EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Schoen is impressed with the evidence he's seen, but he's not close to adjudicating a final verdict on the 2022 Giants.
The team's first-year general manager held his first news conference since the beginning of a season in which the Giants are 6-2, a surprise to many who thought a Schoen-led rebuilding would take time to yield positive results. The Giants are in the NFC East title and conference playoff races. But as Schoen noted seven times, more than half the season is still to be played.
"Sitting up here 6-2 after eight games so I'm excited about that," Schoen said. "I'm pleased with the way things are going internally; the coaching staff, personnel staff, the entire organization just has been on the same page throughout the season this far, which I'm very pleased with. Again, we're 6-2, we've done a lot of good things. I think everybody agrees that there's still some meat on the bone in areas where we can improve. But we've got nine games to go and it's a long way to go, but I'm pleased with where we are right now."
Schoen was quick to credit coach Brian Daboll and his staff and the players for a resurgence that has seen the Giants equal their highest victory total in any of the last five full seasons.
"What I'll tell you about our team is there's a lot of tough dudes that care about each other and who love football," Schoen said. "I thought we had some tough guys, I know we had some competitor guys, I knew we had some good players, just you never know how those guys are going to gel and when adversity strikes what's that going to look like. (Quarterback) Daniel's (Jones) got five fourth-quarter comebacks. It's a team effort, but the guys are resilient. They don't give up; you guys have seen the games. We get into the fourth quarter, and we've been able to come out with some wins.
"I think the talent is the same. I think they way they've gelled, it's a little bit of a unknown leaving training camp. You just didn't know how they were going to react in the heat of battle. I think they've done a good job. They're fun to watch and they compete for 60 minutes. I'm really proud of the guys."
The Giants' four-game winning streak ended Sunday with a 27-13 loss to the Seahawks in Lumen Field.
"We turned it over a couple of times in Seattle, but there's 11 minutes left in the game, it's 13-13," Schoen said. "That's where we've been a lot this season. We've made more plays than the other team. So again, I'm really proud of where the guys are and the way they're playing and the way they're approaching their craft. Whether it's sustainable or not, I think we've got some good players here. I'm looking forward to the final nine games."
Schoen praised the Giants' most prominent players, quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. Jones has completed 65% of his passes and has not thrown an interception in five consecutive games. Barkley is second in the NFL with 968 yards from scrimmage.
"I think Daniel's done a good job," Schoen said. "Those 'got to have it' moments, third downs, fourth quarters when you've got to have it and I think he's answered the bell in a lot of those situations. He's the same guy he was the day we got here in terms of, it's their time off and he's in here at 7:30 this morning having breakfast. It didn't surprise me a bit. He's a gym rat, he's always around and I think he's done a good job leading the team this year.
"Saquon's a great kid, he's tough, he's obviously talented. It's a team game. I think him being healthy this year, you've kind of seen who he is and what he can do whether that's catching the ball or running the ball. Again, it's credit to the offensive line and the receivers blocking for him and he's taking advantage of those opportunities with his God given gifts too and helped us a lot. So, I'm pleased with where Saquon is."
Schoen faces the same long-term question with each player. Jones and Barkley are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. He can use a franchise tag to secure just one of them. Of course, that decision mustn't be made now, because…
"There's nine games left, so it's an ongoing evaluation for everybody on the roster," Schoen said. "Not just Saquon and Daniel being UFA's (unrestricted free agents) and obviously those are two important players to where we are right now, but it's a constant evaluation and we still have nine games left."
Schoen is open to possibly extending one or both players before the season concludes. The Giants are on their bye and next play at home at home against the Houston Texans on Nov. 13.
"We'll have those meetings this week," Schoen said. "We'll talk about it if we want to, we've got to get through the trade deadline today and those conversations, then we'll kind of circle up with some strategy meetings as we move forward on contract extensions and if we may or may not do anybody. If I did, this would be the week. I would want to entertain it during the bye week and then I probably won't do anything after that. I don't want anything to be a distraction to the players or organization. So, if we do something it would be probably before Monday with any of our guys, I'm not saying him, but when we have those conversations."
Has he decided if he wants to retain Jones beyond this season?
"We've got nine games left," Schoen said. "For all these guys it's going to be a continuing evaluation. We'll talk through it, what the market looks like, we'll have those meetings but it's going to be an ongoing evaluation. We've had Daniel for eight games."
Schoen spoke on a several subjects during his 30-minute give-and-take with reporters:
*On the trade of wide receiver Kadarius Toney, the team's 2021 first-round draft choice, to Kansas City for third and sixth-round draft choices. The Giants were 6-1 at the time of the trade.
"When we made the Toney move, we talked to the captains and let them know we're always going to win," Schoen said. "Daboll and I are super competitive and we're always going to try to do what's best for the organization but again you just can't be reckless with those draft picks and the future capital, where we are as we build this thing. Again, there's a lot of players that are here that we like. Some were here before I got here that have done a really good job for us and are good players. Just being smart, we didn't want to be reckless with it. If it was an opportunity where we can make a move that could help this year, we were definitely open to it."
*On trading a player but not adding one when the team is four games over .500 at the virtual halfway point.
"I understand the train of thought there," Schoen said. "This particular move was the best for the organization. We'll continue to look, and we'll continue to add players to the roster, the practice squad. The rookie class – I'm proud of those guys. We're number four in rookie play time right now. I think we're getting a big contribution from those guys. They'll continue to get better. We did a study, I think this is a testament to the coaching staff.
"We lead the league with 12 players that were not here in September that have played offense and defensive snaps for us. Whether that's (linebacker) Jaylon Smith, (cornerback) Fabian Moreau, Tyre Phillips started at right tackle. A testament to our coaching staff, we're bringing in new players and they got to stay here late hours and get these guys ready to play. A lot of these guys have played winning football for us. The pro scouting staff has done a great job as well identifying these players, upgrading the practice squad and those players have filled in admirably and helped us get to where we are. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that. We didn't add one, but the coaching staff has done a great job with what we've been trying to bring in to backfill some of the roster."
*More on not making another deal before the trading deadline today.
"These conversations are ongoing," Schoen said. "I'll go back to some of the players that have been mentioned in the media that we had talks in August with teams about some of those guys that met some of the parameters that we're looking at. So, there were some conversations and part of my job and our personnel staff is to assign value to players. Whether it's in free agency what you're going to pay a player, what round you're going to put a player in the draft, if you're going to trade for a player what value are you comfortable with? We had several conversations with teams on multiple positions and the price point didn't match up and things just didn't work out. But we were active with phone calls trying to improve the roster which we'll continue to do."
*Did any team call to see if Schoen was willing to part with another player?
"We got a call on one player on Monday," Schoen said. "It was a hard no. I'm not going to say which player. It was a good player."
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