The first job of the franchise’s decision-makers is to find his replacement. Mara today said Coughlin’s coordinators, Ben McAdoo on offense and Steve Spagnuolo on defense, will interview for the job. He did not identify any other candidates.
“It is a big decision,” Mara said. “We've had three losing years in a row. Let's be honest, we've lost some credibility as an organization. When you have three losing years in a row like that, you face a lot of criticism. A lot of it is deserved. It's up to us now to turn that around and get back to where I think we should be.”
“The search will be extensive,” Mara said. “There will be a number of other candidates as well.”
Mara was more specific in emphasizing that Reese will remain in his position.
“I still believe that Jerry Reese is the right guy to lead us going forward,” Mara said. “Why do I believe that? Jerry put together two Super Bowl-winning teams. I would venture to say if we were to poll all of you in this room two years ago about who the top general managers in the league are, every one of you in here would have him on your list.
“So now two years later, after another bad season, do we want to throw all that out? I still think he's capable of putting a great team together and he's going to get that opportunity. To the extent we need to make changes in personnel or the way we do things, we're going to discuss that. But I still have full confidence in him. … He's done it before, I believe he can do it again. That's the bottom line.”
Moments later, Mara was asked another question about the team’s fortunes in the last dozen seasons.
“The first thing we have to do is obviously find the right guy to lead our organization as a head coach,” he said. “But we need to bring some more players in here, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. That's where we were obviously lacking this year.
“Jerry knows this is on him. I've had that discussion. You can't hide from the record. It's up to you now to get it fixed, because the last three years are just not acceptable.”
No one disagrees with the premise that the roster needs an influx of talented players, particularly on a defense that ranked last in the NFL this season in total yards and passing yards allowed.
“Obviously, there's some situations on the roster that need to be addressed, and we'll continue to try to build the roster,” Reese said. “It's not easy to turn a roster over and start to rebuild. You want to make it competitive. We were 6-10. You are what the record says you are. I believe we were competitive. I think we lost eight games by a total of 26 points, in the last couple seconds of the game. So we have some things to do, obviously.
The Giants have not made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, the last three with losing records.
“Obviously, (the team) was lacking in some talent, especially at 6-10,” Mara said. “We have some holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, no question about that. You can't hide from the record. The record indicates we do not have enough championship-caliber players. That's on us.
“Tom said we win as a team, we lose as a team. Everybody's involved in those personnel decisions. We, obviously, missed the boat. Some of our draft classes were not as productive as we hoped they would be. I think that's primarily the cause of why we're standing here today talking about this.”
It’s critical that the Giants avoid making those same mistakes in the future.
“I had numerous conversations with Jerry about that,” Mara said. “We need to look at where have we missed the boat on some of these things, where we can do better, what do we need to change, are our standards too rigid, are they not rigid enough.
“The last couple of drafts have been much more productive. But we had a few in there where we just haven't seen the production. Your core players are your third, fourth, fifth-year players. If you look back at those draft classes, there's not a lot of them that are playing right now.”
Will there be changes to the personnel staff?
“That remains to be seen,” Mara said. “That will be a subject of discussion going forward.”
“We will evaluate our personnel staff, and see if there need to be any changes to be made there,” Reese said.
“The cap situation is a lot better than it has been for a while,” he said. “Of course, you can turn the season around quickly. You can take 10 plays out of the season, we could be (at) 11 wins right now. So absolutely, you can turn the season around quickly, and we expect to do that. We'll work hard. I know everybody on this staff works hard. We'll continue to work hard to try to do that.”
• Mara said he and Reese will conduct the original interviews with all head coaching candidates, just as he and then general manager Ernie Accorsi did following the 2003 season.
“At some point, Steve and possibly other members of the Tisch family will get to meet the final candidates,” Mara said. “We'll do it pretty much the same way Ernie and I did it in '04: do the initial interviews and come back with a recommendation.
“There's no specific timetable. Obviously, you want to do it sooner than later. Staffs get filled. There's other teams out there looking for coaches. We need to get moving on it, and that starts right away.”
This is Reese’s first coaching search since he became general manager in 2007.
“We have a list (of candidates),” Reese said. “I have too much respect for coach Coughlin to be talking about what we have on a list.
“Since things have happened in the last couple of days, we started talking about a list, started to set up interviews with different coaches around the league. We want to do it sooner than later. I think John said that. We want to get the right guy. It has to be the right person who can communicate with the players, can teach, has something to prove, all those kinds of things, a guy that wants to win Super Bowls.”