President and CEO John K. Mara
Opening Statement: Steve (Tisch), Dave (Gettleman) and I met with Pat Shurmur early this morning and informed him that we were going to make a change at our head coaching position. These decisions are never easy, particularly when you have someone like Pat with his character, his integrity, his work ethic. But at the end of the day, we just didn't win enough games, and we believe that we have to move in another direction. It's certainly not all Pat's fault, he did a lot of good things here; in particular, his role in selecting and training Daniel Jones. It's a difficult day when you have to do something like this. The first thing that I always think of is the effect that it has on so many good people and their families. But at the end of the day, it was a decision that we just felt like we had to make going forward. In terms of Dave, I know you're going to ask me about that, but Steve and I decided to retain Dave and give him a chance to finish what he has started, which includes so many changes in this organization that people really don't know about. We've made a lot of turnover in our scouting area, we've completely changed our grading system in how we grade college players, we're deeper into analytics and technology than we've ever been before, and that process is ongoing. We've completely re-organized areas in our football operations, we've added a staff psychologist on a full-time basis, and we believe it would be a mistake to pull the plug on that after two years, particularly when you consider that Dave spent a good part of the first year fighting for his life. Personnel-wise, we've had some hits, we've had some misses, and we have a lot of young players who have shown some promise, but it remains to be seen whether they're going to develop into quality NFL players or not. The point I'm trying to make is it's not business as usual here at the Giants. We've made a lot of changes, changes that you don't necessarily know about, and we felt like we needed to give it a chance to see if it's going to succeed or not. All that being said, we need to win more games, and Dave knows that, and that's going to be the challenge going forward. We're going to start the coach search immediately. I'm not going to comment on specific candidates, but we will inform you as people are being interviewed. With that, I'll take your questions.
*Q: Why do you feel that you only needed to take one of the two prongs at the top between your coach and your GM, even though the call from the fans was to do a complete overhaul? *A: Well, I'm not sure that was the call from all the fans, but I understand the criticism that's out there. But I just explained why I think we need to give Dave a chance to finish the job.
Q: Not much has gone right for this organization over the last eight years, the one playoff year, other than that--
A: I'm painfully aware of that.
Q: How much blame do you deserve for that?
A: It all starts at the top. So, yes, you can criticize me all you want, and it would be warranted because it all starts at the top. The success, the failures, and the last eight years have been pretty miserable. So, I'll accept my share of blame for that.
Q: What specifically went into the decision to fire Pat Shurmur but retain Dave Gettleman, who built the roster that Shurmur was the coach of, especially when you credit Shurmur with helping identify Jones and develop him?
A: Like I said with Dave, I think we've had some hits and some misses. He implemented so many changes within our organization, we just felt like at this stage to pull the plug on all of that would not be the wise thing to do. I'm excited about what I see in the future for this team because of the young players we have, because of the changes that we're making. With Pat, it ends up being as much a gut instinct as anything else. I just felt like we weren't winning enough games, we weren't winning the games that we should have won, and we just need to go in a different direction.
Q: Were there specifics in-game or philosophically with Shurmur that made you believe that he was more to blame than the guy getting the pieces and bringing in the personnel?
A: Well, it's a collaborative effort when you have a coach and a general manager. They worked very well together, they were in sync on all the personnel decisions that we made here, but I just felt like there were so many games that I felt like we should have won, and we just didn't get the job done.
Q: Was there a push and pull with you and Steve Tisch about this, or when you guys spoke—was it today you spoke with--
A: I speak to Steve all the time, and we've been in lockstep on this all along. Our relationship, contrary to what I read the other day, has never been better. We communicate on these issues, any issues regarding the team, all the time, and this has been a conversation we've been having for at least the last few weeks anyway.
Q: So, no one had to convince one another about the decision?
A: Absolutely not. That's absolutely false, no.
Q: Is there a chance that whoever the next coach is would influence or factor into Dave's role here, that the next coach would have some say over keeping Dave?
A: He's not going to have any say over keeping Dave, but certainly I'm going to want somebody that's going to be able to work hand-in-hand with him. Dave and Pat's relationship has been terrific, they worked very well together, there was no personnel decision that has been made here in the last two years that Pat wasn't fully on board with.
Q: Do you have any concern that Dave's presence could have a negative impact on the pool of candidates?
A: I'm aware that that's a perception that's out there, but I don't have that concern because I think once they meet him and get to know him, that won't be an issue.
Q: Are you committed to maintaining the power dynamic that you've had with the general manager and director of personnel and--
A: I'm always willing to look at whatever's going to improve the team, and if I felt that there was somebody coming in here as a head coach who wanted a different role and he could convince Steve and I that that would make sense for our organization, we would certainly consider that.
Q: Is Dave going to run the coaching search?
A: Dave and I will be involved in the coaching search. Steve will be involved as well.
* Q: What if some of these candidates, you said that talking to Dave they won't have a problem, but what if they do?*
A: If they do, they do. We're going to try to get the best candidates in here that we can, and we're going to try to convince them why this is a good job opportunity for them. We've got a terrific young quarterback, we've got a young roster, we're in the best cap space shape we've been in in many years. There's a lot to this organization that I think would attract a lot of different candidates.
Q: Your past two coaching hires obviously haven't worked out. Before that, a long time since you brought in Tom (Coughlin). What do you say to the questions about whether you guys are in tune with what it takes in the modern NFL to bring in a successful coach, given the last few hires?
A: That's fair criticism. We've failed twice in a row now, and you have to keep working at it, try to find the right guy, that's all. I'm not convinced that either of the past two coaches couldn't have been successful over a longer period of time, but there comes a point in time when your patience runs out, your gut tells you that you need to make a change, and that's what happened this time.
* Q: You had specific criteria the last two coaching searches about who you were looking for, what you saw as the next head coach. Has that criteria changed a bit? If I recall, over the last two searches, you did not bring in any college head coaches, or anyone without any coaching experience in the NFL. Will that expand when you're looking at new candidates?*
A: There well could be college candidates here. I'm really looking for leadership, that's the big thing going forward. Somebody who can come in and take control of this roster, help build a culture that is going to lead to winning. Somebody who is going to help us with our football re-organization during the process we're undergoing right now. We're looking for all those qualities from the next candidate.
Q: When you look at Dave's stay here as GM, how do you balance, if you do, his successes with analytics and things behind the scenes that you outlined with the significant misses in free agency, if not a miss overall on a player, perhaps overpaying for others?
A: Well, we could have differences in opinion whether those were hits or misses. There definitely have been some misses, no question about it. I think that can happen to anybody. There were reasons for some of those personnel decisions. He does know that the batting average has got to increase going forward though.
Q: What's your message to the fans in terms of how long this process will take before you see a winning team on the field?
A: Well, I'd like to think that we can start winning next year. It's been too many years since we've had a winning team on the field. Nobody feels that more than Steve and myself. It's not easy to sit in your stadium and watch fans from the other team, you know, and that's happened too often this year. So, believe me, we live this every day, we feel it as much if not more so than the fans do, and we're committed to try and get this thing right.
* Q: You mentioned the fans from other teams cheering in your building. It was very pronounced this year. Have you ever been through an entire season where that consistently happened, with the Packers, to the Cowboys, to the Eagles?*
A: Probably not, it's probably the worst. I think that's more of the norm in the NFL now, when your team is not winning, your fans sell their tickets, and often times it's the fans of the opposing team that come in. We had that situation when we were in Tampa, when we were in Washington, we had large contingents of fans down there. But listen, we haven't been winning, the fans are getting fed up with that, and so they sell their tickets. I get that.
Q: You just mentioned that Dave knows his batting average in free agency and that personnel needs to improve. Worst case scenario, what if it doesn't? Do you run the risk of hiring a head coach and potentially having to fire a GM a short time after and kind of throwing that power structure out of whack?
A: Yes, we do run that risk.
* Q: How much did you weigh that these last couple of days?*
A: Weigh what exactly?
Q: The risk?
A: That's certainly something we are aware of, but I happen to believe in Dave. I happen to believe in the changes that he's making here, and I think those are going to pay off.
Q: You said that you needed to see progress at the end of training camp when we talked to you. Do you need to see wins next year for Dave's sake?
A: I'm not going to quantify the number of wins I need to see. We need to be able to put a better product on the field, that's all.
Q: What role did Eli Manning's early benching play into Pat Shurmur's firing and the fact that you guys signed off on it. I'm curious how that process went?
A: It had absolutely nothing to do with this decision. How that process went, if I recall, Dave called me on Sunday evening after the Buffalo game. He said he had spoken to Pat and Pat wants to play Daniel. My only question was, do you think Daniel is ready? If you think he is ready, then whatever Pat wants to do. He's the head coach, he makes those decisions.
Q: How important will it be that the next head coach has a background in developing young quarterbacks?
A: It either has to be that or it has to be his coordinator or his quarterback coach. It doesn't necessarily have to be the head coach, I'm not ruling out defensive coaches here.
Q: You talk about wanting to find a coach with leadership. How hard is it to find somebody who is a leader but at the same time is not too totalitarian?
A: Obviously, it is pretty hard. Those people are out there. I've always believed that the toughest decision that Steve and I ever have to make in this business is finding the right guy to stand up here in front of the team and lead them and develop a winning program going forward. That's what we are going to put all of our efforts into now, trying to find that guy. It's obviously not an easy thing to do.
Q: What made now the right time of the season versus say during the nine-game losing streak? The Redskins and the Panthers were obviously getting a head start on their coaching search?
A: You can argue we could have done it earlier. I wanted to give him the chance, I held out hope, quite frankly, for quite some time hoping things would turn around. They just didn't, so it just was a decision we felt we had to make.
Q: If that's the case, if you guys had won yesterday, would that have made this decision tougher?
A: Probably not. It probably would have been the same decision.
Q: Is it fair to say you think the roster is better than what the record has been?
A: I think we could have won more games, yes. You're playing a rookie quarterback, you're playing all those rookies on the back end on defense. You are going to have some problems, but again at the end of the day we just didn't win enough games.
Q: Considering the state of the roster, you guys are still in a rebuild. How reasonable is it to expect this team to be a significant winner next year, a playoff team?
A: I think we've got the answer at quarterback. I think we have a lot of good young players. We just need them to take it to the next level and hopefully the next coach will help them do that. None of them will be rookies anymore and again we have a very good cap situation and we're picking fourth in the draft. We should be better next year.
Q: After the spending in 2016, I do recall you saying that that is not how you want to conduct business moving forward. You mentioned the cap space, how do you walk that line?
A: It's a tough line to walk. In 2016, it paid off in that first year and then afterwards, not so much. The key is still the draft. You have to make good draft picks. You have to supplement that with making wise decisions in free agency. You can't think that you are going to fix all your problems in free agency. It just doesn't work.
Q: You said the last two coaches, you didn't get right. What is your confidence level going into this search?
A: I think there are some very attractive candidates who will have interest in this job. I believe we will get it right this time.
Q: Are you bringing anybody in from the outside to advise? Ernie (Accorsi) is obviously a name that comes to mind?
A: No, I don't think so.
Q: Is Ernie (Accorsi) going to be a part of the process again?
A: No, I don't think so. I talk to him all the time, but he's not going to be a part of the process.
Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch
*Q: As John (Mara) just said, there's been some talk before this that there might be some friction between you two on what direction you saw this team going. Was there any of that? *A: There was no friction. John and I have been partners going on 15 years. As you know, the Giants, the ownership is unique. It's the only team with two equal partners. We've been talking as partners for 15 years. We talked about these issues starting weeks ago, today, and we will going forward. Everything you and I read about friction, differences of opinion, I didn't say it, John didn't say it. I read it, but it's not true.
*Q: Did you feel like you had the very honest conversation that you needed to have? *A: I've got to say, I would characterize every conversation that I've had with John as honest, straightforward. I feel very comfortable expressing my opinion on a whole bunch of matters, and I know John feels very comfortable expressing his opinion. It's a partnership and as I just mentioned, it's the only true partnership between owners in the NFL. At times, it's challenging, but the bottom line is it's been hugely rewarding for both families and I think for the organization.
*Q: Did you have to be talked into or persuaded to keep Dave (Gettleman) or was that just part of the process? *A: No. It was part of a process. At the risk of repeating myself, John and I have a very, very, good dialogue constantly. When I'm not here in the building, we speak three or four times a week, home games, away games, we're constantly speaking, sitting with each other. So, to say that there's any issues with our communication is a total mischaracterization.
*Q: What are you looking for, what qualities do you want in your next head coach? *A: Leadership, an ability to put together a great staff, an ability to really work with the players, the rookies. I think it's really important that the next head coach has to have a point of view, a very strong point of view, and he will be supported by ownership.
*Q: How hard is it to balance being patient with letting the process play out? *A: I think patience is a virtue, I'm not the first person to say that. But at times I think patience can be tested. But I think if I stay very focused, I sort of have the same…I see the same goal line that John Mara sees. Sometimes, the path to that goal line may be a little different, but we see the same goal line, we cross it, and it's been a very, very, functional relationship. It's been hugely functional.
*Q: What was the deciding factor in keeping Dave Gettleman? What was the deciding factor in the conversation that made you believe he should stay? *A: The deciding factor was, when John and I started talking about this literally weeks and weeks ago, assets, liabilities, good news, bad news, and at the end of the day we decided that we were going to jointly make a decision to keep Dave, to work with Dave going forward into the next season. As John mentioned just now, we have tremendous cap space. I can't stand here today and say our next head coach is Paul Schwartz (laughter), but I think the search is going to be fruitful and I think we're going to find a terrific number of candidates and the right decision will be made.
*Q: When you look at the last eight years, and the failures that have gone on here and the failures of the last two coaching hires, what do you say to fans who question your ability and John's ability to lead this organization back to success? *A: I say to the fans I totally understand your frustration, your concern, I read your emails, I get it. But, John and I make decisions that sometimes may not be popular, may not be supported by the fans, but we're the ones making the decisions, we live by them. It's been a very frustrating four years, certainly the record indicates that, those numbers don't lie. Going forward, John and I want to make sure that those numbers change in the next season dramatically.
*Q: Why do you think you guys will get it right this time? *A: Because I'm an optimist and I think we know what qualities, what kind of character we want in the next head coach. We're very focused on that. There's going to be a real priority to make sure the next head coach has strong leadership abilities and a very impressive track record.
*Q: What's your desire to be more involved? John is the day-to-day guy here, he hasn't had a lot of success over the last eight years. What's your desire to be more involved, if it is at all, in the day-to-day operations? *A: I am involved. I would like to be more involved, I will become more involved. So, going forward in 2020, the day after tomorrow. We have a great dialogue with each other. As I mentioned, it's a very, very, functional, working relationship. Partnerships are hard, professional ones and domestic ones, but I feel we have a very good one and we always, with some differences of opinions expressed and communicated, we get to the same point.
*Q: Does that mean you physically want to be here more? Is that what you mean? *A: Yes, I will be here more physically. But, the opportunities that John and I spend with each other in the same building, or the same stadium, or the same locker room will increase.