EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dave Gettleman expressed both realism and optimism at a news conference today during which he made his first public comments on the state of the Giants since training camp.
Asked how he would grade his first two seasons as the team's general manager, Gettleman said, "Not good enough. Really, it hasn't been good enough." But he quickly added, "It will get better."
The team's ownership and fan base virtually demand that it does, and quickly. When Pat Shurmur was dismissed yesterday following a four-win season and nine victories in two years, team president John Mara said, "we need to win more games, and Dave knows that, and that's going to be the challenge going forward."
Gettleman is well aware of that. But he is also a realist. And he knows that any progress the Giants make with a new coach in 2020 will be largely dependent on the improvement of the many young players on the roster, most notably quarterback Daniel Jones.
"It all depends upon how quickly the puppies come along," Gettleman said when asked how close the Giants are to playoff contention. "We have a lot of young kids. We led the league in snaps by rookies (10 of which started at least one game). A big part of it is how quickly they come.
"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."
Now two years and two days into the job, Gettleman has almost completely restructured the roster. Only four of the 53 players on the season-ending roster were Giants prior to his arrival. The constant churn didn't produce an immediate turnaround, but Gettleman believes many of the personnel decisions will contribute to long-term future success.
"There are many reasons why the New York Football Giants are in the current state, and I take my share of culpability," Gettleman said. "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. … The person in this position must be willing to make tough decisions and I have certainly showed the willingness to do so. However, be assured, no decision is made in a vacuum. We believe in collaboration among ownership, coaching and personnel.
"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 had a terrific year, came on, did some great things and we have seen great things for him in the future. The second … 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. 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."
Gettleman answered question on a wide range of topics in his 30-minute news conference, including…
*The switch from Eli Manning to Jones as the starting quarterback in Week 3, which Gettleman said was done more for the rookie's progress than the veteran's performance.
"We really believed in Daniel," Gettleman said. "We didn't know he would come that fast. You're talking about a kid who played at Duke, in the ACC, and we had taken at six (overall in the draft). 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 pros pro."
*On whether he thinks Jones' ball security issues – he threw 12 interceptions and lost 11 fumbles – are correctable:
"It's legit, what you're saying is legit, obviously," Gettleman said. "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."
*On reports that his presence might prompt some coaches the Giants might be interested into decline interview requests:
"I don't understand the notion that I'm tough to work with," Gettleman said. "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 (as G.M. in 2013), Ron (Rivera) was there. I didn't fire anybody there and three years later, we were in Santa Clara at the Super Bowl. 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."
*On the qualities he seeks in the next coach:
"We need a head coach that can bring together a staff that's enthusiastic," Gettleman said. "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."
*On his reaction if a prospective coach said he wants more input into personnel decisions than the Giants normally accord to a person in that position:
"Number one, whatever's in the best interest of the New York Football Giants, I will do," Gettleman said. "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. We're collaborative here. We are collaborative."
*On his continued effort to rebuild the offensive line:
"That part of it has been frustrating. (Former general manager) George Young, may he rest in peace, used to call that the 'Dance of the Elephants.' Those five guys have to work together as a unit, and if they don't, it's messy. We feel like, unfortunately, Pio (center 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."
*The Oct. 29 trade for defensive tackle Leonard Williams for third and fifth-round draft choices (the latter which becomes a fourth if the free agent signs with the Giants):
"We felt we needed him," Gettleman said. "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."
*On his decision to trade wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. for safety Jabrill Peppers and two draft choices (which were used to selected defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and linebacker Oshane Ximines):
"We're really not going to be able to evaluate that trade until two years," Gettleman said. "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."