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Can Joe Schoen really be George Young 2.0? That’s what the Giants are hoping

John Mara admits the Giants “need to make some changes,” and Schoen believes he will be given the resources to make them

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Joe Schoen
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

A new era started for the New York Giants on Wednesday when they officially introduced Joe Schoen, who was hired last Friday, as their general manager.

Schoen is the first general manager hired from outside the Giants family since the desperate franchise turned to George Young in 1979 after not making the playoffs since 1963. That worked out fairly well as the Giants won two Super Bowls and Young is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Succeeding GMs — Ernie Accorsi, Jerry Reese, Dave Gettleman — all had ties to Young or the Giants organization.

Schoen, 42, is different. He began his NFL career as a scouting intern for the Carolina Panthers in 2000, earned a role in the scouting department, moved to the Miami Dolphins in 2008, spending his last four years there as director of player personnel. He then became assistant general manager of the Buffalo Bills in 2017.

Schoen has no previous ties to the Giants.

Co-owner John Mara admitted on Wednesday that Schoen’s lack of ties to the Giants is really part of the point.

“We need to make some changes in how we do things around here,” Mara admitted after Schoen’s introductory press conference. “And that was one of the big reasons why we wanted to bring somebody in from the outside. They can look and see what we’re doing. What we’re doing well, see what we’re doing poorly at and just change things to a point where everybody’s on the same page moving forward for us.”

The Giants have made the playoffs once since 2011 and have suffered five consecutive double-digit loss seasons. So, yes, there is a ton of work to be done.

The last three coaches hired by the Giants — Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge — were each fired after two seasons. Schoen is now the team’s third GM since the 2017 season.

“I’m dying to get off of this train,” Mara said. “I want continuity, I want somebody who can be in the building for a long period of time, I don’t want to do another one of these press conferences for many, many years.”

Mara added that Schoen has “seen how it should be done” as the Bills built from a perennial laughingstock into an AFC powerhouse.

“We’re in a similar situation to what they (the Bills) were in four, five years ago,” Mara said. “I also think he has really strong communication skills and is going to be able to unite the building. The communication hasn’t been the greatest in the building over the last couple of years. I think with Joe’s addition that will get straightened out.”

Schoen said on Wednesday that “I was assured that I would be given every resource I needed” to build the Giants back into a winning team.

“I’m a true believer in giving everybody an opportunity. If you’re a hard worker, you’re a good person and you’re going to buy into the process, then you can work with me,” Schoen said. “I’m not coming in anticipating any changes and I’m not going to make any statements where ‘We’ve got to do this.’ We’re going to implement our process. Everybody is going to be evaluated. Right now, I can tell there’s a lot of good people in that building that I’m looking forward to working with.”

Schoen said that choosing a head coach is “going to be a collaborative effort between John, Steve, myself.”

Mara had said previously that Schoen would lead the search for a coach.

“it’s a collaboration. He’s not going to hire anybody that we don’t want and we’re certainly not going to hire anybody that he doesn’t want,” Mara said. “But ownership always has final approval over any decision like that. That’s just not going to change.”

There has been much written in recent weeks about dysfunction in the front office, and Mara was asked on Wednesday if changing the GM and head was enough, or if organizational changes needed to run deeper.

“I think I’ve gotta let Joe take a look,” Mara said. “He’s only been here for a few days. As he said he wants to evaluate everybody. I’d like to see him do that. I think you could see some additions to our staff at some point in time. But you know, that’ll be his call and I think you’ll do that after he’s had a chance to really evaluate more people in the building.”

Does Schoen believe that he would have the ability to make front office changes if he deems them necessary?

“Yes, if I see fit,” Schoen said.

“Like I said earlier I don’t think that’s fair to the people in the building. You give them a fair opportunity. If you haven’t had success around here I don’t think it’s necessarily because of some of the people in the building. Maybe it’s the process. They’re not the final decision makers. So everybody’s going to be evaluated. I don’t think you have to make wholesale changes. Again, I was in those seats before when there’s change and there’s some really good people in that building.

“I’ll evaluate everybody and make decisions down the road. But yeah. I don’t think you have to come in and just change everything. It’s about implementing my process and how we want to do things. And then again, if you work really hard, you’re a good person and you’re a good teammate I can work with you all day.”

What did Schoen learn from his experience in Buffalo that could benefit him as he tries to rebuild the Giants?

“The biggest thing is an entire building working toward a common goal. A lot of good people in that building, you got the right people in the right seats, they understand the process, and everybody knew what the end goal was,” Schoen said. “On a daily basis, everybody bought into the process and over time, we built a very good culture because everybody bought into the process. To me, getting the right people in the right seats with the right common goal in mind and working towards that, that’s what we had in Buffalo.”

Judging from the fact that the Giants are starting over — again — and from Mara’s hints that the communication in the building was perhaps not as good as he, Gettleman and Judge had indicated, the Giants have not had that.

Mara said he is not looking for a quick turnaround.

“I’m looking at this as a process. I haven’t told him Joe we better make the playoffs next year, otherwise you’re outta here. I’m not making any statements like that,” Mara said. “I want him to build the thing the right way and and give us a chance for sustained success. I’m not giving him any specific demands for next year. Just build the team right way.

“I expect us to be a heckuva lot better than four wins next year but I haven’t given him any specific number that he has to achieve. Get the right coach, build the right program and let’s see some progress at the end of the season.”

Does Schoen anticipate a complete roster tear down?

“I’m not a big tear it up, rebuild – I think you can truly build a roster when you can compete for today and build for tomorrow. We’re going to do the draft, free agency. Whatever avenue we can, we’re going to continue to build a competitive roster and we want to see progress,” he said. “We’re going to continue to build with the long-term in mind as we build it, but I think you can compete today and still build for tomorrow.”

We have, truthfully, heard similar versions of all of this before. What matters is whether or not Schoen can deliver.

We will just have to watch and see.