EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – John Mara believes the Giants are a better team on paper than they were in 2020. But a lifetime association with the franchise and four consecutive sub-.500 seasons has taught Mara that is far from the proving ground for success.
"I'd like to see us show that on the field now and win more games and make the playoffs," Mara, the Giants' president and chief executive officer, said. "That's my expectation every year coming into the season. Obviously, we've fallen far short of that the last four years, but I think on paper, I'm pleased with where we are, but I want to see us win some games."
The entire organization and its huge fan base concur. How close the Giants are to achieving that goal was a recurring theme in Mara's annual training camp news conference.
From 2017-20, the Giants were a combined 18-46, a .281 winning percentage. That includes a 15-33 mark in Dave Gettleman's first three years as general manager and 6-10 last year in Joe Judge's debut season as head coach.
Mara is convinced the right decision-makers are in place to resurrect the franchise's fortunes.
"I really do believe we're moving in the right direction here," Mara said. "I think the attitude on the team is really good and with the coaches. I think I just have to try to continue to have some patience, which is not easy for me given the last four seasons that we've had. I do think Dave and Joe have made a lot of good decisions. Again, I think we're moving in the right direction."
Do the Giants need to make the playoffs this season?
"I always feel like we need to make the playoffs," Mara said.
Judge has brought discipline and accountability to the Giants. Because he's been here for just one season, Mara didn't field any questions about the coach's job security.
But he did receive pointed questions about third-year quarterback Daniel Jones and the man who drafted him, Gettleman. Mara avoided pinning blame on any individual and instead focused on the group.
"I think it's the same for the entire organization," Mara said. "I want to see us make progress and become a winning team again. We're overdue on that and we spent a lot of money in free agency. I think we've had a couple of really productive drafts, now it's time to prove it on the field."
Is Gettleman on the hot seat?
"We're all on the hot seat, with our fans in particular," Mara said. "We've given them too many losing seasons, it's time for us to start winning. But no, I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say that's an accurate statement.
"Let's see what happens, let's see what happens during the season. Let's see what kind of progress we've made. Let's see if we've won some games and we'll address that after the year."
Indeed, Mara refused to make anything close to a threat about what he will do if the Giants fall short of his expectations. The regular season ends January 9. All judgments will be reserved until at least then.
"I'll look at that at the end of the season and see whether I think we're continuing to make progress and moving in the right direction, but I'm not issuing a playoff mandate," Mara said. "I don't think those ever do you any good. I don't think I need to say or do anything to motivate the people in this building any more than they're already motivated. They all want to win.
"I think when I walk off the field after the last game, whenever that is, I want to feel like, do we have a chance to win a Super Bowl with this group. Does this group give us a chance to win the Super Bowl? Are we moving in that direction? If the answer to that is yes, then we're not going to consider making any changes. If I feel like we're going backwards, that's another discussion."
View the best photos from Tuesday's training camp practice at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Some Mara thoughts on other subjects:
*On whether he's confident Jones can be the franchise quarterback for the long-term:
"We need to see more wins, but I do have a lot of confidence in Daniel," Mara said. "One of the things that gives me that confidence is the way that the coaches in this building feel about him. They love him. They love everything about him, we just have to win some games now. I like everything that I see on the field with him. I like his leadership, I like his work ethic, I like the way the players respond to him. We just have to win some games now."
*On whether he thinks of how his late father, Wellington Mara, endured many lean seasons as the team's owner:
"No question," Mara said. "I have thought about that quite a bit over the last few years. I think what changed then was bringing George Young in (as general manager in 1979) and finally getting the right people in the building. I think we have the right people in the building right now. I think one of the things that was true back then is we went through this period in the '70s where we were trading draft picks, trying to bring in the next franchise quarterback and it never quite worked out. We ended up giving away a lot of valuable draft picks. I think even when you've had a bad stretch, you still have to maintain some level of patience and still look at the long term, and that's what we try to do. It's taken a little longer than I would like, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but I do feel like we're heading in the right direction."
*On how the Giants have fared getting their players vaccinated against COVID-19:
"We're in pretty good shape," Mara said. "I think we're well over 90 percent and everybody in this building, every non-player in this building, is fully vaccinated."
*On team leaders getting vaccinated:
"I prefer that everybody be vaccinated," Mara said. "I would've preferred that it would have been mandatory for players to get vaccinated, but the Players Association did not share that view, so we are where we are, which is not a bad spot to be in. We're over 90 percent. Obviously, I'd like it to be 100 percent because I think it's the right thing to do."
*On the potential of fans needing to be vaccinated before entering MetLife Stadium:
"As of right now, they do not need to show proof of vaccination," Mara said. "Could that change in a few weeks? I don't want to rule anything out because it's something we would have to discuss with the governor's office. But as of right now, we're planning on going ahead without requiring proof of vaccination."
View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands.