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Quotes: GM Joe Schoen discusses fast start, goals for second half of the season

General Manager Joe Schoen

Schoen: Good to see all you guys. We haven't talked in a while. Sitting up here 6-2 after eight games, so I'm excited about that. 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 would agree that there's still some meat on the bone and 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. Obviously, we made a move with (wide receiver) Kadarius (Toney) last week. I'll just echo what Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) said on that. It's a move that was made – best decision for the organization for where we are and probably just leave it at that. There's really not a lot more for me to add on that. Just excited and happy for the coaching staff. I think they've done a hell of a job with the amount of players we've had come in and out of the building since the start of the season, whether it was due to injuries or just trying to upgrade. They continue to answer the bell and get those players ready. Some of those guys went out there and played meaningful snaps for us and helped us get to where we are today at 6-2. So with that being said, I'll just open it up to questions for you guys. I'm sure you've got a lot.

Q: What was today like, and how close did you get to maybe doing something?

A: Again, today is the end of it. It's the trade deadline. These conversations are ongoing. I'll go back to some of the players that have been mentioned in the media. 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.

Q: The picks that you got for Kadarius, were they always going to be banked for April, or was there a possibility of using them in the following week?

A: If something made sense in regard to the position, we explored a lot of opportunities. We've been on the phone a lot the last few days. Not just the last few days – these calls again have been going on for, I'll go back to August on some of these players that we had identified under certain parameters. You know, years left, contract structure, where we were in terms of salary cap that would make sense for us and just the value. You've got to have two to tango on these deals and just different value between the other team and where we were just didn't work out for us.

Q: How much was wide receiver a target of these conversations you were having, and how do you feel about the group you have going forward?

A: Wide receivers were part of the conversations, but again so were, I'm not going to go into every position that we were talking about. We were just trying to add good players whether it was front line or depth players. The problems is there's a lot of teams that are still in it where we are in the season. So, not a lot of teams are sellers; teams are banged up. There's not a surplus of players that are available. It's a small pool. It only takes one team to outbid you or go higher. Where we are receiver-wise, again, the guys that have played had good games, bad games. Jacksonville – we'd like to have some of those back and some of those drops. But (wide receiver) Kenny's (Golladay) hopefully coming back soon. Fingers are crossed he'll be back for Houston. It'll be good to get a look at him again. I'm hopeful for him against Houston.

Q: How did you balance you guys having six wins right now and feeling like you might need to add to capitalize on your start versus keeping the big picture in mind and what you're trying to accomplish?

A: When we made the Toney move, we talked to the captains and let them know we're always going to win. 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. Again, if there was an opportunity where we could make a move that could help this year, we were definitely open to it.

Q: If you think back to where you were before the game in Nashville, what you thought about putting this team you have together to now sitting 6-2, has your opinion of what you have here dramatically changed because the team is 6-2? I mean, (it's) probably not what you thought was going to happen after eight games. Do you look at it and say, 'Oh geez, we're a lot better' or are you kind of still keeping it at what you thought before?

A: I think I said this to you guys in August: It's going to be an overreaction after Week 1 one way or the other way. It takes four to five weeks, I think, to truly figure out who your team is. What I'll tell you about our team is there's a lot of tough dudes that care about each other and love football. I thought we had some tough guys, I knew we had some competitive 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 the way they've gelled, it's a little bit of an 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.

Q: You mentioned Daniel. What have you seen from him over the start of the season? How has that maybe changed your evaluation?

A: I think Daniel's done a good job. 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. So, he's a gym rat. He's always around, and I think he's done a good job leading the team this year.

Q: What have you seen from (running back) Saquon (Barkley), and do you see him at this point as more than a running back, as maybe your team's best playmaker like (San Francisco 49ers running back) Christian McCaffrey?

A: 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 taken advantage of those opportunities with his God-given gifts too and helped us a lot. So, I'm pleased with where Saquon is.

Q: So, Daniel and Saquon – obviously neither has a contract after this year. How much did that weigh on you? You only get one franchise tag, and they're both playing very well.

A: There's nine games left, so it's an ongoing evaluation for everybody on the roster, not just Saquon and Daniel being UFAs (unrestricted free agents). Obviously, those are two important players to where we are right now, but it's a constant evaluation. We still have nine games left.

Q: How open are you to potentially extending one of them or taking care of one of them or both of them before the season is over?

A: Yeah, we'll have those meetings this week. We'll talk about it if we want to (do something). We had to get through the trade deadline today and those conversations. 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.

Q: You obviously said going back to August, you've had these conversations about players on other teams and the idea of assigning values. The closer you got to the trade deadline and the more you guys kept winning – the idea that you're sitting here at 6-2 –was it any more difficult for you to not veer from the course you've set right now? Whether it's changing value or putting more emphasis on adding to this team because of where you're at now?

A: Yeah, absolutely. You have to step back and honestly evaluate the roster, too. You can get caught up in the, 'Hey, we won the game,' but we were also down 17-3 in the game at some point. You've got to step back and look at it for what it is. Again, there's several positions where you look at it and maybe you don't have a lot of depth or maybe we're a little bit older or what's best for the future in a three-to-four-year window – you're always analyzing that – or what's just better for this year. We had conversations with other teams for guys with expiring contracts this year. Again, obviously the value being a little bit lower with guys that expire next year or are in a contract for two years. So, you take that all into account in all the positions when you're making these calls. But again, there's not this surplus of players that are available if that makes sense.

Q: Is it any more challenging to think for the future when your quarterback situation is so unsettled? Like if you had Daniel signed for five years, would that change things – the fact that you don't know what that position's going to look like next year?

A: No, I don't think so because, again, if the value we assign to a player or position matches up with something we're comfortable giving up for that player, I would have done it now. And Daniel's up. It's not going to change if he's under contract for five years. We'll still look to be aggressive to upgrade the roster if we have the resources and it makes sense.

Q: You said you're going to have strategy meetings this week to talk about possible extensions for some guys. Have you made a decision on Daniel that you would like him to be here beyond this year?

A: We've got nine games left. I mean 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.

Q: Your team was 6-1 before this. The stats say 6-1 teams make the playoffs 85, whatever, percent of the time. Should this team make the playoffs now, you think?

A: We're just focused on Houston. It's week-to-week. We're 6-2. We've got nine games left. A lot can change. We're one week at a time with this group. I appreciate the preparation; they've had a good week at practice every week. They're pros – the work they're putting in. And I think the results are showing on Sunday because of the preparation that they're putting in during the week.

Q: Excluding Daniel and Saquon, are there guys that you would like to get extended this weekend?

A: There's some guys that we're going to talk about when we look at our UFAs and some of the guys that we could potentially extend. We're going to have those conversations. Again, you're balancing; we're eight games in. There's nine to go. Certain players will maybe want to play it out and see if you can up your value or take guarantees now. There's a lot that goes into it. We'll focus on that stuff later on in the week as we go through it. Some people may not have an appetite for extensions. Like I said, they may want to hit free agency and the open market. We'll see; we'll go through all of our UFAs, the guys with expiring contracts, and talk about them later on.

Q: Was your cap situation, a limited amount, any problem in terms of wanting to maybe make a deal that way if you had more cash to do it, you could've done it?

A: There were a couple of players where it just wasn't going to work out. Financially, we couldn't do it; and the team wasn't going to buy down the money, or if they did, they'd want a higher pick. And it just didn't make sense for an expiring contract. Again, there were a lot of scenarios, a lot of different players that we talked about. It just couldn't come to landing the plane on some of them where both teams agreed on the compensation.

Q: Now that the trading deadline is passed, is the cap situation for the future now to the point where you think you can do more things next year?

A: Yeah. When the season is over, I think we will be in much better shape. Will we get through the season without having to push a little bit more down the road? We're not trending that way. These practice squad elevations cost you; these players going on IR (injured reserve) cost you money. I'm crossing my fingers that we don't have to do it again, but we'll see. Again, we got nine games left. I would like to not have to convert any more money. That was a last scenario from when I got here, we just had to do it. Regardless if we do, hopefully it's minimal and we'll still be in good shape going into 2023.

Q: Did the rest of the NFC East play an impact at all with four teams now in contention with the playoffs? Did that impact you at all in terms of the moves that you could potentially make?

A: There's some good teams, yeah. There's some good teams in the NFC East and the NFC in general. Just always trying to upgrade the roster. That's always in mind – winning the division. Where we were and where we can improve, I'm always going to look at that.

Q: Obviously when (wide receiver) Odell Beckham Jr. dropped in here a few weeks ago, it created a bit of a stir. Do you have any interest in him? He's a free agent, you can talk about it.

A: I had no idea he was in the building until he was out of the building. Obviously, he's been a good player. He's a guy we would consider and talk to when he's healthy. I think he did the ACL in February, so, not sure really where he is physically. Yeah, any player to upgrade the roster, we're going to consider and have conversations with their representatives.

Q: What would you say to the idea that he would like to come back here if that were the case?

A: Does he? I don't know. You tell me. You guys probably talk to him more than anyone.

Q: Say he does.

A: That's a hypothetical. He's a good player from when I evaluated him, if he's healthy. If a player is healthy and they would help us win football games, we would pursue them if they fit what we're looking for.

Q: What was ownership's opinion of staying relatively quiet, especially on the buying front at the deadline here?

A: Yeah, Dabs and I are in constant communication with ownership on everything we do. I've kept them in the loop on all the conversations we had and what we were looking for. They were supportive in everything we were doing. They've been abreast of everything.

Q: We've asked you a lot of questions about buying. Besides Kadarius, did you have other offers? Did people call to see if you were selling anybody else? Did you have to resist anything to keep this team together?

A: That's a good question. We got a call on one player on Monday. It was a hard 'no'.

Q: Which player?

A: I'm not going to say which player. It was a good player.

Q: On Kadarius – why now versus maybe just nine more games, then revisit after the season?

A: It was the best decision for the organization. Again, Dabs and I talk all the time. I know he mentions that to you guys. We talk about everything and at the end of the day, it was best for both parties.

Q: What do you say to the idea that you're 6-2 now, and the totality of it all is that you got rid of a player, and you didn't add any players when you're 6-2?

A: Yeah, I don't disagree – I understand the train of thought there. This particular move was the best for the organization. And we'll continue to look, and we'll continue to add players to the roster, the practice squad. Again, the rookie class – I'm proud of those guys. We're number four in rookie playtime 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, not to go off on a tangent on that. We lead the league with 12 players that were not here (before) September that have played offensive and defensive snaps for us. Whether that's (linebacker) Jaylon Smith, (cornerback Fabian) Moreau, (guard) 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. Again, 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.

Q: On the Kadarius subject – he says he's healthy, right? He's going there, he's healthy now and he hinted that he wasn't injured here. What do you say to that?

A: He was going to practice on Thursday, so I don't know. I guess he was healthy. He was going to practice on Thursday.

Q: You talked to us a lot before the season. You said there's some good players, and there was a gap between the number of good players and the number of not so good players. I'm just wondering when you look at this point in the season – are you at all surprised with where you are?

A: Again, it's hard to tell early in the year, is my point – just trying to figure out who the team is and who they're going to be. We got some fighters on this roster and as a whole, as a collective on game day – the 53 (on the active roster), the practice squad – they competed their tails off. and they played well together – complementary football. Again, maybe early on in the year, the middle class of the roster maybe wasn't where I thought it should be, we've upgraded a little bit and the next-man mentality up with the injuries that we've had. Again, back to the coaching staff, and the pro scouting staff, have done a great job of bringing players in that have answered the bell when their number was called. (Cornerback Nick) McCloud is out there against Green Bay. McCloud and (cornerback Justin) Layne comes in and makes a play. Again, one guy was in Pittsburgh in training camp and one guy was in Buffalo in training camp and they're making plays for us in the fourth quarter. I think we've upgraded the backend of the roster and those guys have stepped up when the opportunity called.

Q: You know Brian (Daboll). You're probably the main reason why he's here. So, you have a lot of faith in him. Has he done more in this first half of his first season as a head coach? How would you assess that? Obviously, you had confidence in him, but is there even more there?

A: I think Dabs has done a great job. I think kind of what you're seeing now – he's a good leader. He's done a good job. I think he did a phenomenal job with his staff. (Offensive coordinator) Mike Kafka has done a good job. TMac (special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey) on special teams. (Defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale), having a veteran defensive coordinator that has played in games, playoff games, whatever it may be and handled that side of the ball – he's done a good job. I think Dabs and I have great communication; that's where it starts. We're constantly talking about not just 2022 but beyond – how different roster moves will affect us, looking into the future but also laser-focused on today. I think he's done a good job, and his staff has done a really good job. Again, I go back to how difficult it is for these players that have been here all spring and August, it's tough enough for them to know the playbook, but to bring in new guys and two weeks later they're playing on Sunday – again, that's very difficult to do. And this staff has done a good job of that. I'm happy with Dabs and his staff.

Q: What do you think is the most impressive part about what he's done? Is it game day-coaching? Is it the off-field leadership? What's impressed you most?

A: I would say both. That's what you look at. There have been a couple of times – one or two times – with 10 guys on the field. The clock management, the time management in games, I think, has been very good. Those are things that he can control in-game; I think he's been really good. And yeah, leadership, being himself – he's not trying to be anybody else. Dabs today is the same guy that I worked with the last five years and the same guy that I worked with in Miami. He's not trying to be somebody else. He's very comfortable in his skin, and he's got very good leadership. Not just amongst the team but the staff and the entire organization.

Q: When the staff came together, you ended up having a coordinator from Kansas City (Mike Kafka), coordinator from Baltimore (Wink Martindale) and then a heavy Buffalo influence. Have you been able to see those three winning cultures come together, and what is that like in a room? Does it ever get discussed – all three places?

A: Yeah, it is. Before we played Baltimore, I picked Wink's brain on Baltimore because historically, year-in and year-out, they're competing for playoffs and championships. Same thing with Kansas City. (Kansas City head coach) Andy Reid and (Baltimore head coach John) Harbaugh – those are very good coaches that you look up to and respect. Just coming from a winning culture, knowing what it's supposed to look like, the way you lead meetings, the way you practice, the way you do things. I think those are all characteristics they brought with them.

Q: Do you believe the style (in which) you guys are winning is sustainable over 17 weeks, every game kind of being (that close)?

A: 6-2.

Q: There's nine more weeks. You think it's sustainable?

A: Recipe or not, it's working. I think, again, there's nine games left. There's things we know we can improve on. You can't coach effort. You can't coach toughness, and our guys have been tough. They've been competitive. They've been resilient. They're playing their butts off. They're preparing right. Some weeks, there's just going to be negative matchups. No matter where I've been, there's some games you play, you're like, 'That's their good against our not so good.' And it's going to happen. Or some weeks, you just don't have it. It's the NFL; there's a lot of parity in the league. And we've been able not to beat ourselves. We turned it over a couple of times in Seattle, but there's 11 minutes left in the game, it's 13-13. 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. Again, whether it's sustainable or not, I think we've got some good players here. I'm looking forward to the final nine games.

Q: How much different do you feel about your (roster)? You know, you had eight games, basically half a season, to see them. How much different do you feel about the roster as a whole? Do you feel like you have more building block players now than maybe previously?

A: No. I don't think so. I think I feel the same about the guys. Again, to me, it was just about how everybody came together. It's still forming, and we're trying to evolve in different parts of the game. I feel the same. The players I thought were good players have proved to be good players. Some of the backups have maybe exceeded my expectations, which is good. Again, a testament to the coaching staff. (You) kind of see how it was. We've come together really good – played complementary football.

Q: You don't hear the word franchise before every position, but (you do hear) franchise quarterback. The other position is franchise left tackle. I'm curious: What do you think of (tackle) Andrew Thomas' development because there's a lot of metrics out there that say he's the best in the NFL?

A: I think Andrew's been really good. Again, you're looking at a left tackle. He's got feet. He's got length, balance, body control. I think Andrew is playing at a high level. I can go on and on about all the strengths. The weakness box is going to be close to empty. He's good; he's even a better person. I've really enjoyed working with him.

Q: Has your winning adjusted the way you are scouting prospects, like targeting where you're going to be picking, how much research you maybe are doing on certain guys versus time you're not spending on others?

A: That's a good question. We basically have a top 10 report that I get weekly, and it's by position. So, I'm trying to attack that entire thing. If it's a left tackle, it's alright, I'm still going to see the guy. Just because we've got Andrew Thomas – or Evan Neal's at right tackle – I'm still trying to see the top 100 prospects, if I can, in person. So, it won't affect how I'm scouting or who I'm going to see.

Q: When you say you rely on the coaching staff to develop players, I would imagine there are levels of talent of those players. You go to whatever guys have been picked in the first round, you say, 'Okay, go develop Saquon Barkley.' Well, you might develop him a little bit different.

A: (Laughs) It's a great coaching.

Q: It seems like this staff has been able to develop on several levels – players who are here, maybe got a clean slate to be here, players that have been brought in. How valuable can that be in building a roster when you know you can rely on your staff to build up the players that are actually here?

A: That's something (former head) Coach (Bill) Parcells used to say to me: 'The quickest way for a head coach to get fired is not develop young talent.' And Dabs and I are aligned in that. Like, the importance of – we saw in Buffalo with some of the young players that are contributing for them. And I'm constantly on him about, 'Hey, we got to get this guy more playtime' in order to keep developing these guys, and the coaches have bought into it. It helps when Dabs and I are aligned in that in terms of the young players developing. Again, there's going to be growing pains. I mentioned it earlier, very few rookies are instant coffee when they come in the building, and it takes time. They have to go through growing pains. The good thing now is we're winning some games. They're getting valuable playtime while being able to make some mistakes. We're still able to win some of those games, which will pay dividends in the long haul. So, I'm a firm believer good coaches are the ones that can develop young players.

Q: Since you've been here, I assume you could have walked down your block, and nobody would've known you. Now that this team is 6-2, has your life changed in any way?

A: I got asked that question earlier: 'What was the weirdest thing that's happened to you since you've been with the Giants?' (This question is) kind of along the same lines. I was at Lowes with my wife not too long ago, and I felt like this guy kept looking at me, and I'm like, 'What the hell's going on? Why's this guy creeping around?' I'm in the next aisle, and there he is again. (He's in) the next aisle. And finally, he came up to me and was like, 'Are you Joe Schoen? Can I get a picture with you?' And it was in Lowes, and I thought it was kind of creepy. And then I realized that it's hard to get used to being out and being recognized. I'm not used to that. I haven't gotten used to that. But it's a lot better than booing or cussing you (laughs) or throwing things at you. It's been great so far. That's hard for me to get used to for sure.

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