Winners of their last two games, the New York Giants (4-8) will now go on their latest bye since 2001, when they were also off in Week 13. The break will extend an extra day as the Giants won't return to the field until Monday night, Dec. 11, when they host the Green Bay Packers (5-6).
Before the team dispersed, general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll met with the media to discuss the state of the Giants. Here's what you need to know:
🔹 The Giants are "obviously" not where they want to be right now at 4-8, but Schoen is "proud of the guys and the way they've continued to battle and compete over the last few weeks. When things are bad, they can go one of two ways, and I'm really proud of the way the guys have continued to come in and compete. We've seen some progress over the last couple weeks and the results to show."
🔹 The Giants have five games left against NFC teams, and "we're not out of it."
🔹 In terms of upcoming free agents, Schoen was not going to talk about any of those players today. "That'll be postseason conversations," whether it's running back Saquon Barkley or safety Xavier McKinney. "We'll leave that for after the season."
🔹 Daniel Jones is five days removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL. "He's in there rehabbing right now. He's going to attack it. You guys all know Daniel and his work ethic; probably a guy we're going to have to pull back."
🔹 The expectation is that when Jones is healthy, he will be the Giants' starting quarterback. "Again, we don't have a crystal ball in terms of how the rehab's going to go; different patients respond differently to these surgeries, and then whether there's going to be swelling in the knee or any setbacks. Nobody has a crystal ball on this, but that's the expectation moving forward."
🔹 That expectation doesn't mean the Giants won't draft a quarterback this coming April, especially with Tyrod Taylor's contract up. "No, it doesn't. I think we're going to have to do something on the quarterback, whether it's free agency or the draft."
🔹 There are no guarantees that Jones will be ready for Week 1 of next season. "So, that's how you've got to approach it. Who can we bring in that can maybe help us win a couple of games while Daniel gets healthy, or maybe Daniel will be ready Week 1. There're just some unknowns right now, and we'll know as we get closer to free agency where he is in his rehab and how we need to approach the offseason."
🔹 Schoen was asked about the biggest factors in the season going sideways from the start. "I would think early on, we had a difficult schedule right off the bat. Three games in 11 days, and two of those teams being atop of the NFC right now, or near the top of the NFC. We started off, very good drive against Dallas there to open the season, we get a false start, a bad snap, a blocked field goal for a touchdown, and it kind of snowballed from there. Don't want to make any excuses. We've had some injuries. We've just got to continue to build the depth and we've got to continue to build the team all around so when injuries do occur, we can overcome those and still be competitive when injuries happen. It's going to happen every year. It happens. It's football; it's a contact sport. There's going to be injuries, and we've got to be able to overcome any type of adversity that presents itself."
🔹 With hindsight always being 20-20, Schoen was asked about looking back at the roster construction this past offseason. "That's a great question. You're only afforded so many resources to build the roster. We've been here for, I think it's 22 months and a day. So, you have to decide how you're going to build it as you build it with the big picture in mind. You can't do it overnight. What does it cost to go get more pass rushers, financially or draft capital, based on all the needs that you have, and where you are financially or in the Draft? So, no regrets. Again, we'll continue to evaluate our process. Were there other players available, other players you could have taken, did you miss on something? We'll evaluate the entire process at the end of the season, but you can't do it overnight. Instead of getting a (inside linebacker) Bobby O(kereke), who has been a very good player for us that we brought in in the offseason, do you use that money elsewhere in terms of allocation of resources? I like a lot of the guys that we brought in in the offseason, and we knew this wasn't going to happen overnight, and it takes time to build it the right way."
🔹 On how to fix the injuries that have plagued the Giants this season, Schoen said, "I wish it was one specific injury. It just hasn't been consistent. If you could look and say, 'Man, we have seven guys that have the same injury,' you could really do a deep dive on what do we need to do to improve what we're doing in that area, but there hasn't been a consistent, other than we've been injured often."
🔹 The Giants are "going to continue to look under every rock for any competitive advantage we can get from sports science, training, strength and conditioning, whatever it may be because it is, it's hard to go in and compete week in and week out if you don't have your best players. One of the guys was telling me the other day, going into the season, if you told me (tight end Darren) Waller, (tackle) Andrew Thomas, Saquon and Daniel would play less than 40 plays together, I wouldn't have been real excited about that, and that's the reality of how it played out."
🔹 Quarterback Tommy DeVito has "come a long way since he arrived here in May as an undrafted guy. That's a testament to his work ethic and buying into to the process and (Quarterbacks Coach) Shea (Tierney) and (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kafka and what they're teaching him. He's taken care of the football the last couple of weeks, and he's done a good job. He's got some swagger and some presence about him that the players like and they follow him."
🔹 Schoen assessed the play of second-year right tackle Evan Neal: "Evan got off to a really good camp, had a concussion, missed a couple of weeks, came back, and needs to play better. Evan needs to play better. He knows that. Look forward to getting him back here when he's healthy, but I think he'd admit there's some things that he can do better, and we look forward to him continuing to improve."
🔹 Schoen was asked if they need to start thinking about moving Neal to guard. "No, I don't think so. I went back and watched the Alabama stuff; the kid can play. We just got to get him to be more consistent. Like I've got a lot of confidence in Evan, he's a hard worker, it's killing him right now to be out there. He's missing some valuable reps in year two, but as soon as he's healthy, he's scratching and clawing to get back. We are looking forward to getting him back there, but he knows there is some things he can do better and that's what we expect from him."
🔹 Schoen saw Jones walking across the parking lot this morning holding his crutches in his hands rather than using them. "That's the type of kid he is. He's going to work very hard. We've just got to protect him from himself and make sure he's doing things the right way and not overtraining. It's really hard to say (when he'll be back), to be honest with you, being in this for as long as I've been in it."
🔹 The Giants will draft the best player available, and "if the best player available for our team is at a certain position, we'll take it. I mean, we won't shy away from it."
🔹 Why does Schoen believe in Jones? "I mean, I've seen it. You guys all saw last season. The guy won 10 games. He won a road playoff game for the Giants. You guys saw the preseason. I just think we got punched in the nose early on and we dug ourselves a hole and we weren't able to get out of it. We're trying to right now, but we still believe in Daniel and the person."
🔹 Schoen has done a lot of work on the entire draft already and is further ahead this year. "Last year kind of being the first in-season as general manager, different schedule than what I've had in the past as an assistant GM or director of player personnel. So, I tweaked my process a little bit this year so I can stay up on all positions. … I typically make my schedule in August based around where we may play geographically, where it's easy to get me back up with the team. So, you kind of have an initial top 100, how many of those can you go see, and my staff does a very good job. They kind of give me a 20 must-see, 25 must-see, and I try to see those schools. Starting in August, I'll map it out."
🔹 The Giants "tried long and hard to get something done" with Barkley last offseason, and they'll see what happens this time around. "Saquon, I mean, he's a captain. He comes to work every day. I know there were some questions a couple of weeks ago about still coming to work and the longevity and the tread on the tires and all that stuff. He comes to work every day. He does everything we ask. He's a great teammate. He's a captain. Big reason, as you're going through adversity, I think he's a big part of keeping the locker room together. I respect Saquon a lot and the way he's handled himself through this entire process, and I have a lot of respect for Saquon."
🔹 On the Leonard Williams trade: "When Seattle called and offered a second-round pick for a 29-year-old player that was on an expiring contract, we had nine games left. It just made the most sense long-term, in terms of the build. … As much as you'd like it to be transactional and fantasy football, like, just drop a player, add a player, drop a player, add a player, there's a human element to it, there's a locker room element that you've got to think about, the ripple effect. Still a lot of games left, so, that was a very difficult decision on many fronts. Just as many pros as cons."
🔹 Schoen took responsibility for the punt returner situation early in the season. "That's on me. To be honest with you, that's another – we tried to address the punt returner. We knew it was an issue. In the draft some of the guys we liked went probably higher than where we deemed you would take a guy. Eric had done it at Tennessee, and he had done it at Oklahoma and the coaches were comfortable, we were comfortable going into the regular season based off what we were seeing. I know (wide receiver Jamison) Crowder is having success in Washington, you bring him up – we kept seven receivers; we couldn't keep eight. Do the math, who do you move on from, from the group if you kept Crowder? So, there was some moving parts in there and that's me being candid with you and that's on me, the returner. I'm glad we got (wide receiver) Gunner (Olszewski) here, though. He's done a really good job for us. And Eric's got a bright future and we probably put him in a spot that wasn't most comfortable for him either, but he went out there, didn't flinch an eye, didn't bat an eye and did what he could, but again that's on me, early on. We couldn't do everything overnight and as much as we wanted to and that was a position we continued to look for and Pittsburgh let Gunner go and we were able to get him."
🔹 The Giants have young pieces to build around. "I think we are the second youngest team in the league, so some guys are getting some valuable playing time. Again, it just takes time, it takes a couple off-seasons, it takes a few drafts to build it the right way. Trust me, it hurts when you lose and you're 4-8 and it's not fun, but you don't want to lose sight of the big picture and the proper way to build the roster and that's what we've got to stay focused on."
🔹 In terms of logistics, players are off for the week unless they need to come in for treatment. They will get back in Monday for a walk-through.
🔹 Speaking less than 24 hours after Sunday's win over the Patriots, Daboll said they've finishing up reviewing Week 12 tape and then they will get started on the process of determining a starting quarterback coming out of the bye week. "We'll have plenty of meetings here tonight and tomorrow."
🔹 Continuity will be a factor in determining the quarterback situation. "That's something we'll talk about. We'll talk about it all." Undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito is 2-1 as a starter with six touchdowns to one interception in those three games.
🔹 Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (rib cage) and tight end Darren Waller (hamstring) are "getting better. We'll see where they're at. I haven't talked to the medical guys yet, but they've been getting better." Both players were placed on injured reserve after getting injured in Week 8 and had to miss a minimum of four games. That means they are eligible to return after the bye week.
🔹 Quarterback is "an important position to try to develop. It's a hard position. This guy (DeVito), like I said, since OTAs he's done everything we've asked him to do. I thought he's had two good mentors in there in terms of players. I think (quarterback coach) Shea (Tierney) does an excellent job with him, (offensive coordinator Mike) Kaf(ka) does a great job with him. Him and I meet once a week. We have since OTAs and discussed a lot of different things. I actually just met with him just now right before I came down here. So, he's got the right mindset, a lot of work to do. He's a young, young player, but he's made some progress and he's done a good job for us."
🔹 More on DeVito and how he is unafraid to let it rip: "See it, let it go. Trust your eyes. I'd say, be intelligently aggressive. I think he had a little fade adjust to go route and they were playing cover two to (wide receiver Jalin) Hyatt on the left-hand side, high level throw. We were just talking about it upstairs. Exactly what he saw and why he went there. He's got good field vision. Usually when he comes off the sideline, he can articulate what he sees, which is not always the easiest thing, whether it's for a young quarterback, even older quarterbacks, but 'hey, I put it here because I saw this guy move, the safety didn't open his shoulders, he stayed square, he was at 12 yards. I figured I had a chance to get it in there.' Most of the time, he sees it the way it is after you're watching on tape, which is always a hard thing to do or you can come off to the sideline and say, 'hey, this is why I didn't do this' or 'man, I screwed this up. I should have let this one go or got it out a little quicker.' I think all the reps that he has had the last couple of weeks has helped him. We've just got to try to keep improving them."
🔹 Daboll is "done" with talking about reports about his relationship with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. "I just met with Wink a little while ago. We had doughnuts."
🔹 Daboll gave Martindale the game ball after Sunday's win "because we had another game of three turnovers and held them to seven points."
🔹 Daboll doesn't know "for certain" that right tackle Evan Neal (ankle) will play again this season, "but I think he's getting better so I'm hopeful."
🔹 Daboll was asked if Neal will return to the lineup when he is ready to play. "This is stuff we'll all talk about when he's ready to play. I don't think he's ready to play quite yet, but he's getting there."