President and CEO John K. Mara
Q: Can you kind of walk us through how things went with Matt Rhule when he came back with you, he said what the Panthers were offering, your reaction to that and your decision to not match it? A: He was supposed to come in on Tuesday afternoon. After we finished the interview with Joe (Judge) on Monday afternoon, we were ecstatic that we had somebody that we were going to be very excited about being our head coach. We still were going to interview Matt just because he was planning on coming in and he was somebody we were interested in. His agent called me early Tuesday morning to say that he had a deal in place. It was a seven-year deal. I had a brief conversation with Steve (Tisch) and Dave (Gettleman), and we agreed that we were not going there, for a number of reasons. One, we weren't going with a seven-year deal with anybody. But more importantly, we had somebody we were excited about. So, we went ahead and made Joe the coach.
Q: Why did you not want to go with a seven-year deal? A: For a new head coach in the National Football League, I just did not think that was a reasonable way to go. That's all. And again, would we have talked about moving some parts around in that deal? Possibly, if we weren't excited about the candidate we already had.
Q: As much as you like what you've heard from Joe, are you apprehensive at all over the fact that he's a first-time head coach? A: Of course. There are always risks when you hire a coach who's never been a head coach before. But I think as you could see in there, I'm just excited about what he brings to the table here. He has a certain poise and presence about him. You guys have pointed out the last couple of years that I've had a lot of experience interviewing coach candidates. I'm just telling you, that's the best interview I've ever been a part of right now for a lot of different reasons. When you train under Nick Saban and then you end up on Bill Belichick's staff, that's something you take notice of. He's obviously had great training, a great background. He's used to winning, he knows what winning looks like, and we're excited to have him here.
Q: Why should fans believe that this hire is going to work out better than the last two have? A: Listen. I understand we've lost some credibility in that regard because the last two hires haven't worked out. But I think that this guy is unique, and we're going to have to prove it. We're going to have to win their trust back by winning games. It's up to us to show a little more patience with this coach than perhaps we have over the last few years because he is a first-time head coach. But I think he has everything that you need to be successful.
Q: You talked about his interview. Was there really a moment in his interview when the light went off that this might be the guy? A: I would say it was a little more than halfway through. To be honest with you, I went into the interview not really expecting all that much, just because I didn't really know him. I certainly knew of him. But the more we went on, the more impressive he became. When we finished, I looked at Dave and Kevin, and we were ecstatic. We said, 'This is our guy. This has got to be our guy.' He just had a certain poise. He didn't have any notes with him. He just was so confident and poised, and had such great knowledge about how to build a winning program. What they did in New England, what they've done at Alabama, the people he's been around, his beliefs, his philosophies. He checked all of the boxes for us.
Q: How daunting is the task that Joe faces right now? A: He has a big task. He's 38 years old and he's never been a head coach, so yeah, it is going to be a daunting task. But everything we know about him and everything he showed in our interview with him tells us that he's ready for it.
Q: What were the qualities that you saw most in that interview that made you want to make this hire? A: Somebody who could be a leader, somebody who had poise and a presence about him, somebody who was a teacher, and somebody who knows what a winning program is supposed to look like.
Q: Can you say how many years he got? A: I don't like to go into the contract details. But hopefully, he'll be here for a while.
Q: What went through your mind when you saw him up there at the podium answering the questions the way he did today? A: I think he showed you exactly what he showed us in the interview on Monday.
Q: How did he get on your radar? I think you guys are the only team to interview him. A: He was somebody that a number of people had called us to tell us about. I was aware of who he was. Again, when somebody goes from Alabama and then ends up on Bill Belichick's staff, your radar has to go off there and say, 'This guy might be something special.' Now, did I expect him to be a head coach this soon? No, I didn't. But again, I'm glad that we were the only team that interviewed him because I'm glad that we got him.
Q: How important is getting the trust back of the fans? A: As I said before, I'm painfully aware that we've lost some credibility with our fans over the last few years, when you have three years like that consecutively. We need to win their trust back. I think with this new hire, we're on the right track to doing that. We have a healthy cap situation, we have the fourth pick in the draft, we've got some good, young players coming back. We obviously need more, but I think we have the right guy to lead us now.
Q: How much of this decision was based on the quarterback you have and how he might work with him? A: Not really a lot, to tell you the truth. I will tell you this, it felt good that every person we interviewed loves the quarterback. They all said that to us. They all said, 'We could win with this guy. He has some unique talents.' That was something that was great for us to hear. It was more about, can this guy be the guy to build the program, to build a successful program? As I said, he knows what one looks like and he's been very much a part of helping build that in two very special places.
Q: Are you willing to maybe change the structure of how personnel is controlled … Do you think that will change or is it going to kind of be business as usual? A: it's certainly not business as usual when you hire somebody as a first-time head coach who's 38 years old. But I think he and Dave will work very well together. Dave does not go to a coach and say, 'Here are your players. Go coach them.' It's a collaboration. It's a partnership. They talk it out, they watch tape together and then they come to an agreement. I've never had to step into a situation and break a tie, because (Dave) believes in working towards an agreement, making it a partnership, and I'm confident that it's going to work out that way here.
Q: Building off the quarterback question, how critical is it, because he doesn't have the background developing a quarterback, he doesn't have an offensive coordinator background, how critical is it that he brings someone in here to develop Daniel and get the offense rolling? A: It's going to be critical that he builds the right staff, because again, he's a first-year head coach. Having experienced people on both sides of the ball is going to be critical. Obviously, you want somebody who's good at developing quarterbacks, and I'm confident that he's going to be able to find somebody like that. This is still an attractive job and I think people will want to come here to coach Dan.
Q: Are you interested in having Jason Garrett as your offensive coordinator, number one, and number two, did you make staffing suggestions to Joe? A: We haven't had those discussions yet. I know Dave has had a few discussions with him. It's going to be up to Joe ultimately who he brings on as an offensive coordinator. I certainly wouldn't have any objection to that. I have a lot of respect for Jason. At the end of the day, that's going to be Joe's decision.
Q: Would you like to see him bring in somebody who has some head coaching experience? A: That would be great if he could find the right person, yes.
Q: What stood out in that interview that gave you that moment that separated Joe from other candidates? A: I just think the more he went on answering our questions and talking about his vision and what he believes a successful program has to look like, and just the way he's a teacher. He grew up believing that you have to be a teacher to be successful in this business. Talking about his experiences with Coach Belichick, his experiences with Coach Saban. I don't think there was one specific moment, but the longer we talked, the more excited we got about him.
Q: Did you ever try to hire Bill, and do you feel like in the absence of that over the years prying him away, that you got a young Bill? A: Bill's under contract. I had a number of discussions with him over the weekend about Joe. The more I spoke to him, the more excited I got about Joe Judge.
Q: I'm sure you answered this earlier so I apologize for the follow-up, but just how much weight does that carry, your opinion of Bill's opinion? A: it certainly doesn't hurt. But no, I have a lot of respect for Bill. We have a good relationship. He doesn't have bad coaches on his staff. I think he has said publicly that Joe's one of the best coaches he's ever had. All of that was factored in.
Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch
Q: What set Joe apart from the other candidates in your conversation with him?
A: I felt a tremendous amount of leadership, discipline. He is a tremendous communicator, he's a student and a teacher at the same time. As a student, he has this voracious appetite to learn more and more. As a teacher, I think he is so committed and so passionate about working with every player on the roster, every coach on the staff. His commitment to this game and to the New York Giants is fantastic.
Q: It seemed like it was a pretty frenetic hour or two on Tuesday. You had the news break that Matt Rhule wasn't coming for the interview and then the news break that Jason Garrett had been requested and that you hired Joe Judge shortly after. Can you take the fans through what it was like on the inside?
A: I think the road to how we got here was uncharted. It was different than what we thought it was going to be. That saying 'everything happens for a reason', I believe Joe Judge is our coach for a reason. Matt Rhule is the Panthers head coach for a reason. Mike (McCarthy) is the Cowboys head coach for a reason. It just worked out, (you) can't plan for it. I don't really make plans, if you want to make plans, you're going to make God laugh. It worked out extremely well and I could not be more thrilled with Joe Judge as the New York Giants head coach.
Q: This is a guy that most people didn't know his name, right. He was working with Bill (Belichick) up in New England. When was the first time he popped up on your radar? When did you hear his name and when did you realize okay this is a serious candidate?
A: I think I probably heard his name six or eight weeks ago as names were being tossed around.
Q: By who?
A: It was someone internal, but it was in the air. The more homework and research I did about all the candidates and specifically talking about Joe, the more impressed I was with his character. I think you saw today, this is a man with tremendous character, tremendous commitment, and passion about the game. Now that same passion and commitment will be on the field every game, in the locker room every day, at practice, and training camp. I am sincerely excited about the potential of where Joe can take this team.
Q: Correct me if I'm wrong, you went to see Joe on Tuesday morning?
Q: What was your purpose in that and what stood out in your communication and seeing him in that moment?
A: My purpose was to have my couple of hours with Joe. It worked out that I was able to fly up to Providence (R.I.) and meet him there. When the conversation started, and my questions were answered, and the dialogue became more organic than just plain questions. I clearly got the impression that this is a very dynamic, passionate human being. His knowledge of the game, I think what he learned at Alabama under coach (Nick) Saban and clearly what he learned at the Patriots under Bill, he had two fantastic mentors. Not all students take great things from great teachers, I think Joe really has learned the best from the best. I think that is part of who he is and what his character is.
Q: I know John (Mara) told us that he felt as though Monday afternoon, the search was over. What were your feelings when you exited the interview with Joe (Judge)?
A: You know, I felt the exact same way. The interesting thing, when you go through an interview process, you're looking for the broad view, you're looking for intelligence and we talked about that. The thing that was really amazing to me was, and he said it, it really was just a conversation. That's really what it was. It was easy for him. The biggest thing when you're hiring a head coach is you have to picture him in front of the room. He has to command that kind of respect. Yeah, for me, it was the same.
Q: Let's get this big picture question out of the way. Obviously, we understand Giants, personnel, collaborative. If you disagree, who has the final say?
A: At the end of the day, it's about building consensus and it's about getting to the right place. I've been doing this long enough with Ron (Rivera) and then Pat (Shurmur), whatever. We're going to get to the right place. It's not… It's about the right answer.
Q: It's not slamming your fist down?
A: No, I've never done that in my life. Except when, no I'm only kidding. I can't say it. I can't give you a throwaway line. Bottom line is, it's collaborative.
Q: I've heard some people say so I'll ask you, there's this perception from some that it's going to be Dave Gettleman picking the players and it's Joe Judge's job to coach them. Do you feel that way?
A: No. It's going to be collaborative. I don't understand where that notion comes from. That notion has got to be coming from people that have never worked with me.
Q: That is the Giants way. In the past, that was George Young's statement, right? The GM picks the players.
A: There was a way, way back in the day. It was scouts scout, players play, coaches' coach, etc. That world has changed.
Q: Is there anywhere in particular you and Joe align in terms of your philosophies about team-building and how you want him to coach this team and all that stuff?
A: First of all, he has to coach the team the way he feels comfortable. The biggest thing was when he came in and said, 'You have to run the ball, you have to stop the run, and let's play special teams.' There's a toughness that you develop when you build your team to do those kinds of things. People say it's a passing league, I get that, but that graphic on Sunday afternoon should not have been lost on everybody. Top four passing teams were not in the playoffs, the top four rushing teams were in the playoffs. Don't quote me but most of the teams were in the top I think 12 in terms of rushing. Again, it's a physical, violent game and if you don't build your team to do that late in the year when the weather's lousy and it's mush out there, the tougher team is going to win.
Q: I know Joe is hesitant to talk about the roster until he can actually get in the building and dig in. But from your dealings with him, I would imagine that he feels the same way about Daniel Jones as you guys do, right? Is there any change in what you feel about Daniel and how he's the quarterback here?
A: It's like Joe said. He's on the outside looking in the periphery. We believe Daniel is our guy.
Q: And you have no reason to believe he doesn't believe…
A: I haven't had the chance to have a conversation with him yet. Really.
Q: How much was he part of the interviews, Daniel, in general?
A: The interviews are more philosophical. They really are. It's where's your head, where's our head, and can the two heads get together and mush. That's really what that is. You don't go player by player by player down the roster. You can't.
Q: Joe spoke about fundamentals and all of the scheme stuff will kind of fall into place. Do you think all along people put too much emphasis on scheme and the importance of scheme and not enough on fundamentals?
A: Absolutely, absolutely. The bottom line is, there's an old saying in coaching, 'The last guy with the chalk wins.' At the end of the day if you're not fundamentally sound, and you look at the teams, me as an evaluator, watching the teams that are in the playoffs, they are all fundamentally sound.
Q: When did he pop up on your radar? The general fan doesn't know who Joe Judge is, so when did he show up for you guys?
A: Every once in a while, you get into conversations about coaches around the league with other guys. Joe's name kept popping up for me. Again, so you look at the resume, you look at the background, you say, okay, wait a minute— five championships in 10 years, worked for Belichick, worked for Saban, did the grunt work like a lot of us did, lining the fields and working at Birmingham-Southern.
A: Birmingham-Southern. You know what I'm saying? He did all of that stuff. When you get a guy who's had dirt under his fingers, there's a, I don't know the word that I'm looking for, there's just a comfortableness there that says he understands it, he comes from the ground up.
Q: You went through the process, you have an open mind, but if you're being honest with yourself were you surprised you end up with him at the end?
A: You don't know. You don't know. You have to go in with an open mind. You can't say, 'He's the guy.' You can't do that. You can't cloud your thinking, you have to take each individual as you interview them and go from there.
Q: He's never been in this role before, but he seems to have a pretty specific vision for the type of team and players he wants. How has the structure in terms of personnel maybe changed or how is that setup going forward with you and Joe working together?
A: We're going to work together. I'm not exactly sure what you're saying.
Q: I guess what I'm trying to say is, do you have final say over personnel?
A: It's collaborative. It is collaborative, we'll work through every situation.
Q: With that being said, you mentioned the ground up approach. What's the biggest thing you think he needs to learn and how can you help him in the head coaching?
A: I've got to get to know him a lot better before I make that statement. The bottom line is he is foundationally sound, he's got a great philosophy, he understands about teaching, it's all of that stuff that he gets that has me excited.
Q: What does 'old school' mean to you?
A: Old school to me means you're always going to be strong with the basics. The fancy schmancy is nice, but you get to that when your basics are sound. To me, that's what old school is.
Q: You were happy to hear him use the words 'old school'?
A: Doesn't bother me (laughter).
Q: How confident are you that he'll be able to work with the quarterback? I know he's got to work with all 53 but…
A: He's going to work with everybody. Everywhere he's been he's worked with the whole team as a special teams coordinator. Listen, Daniel is a great kid, he's a great young man and it's going to be fine.
View photos of new head coach Joe Judge as he arrives with his family and tours the Giants facility