That was an often-used phrase by New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen on Thursday as he spoke to media in advance of the team’s 2023 season. Schoen deflected, and deflected ... and then deflected some more when asked about expectations for the Giants during the upcoming season.
“We haven’t played a game yet, so, so we’ll see,” Schoen said. “I think I said it last year at the same press conferences, it takes a few weeks into the regular season to figure out who the team is again, how we’re gonna react when adversity strikes and how we’re gonna handle if there’s success or if you’re down at halftime.
‘think that showed last year against Tennessee in the second half. I didn’t know how the team was gonna react coming out of halftime, or if you’re playing Green Bay in London and you’re down, in the second quarter, 17-3. We still have a lot to learn about this team, and we’ll see when it comes to Sunday against the Cowboys how they’re gonna come together as a team in gel and how they’re gonna react in those situations.”
Is the roster better?
“Again, we’ll see. I like some of the guys that we brought in and free agency,” Schoen said. “I like some of the guys that we, that we drafted, but you know, they still gotta go out there and do it on Sundays.”
Can the Giants challenge in the NFC East?
“We’ll, see,” Schoen said. “Our guys didn’t play a lot in the preseason. They played that Carolina game as a unit. We’re still practicing and getting better daily, and we’ll see what it looks like when, you know, we get to the regular season.”
When Schoen and coach Brian Daboll took over the Giants in the winter of 2022 they could not have expected to see the Giants qualify for and win a playoff game last season. They might have expected to be in full rebuild mode entering 2023.
Instead, Schoen re-signed quarterback Daniel Jones to a rich four-year, $160 million contract, signed free agent linebacker Bobby Okereke, traded for star tight end Darren Waller, and within the last few days gave up late-round draft capital to add veteran defensive players Isaiah Simmons and Boogie Basham.
Schoen, though, wouldn’t bite when asked if the unexpected success — and the raised expectations that have come with it — changed the way the Giants approached roster decisions leading up to this season.
“We had more flexibility. We had more resources available to us, if that makes sense,” Schoen said. “Financially we were in a better shape where we could, either extend our own or sign [players] from outside the building. So I wouldn’t say the plan changed. We just had, more resources to add talent.”
Here are some other takeaways from Schoen’s media availability.
On trading for Isaiah Simmons
“He’s a young guy, just turned 25, size, length, athleticism, and versatility,” Schoen said. “So, for the compensation (a 2024 seventh-round pick) we thought it made sense and, you know, we’re excited to see what he does this year.”
Schoen added that defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has “got a vision for the player.”
On acquiring Boogie Basham
The Giants’ new edge defender, acquired Wednesday in a trade with the Buffalo Bills, that Schoen was the biggest reason the Bills drafted him and knew that “eventually” he would follow Schoen.
The GM on Thursday downplayed his connection to Basham.
“Those decisions are never on one person. I’ll just say that,” Schoen said. “When you’re drafting, typically those first three rounds especially, those are organizational decisions, coaching staff, personnel department.
“So young man we’re excited to get, again, he was a second-round pick. He’s been in the league for two years. He still has two years left on his contract at a reasonable price. And we think he’s got a lot of upside.”
On the offensive line
This position group, of course, is the one that makes most Giants fans nervous entering the season.
“We’ll see again when we get to Sunday against the Cowboys, but you know, we’ve won a lot of games with those players minus JMS [rookie center John Michael Schmitz,” Schoen said. “It’s his first year here, but won nine games in a playoff game with that group, so, we’ll see how it pans out.”
On having a young roster
Schoen pointed to a stat showing just how young the 2023 Giants will be.
“As the dust settles a little bit, stepping back and look at the roster, I think we have 39 players that are 26 years old or younger. Which as of today is second in the league,” Schoen said. “Kind of a young nucleus [of] core guys. I think between the youth and some of the veterans that we have, it’s a good mix.”