It's great to be back. I hope you guys enjoyed your time off. I really don't have a whole lot to start off with. We're certainly excited for the season. We had a good spring. We came out of it pretty healthy. Unfortunately, the worm turned a little bit the last couple of days. Yesterday really. But we're excited. We feel like we made a lot of progress in the spring. It's about just getting better every day, which is what we're looking to do. I thought yesterday's practice was terrific. You guys were here, you saw a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, players getting after each other. You saw both sides of the ball make plays, which is what you're looking for. You never want to see one side of the ball dominate the practice. Sometimes it happens. Over a period of time, you want both sides of the ball to make plays. It was a good start. Let's rock and roll. So how are we doing? Who wants to go first?
Q: It sounds like it's positive news on Sterling Shepard, but do you feel the need to look for receiver help because of the injuries?
A: Historically what happens is you have runs at a position. We started camp with 11 receivers. Right away, Alex Wesley is on PUP. So now you're down to 10. Then we decide to make the claim to get [Da'Mari] Scott from Buffalo. You do that and think you're back up to 12, but you're really not and now all of a sudden, you're down to 9. The problem is it really affects the way practice operates. It affects the way Pat [Shurmur] writes the script, Pat and Mike Shula write the offensive script and everything, so it hurts. Then, what happens is you have X amount of reps. Now you have fewer people taking those reps. Consequently, the short answer is, yeah, we're going to have a workout tomorrow and we're going to do something.
Q: You're talking about guys that can help in practice, though, and not just veterans?
A: Well, who knows. We'll see. We're going to invite a couple of vets and see if they decide to come.
Q: Pat said two days ago that Daniel [Jones] has exceeded his expectations so far. What is your early evaluation of Daniel?
A: You can't take their temperature every day. Daniel had a good spring. And he had a pretty good day yesterday. It takes time. It takes time for any young kid to really be able to evaluate… you're going to evaluate him over time. You don't draft based on one game. You know what I'm saying? A college kid rushes for 350 yards, you don't draft him in the first round because of that game. You draft him because of his body of work. It's the same thing here. I don't believe in taking temperatures every day. Hopefully we're all 98.6. It happens over time is what you're looking for. We'll evaluate it, probably once a week we'll have personnel meetings. But I don't believe in every day, Roman Colosseum thumb up or thumb down, thumb sideways.
Q: For this season, what's your role in the decision on when it's Daniel's time to play? Is it your decision, or you and Pat's?
A: It's a Pat decision. Pat and I talk all the time. We talk a lot, every day. And we talk about the whole schmear. The ganze megillah. We talk about every position, we go through it. Listen, I really believe this, it doesn't make a difference who you're talking about, at the end of the day, it's going to be clear. When anything happens, you've got to, don't lock your knees and just go.
Q: With Janoris Jenkins, this year he's thrust into a mentor role. How do you think he'll handle that? He's not a very vocal guy.
A: It's really funny you say that. Yesterday he and DeAndre [Baker] are off on the side. They were spending time [together] and you could see they were talking. Rabbit was talking technique. It was something you hope to see, and first day right off the bat, we saw it. Rabbit is a good guy. He's a good person. He's a good man. He wants to win. He's not stupid. He knows that these young kids, these young corners, you know DeAndre, Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine and Julian Love, they have to grow up quick. He's more than happy to help them along.
Q: Along those lines, is there a concern on how long it might take all of the rookie defenders who might start to come together for the defense to really hit its stride?
A: It excites me. This is professional football. One of the things we talk to the kids about, the rookies, is, you're expected to be a pro now. Those guys out there, those veterans out there, when you walk into the locker room, they're looking at you and saying, 'Okay, how's this guy going to help us win?' It's all about responsibilities to grow these guys, quickly. That's part of the drafting process. Who's going to have the maturity to handle that? Because this is a different world. I tell them all the time. I tell Dexter (Lawrence) all the time, 'You're about to enter a very violent world, okay, where you're going to be playing against 28, 29-year-old men who want to rip your lungs out. You're not playing Duke or whomever anymore. You're not in the ACC anymore. This is the NFL.' So yeah, they'll make youthful mistakes, but if they're smart, they'll only make them once. If they play with youthful exuberance, we'll be fine.
Q: You saw Lorenzo Carter make that play yesterday. Is he the kind of player who has not done it yet but who you absolutely need to develop into big time players from within?
A: Think about it. It's no different than you guys writing when you started, writing your first great article, then stepping back and saying, 'Holy crap! I can do this.' Sometimes you need to make that play and it's like, 'Wow! I just did that. Wow, I can do this.' To answer your question, it's really important. It really is. They don't know what they can do, they don't know what they can't do. When you see a young kid make a play like that… it's no different than me evaluating a player for the first time and being right.
Q: How much does the decline of this roster have to do with not hitting on those kinds of players, second round picks, third round pick. These guys who have to develop into big time players.
A: Philosophically, first, second, third round guys, you look at them and say first and second rounders should start right now. The third rounders should be legitimate role players at the very least, with starting potential. If you think about it, that's what happened last year. Saquon [Barkley] starts. Will [Hernandez] starts. Lorenzo [Carter] and B.J. [Hill] are immediate role players. B.J. really was a starter midway through the year. And Lorenzo will start this year, obviously. That's the drafting for us. So it's important. Once you get into the fourth round, you're hoping to get lucky. Fifth, sixth and seventh, you're looking for legitimate backup guys who can help you on [special] teams. So you have that. That's what you're looking for. Again, that's why, the way last year worked out with these kids, we were thrilled.
Q: How do you respond to Odell saying he felt disrespected about how you and the team handled his departure?
A: How I respond is Odell plays for the Cleveland Browns now, and we're moving on. We wish him the best. It's over.
Q: You did trade him, right…
A: No more Odell questions.
Q: Over the last couple of offseasons, you basically remade the entire roster, a new foundation so to speak. Do you feel like you have a solid foundation in place to build on and to get back to Giants football?
A: A big part of it will be the continued development of last year's rookie class, and what happens with this class. There are some good, young players that were left here. Bringing in a Jabrill… this year's important in terms of how this rookie class turns out.
Q: You gave everybody a clean slate your first year. What's the message you're giving everybody this year?
A: For me, the guys had a great spring. Our attendance was off the charts, and it's voluntary. The way they've come together, and watching this practice yesterday, the message is, 'It's go time. Let's just keep getting better.'
Q: Where do you think you have improved the roster the most from last season to where you are now?
A: I think we have gotten more depth in a few spots where we didn't have a lot of depth last year. Obviously, we have completely remade the back end. With the addition of (Kevin) Zeitler, and that piece in the offensive line, getting Pio (Jon Halapio) back and Spencer (Pulley) did a great job, so we feel great about that situation. We're feeling better about the O-line. The D-line, we are feeling better, feel much better about the linebacker position. We feel better about a lot of things. We feel like we've gotten a lot done in a year and a half in that respect, in terms of the personnel piece. We just got to keep going.
Q: Where are you right now, in the sense that, you came in here to a three-win team, you took it over, you developed cancer, you went through the cancer. Where are you as far as physically, mentally, and all that?
A: A year ago, I was fighting for my life. But I'm here, and I'm healthy, and I'm feisty and, like I said in my opening presser, I come in here every day to kick some ass. I feel great, I really do.
Q: Have you given any thought on about how long you want to do this?
A: Until they throw me out (laughter). I don't know, gosh. I'm 68 but I feel like I'm 10. Of course, my wife thinks I'm four. But no, I feel fine and I'm just excited to be here at camp and I'm working with a great head coach.
Q: What do you say to your fans who are sort of doubting the direction that you sort of spearheaded? You said you don't give up on talent and you made the trade and you said you don't reach for a quarterback, but others feel you did…
A: Well, what I say to them is give us some credit for the experience in our resumes. It's one of those situations where you just have to trust (us). Pat (Shurmur) has been coaching a long time, I have been doing this a long time, (VP of Football Operations) Kevin Abrams, (Director of Player Personnel) Mark Koncz, (Director of Pro Personnel) Ken Sternfeld, (and) (Director of College Scouting) Chris Pettit, we've all been doing this a long time. We're professionals and it's one of those things that unfortunately, because of the volume that you are dealing with here, as they've said, football is the ultimate team game and dealing with 53 players on the roster, 10 on JV, you have 20 coaches, and all of these folks that you're involved with. Unfortunately, you can't turn this thing on a dime. It's impossible. I appreciate their passion, and their concern. Listen, we want to win just as badly as they do. There is no doubt about it, because if we don't win, we're looking for a new address (laughter). So, I would just say, trust that we are working our fannies off and we going to pull it until the end.
Q: In your mind, is there a point in the season where you hope to be competitive, and if it's not happening by then, then Daniel could play?
A: You can't operate that way, you really can't. We are going to turn around, have a great camp and be ready to go by Week One. The guys play when it's time.
Q: You don't have a number in your mind, or a record?
A: You can't do that, you really can't do that because everything is fluid. You can't do that to yourself because now you've put yourself in a box. You can't do that.
Q: You said back at the Combine, before the draft obviously, that over the next couple years, you would love to leave a franchise quarterback here. From what you have seen from Daniel (Jones), do you believe that in your heart right now you have done that?
A: Yup. Again, it's coming back to the question that gentleman asked about the fans. The amount of film we watched on Daniel, the amount of background work we did on him, the interviewing of him, the personal contact time we had with him. All of that in one spot. All of the work that he's done out here since his feet have hit the ground here, starting with Rookie Mini Camp. You guys have seen Rookie Mini Camps, and it doesn't even resemble football. Well, our offense, it looked like football, the rookie minicamp. When you look at all of that stuff, and I look at the way he has handled you guys and the difficult questions you've asked, and the tough things he's encountered since he got here. I look at all of that stuff and I know he's got the talent. He's got edge. Think about the great quarterbacks you've seen, think about it. Not the guy who had a great season, the all-time great quarterbacks. Think about those guys and think about all of the things that made them great, all of the qualities that they had. It wasn't just physical qualities, it's was the mental qualities. The ability to take responsibility. There was a game last year, Daniel threw a deep post to a wide receiver and the guy dropped it. After the game he was in the presser and they said, 'how do you feel about so and so dropping the ball?' Daniel looked at them without even blinking and said, 'I need to put it in a better place.' He'll stand up and do that, (when) a lot of guys won't.
Q: You sense greatness in him?
A: I think he's got tremendous upside. How's that?
Q: I am not asking about one specific player, because that would include JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) or Landon (Collins). In your job, is saying goodbye to a guy who has played a lot of years with the Giants one of the hardest things you do, and how do you handle that? What's your strategy for handling that?
A: It's really hard. It's not easy. There were a couple guys down in Carolina that had been good Panther players, and it was just time to go for whatever reason. So no, it's not easy. Listen, I don't take any of this lightly. None of it. I may kid around a little bit, but when you're dealing with people, you don't take one part of that lightly because if there is anything that I've learned, when you're saying something difficult to somebody, you have got to make sure that you give them their dignity. On the flip side of that, Ron Rivera used to kid me and would say, 'Well, it's easy for you, you didn't draft these guys. Wait until you have to do that to a guy that you drafted.' That turned out to be hard, but you have to do it. In life, it's not so much the message, it's the delivery. These guys have put their heart and soul on the line for you, blood, sweat, and tears and all those clichés and you have to respect that. I feel very strongly about that, and I know that I've done the right thing with these longtime players.
Q: Along those lines, how do you prepare yourself and this organization, at some point, to say goodbye to a guy who has worn this uniform longer than anybody?
A: That's a really hard question. Why did you ask me that question? (laughter) Again, as long as you do everything the right way, that's how you prepare yourself. You, in your mind, go through the things you need to go through, and you do it like a pro, you do it like a pro. But there is always the human piece of this that makes it difficult.
Q: You were 5-11 last year.
A: I wasn't 5-11, the New York Football Giants were 5-11.
Q: Okay, the team went 5-11.
A: Thank you.
Q: What constitutes a successful season in 2019 in your mind?
A: Improvement. You would like to think that guys like Saquon (Barkley), and Will (Hernandez), and B.J. (Hill), and Lorenzo (Carter), and RJ McIntosh are going to make a significant jump. That old saying from 'year one to year two.' You'd like to think that those three first-rounders are the next man, and Julian (Love) and Corey (Balletine) can come in to make us better. It's about just to continue improvement. I'm not going to put a record on it. It's not fair, and it's not fair to the kids.
Q: Would you consider it a successful season without playoffs?
A: I'm not going to get into that hypothetical. We'll see.
Q: This is a sterling franchise that is renowned around all sports. What is your response to anybody who would say that they have boosted the brand of the New York Giants?
A: (laughter) You're leading me down a rabbit hole. We all know that this is an iconic franchise that's won four Super Bowls and other world championships, and that's the brand. That's the brand.