The Giants speak with the media as the team heads into the offseason:
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Quarterback Eli Manning</span>
*Q: How would you describe this season? *
A: Well, it was tough, tough year. Obviously, didn’t win enough games, losing your head coach, lost a lot of guys to injury and that’s football sometimes. You go through tough years and you learn from it and hopefully it makes you appreciate it, work harder to hopefully not go through these types of years again.
*Q: How much do you want to be back and be the starting quarterback for the Giants next season? *
A: Yeah, I mean, this is what I want to do. I want to play quarterback for the New York Giants, that’s what I hope happens and obviously we’ll talk and figure out what’s the plan for the franchise going forward.
*Q: Do you have a plan for when you are going to start doing work again in the offseason? *
A: No set plan right now. I usually take a few weeks to let the body heal and then yeah, start training again, slowly getting back into shape and getting ready for next year.
*Q: Will you have to change your training much, with a potential new coach and new system coming in? *
A: I guess it just depends when all that is finalized and when you know who’s the head coach and who’s the offensive coordinator and what kind of offense is being put in. I guess I don’t know what all the rules are, but as soon as you can get that information and get started on learning the system, the better.
*Q: Does this day-after the season ends feel different or strange to you as compared to ones in the past? *
A: Well, yeah, I guess there’s more uncertainty this year than after others. But it’s always a disappointing day, that the season’s over, [other than] the two years you win Super Bowls, where it’s not. It’s always tough that it’s coming to an end and another year that didn’t go as we wanted. You just try to learn from each game, each year, each situation and try to be better for it.
*Q: Is this the first day-after season in which you don’t know if you will be back next season? *
A: Yeah, you could probably say that.
*Q: Have you made an appointment to see General Manager Dave Gettleman? *
A: I haven’t, no. Nothing set up right now.
*Q: If you were to be here next season and not be the starter, would you want to go elsewhere? *
A: Those are all situations and scenarios we’ll have to talk with Mr. Gettleman and figure out what his plan is and make those decisions later.
*Q: If the Giants pick a quarterback with their first pick in this year’s draft, would you be comfortable in the role of mentoring that quarterback in his first year or so? *
A: You know, I think I’ve always been a good teammate and whatever quarterbacks are in there, I think you’re always talking football. I don’t think you’re ever specifically a mentor. You’ve got a job to play quarterback and get ready, but I think you’re always helping the other guys and learning from the other guys in the room and, hey, they help me, I would help them.
*Q: Is there a takeaway that you can take from this season? *
A: Yeah, I mean, I think you try to find different things. I think over these next few weeks you kind of reflect a little bit more on the whole season and try to figure out how you can prevent it from happening again. If there’s anything you can do – in football there’s things you can control and there’s a lot you can’t control. So, you just try to figure out ways that you can improve upon yourself and how you can make the other guys around you better as well.
*Q: What do you think New England Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels does well to put New England quarterback Tom Brady in good situations, as far as an offensive coach? *
A: I don’t have those answers. I haven’t watched their offense specifically to see what he’s done, so I don’t know if I’m the right person to answer that question.
*Q: How did you get through this season and never really lose your cool? *
A: Well, you know you’ve got a job to do, that’s to play quarterback and try to win each and every week. You knew it was going to be tough certain weeks and you felt like you didn’t have everything you could possibly do to win each game, or to do what you want to do. You were limited in some areas after you had some new bodies in there, new players. You’re trying to get on the same page with them, so it just took time to get comfortable and figure out what everybody’s strength was and what we could do offensively once you start losing linemen, losing some receivers. So, it was tough. Not just on me, it’s tough on the offensive coordinator, on the coaches, to try to figure out [how to] put a game plan that gives us a shot to win each and every week.
*Q: Do you expect to see a lot of new faces on the team next season? *
A: Well, in the NFL that’s kind of part of the deal nowadays. Each year you’re going to have new faces, there’s going to be new teammates and new guys. So, that is part of it. You don’t know who, or how many or what’s going to happen there.
*Q: Is the possibility that the new head coach will bring a completely new system a concern for you? *
A: Well, I think that’s just part of football. I spent 10 years in the same offense and then these last four. I had to change four years ago and go into a brand new offense that was completely different and I was able to figure it out. So, I think now that you’ve been in two different ones, depending on what kind of offense, but hopefully there’s some carryover or something where you’re not just learning everything all new. I think once you play 14 years, all offenses have some similar plays and concepts. So, just try to get on the same page with the coordinator and do it his way.
*Q: How much do you think you have left as a quarterback in this league? *
A: I feel like I can still play at a high level. I feel like I can make the throws and if you get the right guys around, that I can be very effective and play at an extremely high level.
*Q: Would you be willing to rework your contract or take a pay cut to come back here next season? *
A: Again, we’ve got to figure out all those things. A lot of conversations have to be had with management before we get into all those things.
*Q: Is there a certain timeframe where you want to know what is going to happen this offseason? *
A: I have not thought about that yet, so just trying to take it one step at a time here.
*Q: Do you think this was the hardest season of your career? *
A: Yeah, I’d say so, I’d say so. Just dealing with a lot. It’s never fun losing a head coach in the middle of the season, it’s never fun losing games and being out of the playoffs as early as we were. So, it was tough in a lot of areas, but I think just hopefully just going through those tough times you can be stronger because of it.
*Q: When you look back on how your consecutive starts streak ended, how will you look at it? *
A: I was never much about that streak. I didn’t know what the numbers were ever until someone told me, so it wasn’t something I was chasing, or going after. So, I don’t think it will be a subject that I’ll think about very often.
*Q: If you are told that you will play next season as long as you are doing well, is that as good of a deal you can possibly get anywhere else? *
A: Well, wherever you go, wherever you’re playing, you’ve got a job to do and that’s to play well, to win games. And if you’re not doing that, you can easily be replaced. So, that’s a part of playing football in this position.
*Q: Isn’t that deal of playing as long as things are going well about as good as you can ask for anywhere? *
A: Again, we’ve got to have these first conversations and just see what their plan is and what they’re thinking.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Interim Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo</span>
Opening Statement: Happy New Year to everybody. It was a good way to ring it in. I’ll be honest with you, I’m still enjoying the win. Doesn’t erase 3-13, but it really feels good to win.
We just had a team meeting. We talked about the game and the things we did and that was fun talking about it. We talked about going forward, you know, exit physicals and exit interviews and all those things and now we’re onto the offseason. So, to me, I didn’t say it to the guys today, but there’s 19 other organizations having the same meetings today that we’re having. Little disappointed the season is over. One month from now, there will be 11 other teams that will be disappointed in the way their season ended and there will only be one team standing that will be content and happy jumping up and down. The next day, February 5th I think it is. All 32 teams will be 0-0. It’ll be a new season. It’ll be trying to do the same thing, which will be bring us the Super Bowl trophy home to their organization.
Those are my thoughts. I am happy with the way things went yesterday. I was really proud of the guys, the way they played. We handled the elements real well. Rushing the ball the way we did. Playing third down on defense the way we did. I was really, really proud of the way they – it was New York Giants football, in my opinion. 18-10. We win and everybody is feeling good.
Having said that, I’ll open it up.
*Q: Did you schedule an interview for the permanent job? *
A: None of that has even been talked about. Dave (Gettleman) and I have been just kind of focusing on getting to this year-end meeting and that’s what we did. We knocked that out and, boom, I’m right here. So, I don’t have anything to report on that.
*Q: What was Dave Gettleman’s message to the team? *
A: A lot of good things. I won’t get deep into it. Really, it’s a question to ask Dave, but I thought he was great. He was being Dave and I think that’s important. Genuine and authentic and he had a great message and I’m sure at some point when you get a chance to talk to him, he can convey that to you.
*Q: Do you feel like you got your sea legs back as a head coach being thrown into it? *
A: That’s an interesting way – two things when you said that. ‘Thrown into’ – I caught the wind of that and getting the sea legs. I will tell you this. I was honored to do it. I did not want that to happen. I want to keep saying that because I have a great deal of respect for Ben (McAdoo). But, I will say this, that when it did happen, I certainly felt so much more prepared even though it was right in the middle of it than I did on that day I flew from New York to St. Louis and had the press conference there. And I remember going up to my office and then sitting down at my desk and saying, ‘OK, what do I do now?’ because it all just comes at you and you got to move. So, it was more comfortable that way. I wish we had better results in the win-loss column obviously. But, was proud of the way the guys functioned, operated.
*Q: What stood out to you during this month in terms of the way the team responded? *
A: Well, that speaks volumes there. I go back to 10-10 in the Cowboys game with seven minutes left. That says a lot and after coming off of a really hard week. Everything changes and guys that play in this league for the most part are young. We’re not talking about guys that have been doing professions for a long time. That was not easy on them, yet they picked it up, we acted like pros. Coaching staff did a great job. The people in the building did a great job. We were able to function in a game. We were swinging at the end and then kind of lost a little bit. Philadelphia game was impressive. Wish we had played better defensively, but we’re right there at the end of the game. With one play, we could win it. Didn’t play quite as well down in Arizona, but this game here sure felt good that we could have found a way. I would have felt very empty if we had gone through this month of four games and not having been able to come away with a win because it is a result-oriented profession and it was good to at least get that win one time.
*Q: What about the way your fellow coaches responded? *
A: I thought Sully (Mike Sullivan) was great. Dave (Merritt) did a great job when he had to step in for me. All the coaches. Just trying to keep your guys – where the season was lost in a lot of ways. There was no playoffs to look forward to. Guys were being professionals. Everybody is playing for their own future. Coaches doing the same thing. So, I thought everybody acted professionally.
*Q: How good do you feel for Eli Manning after what he’s been through this season being able to end with a win? *
A: No question. I waited there to give him a big hug because I was really happy for him. Getting a win for all of us is important, but the quarterback especially. It was at Giants Stadium. We win the game with him taking three kneel-downs. It ruined our rushing stats. That was the only thing Sully (Mike Sullivan) – that and when he was on the headset, Sully goes, ‘I know this is the right thing to do, but I hate the fact that this is going to go against our red zone stats.’ I could appreciate what he was saying, but we were all enjoying the end of it.
*Q: Were you aware of what Orleans Darkwa needed for the big bonus? *
A: No. Not at all. I just know when we got out there and he ran the long one and Wayne Gallman was running it and we kept running it. Forty-four rushing attempts is pretty impressive and the offensive line that went in there. The guys that – I think Robbie Leonard – you know, Robbie Leonard works our offensive scout team during the course of the year and I believe that the five offensive linemen that finished this game were all guys that somewhere during the season, at least early, were really scout team or look team guys. So, that was impressive. Eli got us in and out of some plays and helped that. Guys stayed on blocks, runners ran the ball hard. It was really good.
*Q: What do you do these next few days while everything is in flux? Do you provide insight in the player evaluations? *
A: Yeah. There’s a lot. That’s pretty much the focus right now and that would be the focus of any organization right now is to evaluate your team. Mistakes, what could have been done, what could be done better, changes and I’m here to help Dave (Gettleman) right now and we’ll work through the rest of it. But, the coaches are doing the same thing. We’re going to get together with Ken Sternfeld and Matt (Shauger) and try to get all those evaluations going forward right now.
*Q: What was it like for you to deal with suspensions and Bobby Hart, etc. all in one season? *
A: Yeah. None of us want to go through that. I don’t clump them all together. I don’t see it as a – they’re all isolated incidents in my opinion and good men involved and we recovered in my opinion from all of them. There were learning moments in all of it. That’s the part I take away.
*Q: Does that wear on a team? *
A: You’d have to ask the players that.
*Q: What about from your perspective? *
A: I think we work through it. Everything is not going to be perfect. So, you expect that and as professionals, when there’s a bump in the road or hiccup, you’re supposed to react to it and do it professionally and move forward and I thought we did that for the most part.
*Q: What exactly happened with Bobby Hart? *
A: We needed a spot to get two offensive linemen up. I could go into all the possible scenarios, but that was the one that was set in front of us and that’s the one we made.
*Q: He was your starting right tackle for most of the last two seasons. *
A: But he wasn’t able to play. He was hurt. He had an ankle. He was not going to play in the game and that was kind of the reason. He was not going to be able to play in the game. We had to find a spot. It was hard to find three roster spots on a Saturday to get through the game to be able to get people there. So, we made that decision.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Tackle Justin Pugh</span>
Q: What are your thoughts on the season?
A: Not the year we wanted. Not the year I wanted. So, we’re going to have to go and figure this out. Changes are going to be made. I know that. It’s coming. So, hopefully I’m a part of it.
Q: Any concerns long term about your back?
A: No. I went to see the No. 1 back specialist in the world out in California and he told me everything will be alright. I have no reservations about it. I’ll be good to go in a month. So, yeah, all will be well.
Q: Will you just train as usual?
A: Yep. Going down to Florida. Training as usual.
*Q: When he said there is no surgery required, I can imagine that was a relief. *
A: Yeah. That was. That was our biggest concern. The amount of time I’d have to wait out. It’s a month that I have to be out and doing this core program that they’re going to have me on and just letting it rest up. I never got the chance to really take a month off to let it heal up. So, I kept trying to come back and push it and then we decided we didn’t want to get it to the point where I would have to get surgery.
Q: How concerned are you that they’re going to try to sweep a lot of people out?
A: I don’t know how much change there’s going to be. I know this is – despite our record – we got some really good players in this room. No matter what you’re going to say, we’re going to have an elite defense next year and those guys are unbelievable. On offense, we’re going to be healthy and go back at it. Obviously things are going to change. We know that. You’ve heard the GM talk. We’ll see what happens with the coaching situation, but that’s the NFL. I’m used to that by now. I’m the only one left in my draft class. None of the coaches I came in with are here anymore. I know that change and turnover happens and we’ll see.
Q: When you go into free agency, are you looking for the most money, the best team, a chance to win or what?
A: If I could build you the perfect equation and kind of factor in how much those mean to me – it all goes into it. I want to win. I want to win now. I’ve been in five years. I only made the playoffs one time. Being in a good situation, being close to home was great for me. Being so close to my family. Always having them around. So, all those things go into it. I’m looking forward to getting to it and it’s an exciting time. This is the first time I’ll ever get to choose where I play and the situation that I’m in. Obviously, I’ve grown up in New York. I want to be in New York. But, we’ll see what happens.
Q: Did it feel good to hear Dave Gettleman say he wants to rebuild the offensive line?
A: Yeah. Just from talking to some guys that have played here before. I know that that’s the thing that he’s very passionate about. Got to meet him yesterday and talk to him a little bit. So, it’s exciting. Like I said, I just want to win games and whoever it takes to go win them – I’m all for that.
Q: Are you a hot commodity?
A: Yeah. I think so.
Q: What did Gettleman say to you?
A: Just a quick introduction. We walked into the stadium together. It wasn’t like a formal sit down. I’ll probably talk to him today at some point if I see him and sit down.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie </span>
*Q: How would you describe this season? *
A: Long. It was very tough, but at the end of the day, we got through it, so got to look forward to what’s happening next year.
*Q: Do you expect to be back? *
A: I don’t control that, you know what I mean? If I am, I am. If I ain’t, I ain’t. My main thing is just getting home and just relaxing really.
Q: Would you like to be back?
A: Yes sir. Definitely. I think this is a classy organization. I love the guys in the locker room, the young guys. I made a lot of friends here and it will be sad to be gone. But at the end of the day, my main focus is just chilling.
*Q: Why do you think the defense struggled so much compared to last year besides injuries? *
A: I think that’s the main thing. You got guys coming in and out of the building and it’s hard to gel as a team and get a feel for people and their style of play. Especially when you come off of a season where you bring everybody back, you look to hit the ground running. It don’t work like that when you get hit with injuries and all kinds of stuff. You just got to keep battling through it so I think the main thing is that it’s hard to put pieces together like that that aren’t normally there.
Q: Is it possible that this team can turn it around quickly?
A: Easily. Definitely. I know the guys that are in the locker room, the guys that were hurt, I know they are eager to get back and get started and I can tell you that no man wants this taste in their mouth this whole offseason. So I think it was good to get a win even now to get that feeling back. It was a very, very difficult season, but I think guys’ mindset is coming back and not having that feeling again.
*Q: Was this the most unpredictable season you had from high to low? *
A: Definitely, man. I just looked at the locker room with the guys we had, I thought we would do much, much better, but at the end of the day it’s football and you can never truly know what’s going to happen in a season. You just got to live through it and we got through it.
*Q: Is this a year where you’re just glad it’s over? *
A: Nah, man. When football’s over, you want that rest, but you’ll miss it. It will hit you so you’d rather be playing this week and next week and so on and so on. It’s tough, but I think you just got to get away from it a little bit and get back to grinding.
*Q: How curious are you in this coaching search? *
A: Not at all. That’s out of my control, man. I just go out and do what I do. I just play ball. So whoever they bring in, whoever they don’t bring in, it don’t matter to me.
Q: Do you think that Eli Apple can straighten himself out?
A: Definitely. Easy. You got a whole offseason to think about it and reflect. I think he was a guy that’s young and didn’t know how to deal with a lot of stuff. But I think he has a tremendous upside and I think they should definitely give him another look.
*Q: What about the accountability shown in the last game where guys were shown the door and others got benched? Do you think the organization needed that? *
A: This late in the season? Nah.
Q: Does it make a statement about the future?
A: Nah. I don’t know why some of that stuff happens. That’s out of my control, I will say that. I can tell you that’s it’s clear cut that they’re about business and you have to be about your football and go about certain things a certain way. But to make certain things happen this late in the season, nah.
*Q: What does it take for a coach to take command and control the room? *
A: I don’t know, to be honest. I just think you just got to mean what you say and say what you mean and hold everybody accountable. At first, if you see something wrong, you correct it then. You don’t wait until you start losing or things of that nature, so I think it just should be straight forward from the moment whoever gets here.
Q: Do you think that’s part of the problem of what happened this year?
A: Nah. I just think we were hit with a lot of stuff and we just didn’t overcome a lot of things.
*Q: Did you listen or hear what Dave Gettleman said? *
A: No sir, that’s out of my control. I ain’t got nothing to do with that. I’m just here to play ball, baby. I know he’s here to kick ass and that’s what we’re about. I heard that and I’m all for that, so definitely looking forward to getting in and turning things around.
*Q: What did you think when you hear Landon’s (Collins) comments about Eli (Apple)? *
A: What did he say?
*Q: He called him a cancer. *
A: I mean he’ll apologize for that. So I just feel like it’s like a little brother, big brother relationship. Sometimes you want to hit your little brother and say some things and he can get under your skin. But at the end of the day, I know it’s love though because I’ve been around those guys the whole season. I think that anytime that you’re out and you get caught off guard, you say some things that you may not mean, it’s just caught up in the moment. When you have time to reflect, any time a man can come back and apologize, whether it’s sincere or not, it still means a lot. I definitely think that he was just caught off guard. Venting a little bit, you know? I don’t think that Eli is a cancer.
Q: Do you plan on being back next year?
A: I’m just chilling, baby. I’m just chillen, man. I would definitely love to be back if that’s the case. I know it’s a business, I know. I know being old and what not, but I’m not worried about that. I let the chips fall where they fall.
Q: Would you be open to moving to free safety?
A: Hey baby, you can put me anywhere as long as I plan to get on that field a little bit, I don’t mind. Free safety, strong safety, linebacker, it doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to be out there.
Q: Do you think that that could work for you?
A: Yeah, definitely, definitely. Back there you can see that ball a whole lot better and there ain’t that much responsibility at the free safety position. You’re just back there patrolling.
Q: Can Eli and Landon be teammates moving forward?
A: Easily. The offseason is long. You can put all of that behind you. You can talk about it, get on the phone with each other. Whatever you have, get away from it. I just think it’s just this season, the atmosphere of being in this locker room, that’s it. This offseason, I definitely think they’ll gel back.
*Q: Isn’t that going to be a hard label for Eli to shake? *
A: No. That’s just the guys in the locker room. I can’t really speak for guys. I know if he comes back in here, I’d give him a hug and continue where we left off. I wouldn’t even look at it like that. I wouldn’t say there’s Eli. I wouldn’t do that.