His general manager has been on the job for less than two weeks. His head coach just drove his truck through a blizzard to start his job on Saturday. New York Giants co-owner John Mara realizes, though, that the work of turning around a franchise that has sunk to the depths of the NFL is just beginning.
“We don’t have staff assembled yet. We’ve got the head coach and the general manager. They’ve got to assemble the rest of the staff, but they’re off to a good start,” Mara said at Monday’s press conference to introduce new coach Brian Daboll. “Their communication is very natural, and they like each other. They know each other’s philosophies. They have a similar vision going forward, so I think we’re off to a good start with both of these guys.”
Giants fans have, of course, heard before that good things are ahead. Should they believe that now?
“I think so, but that only lasts until we start playing games, but the reaction obviously has been positive so far, but that only goes so far. I think we’re off to a good start, but that’ll go away quickly if we don’t get off to a good start during the season,” Mara said. “I think we’ve got the right guys in place now and it’s up to us to make it work.”
Giants fans have heard the whole “right guys” thing from Mara before, as well. A couple of years ago, Dave Gettleman was — per Mara — the right GM even after the firing of Pat Shurmur. Until a few weeks ago, Mara was insisting Joe Judge was the right head coach.
This time, Mara and the Giants are leaning into the model established in recent years by the Buffalo Bills, one that has seen them rise from laughingstock to powerhouse.
“I think they have the right combination of a head coach and a general manager, and they made the right selection at quarterback,” Mara said. “I think we have the right combination of head coach and general manager. I also think we have the right quarterback, and hopefully they’ll be able to get the most out of him.”
Doubling down on Daniel Jones
While saying that Daboll and GM Joe Schoen would “make the final determination” on Jones’ future, Mara said “I would be very surprised” if Jones is not the team’s starting quarterback in 2022.
The real question with Jones, though, is not 2022. It is what comes after 2022. Will Daboll and Schoen believe they can go forward with him, or will the Giants be back in the quarterback market?
“I think we did (nine) general manager interviews and (six) head coach interviews, and every single interview was positive about Daniel,” Mara said. “Now, they’re not willing to say that they think he’s going to be the next (Chiefs quarterback) Patrick Mahomes or anything like that, but they were excited about the potential he has and the possibility of working with him. That, to me, was reassuring because that’s the way we feel as well.”
Brian Too Nice?
Daboll seems, at first impression, to be a genuinely likable down to earth guy. At one point on Monday, he jokingly suggested taking media members out for a beer instead of hanging around the Quest Diagnostics field house.
Is he too nice to succeed as an NFL head coach?
“I don’t think that’s a concern. I think he can be tough when he needs to be tough,” Mara said. “That’s what we found out about him and certainly Joe has had the experience with him in Buffalo and has seen his command of the room. I think that’s something we’re very comfortable with.”
Mara did, though, admit that it is difficult to project how a first-time head coach will transition from a limited role to overseeing the operation of an entire team.
“It’s the most difficult decision by far that you ever make in this business because you just don’t know,” Mara said. “You have to try to get to know the individual as best you can, talk to the people they’ve worked with, try to get an understanding as to whether there’s a presence and the leadership skills and the knowledge of X’s and O’s and then you make your choice and then you live with it. You don’t know until they actually start getting in the building and start building the program.”
Mara was asked if the reportedly contentious relationship between Brian Flores and Miami GM Chris Grier, part of the reason Flores was fired by the Dolphins, played into Flores not getting the Giants job.
“Well, listen, we had (six) terrific candidates and any one of whom I probably would have been comfortable with at the end of the day,” Mara said. “I think what Brian (Daboll) has been able to accomplish up in Buffalo and Brian’s track record with Joe and their level of comfort with one another, I think that’s what tipped the scales at the end of the day.”
Patience is a virtue
Mara has been asking for patience, and trying — at times unsuccessfully — to practice it himself for most of the last decade. He is at a point with a new coach and GM where patience is once again going to be needed.
“t’s going to be hard, but I’m going to have to force myself to do it [have patience],” Mara said. “I’ve run out of patience over the last few years, but I also understand that this is a long-term project. This is not an overnight thing. I think last season verified that.”