is something Schoen and the Giants need to think about. And they have to ask Flores to explain why he thinks he lost the Miami job, and what he learned from that experience.

Event Name: NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys
Mike McDaniel
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

I think this was ironic

Chris Pflum and I were talking (OK, texting via Slack) Saturday morning about the Giants’ search for a head coach. The names thus far — Flores, Daboll, Dan Quinn, Frazier, Patrick Graham — are pretty much chalk. Those are the names you had to expect would be on the short list once Schoen was hired.

Chris, though, tossed out the possibility of a “left field” interview request.

Mulling the possibilities, we both landed on the same name — Mike McDaniel, offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers.

Now, I have to admit that until a few days ago I did not even know who Mike McDaniel was. I know a little bit about him now, and I’m insanely intrigued.

This is a guy who looks and sounds like a high school science nerd or a kid you’d find hanging out at the local skate park rather than a football coach.

SB Nation’s James Dator recently referred to McDaniel as an “utter delight” and wrote this:

The reason I love McDaniel is because he’s just so damn normal. The NFL is full of these figures who believe they have to be imposing to get their point across. Dudes who have watched way too many George S. Patton speeches and think they need to emulate actual generals, not football coaches. McDaniel is here being awkward, and goofy, weird, and funny — and it all works. He’s absolutely uncompromising in his approach to being himself, and it’s so damn much fun.

Like this:

Thing is, McDaniel is becoming more than just a curiosity in NFL circles. He has been an NFL assistant coach since 2011, all of that time learning at the feet of current 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, considered perhaps the best offensive schemer and play designer in the league.

McDaniel, 39, likely is brilliant. He has only one year as an offensive coordinator under his belt, and a non-play calling coordinator at that. He might not be ready to be a head coach, especially in the glare of the New York-New Jersey media market.

If I am Joe Schoen and the Giants, though, I absolutely want to talk to him and learn more. If the Giants want to hire a defensive-minded coach, and four of their five candidates we know of right now come from the defensive side, they will have to hit a home run with their hire of an offensive coordinator.

Could McDaniel be that guy? I sure am curious.

Let’s talk playoffs

How many of you watching the Cincinnati Bengals-Tennessee Titans game said “you’ve gotta be kidding me” when it was former Giants’ first-round pick Eli Apple who made the play that gave Cincinnati a chance to win Saturday evening? I know I did.

It was Apple who deflected the Ryan Tannehill pass that Cincinnati intercepted with :28 to play, setting up their game-winning field goal. Six years into his career, Apple may have finally matured into the player the Giants thought he might be back in 2016.

On the flip side, did you notice Jackrabbit Jenkins drop an easy interception that might have gone for a game-changing pick 6?

Robbie Gould, who did his Lawrence Tynes impression with a game-winning 45-yard field goal for the San Francisco 49ers in the snow and frigid temperatures at Lambeau Field, kicked for the Giants in 2016.

Oh, and today you get to watch Odell Beckham Jr. catch passes for the Los Angeles Rams.