Giants' reputation won't be enough this time around when hiring their next head coach
New York is no longer the coveted head coaching destination it was not too long ago
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants are a proud franchise, but co-owner John Mara isn't too proud to acknowledge things aren't like they used to be.
Looking for his third head coach in four years after firing Pat Shurmur Monday morning, Mara admitted the team has "lost some standing" from its perch atop not just NFL organizations but all franchises in sports.
So to the candidates readying to interview with Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch, consider and remember that. One of the first pitches for the Giants job is that it has always pitched itself. But in the eight years since the last Super Bowl, New York has gone to the playoffs just once and had six losing seasons.
A promising young quarterback in Daniel Jones? Well, Cleveland has that with Baker Mayfield and soon-to-open Dallas certainly has it with Dak Prescott. Patience from ownership? Ask Ben McAdoo and now unemployed Shurmur about that patience.
"I'm not convinced that either of the past two coaches couldn't have been successful over a longer period of time," Mara said, surely making McAdoo and Shurmur feel better about the failure labeled to their respective careers. "But there comes a point in time where your patience runs out and your gut tells you that you need to make a change and that's what happened this time."
Stable ownership? Mara and Tisch aren't going anywhere, of course, but the two spent a decent portion of their media availability Monday trying to disprove any notion of friction between them—almost to a comical extent. They talk all the time, they said. They are in lockstep, Mara said. This is a partnership, Tisch said.
But saying that things have never been better between the two is belied by the fact that Tisch said frankly he wants to be more involved in the day-to-day operations of the franchise moving forward. If Mara running the ship wasn't broken, Tisch wouldn't be looking to spend more time here trying to fix it.
And then there's working with Dave Gettleman, the General Manager Who Survived. Despite protestations across Giants' fandom, it had been clear all December that Gettleman would remain as general manager. His gruff demeanor, high-profile misses in free agency (while hitting in the draft with Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones) and propensity to ship out a great player if he needs an attitude adjustment could make it difficult for the next head coach to want to work with him.
"He does know that the batting average (in free agency) has got to increase going forward," Mara said of Gettleman.
Mara explained he kept Gettleman because of a fantastic amount of behind-the-scenes changes that he wants Gettleman to continue to see through. There has been turnover in the scouting department, a new grading system for prospects and a full-time staff psychologist has been added to football operations. He mentioned that for a good portion of Gettleman's first year with the team he had to battle cancer and wasn't able to fully devote himself to the team and these changes.
But perhaps most surprisingly, Mara mentioned the team is deeper into analytics than ever before, and he put that in the same group as all the other football changes as to why Gettleman has to remain. The same Gettleman, you'll remember, who has openly mocked the analytics community for the past three years.
Gettleman will be involved with the coaching search, one that won't rule out a college coach or defensive-minded coach but also one that surely will zero in on Baylor's Matt Rhule and New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels early. Mara and Tisch would also listen to a coaching candidate who pitches them on why he needs more control of the roster, but it seems for now that the power dynamic with the general manager reigning over personnel decisions will continue.
And could working with Gettleman turn away some potential candidates?
"Yes, we do run that risk," Mara said, adding once candidates who have that concern talk to Gettleman they will be more at ease. "That's certainly something that we're aware of. But I happen to believe in Dave and I happen to believe in the changes that he's making here. I think those are going to pay off."
That needs to happen quickly. And it needs to be married to a coach who, according to Tisch, is a leader, can put together a great staff, work with rookies and "have a very strong point of view."
"We're going to try to get the best candidates in here that we can," Mara said. "And we're going to try to convince them why this is a good job opportunity for them. We have a terrific young quarterback, we've got a young roster. We're in the best cap space shape we've been in many years. There's a lot to this organization that I think would attract a lot of different candidates."
Both owners are confident they'll get their guy, but how much of that confidence is based in the idea of the New York Giants that doesn't exist in the same way it once did?
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