Joe Schoen said a lot on Wednesday in his introductory press conference as New York Giants GM. So, too, did co-owner John Mara. We have already covered much of it. Here are some additional takeaways.
The most concerning thing we heard
There has been much written in recent weeks about Giants ownership, the Mara family in particular, being a little too involved in the day-to-day football operations and in making major decisions.
As much as it was encouraging that the Giants went outside their usual comfort zone to hire Schoen, and John Mara admitted that “we need to make some changes in how we do things around here,” one thing that obviously is not going to change is his involvement in major decisions.
Mara made it clear on Wednesday that he isn’t backing off and ceding more decision-making authority to his new GM.
He called the search “a collaboration” and said “I don’t think so” when asked if Schoen’s opinion would carry more weight than previous GMs Jerry Reese and Dave Gettleman.
Mara did hint that he might be willing to allow Schoen to make deeper changes in how the organization operates.
“I think I’m going to 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 that’ll be his call and I think he’ll do that after he’s had the chance to really evaluate more people in the building.”
It was yours truly who asked Schoen on Wednesday if he felt he had the authority to make front office changes should he feel them necessary. He said “Yes, if I see fit,” as part of a longer answer.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. You can’t simply hire new people and then constrain them and expect things to change.
I came away from Wednesday hopeful, but not certain that Mara will let Schoen do this job the way he wants to do it.
Winning while building
Schoen said something on Wednesday that sounded hauntingly like former GM Dave Gettleman’s “you can win while you build a roster.”
Asked if he expected a total roster tear down, Schoen said:
“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. 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.”
Maybe that’s just Schoen not wanting to tell the fan base the team will be terrible in 2022 while they get the salary cap right and extract other players from the roster that Schoen and the new coaching staff don’t believe in.
Mara said he is “looking at this as a process.”
“I expect us to be a heck of lot better than four wins next year, but again, I haven’t given him any specific number that he has to achieve,” Mara said. “Get the right coach, build the right program and let’s see some progress at the end of the season.”
Salary cap pain
Over The Cap has Giants at an estimated $19.638 over the expected $208.2 million 2022 salary cap. “It’s a concern and it’s real,” Schoen said.
So, what is the new GM going to do about it?
The first thing we learned from Schoen is that long-time Giants assistant GM and salary cap analyst Kevin Abrams is going to be part of the process of fixing it.
“Kevin Abrams and I haven’t talked about it yet. We looked at it, we’re going to get together at the end of the week or first of next week to start formulating a plan, but we’re going to have to get below the salary cap,” Schoen said. “Obviously, we’re going to have to clear some money, but, again, when the new head coach gets in here, the new staff, we’re going to get together, we’re going to watch the film, we’re going to evaluate everybody, we’re going to talk to the support staff. Who are the guys that kind of fit the vision that we’re looking for? Who are the guys that are going to buy into the program? Then, we’ll make educated decisions once we have more information. There are going to be difficult decisions that are going to have to be made.”
Translation: Some higher profile players are going to have to be shown the door.
Analytics or ‘data innovation’?
We know that Gettleman was not a fan of analytics. We know that many of Judge’s in-game decisions flew in the face of analytics. So, Schoen’s thoughts on analytics were interesting.
“I think we use ‘data innovation’ here instead of ‘analytics’ since it is a hot button. But I believe in it. Any tool that can help us win games or give us a competitive advantage, we’re going to continue to push the envelope and find out what those are,” Schoen said. “To me, if it’s going to help us in the draft process with the evaluations or the free agency process with the evaluations or contract value and who do these players compare to, if it’s going to help us with our practice schedule to keep guys healthy, keep guys on the field, if guys are running too much or working too hard or there are signs you have to be open-minded to the information.
“It’s a piece of the puzzle. It’s not going to drive the entire process, but it’s another tool that we need to use in order to get whatever competitive advantage we can and make the best decisions we can for the New York Giants.”
Schoen also mentioned progressive thinking as one of the qualities he is looking for in a head coach.
“I think being progressive in your approach to coaching, whether it’s with analytics, when to go, when not to go, when to punt. I think you’ve got be open to all that stuff,” Schoen said. “You’ve got to be open to sports performance, strength and conditioning. You’ve got to listen to the experts in their field.”
So, yeah, I would take that as a hopeful sign.
Why the Giants?
Scouting Academy Director Dan Hatman likes to remind me that NFL general managers usually only get one shot at the job. So, why did the 42-year-old Schoen choose the Giants for his one shot?
The Giants certainly didn’t impress him by sticking him on the last available seat, a middle seat in the back by the bathroom, on his flight to New Jersey for his interview with ownership.
“In the interview it was John, Steve and Chris, and you could feel their passion and desire to do whatever it takes to get back and get two of those. So that, along with being given all the resources to try to build the team, that was very attractive to me,” Schoen said. “The history of this franchise, ever since I’ve been in the NFL – I started in 2000 and in 2001, I was in Carolina and John Fox came in 2002, he came from the Giants. He always put the New York Giants in high regard and that’s the reputation around the NFL. This is a very good job.
“So again, my relationship and communication with John, Steve and Chris on the interview, it felt right, it felt right for me and my family and we’re going to be given the resources to do what we need to do, and it checked all the boxes for me.”
Now, all we can do is wait and find out if Schoen and the Giants both made the right choice.