General Manager Dave Gettleman
Opening statement: Good morning. Before we begin, I would like to wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year. Over the past weeks, there has been much speculation over the futures of Pat Shurmur and myself. Every day is a job interview in this industry and we accept that. So, I understand the question of why was Pat dismissed and I was not. Just to be clear, there were substantive discussions between myself and ownership regarding my job performance and vision moving forward over the past few weeks. So, John (Mara) and Steve (Tisch) made their decisions and here I stand. Before we go any further, I just want to be clear— Pat Shurmur is as fine a man as I've ever worked with. There are many reasons why the New York Football Giants are in the current state, and I take my share of culpability. As John said yesterday, I have had misses. However, given where we started in December of '17, we've made progress in many areas on and off the field that we are encouraged by and see as a sound foundation for the team to come. Finally, one more point before I take questions, the person in this position must be willing to make tough decisions and I have certainly shown the willingness to do so. However, be assured, no decision is made in a vacuum. We believe in collaboration among ownership, coaching and personnel. With that, I will take questions.
Q: What is the state of the franchise? Is it about now, is it about the future, is it about patience, is it about urgency?
A: We feel like we've addressed it. When I came here, I had two major goals. Number one was to find a quarterback, and I really believe we've done that. Daniel (Jones) had a terrific year, came on, did some great things and we have seen great things for him in the future. The second accomplishment I had as my goal was to set the team up for sustained success. So, over time since I've been here, we have regenerated, we have rebooted, so to speak, and done a lot of things behind the scenes that needed to be done. John alluded to them yesterday. We have completely redone our scouting situation, how we look at college personnel, how we look at pro personnel. We are in the process, we have hired four computer folks, software, and we are completely redoing the backend of our college and pro scouting systems. As John alluded to yesterday, we have hired a fulltime clinician. We are doing a lot of things behind the scenes. In terms of being forward thinking, we have also in the last few years (been) ramping up the analytic and technology piece. So, that's where we're going. I know that sometimes it's difficult, the instant gratification piece. But that's where we're going, and I really feel good about the direction we're headed.
Q: I know previously you spoke to a team employee about the Leonard Williams trade. Can you talk about the thought process of trading a top seven pick and multiple other draft picks to bring Williams in when he was going to be a free agent at the end of the year?
A: Basically, you know, it was a three and a five. If we sign him it moves up to a four. The thought process was, I really believe that as much as the style of play evolves, there are basic truths— you have to run the ball, you have to stop the run, you have to rush the passer. If you are seriously deficient in any one of those three areas, it makes it tough. It's going to be tough sledding. By bringing in Leonard, we looked at it, we obviously evaluated the film, by bringing him in, we felt he could be a disruptive force inside. And, he has been. He has been.
Q: Couldn't you have gotten him at the end of the year?
A: Well, that's hypothetical. I understand what you're saying, I really do, but at the end of the day, we felt good about him, he did what we wanted him to do, and he wants to be here.
Q: Why not wait until free agency?
A: Because now we know what we have, and we were willing to do that.
Q: So, you were willing to give up two draft picks, whether it's three, four, or three, five, in order to get that information?
A: Exactly. We felt we needed him. Again, we felt good about it and we feel, and he's proven, he's disruptive in there. He improved our rushing defense with him in there, he buzzes around the quarterback, we've just got to get him to finish now. But, the bottom line is we felt it was worth the deal. The juice was worth the squeeze.
Q: You have said a few times when you've talked to us about how you believed in Eli Manning. It was not a mirage, you said he had several years left in him. Looking back, was it wise to use 23 million in cap space for a player who was given such a short…he only played two games and then he was a backup and a mentor. Were you blindsided that it was only going to be two games, and if so, would you have done that differently?
A: Here's what I would say, we really believed in Daniel. We didn't know he would come that fast. Again, you're talking about a kid who played at Duke, in the ACC, and like I said, we had taken at six, we didn't blink. We just didn't realize he would come that fast. At the end of the day, it was time. It was time. Eli was great with him. Who better to learn from and who better to have his back? Eli is a pro's pro. A big piece of being the head coach, being the quarterback, the general manager of the New York Football Giants, is speaking with you folks and getting the message to our fans. That's a big piece of it. That's another reason, who better for Daniel to learn from than Eli Manning. So, to answer your question— no, we're fine with it.
Q: Do you have any regrets over the Odell (Beckham Jr.) trade? If not, why not?
A: Really and truly, we're not going to know about that trade for two years. Two rookies, and Jabrill (Peppers) is only in his third year. We're really not going to be able to evaluate that trade until two years. You come back in two years and hopefully I'm standing here, we can have that conversation. I'm being honest, you have to wait. People immediately want thumbs up or thumbs down. Right now, we are excited about Dexter Lawrence, Oshane (Ximines) and Jabrill (Peppers). We're going to find out.
Q: Are you willing to give Leonard Williams the significant big contract that he very clearly wants?
A: I don't discuss money, I don't discuss contracts, I don't discuss negotiations.
Q: Do you have any assurance that he won't test the market?
A: He was in my office yesterday and he told me he wants to be here.
Q: Do you feel like you are giving him a lot of leverage by trading for him?
Q: How much do you feel like you have to sign him? Otherwise those two picks go just for the information that you then can't use.
A: If we hold our water, we will get a third-round comp (compensatory pick).
Q: I understand changes had to be made when you first came here. They were made at a rapid pace. Looking back, was the process a little too quick because it upset whatever continuity you maybe wanted to keep in the locker room and upset the chemistry?
A: No, I don't feel that way at all. We had a culture issue that was well documented, and changes had to be made. You had an operation that had one winning season since 2012. The definition of insanity, so no, to answer your question.
Q: How do you rationalize the recommitment to analytics when the night after you drafted Saquon Barkley you mocked the concept?
A: Here's what I would say to you about that. I did that kidding around. You turn around and learn very quickly, I've learned there are no throw away lines here. You guys will take anything and do that. In terms of the analytics and devaluing the running back and this and that, Saquon's special and that's what I should have said. Saquon's special, he's an outlier. We are committed to being forward thinking. We are committed to being the best in every area. We are making a determined effort to move that way. We are in the process of that process.
Q: When you traded Odell, we asked you why you didn't call the 49ers. You said whoever picks up the phone to make the phone call gives up leverage.
A: I talked to the 49ers.
Q: We asked you why you didn't shop around for a better offer than the Browns. You said whoever picks up the phone to make the call loses leverage. In your in-house interview, you said you picked up the phone to call the Jets for Leonard Williams, you initiated the conversation. Why?
A: Because I heard rumors. I had heard rumors that he was available. So, I called to ask, I called Joe and said, 'hey Joe' and heard all over the place he's available.
Q: So my question was going to be did you feel like you lost leverage by doing that?
A: I felt like we got trade value. When you're in the trade business, you want to get to a win-win. Most people are savvy enough where it's going to have to be fair.
Q: Yesterday, John Mara said he expects results, more results, better results in 2020. He thinks the team should be better and will be better. How close is this team right now to being a playoff contender in your mind?
A: It all depends upon how quickly the puppies come along. We have a lot of young kids. We led the league in snaps by rookies. A big part of it is how quickly they come.
Q: When you look at the coaching process and hiring a new coach, obviously, you are looking at the college and pro guys. What are some of the benefits of a college coach? Because they tend to handle both duties of GM technically and also coach. How is that dynamic when you are interviewing guys coming from the collegiate level?
A: One of the things that I find interesting is we are getting younger and younger players in the league. These kids we're drafting are 21 years old, they have been in college for three years. In Carolina, I drafted two kids that were 20 years old. The (Tremaine) Edmonds kid that Buffalo drafted was 19. You are drafting younger kids so to take a college coach now, I think he would have that advantage of having been connected to these college kids for so long. Understanding the culture and what they're at, what they're about and where they're at. I appreciate that as far as him being the GM. Obviously he has his recruiting war room and he's the one doing that. It's a collaborative process, everything is a collaborative process. This is a monster up here and anybody that's doing it on their own, it's difficult. I would say to anybody, any college coach that we talk to, I'm here to help him. One of the things that I'll tell you is we're all support staff, we really truly are.
Q: There's been some speculation that there may be some coaching candidates who might not want to work with you in your situation, not knowing whether you have ownership's support for multiple years. Is that something you've heard at all? Do you have any concerns that maybe candidates will say no?
A: I don't understand the notion that I'm tough to work with. I think it would be from people who don't know me. Obviously, as we move forward in the coaching search, it's the dating game. There will be an opportunity for them to look me in the eyes and say, 'Hey Dave, what up?' I don't understand that. I really don't. I don't know where it's coming from. I would say this. I went to Carolina, Ron (Rivera) was there. I didn't fire anybody there and three years later, we were in Santa Clara at the Super Bowl.
Q: What if it's because they don't believe running the ball, stopping the run and rushing the passer are their three (priorities)?
A: That's part of the conversation. It's just part of the conversation. We'll see.
Q: In April, in an interview with Steve Politi, he asked if there was a culture problem, and you said 'Not anymore' with a smile, according to what Politi wrote. You now have a season where you have four wins, more than half of your losses are by two scores at least, and you did have some locker room issues this season. But it's clear you think the culture is somehow better. Why?
A: Part of the problem is when you lose year after year after year, you need to get that winning feeling back. In terms of culture problems downstairs this year, I know this, I saw a team that came out, practiced hard every day, and played hard on Sundays. I'm not sure where that comes from. First time it's ever been mentioned to me, and I'm through that locker room all the time on a daily basis.
Q: You don't think with Janoris Jenkins you had an issue with the locker room this year, and some other players?
A: What Janoris said, he said. He came out and he said what he said. He's it. He was it.
Q: Do you feel like you've been put on notice a little bit from John Mara yesterday? He said you need to have a better batting average in free agency and all that. Do you feel like you've been put on notice this year going into 2020? As far as your job status.
A: Oh absolutely. We're all on notice. We truly are.
Q: It's different from a first-year GM to a third-year GM.
A: Right, absolutely. I feel that pressure every day, whether I'm in my first year or 15th year.
Q: You're going to have a lot of cap space. Are you planning on being very aggressive?
A: Well, first of all, whatever amount of money we end up having, you have to put $20 million and put it to the side, put it in a passbook savings account because you want to be in a position in-season to do extensions. If an attractive player is there, you want to have the cap space to make the decision, instead of saying 'We can't afford this guy, we can't afford that guy.' So, you take $20 million aside. You build the team through the draft. Free agency is really to a certain degree, and I've said it before, free agency is to set yourself up so that in the draft… You address issues with free agency so that you can set yourself up in the draft so you take the best player available.
Q: I have a few. One, you said Leonard Williams improved your run defense. The Eagles controlled the ball on the ground both times you played them, 239 yards, four touchdowns with a guy named Boston Scott at running back. I'm curious why you think he improved the run defense? Two, why don't you talk and take accountability more? It seemed like Pat Shurmur was out in front kind of taking all of the bullets, and then of course gets fired and you do not. Third, why should players, free agents, trust you when you say you didn't sign a guy to trade him, and then you trade him? Why should people trust what you say?
A: You hit me with three. You got your money's worth. The bottom line is with why should people trust me, why shouldn't they? We made the deal with Odell. At the beginning of the year, I told him, 'Come in, we'll get it done,' and we did. It's as simple as that. Then from that point on, you make decisions. What was the next question? Oh, the run defense? It takes more than one guy. That's my response to that. You have a number of people playing defense. Football is the ultimate team game. You can't pin an offense's performance or a defense's performance on one player. What was the third question?
Q: Why don't you talk publicly more and take accountability when things are going wrong?
A: Here's what I would say to you. We looked at it. We probably need to address it, and it may change next year. But there are very few GMs that talk in-season. Most GMs, and I did this in Carolina, I did not talk. Once the season starts, to me, it's about the players and coaches. It really is. Even in the Super Bowl season, I was behind the scenes. The only time I talked in the Super Bowl season once the season started was in the first or second week of the playoffs when Ron was getting inundated by requests. So, I stepped in for 20 minutes one day before practice. But that's it. I really and truly believe, and if you go around the league… you know, I was feeling guilty about it. I felt guilty that Pat was up there taking the bullets. So, I turned around and had Pat Hanlon go around the league and see what people are doing. Most GMs, if the GM talked in-season this year, it was because of a big deal. That was it.
Q: You made one. Leonard. That was a fairly high-profile deal.
A: Well, we didn't talk.
Q: Just to follow up on something Ralph (Vacchiano) asked earlier. I know you talked about are you worried about certain things turning off coaching candidates, and he mentioned being difficult to work with, I think more of what he was getting at was, you've been put on notice. You're clearly on the hot seat entering 2020. There's uncertainty that this coach may not be working for the GM that hires him in 2021. Does that concern you in terms of potentially turning off prominent head coaching candidates?
A: I think that the power of this franchise, this is an iconic franchise, the power of this franchise and the stability of this ownership will allay the fears of any coach that thinks about that.
Q: You said earlier talking about the Leonard deal that you felt as though the draft assets you were giving up were worth the player coming here. Then, in a later question you talk about how to build a team, and the team needs to be built with the draft. So, how do you explain the--
A: The contradiction? From your view, yeah.
Q: I don't think it's just me. There's no question that you're contradicting the idea of giving away assets versus protecting assets so you can build a team.
A: Leonard is 25 years old, he's young, he's about to enter his prime. I felt that what he gave us with the potential that he gives us was worth those two assets.
Q: What do you say to the Giants fans who've seen nine wins the last two seasons, four this season, and you're generally kind of telling us today that everything's okay?
A: I'm telling you everything's okay? Is that the vibe you're getting? It's getting better, and this is frustrating for all of us. I'm not happy about this. Ownership's not happy, we're all frustrated. But unfortunately, it takes time.
Q: I don't know if you've had the chance to think about this, but for you personally, you mentioned some of the changes behind the scenes, but for you personally, how do you anticipate you're going to do things and be different and be better, because I'm sure you want to be better moving forward? So, what kind of changes, and how do you anticipate you'll be better next year?
A: Well, I know this may sound crazy, but I met recently with a big analytics guy. I'm going to learn from my mistakes. I never stop asking myself the question, 'What could we have done differently? What could we have done better?' That question never stops getting asked. I always ask that question. We evaluate, we re-evaluate, we go backwards and forwards with it. And that's what I've got to do. I've got to talk to other GMs, inside and outside the industry, and continue to grow.
Q: If I recall from your first press conference, one of your big themes was 'hog mollies,' the offensive line, your top priority. It wasn't good the first year, had some moments this year, where do you stand in that rebuilding. What pieces do you have? How much more work do you have to do?
A: That part of it has been frustrating. George Young, may he rest in peace, used to call that the 'Dance of the Elephants,' and those five guys have to work together as a unit, and if they don't, it's messy. We feel like, unfortunately, Pio (Jon Halapio) got hurt again, he tore his Achilles as you guys know, so now he is not going to be ready until camp most likely, but we feel like we've got some good pieces there, and they've just got to continue to work together and improve. We're always going to look to add, we're not afraid to draft over anybody, so we'll continue to work that.
Q: You stated that you can turn things around pretty quickly, but in the last three years, your record says what your record says. So, why would this year be different in your mind in terms of winning?
A: Well, I just told you, these young kids are getting better. That's what this next roster building season is about. It really is. I would say this to you, when you're talking about teams that get turned around quickly, take a look at what they started with first. Okay? Just take a look.
Q: You mentioned before that you felt guilty watching Pat go up there every day--
A: It was hard.
Q: Well, like you said, when you felt guilty about that and then you said we should have a study to see what other GMs do. But why did that matter to you, if your gut tells you you're feeling guilty?
A: I talked about it with Pat and we decided to stay the course.
Q: Your job is in the biggest media market in the country, so you realized coming in that there are probably certain obligations. Are you concerned at all that your lack of availability to the media at large over five months projected a vibe of weakness to the fanbase? And if not, why not?
A: I'm concerned about that very much, and that's why we're going to address it.
Q: One thing that John Mara mentioned yesterday is that he would be willing to listen to a coaching candidate, that he could be convinced that that coach could say, 'I want more personnel say than a coach typically has here,' that he'd be open to that. How do you feel about that?
A: Number one, whatever's in the best interest of the New York Football Giants, I will do. Whatever's in the best interest of the club. Number two, what I would say is there were no major decisions made without everybody's opinion. For some reason there is a—we're collaborative here. We are collaborative.
Q: What type of head coach does this team, this franchise, need at this point?
A: We need a head coach that can bring together a staff that's enthusiastic. We need a head coach with leadership. We need a head coach with intelligence, and one that can connect with these players. That's what we need.
Q: Do you understand why a lot of paying customers are skeptical you can get this job done?
A: Do I understand why? Sure.
Q: With Daniel, you sound very optimistic about him, there obviously were a lot of reasons to be optimistic, but the turnovers, obviously the fumbles, 11, I think, 12 interceptions, why do you think that's correctable?
A: It's legit, what you're saying is legit, obviously. In later games, he did a better job. He had a bad run, and in later games as you watch the pressure around him or whatever, you see him feel it better and have two hands on the ball. He cut it down the last handful of games. He knows it, he's going to work on it. He's that kind of a kid.
Q: If the personnel decisions are collaborative, how come you get credit for drafting Daniel and for what he looks like, but Pat (Shurmur) does not?
A: I have no idea what you're talking about. Very frankly, no idea.
Q: Just a couple of housekeeping questions, you talked to the previous staff, did you ask anybody to come back?
A: Here's what we did, when I spoke to the staff yesterday, there's a number of housekeeping things. Number one, we told them they're under contract and they are welcome to use the facilities. Number two, we will certainly recommend, suggest, that the new head coach speak with them. Number three, we will send them all to the Senior Bowl because that is the 'job fair,' for lack of a better term, in the NFL. We have a couple of our young coaches that are probably going to coach in the East-West game that we're going to send. Yes, I think that's it.
Q: They're free to pursue offers?
A: Oh yeah, that's right, the other thing. They're free to pursue other opportunities. They're under contract, obviously, so if it's an offensive line coach and he's going for an offensive line job, theoretically we could block it. We will not do that.
Q: Is Eli (Manning) officially done with the Giants?
A: I haven't spoken to him yet. He took some time, and I'm assuming he's going to get back to me.
Q: How would you grade yourself over the last two years?
A: Over the last two years? Not good enough. Really, it hasn't been good enough. It will get better.