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John Mara, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

JOHN MARA ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara addressed the media on Wednesday (video):

Opening Statement: Good morning everybody. Let me just start out by saying how proud I am of our staff, our entire organization and particularly our players for the way they handled this past season. The effort and patience and discipline and sacrifice that everybody went through, not seeing their families and all of the protocols that kept changing seemingly on a weekly basis. We were able to get through and play the whole season with relatively few bumps in the road, and that was no small feat.

In terms of the season itself, looking back a year ago, I can tell you that we’re very pleased with the selection that we made at head coach. I thought Joe (Judge) did a very good job considering what he had to deal with. When you think about it, here you have a brand new head coach at 38 years of age and look what he was asked to deal with: a pandemic, no offseason program, no minicamps, no preseason games, virtual meetings, protocols that kept changing, and he loses his best player in Week 2. I thought he showed great leadership and great adaptability. Nothing seemed to faze him during the year. If something had to change, he just made the change and went from there. I thought he showed real leadership, grit and determination the entire time. I thought he represented our franchise very well, the way I want our head coach to represent our franchise. I thought he established a great foundation and a great culture here. I know that culture word is overused, but I think it’s so important and I think we have the beginnings of a very good culture here. I also thought that he and Dave (Gettleman) worked very well together. All of our personnel decisions I thought improved significantly this year. They were able to agree on basically every decision that we made. I thought our draft was solid, our free agency moves were solid, and I think we have the foundation for something that could be very successful going forward.

Obviously, I’m not pleased with the number of games we won. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t do better than 6-10. But I do see progress in the building here. I think that the quality of people that we have in the locker room has improved a great deal. I think we have some great leaders down there. I think we’ve established a basis for a foundation that can have continued success going forward. I’m excited about the future of this team. I think the fact that we went 5-3 over the second half of the season gives me some reason for encouragement. I’m obviously disappointed we didn’t make the playoffs. We had every opportunity to do that only needing one more game, and we didn’t get that done. But I think what I wanted to see this year was some progress and some reason for some optimism going forward, and I did see that and that’s what I’m optimistic about what we can do in the future. With that, I’m happy to take whatever questions you have.

Q: Back in September, you didn’t want to put a win total on this season. You cited a vision that you wanted to create with Joe and obviously what you just said in your opening statement. I’m curious how much of it is a leap of faith compared to what you’ve done in the last couple of years following losing seasons? How much is it tangible? Is there tangible evidence that you’ve seen beyond the record that you could describe as to why you’re as confident in this season, maybe more so than you were in the last couple years?

A: I think it’s both of that. I think there’s always a certain leap of faith when you’re coming off a season when you only won six games. But just the quality of the players that we have in the locker room, the fact that they all seemed to buy in to Joe’s philosophy and Joe’s message. The effort was really good all year long, the discipline was really good all year long. I just think there’s a different feeling in the building now then there has been in a number of years, and I think that’s why I’m optimistic going forward.

Q: You didn’t actually come out and make an announcement today that Dave Gettleman is coming back as general manager. Is that because that was not a decision that you made, it was just something that was naturally happening? Why is Dave coming back for another year as general manager?

A: He is coming back if you want a formal announcement about that. I don’t think there was any particular reason why we didn’t make any formal announcement. I think the way Dave and Joe worked together, I thought our personnel decisions were really sound this year. I feel better about our roster than I have in years, and I think the two of them working together have started the building process with something that can have sustained success going forward. I just didn’t think that making a change at this point in time was something that was going to be beneficial. I said they worked really well together, and I’m really pleased with the players that they brought in here. I think that gives us a chance going forward.

Q: Is there any change to the structure at all? Or this is the same structure that it’s always been? There was some speculation of Joe’s going to have a lot more power now or something.

A: It’s the same structure it’s always been. The general manager and head coach collaborate on personnel decisions. What I’ve been really pleased about is, now they haven’t agreed 100 percent of the time. My father used to have a saying, ‘if you both agree all the time, then I don’t need both of you.’ I haven’t had to intercede on one occasion to break any ties. They managed to talk it through and work it out, showed good communication and at the end of the day, the decision that gets made is the New York Giants’ decision. It’s not Joe’s decision or Dave’s decision. They collaborate really well together, and that’s one of the reasons why, again, I’m optimistic about our future.

Q: I know you’re happy here with the progress and optimistic about the future, but my question is how long do the fans need to wait for a winning team to emerge?

A: Hopefully not too much longer because I can’t wait too much longer quite frankly. I’m tired of sitting up here at the end of the year trying to explain what went wrong and why I feel optimistic about the future. I want to do it after a winning season. I do believe that we have the right people in the building, we have a much better locker room than we’ve ever had before, and I think there’s reason for optimism. I feel good about the way the personnel decisions were made this year. We have some opportunities now in the draft and in free agency to improve the roster even further. I think if our fans continue to stay patient with us, that they will see a winning team pretty soon.

Q: I have two questions related to the NFC East. The first is did you reach out to Eagles ownership at all, either before Joe said what he said or after about how they handled their last game? The second one is in evaluating your season, did you have to take into account the reason you were playing meaningful games in December was the rest of the division struggled so much? You guys would have been four games out of first in any other division.

A: The answer to your first question is no, I did not reach out to the Eagles organization either before or after. The reason we didn’t make the playoffs is we didn’t win enough games. We had to win one more game to get into the playoffs. That’s on us. We can’t blame that on anybody else. I’m very conscious of where the division was this year, what the final record was. But I think you’ll see a much stronger division next year. Listen, we didn’t win enough games, but I do feel like we’re making progress. Some people may dispute that, and time will tell if I’m right or not. But I believe very strongly we did make enough progress to warrant staying the course with the people we have in the building.

Q: I have two questions also. The first is what was the season like for you watching games in empty stadiums and in your empty stadium?

A: It was a very strange feeling, and not a good one and not one I hope to repeat. Just coming into our stadium and not feeling any energy from the crowd I think was pretty difficult. Hopefully that’s not going to be the case next year. It was an eerie feeling each week walking into, really every stadium you’d walk into, even those that had limited capacity. It just didn’t feel the same. It’s just not the same having your fans there to support you. I think the players feed off that energy, and not having that I think hurt us this year.

Q: My second question is Joe has obviously expressed his conviction about Daniel (Jones) as the quarterback moving forward. Do you share that and why?

A: I do share that. I think Daniel before he got hurt was playing really well during that winning streak that we had. Then he got hurt, I think it was in Cincinnati, and then he wasn’t quite the same for the next few weeks. I thought he played very well this past Sunday, and also played well in the Baltimore game. Our coaches, all of them, are very high on Daniel, and I feel the same way. I think he has what it takes to lead us to where we want to go.

Q: I just wanted to circle back to the decision with Dave real quick. I understand you say you’re seeing progress with him and Joe, but what do you say to fans who say in his third year, you guys won six games, then in three years, you won 15 and they just feel that’s not enough progress?

A: I can understand that and there’s no defending the record. There’s no defending that at all. We haven’t won enough games. But listen, we made some miscalculations in 2018 with some of our personnel decisions. But I think the last two years, particularly this past year, we’ve seen significant improvement. I just felt like to break that up now and bring in somebody new from the outside was not going to be beneficial for us. I think Dave and Joe work very well together. Our personnel decisions I think were very sound, and I have every reason to think that will be the case going forward.

Q: You mentioned 2018, this notion has kind of been out there that there was a mandate from ownership that you had to make one more run with Eli (Manning). Is that true?

A: That’s absolute nonsense. We have never made any such orders or directions whatnot. I want the general manager and the coach to agree on the roster and the players that should be on the roster. I’ll give my opinion, but I want them to have a conviction about it going forward. Listen, we definitely made some miscalculations in a number of areas in 2018. But it was never any direction from ownership one way or another.

Q: Is there any kind of contract extension going on with Dave, or are you leaving his contract situation as is?

A: I don’t comment on people’s contracts and how much longer they have or anything. I’m not going to start by doing that now.

Q: If you consider this year progress, then what is your barometer for progress for Dave as general manager and for your team in 2021?

A: Well, I’d like to see our team win more games. I’d like to see us get back into the playoffs, but I’m not ever going to set a minimum number of games that we have to win or make any kind of determination like that. Again, I want to feel at the end of next year that we’ve taken a significant step forward. It’s not another six-win season or something like that. We need to win more games. But I’m not going to give you a required minimum.

Q: How did you weigh or count the facts that mistakes that Dave has made as GM, including DeAndre Baker, Golden Tate, I’m not going to list all of them, but do you connect those mistakes with your 6-10 record this year from the previous two years? Why do you not think that’s an indictment of the general manager?

A: You used the word indictment. We made some miscalculations in 2018, and I think we, to a certain extent, paid for that this year by not having some of those players available. No question about it. I thought in 2019, things got a little bit better. Certainly, this past offseason, I thought the personnel decisions that we made, both in the draft and in free agency, were significantly better. I like the combination that we have here right now. I didn’t see any reason to break that up.

Q: How much did you even contemplate making a change at general manager?

A: I really didn’t contemplate that. Listen, when you go through a season, any season, your feelings change from week to week depending on how you’re doing. I certainly didn’t feel very good midway through the season when we were sitting there at 1-7. I kept thinking that I’m seeing a team that’s practicing hard, I’m seeing a good attitude out there, nobody’s quitting, but where are the results? Where are the results? Then we started to win a little bit in the second half of the season and things started to look a little bit better. I just like the feeling we have in the locker room. I went to more team meetings than I ever had in the past. Players are so attentive and so tuned in to the message that’s coming from the head coach. It just seemed like we were on the right track. Now we just have to win some games to prove that we’re on the right track. We did a little bit better in the second half of the season. Then Daniel gets hurt, and I think that certainly hurt us a little bit. I think the fact that we did go 5-3 in the second half of the season gave me some reason for some optimism about what we have in the locker room. Obviously, we need to do better going forward.

Q: How much did you factor in, you obviously would have probably felt differently I would assume if you were in another division. I think every other division winner won 11 games. Obviously, you were in the division race until the final week. How much did that kind of factor into your overall feeling for the team?

A: It really didn’t. We were 6-10, we didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs at 6-10. We would have taken it, but we didn’t deserve to be there. I think the fact that we started to win some games in the second half of the season, and some of the younger guys that we brought in here were starting to play and show some talent. It was really the overall feeling that we’re making progress as opposed to whether we were playing meaningful games or not. We were playing meaningful games because our division is what it is. But I think it was more of a factor our younger players and some of our new players we brought in here were showing why we either took them in free agency or picked them in the draft. I think our talent level finally started to show itself a little bit. Now we’re far from a finished product. There are a lot more pieces that we need here. But I think we’re in much better shape now than we were a year ago.

Q: Just to keep on the topic of Dave, a year ago when you said his batting average had to improve, it was viewed as if it didn’t, you would consider a change. I know you just said you want to see another significant step forward. Is Dave’s status still essentially year to year, or have you seen enough now where you’re thinking more long-term with him?

A: Everything in this business is year to year. I’m not going to speculate on that. I think his batting average certainly improved this year. Our personnel decisions I thought were very sound this year and gives us some reason for optimism going forward. I’m not going to get into contractual situations with either staff people or players at this point.

Q: Given his age and obviously retirement is coming at some point with him, is there any internal succession plan under consideration or is that something you just put off until he actually does retire?

A: Listen, you’re always thinking about things like that. But there’s nothing that I’d want to comment on publicly at this point.

Q: Obviously, the defense had a pretty good season. But the offense finished 31st in scoring, 31st in yardage. I think it was the highest scoring year in NFL history. How do you feel about where the team is at in terms of that, being kind of behind the curve when it comes to being able to compete with teams?

A: I think we certainly need to help our offense a little bit this offseason, be it free agency and the draft. I think we need some more pieces there. Part of the problem that we had is we had a brand new offensive line with new guys playing new positions, they had never played together before, we had no offseason, we had no preseason games for them to get to know each other and get the feel for playing with one another, and they struggled, particularly early in the year, no question about it. I thought they started to play better in the second half of the season. But there’s no question that we need to help our offense going forward and add some more pieces. That will be a priority for us.

Q: You asked fans to be patient again after missing the playoffs three years in a row under Dave Gettleman. It seems like even dating back to 2018, some of those decisions were short-sided decisions, and some of the decisions that were made in the draft, you only have three players left each in 2019. How do you ask fans to be patient when (audio cut out)?

A: (Jokingly) The sound went out about halfway through that question and I had nothing to do with that. I’ll try to answer. The first part of the question was how do I ask fans to be patient. I feel like that’s the only thing I can ask them to do right now. I feel like we’re making progress. I think that given the fan mail that I’ve received, which tends to peak during the losing streak and then after we win a couple of games, it tends to die down. I think most of our fans believe we’re making progress. There are always going to be fans that are going to be critical, and rightfully so. I do believe we’re making progress. I am going to ask them to be patient again. I know it’s a tough ask, I know they’re tired of me saying that. But I am sincere in the belief that we are making progress here.

Q: What was it like for you to watch your team play 14 full games without Saquon (Barkley)? How do you look at decisions that are going to have to be made in the relative near future, not immediately perhaps but in the relative near future, about his tenure with the organization?

A: It was brutal to watch him go down in Week 2. He’s such an important part of this team, not only for what he does on the field but the leadership and all of the intangibles he brings to us off the field. That was really a gut-punch. Listen, I’m still happy that we have him. I think knowing him, he’s going to come back stronger than ever and be a big part of this team next year. In terms of what the time table is, it’s hard to predict that right now. I know our medical people are very pleased with the progress he’s made. I certainly expect him to be a Giant for a very long time.

Q: This year with no fans and everything, how much of a hit did the Giants take as an organization, and how much did the league take?

A: Well, it was a huge financial hit for us this year, no question about it. We did suffer some pretty significant financial losses, but it’s not going to affect our ability to be active in free agency or to do what we have to do to improve the team. Hopefully this is a one year thing and we’ll be able to have fans back in the building next season. I don’t think there’s any guarantee about that, but we’re optimistic that particularly as these vaccines get rolled out, people will start to feel comfortable about coming back into the building again. That would be a big boost to our players, I know that, being able to play in front of fans again.

Q: Is there any way you have to reach out to get more money, or is that not a problem at this point?

A: We’ll be ok. We’re not ready to put a padlock on the door just yet. I think we’ll survive just fine. It’s been a tough year from that point of view. But listen, there are people all over this country that are suffering. I’m not out here complaining or anything. We’ll be fine as an organization going forward.

DAVE GETTLEMAN ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman addressed the media on Wednesday (video):

Opening Statement: Good morning everybody. I hope everyone’s holiday season was joyful and that your families are all safe and healthy. I want to take this time to thank all the people who made the 2020 NFL season happen. There’s so many people behind the scenes whose tireless efforts, the players, the coaches, football ops folks, enabling us to get this done. First, I want to thank ownership for allowing us to do what was financially necessary to allow us to operate as close to the norm as possible. Given a new head coach and some of the situations that other people had. We were able to go over to MetLife (Stadium) and have as normal a training camp as we could. I can’t thank ownership enough for that. Specifically, in our building, I want to thank Christine Procops, Bill Heller, Justin Warren, Victor McLoughlin, Jerry Meade, Kevin Abrams and of course Ronnie Barnes. Their efforts enabled our season to happen as close to normal, whatever that is now, as possible. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. Our football team made quality strides from beginning to end. We certainly have areas to improve upon. Joe (Judge) and his staff had a very productive year. Now as we enter our roster building season, we have full realization there is more work to do.

Q: We just got off with John (Mara) obviously and he kind of echoed some of your sentiments, but also pointed to 2018 which was obviously your first year as General Manager. He said as an organization you guys have acknowledged some miscalculations that you guys made. Have those miscalculations set you up for success now because of what you learned from what you did back then? Do you feel confident that the lessons learned in the last couple years have put you guys in a position to succeed?

A: I’ll tell you this, we’re always learning. The short answer to your question is yes. You’re always going to learn. I go over every final decision we make. I review it in my head over and over again, good or bad, oh by the way. I review it over and over again because you certainly don’t want to repeat mistakes. You do that and you have to be honest with yourself. You have to debrief, and you have to be brutally honest with yourself. As I’ve already admitted, ‘18 was not a stellar year, personnel-wise. We’ve learned from our mistakes. Our processes are better. I think this past year showed the fruits of that, both in free agency and in the draft. I really believe strongly we’ll continue in that way.

Q: Can you be specific about the things you saw in Joe Judge this year? What was your reaction to his reaction to what went down in Philly on the last night of the year?

A: The bottom line is, with Joe, is his big picture view and then the follow up on the attention to detail. That’s what’s really critical. He starts at A and gets to Z. That is huge, that is really huge. Obviously, he is a very bright guy. That’s what really sticks out in my mind. Just the big picture and the attention to detail. No detail is too small, the old saying, ‘the devil is in the details’. He and his staff, he is really tuned into that. As far as what he said the other day, he said what he said. At the end of the day, it is what it is. Obviously, it’s about playing 60 minutes. It’s about giving the fans their money’s worth. It’s really how you live your life. He said what he said and it’s time to move on.

Q: What does Dave Gettleman – almost 70 – how long do you want to stick around for?

A: It really is dependent upon the Lord how long I stick around for. We’re all day to day, by the way, in case anybody missed that point. I feel fine, I feel good, I’m excited. I just want to keep going. I don’t know where this retirement stuff came from. I have no idea what that’s all about. There are probably some people that… at the end of the day, I feel great. So, let’s keep going.

Q: Do you feel like you have the ability to keep your defensive line intact or will you have to make a decision on one or the other there?

A: The toughest thing for us right now frankly is we don’t know what the cap number is going to look like. That’s a problem. We’re not going to know for a while. That’s going to dictate obviously how you operate. We’ve got cap space, we’ve got room. You never have as much room as you want to have. We’ve got cap space, we’ve got room to do the things we feel like we need to do initially. A lot of it is going to be about the drop it’s going to take. How far of a plunge is it going to take? We don’t know. They’re talking 175, who knows. We’ll plan and then once we know the number, we’ll get moving.

Q: Your team had one win against a team with a winning record this year and was outscored 73-26 during a three-game losing streak in December. I guess for fans who aren’t seeing what you call quality strides, where would you say the quality strides are?

A: Well I think first of all the culture piece. I know it’s talked about but it’s important. You have to learn how to win, you have to know how to win and we’ve made progress there. The locker room is terrific. We’ve got great leadership. We’ve got a young club, a new young team. I understand that. At the end of the day, this is an important offseason, roster building offseason for us. We’ve got some solid pieces. We’ve built up the lines. We’ve done some things. We have to continue to get good players and part of it is getting playmakers, because that’s what you’re referring to. This is a goal of ours obviously for the offseason.

Q: I was going to ask you about the playmakers but you kind of addressed that a little bit. Let me you ask about Daniel (Jones). Where do you see him two years into his tenure as Giants quarterback?

A: Obviously, he flashed last year. He had some big games and played well. Then he had games that weren’t so great. This year, early in the season he was struggling with his ball protection. We all know that. The second half of the year unfortunately he had that blip with the hamstring. He finished the season very strong. He played well against Baltimore despite getting chased all over the place to a degree. Made some big-time throws. Really and truly, it may sound trite, but obviously the last game of the year was a playoff game for us. It really was. We have to win that game to force Washington to win their game. Daniel played very well. He made a couple of big-time throws. Protected the ball for the most part. The one pick was off of Evan’s (Engram) hands. He’s done a lot of really good stuff. He’s made of the right stuff mentally and physically. Again, we’re talking about a young quarterback who has had two different offensive coordinators in the NFL. Two different systems. Obviously, he had a different one at Duke so he got three different systems in three years. I thought he got beyond the hamstring the last two games and he played well. We have complete confidence in him moving forward.

Q: You mentioned you feel good and you want to continue but I have to ask you about the conditions that the pandemic brought on. Obviously, your job changed or how you did the job I should say. I’m wondering how did that affect your energy and have you thought about that moving forward?

A: For everybody, I don’t care if you’re a football GM or you’re a carpenter or whatever. This pandemic is a load. It is a flat load. It makes everything an event. You have to consider everything. You have to consider going to the grocery store. You have to consider just everything, absolutely everything. Everything is an event. It takes energy from everybody. It took energy from you guys. There were days you’re looking at four walls. You can’t come to practice, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. It puts a mental load on you. I feel good, I feel strong. I had my 24-month review with my lymphoma doctor. He says you’re as healthy as a horse. Let’s just keep moving, so I’m ready to rock.

Q: Two-part question, number one, thanks for doing this. When you mentioned Daniel a few minutes ago, the idea of three offensive coordinators in three years and the potential teams asking to talk to Jason (Garrett) that you might have to go to a fourth, how does that affect the evaluation process? Also, with hindsight being 20/20, when you look back at how the injury was handled, would things have been better served if you had held back another week and maybe not played him against Arizona?

A: You can always look at everything – in hindsight, you can reevaluate everything and take a look at it. We felt good about it. We felt that he could protect himself and that he could do the things he needed to do and that’s why he played against Arizona. I really understand what you’re saying, but we felt strong. Obviously, we had the conversation with Ronnie (Barnes) and his staff and we felt good about it. During that week of practice, he moved around pretty darn good. Being as it may, we’re fine with that decision. He didn’t do any more damage. It is what it is. As far as the potential of Jason leaving, of course it makes you a little antsy. Just imagine, anybody, any of you guys, having your fourth editor in four years. It’s the same thing. It’s no different. We’ll adjust and adapt and do what we have to do and obviously anything we do moving forward, Daniel is a big part of it. We’re certainly conscious of that piece, to answer your question.

Q: I know you’re a trenches guy and the game is won upfront and you like defense, but the team just didn’t score enough points. It’s obvious. 20, 17 points a game just can’t win in the NFL. What do you say to address that? How much of it is you having to study everything that happens on offense. I know there was no Saquon (Barkley), the offensive line and everything, do you look at everything and say we need to find better players to score more points coming up?

A: You can never have too many good players. Bottom line. That’s a stock answer that every GM is going to tell you. At the end of the day, we need to find playmakers. That’s all there is to it. I’m not sugar coating it. If you talk about philosophically doing roster building, it’s the Q (quarterback), it’s the big men allow you to compete. On offense, it’s play makers. We have to be very conscious of it. We’re going to find the right guys to help Daniel get us over that hump.

Q: I have a big picture question for you. Obviously, there is a lot of talk of progress today, but how disappointing is it for you that after year three, you guys haven’t topped six wins and you only needed to get seven to make playoffs this year?

A: Of course, it’s disappointing. It’s disappointing not just for me personally, but I’m disappointed for the organization. I’m disappointed for the players and the fans. Sure, it’s disappointing. Listen, last time I double checked, it’s about winning. I’m very disappointed. I guess the best thing I can say is – John said in 2018 we didn’t have a stellar year, didn’t have a stellar roster building season, it’s affected us. We’re on the right track right now. We’ve done some really good stuff the last two years. We’re going to fix this. We are going to fix this.

Q: You’re going to enjoy this question because it’s worded a lot differently than it would have been last year. Leonard Williams, the season he had – do you almost wish you had gotten something done with him last year rather than giving him the franchise tag because it certainly seems like the price went up this year?

A: It doesn’t make a difference – you’re killing me either way. At the end of the day, I’m not going to discuss contracts, negotiations, did we do anything last year or did we not? No, the bottom line is we are where we are. Leonard deserves a lot of credit for how he prepared this year. Sean Spencer working with him as the D-line coach, the scheme that Pat (Graham) had for him, you know? As I said to you guys, before, he was a – I don’t even remember when he was taken, he was a top five pick – number two or four or something like that. There was a reason that happened, you know what I’m saying? Leonard did a great job. He did a great job of working his fanny off. Again, the atmosphere for our players – one of hard work, you can have fun, you can enjoy yourself and Leonard did a heck of a job and his position coach, Sean Spencer, Pat Graham and Joe. The bottom line is he thrived in our atmosphere. I’m ecstatic. It’s like I tell players all the time, ‘I only want you to be successful and I want you to make me cry when it comes to negotiations’.

Q: I know you just said that, ‘We’re going to fix this,’ but fans are saying in three years, we’re at 15 wins. How much does it have to be now? At what point do the wins have to come?

A: Obviously, they have to come soon. The idea is to win. Like I said, a lot of things have happened. We’re definitely on the right track. I’d like to believe finishing – starting at the 1-7- we finished 6-10. We finished 5-3 over the last eight games. There are a lot arrows pointing up for us. We’ll have a good season, a good roster building season right now and we’ll feel a lot better. We’re getting there.

Q: Your top priority when you came, well at least one of them, was to rebuild the offensive line. I’m curious after three years, where are you in your estimation with that rebuild of the offensive line?

A: We’ve got some really nice, young pieces. Nick Gates stepped in there. He’d never played offensive center before. We drafted Will (Hernandez) and Shane Lemieux. You have (Kevin) Zeitler and Andrew Thomas who acquitted himself very well when he had that rough patch and then he got himself rolling again. I think this offensive line can compete. You can cherry pick here, cherry pick there, in terms of which game you want to pick and how the offense did. The offensive line showed very good progress. They’re big, they’re young, they’re strong and they’re tough and smart. This O-Line has a chance to be pretty damn good.

Q: You know a thing or two about evaluating talent. How would you evaluate the job you did this year as GM?

A: I don’t want to evaluate myself. We made some really solid progress. I know everyone is tired of hearing it. Joe and I worked together very well and it was thrill. It was fun. He’s collaborative, communicative, we’re on the same page. As John said, we don’t agree on everything, but if we’d agree on everything, as John said, he doesn’t need both of us. The bottom line is that we had a good solid year. We hit on free agency. We hit on draft picks as of right now. Again, I always say that you know about a draft three years later. You can really quantify and evaluate on what you’ve done. We had a lot of those young kids step in and help us and show us that they’re legitimate NFL players. They have legitimate NFL talent as long as they continue to blossom and improve and progress. So anyhow, for what that’s worth, what we’ve done here in the three years that we’ve been here, is about sustained success. That’s what it’s about.

Q: You and John had both made several references to 2018 as a mistake. It seems like you’re calling 2019 in the draft and free agency a success. I was wondering if you actually feel that way? What do you think in 2019 were the team moves that set you up so well for this year?

A: You have the quarterback. You have Dexter Lawrence. There’s a start. Obviously, we had no clue that Deandre (Baker) could get in that kind of issue. It’s just a constant build and a constant blend and we feel like the last three years have been solid personnel-wise.

Q: Do you look at the last couple drafts at quarterback for example, there are guys like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert who look excellent and score a lot of points. Then this year, at offensive tackle, Andrew had a rough patch, whereas, some people would say some of the other guys played a little bit better. I was wondering if you look at not taking several players at those two positions and looking at what you have. Do you reconsider whether you made the right choice?

A: You guys are going to call me doubling down, I’m very happy with what we’ve done with Daniel and Andrew Thomas. I’m not even going to blink.

Q: You mentioned off the top, a lot of people top be thankful for that you guys have reached this point in the season because there was a lot of uncontrollable factors. Did you scale back any of the expectations this year because a pandemic was happening? This was the first year of no preseason game etc.

A: No, not really. This was a crazy year obviously. Like I said at the top, ownership financially supported us. We were one of the few teams in the league that was able to work out of a stadium and be socially distanced properly, have the locker room space, everything that we did over there. It allowed us to have as close to a normal preseason as you could have. Not having the preseason games obviously hurt, it hurt everybody. Our situation wasn’t any different than anybody else. Nobody had preseason. When you have a really young team, that creates issues when you’re trying to figure out what you have. Not having the preseason games was difficult. At that point in time, everybody is trying to negotiate the protocols. Things were changing constantly. I just thought ownership gave us the ability to do some things and it was really important that we do that for Joe and the staff. We came back from Indianapolis last year, the first week in March. Ronnie Barnes came to me three times and said, ‘Dave this is going to be really bad, really bad’. By then it was I believe in Italy, it hit there. Ronnie told me, Ronnie said, ‘Dave this is going to be bad’. I walked down the hall to (Director of College Scouting) Chris Pettit and I said, ‘Chris get ready for us to draft remotely. Get ready for our meetings’. I walked down to Joe and I said, ‘Joe you’re not going to see your players until August, I’m telling you. That’s what we have to plan for’. Thank God for Ronnie for having that foresight. I felt like we were ahead of the curve with a lot of the things we did in terms of how we were set up for training camp and how we were set up when got back here. That’s where Victor McLoughlin, our buildings guy, and Justin Warren, our IT guy, just did an unbelievable job. Getting us set up to be able to do things remotely and be spaced out and all the other stuff. We actually had setups for all the coaches that we installed in their homes so if something happened, they could work remotely. That paid off for us. There’s a lot of things that people behind the scenes warned us about and we heeded their warnings and it enabled us to do what we did. No, we didn’t scale back any expectations.

Q: You talked about how the salary cap may hit one of those air pockets. I’m just wondering how creative will you have to be in maybe reworking contracts? Making do with what you have, and have you talked to guys like Nate Solder and things like that and figure out what’s his status going to be next year?

A: We haven’t started that. I haven’t had that conversation with Nate. The season just ended Sunday here and it’s Wednesday. The bottom line is until we have a good idea of what the number is, what the number is going to be, we’ll plan as best we can. Obviously, we know who our UFA’s (unrestricted free agents) are. We’ll get moving and we’re going to have to make some decisions on a number of players. That piece is going to be interesting to work with and work through. We’re going to make the best decisions we can for the New York Football Giants and for our fans.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

  • LT Andrew Thomas (Video)
  • LB Blake Martinez (Video)
  • CB James Bradberry (Video)
  • CB/S Julian Love (Video)
  • S Xavier McKinney (Video)
Dec 312020
 
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Dion Lewis, New York Giants (December 27, 2020)

Dion Lewis – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 31, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY UPDATE…
FB Eli Penny (illness) and WR Golden Tate (calf) did not practice on Thursday.

WR Sterling Shepard (ribs), TE Evan Engram (calf), and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) were limited in practice.

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) fully practiced.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Friday (11:40AM-1:00PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Nov 292020
 
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Tae Crowder, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

Tae Crowder – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have activated place kick Graham Gano off of the Reserve/COVID-19 List and linebacker Tae Crowder and safety Xavier McKinney off of Injured Reserve. However, the team also announced that linebacker Oshane Ximines, who has been on Injured Reserve since early October, will undergo surgery Monday to repair his right rotator cuff. Ximines had returned to practice this week, but the surgery will end his season. He had started three of the first four games of the year.

Gano was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List after the team’s last game two weeks ago.

Crowder, who has been on Injured Reserve since October 20th with a hamstring injury, returned to practice on November 11th. Crowder, the last player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, has played in five games this year with two starts.

McKinney was placed on Injured Reserve in early September 2020 with a fractured left foot that he suffered in training camp and that required surgery. The team’s 2nd-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, McKinney has yet to play in a game this year. He returned to practice earlier this week.

Tight end Kaden Smith, offensive tackle Matt Peart, and wide receiver Dante Pettis remain on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

Nov 232020
 
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Oshane Ximines, New York Giants (August 22, 2019)

Oshane Ximines – © USA TODAY Sports

OSHANE XIMINES AND XAVIER McKINNEY RETURN TO PRACTICE…
New York Giants linebacker Oshane Ximines and safety Xavier McKinney, who are on Injured Reserve, have been designated to return to practice. The Giants now have 21 days to activate them or keep them on Injured Reserve for the remainder of the season.

Ximines was placed on Injured Reserve in early October 2020 with a shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 4. He had started three of the first four games of the year. McKinney was placed on Injured Reserve in early September 2020 with a fractured left foot that he suffered in training camp and that required surgery. He has yet to play in a game this year.

In addition, punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter were activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 List. They had been placed on the list last Wednesday. Place kicker Graham Gano, tight end Kaden Smith, offensive tackle Matt Peart, and wide receiver Dante Pettis remain on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

NOVEMBER 23, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: Get a little break?

A: A little bit. I got a couple days of being dad for a little bit. I saw a lot of soccer games. I thought soccer season was over. I was incorrect on that. We got to catch a lot of them.

Q: Any goals or no? Just a lot of 0-0s?

A: She was playing goalie. They had some high scores. She played alright. They won the game. It was good to see her.

Q: We have not talked to you since you made a coaching change to your staff. Looking back at that situation, I’m sure it was not something you anticipated. Is there anything you could have done differently to kind of patch this together? How unsettling was this whole thing for you?

A: I’ll just say on the entire situation, I made this clear from day one, I’m always going to make every decision what I see is best for the team. This decision was no different. Look, there’s been a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation. A lot of people have done a lot of digging trying to figure out details of the situation. I’m not going to rehash any of that. I’ll just say on the whole thing, we wish Marc (Colombo) well going forward. The decision we made was in the best interest of the New York Giants, short and long-term.

Q: As far as bringing in Dave (DeGuglielmo), how much different are the techniques that he teaches compared to what Marc has been teaching them for the last however many months? Can you implement those within such a short period of time?

A: Yeah, we’re not going to do anything to turn the offense upside down right here. We’re going to continue focusing on technique and assignments and principles of what we want to do big picture wise. They’ll be some adjustments here and there as we go. With six weeks left in the season, there is going to be a lot of continuity we’re looking to keep in place and keep improving as we go through the rest of the season. Will there be adjustments as needed throughout the season? Yes. Are we going to look to turn everything upside down? No.

Q: One more thing on Dave. He kind of has an abrasive personality, for lack of a better term. Are you concerned at all with how the offensive line room is going to respond to a new voice like that coming in at this point?

A: No, no.

Q: I’m wondering how that affects, if at all, your relationship with Jason Garrett because obviously Jason and Marc are close and Jason obviously recommended Marc to you for the job. I’m wondering how you firing Marc affects you and Jason?

A: Look, we’re all professionals here. We all have one goal in improving the team. Obviously, we’ve been working through a season. There are a lot of new guys coming from different spots. We’re all New York Giants now. We’re all working towards the same goal. There have been no effects in that nature right there. I feel good about going forward with everybody.

Q: There was a report out there somewhere that your offensive linemen were a little, I don’t know, on edge about the change. Have you talked to them at all? I know there was an elongated bye week. Did you talk to them at all Wednesday, Thursday when you made this move, or is today the first time you’ve addressed them about it?

A: No, I spoke to the entire team last week. I spoke with the offensive line, I spoke with the captains, I spoke with people both individually and collectively based on the units. Again, we’re pretty transparent as an organization. If something happens with the team, we keep it in-house, but I speak very openly with the team about it.

Q: I know part of the reporting had to do with you getting in at practice and kind of coaching up the offensive linemen yourself a little bit. I’m just curious how common is that for you in general? Do you do that around the team, like will you go in and interject and coach up guys in the way you think they should be coached?

A: Yeah, I have no problem at any point with any position stepping in and talking to a position. That being said, I let my coaches coach. I’m not going to comment too much further on the basis of the question you’re asking. Again, there was a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation out there as well. But I’m going to keep most things in-house.

Q: Separate from the Colombo thing, I know a few of your players tested positive for COVID since we last saw you. I’m just curious if you had any updates on if they have a chance of playing on Sunday or what the deal is there?

A: A couple of the guys will not based on just the timetable the league puts us in. There are going to be a couple of those guys who will have an opportunity, not just because the timetable allows them to have the opportunity. We still have to go through the week and the progression of where they are physically, how they handle the ramp up period, if the doctor clears them, all that good stuff there. The answer is yes and no. Some will have an opportunity to play, some will not.

Q: You talked about misinformation a couple of times. Is there anything you would like to get out there and clear up?

A: No. I think there are some common sense that people who want to read articles understand what does and doesn’t actually happen within a professional setting and office building. I’m not going to go out and rehash a lot of different things that were out there. This was a professional move. We made the decision that was best for the team.

Q: Were you happy with the coaching, or how happy were you with the coaching in regard to technique that your offensive line was receiving?

A: Yeah, I appreciate the question. Again, I’m going to keep most of that stuff in-house in terms of how we handle things. Obviously, we made a move and we’re all working in that direction.

Q: Have you been around a situation kind of like this where you had to move on from a coach in the middle of a season? How would you describe what the transition is supposed to be like in that situation?

A: I think everything is different based on the team and the situation that it occurs under. Yes, I have been around moves as a player and as a coach where there has been transitions in-season. I think the biggest thing for everyone to understand is just keep on moving within the direction of the head coach and trust that there’s a plan in place.

Q: Just kind of wanted to piggyback off that a little bit. At some point, you brought in Dave DeGuglielmo as kind of a consultant with the offensive line. Was there something that you saw that made you want to go in that direction and bring in another voice?

A: Look, I’m always looking to do anything that’s going to help the team at any point of the year. The decision I made was in the best interest of the team, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Q: What does DeGuglielmo bring to the group and why were you excited to hire him in particular?

A: Yeah, he brings some experience in this league. He’s done a good job. He’s coached some of the guys that are on the team already. He’s worked with a number of guys who are on staff already. There is a level of experience that carries over into that. That’s great, but all that really matters now is how each one of us coaches individually, and how he coaches now that he’s with the New York Giants. I’m excited to have him on staff with us moving forward. Obviously, we’re shifting all of our focus over to Cincinnati right now.

Q: Some of the reporting looks like it is kind of pigeon holing you together with guys you coached with in New England as Judge and his former Patriots assistants, etc. Is it alarming for you to see someone accusing you and your staff of functioning in that way? Like, for lack of a better word, like in a clique type of way? Is that one of the inaccuracies you’re discussing? How do you feel about that characterization?

A: Look, I’ve said the entire time I’ve been here, I’m not interested in any other program I’ve ever been a part of. I’m interested in the New York Giants. Everyone here has worked somewhere else at some point in time. Every player has played somewhere else at some point in time. All that matters is what we do for the New York Giants from this point forward, and that’s all we care about. That being said, if you look at the bios of my staff, you’re going to see a lot of pieces connected through different places prior to coming here. The notion that we’re concerned about anywhere else we’ve been or that we’d base anything based on where we’ve been, everyone has experiences that you draw on. That would be it. But there is no internal division or struggle or anything that’s being referenced right there or that anyone’s trying to create. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Q: I know you’ve been talking about sudden change and adapting from the beginning since you got the job, really. How has your schedule been forced to adjust from the initial test with Graham (Gano) last Monday? The way you guys have had to operate the last week or so, now not getting back on the field collectively until Wednesday, what have you done or what will you do to make sure that this team is ready to come off a bye and essentially have three and a half days on the field before you go play Cincinnati?

A: Like you said, sudden change is always an emphasis for us. That’s on and off the field. I think if you kind of live in that world of sudden change, it makes all these adjustments you had at the beginning of the year and whatever comes our way, we’re going to handle and we’re going to thrive in adjustment. Last week, obviously, we had plans to go on the field for Tuesday and Wednesday. That was changed with the news of a positive test. We got further news last week that kind of altered some of our plans for today. But we’ve taken all the precautions necessary. We’ve met virtually instead of in person. We’ll continue to meet virtually throughout the remainder of this week instead of in person. We’ll do walk-throughs and practices with all the protocols being met. We’ll stay outside as much as we can, obviously, even during the walk-through sessions of what we’re doing to make sure it’s open air, improve the ventilation. We’re going to work in some smaller groups or pods a little bit in terms of the entire team being together. Try to chop it up and keep guys spaced out. But this has kind of just become normal for us. Our guys understand that whether it’s on or off the field, we had made plans to do something, but sudden change happens. We just go ahead and we thrive on that.

Q: Can I quickly ask you about (Xavier) McKinney and (Oshane) Ximines, who you guys have designated to return. Are they close enough where they’re a possibility for Sunday? Is the shortened week not being on the field all together going to compromise your decision-making in terms of that?

A: No, I think both have a chance for Sunday. Today was the first day getting them both back out there. I’d say both moved well, both were really flying around the field today doing what we had to do. But it was mostly individual type work today. When we get into Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, kind of see them in a more team setting. Wednesday, we’ll have the pads on, see them pop the pads a little bit and see how their bodies respond to it. That will really tell the story for the weekend. I don’t want to rule anybody out in that nature. I thought both guys really came back, did a great job rehabbing with the trainers and physical therapists, and both guys moved around well today. I always want to be fair to the player and put him in a team setting before we go ahead and try to rule them in or out for a game. But I’d say based on today, they would have a chance. We just have to see where they are when we get into a team setting.

Q: Is it different with McKinney because he’s a rookie and he hasn’t had any game experience?

A: No. I think whatever role we select to play him in, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We can minimize his role a little bit and kind of get him in. Again, this is a guy that hasn’t had any experience on the field in a game setting this year. To me, in terms of him being a rookie, I’m still just looking physically how is he moving around and are we being fair to him in whatever we ask him to do that he can go out there and be successful in doing that.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Tuesday. The players return to practice on Wednesday (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Sep 062020
 
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Adrian Colbert, Miami Dolphins (December 1, 2019)

Adrian Colbert – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS CLAIM THREE PLAYERS OFF OF WAIVERS…
The New York Giants have claimed the following players off of waivers:

  • WR Damion Ratley (from Cleveland Browns)
  • OT Jackson Barton (from Kansas City Chiefs)
  • S/CB Adrian Colbert (from Kansas City Chiefs)

The 25-year old, 6’2”, 200-pound Ratley was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Browns. In 2018-2019, Ratley played in 26 regular-season games with six starts, accruing 25 catches for 344 yards and one touchdown.

The 25-year old, 6’7”, 302-pound Barton was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs signed him off of the Colts’ Practice Squad in 2019. Barton has not played in an NFL game.

The 26-year old, 6’2”, 205-pound Colbert was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Colbert has spent time with the 49ers (2017-2019), Seattle Seahawks (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Chiefs (2020). He has played in 27 regular-season games with 17 starts, accruing 74 tackles and eight pass defenses. Colbert has also played cornerback and is a good gunner on special teams.

To make room for these three players, the Giants released wide receiver Corey Coleman and offensive lineman Chad Slade, and waived safety Sean Chandler.

The Giants signed Coleman to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in October 2018. He missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL knee injury. The team signed Slade to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019. The Giants originally signed Chandler as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft.

GIANTS PLACE XAVIER McKINNEY AND DAVID MAYO ON INJURED RESERVE…
As expected, the New York Giants have placed safety Xavier McKinney (fractured left foot) and inside linebacker David Mayo (torn meniscus in his left knee) on Injured Reserve. Both players recently underwent surgery. Both are also eligible to return to the 53-man roster this year once healthy.

To fill their roster spots, the Giants re-signed tight end Eric Tomlinson and cornerback Brandon Williams. Both were with the Giants in training camp this summer and both were cut by the team on Saturday. The Giants signed Tomlinson as an unrestricted free agent from the Las Vegas Raiders in March 2020. The team signed  Williams in late August 2020.

GIANTS SIGN 14 PLAYERS TO THE PRACTICE SQUAD…
The New York Giants have signed the following players to the team’s Practice Squad:

  • QB Cooper Rush
  • RB Sandro Platzgummer
  • WR Johnny Holton
  • WR Alex Bachman
  • WR Derrick Dillon
  • WR Austin Mack
  • WR Binjimen Victor
  • OL Tyler Haycraft
  • OL Kyle Murphy
  • DL Niko Lalos
  • CB Jarren Williams
  • S/CB Chris Williamson
  • P/PK Ryan Santoso
  • LS Carson Tinker

All of the players except for Santoso were with the team in training camp.

The 25-year old, 6’5”, 258-pound Santoso was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Detroit Lions after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Lions (2018-2019), Tennessee Titans (2019), and Montreal Alouettes (2019 and 2020). He has not punted or kicked in NFL games other than being used as a kickoff specialist with Titans in 2019.

The Giants receive an exemption for Platzgummer because they were one of four teams chosen to carry an additional overseas player on their Practice Squad in 2020 as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. However, Platzgummer is ineligible to join the active roster this season.

The Giants have three open slots remaining on their Practice Squad. Although not officially signed, according to media reports, the Giants also intend to sign cornerback Ryan Lewis to the Practice Squad.

The 26-year old, 6’0”, 195-pound Lewis was originally signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cardinals (2017), New England Patriots (2017-2018), Buffalo Bills (2018), Indianapolis Colts (2019), Philadelphia Eagles (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Washington Football Team (2020). Lewis has played in 20 NFL regular-season games with two starts, accruing 43 tackles, eight pass defenses, and one interception.

NOTES…
Linebacker Ryan Connelly, who the Giants cut on Saturday, was claimed off of waivers by the Minnesota Vikings. In addition, defensive lineman Chris Slayton was signed to the Buffalo Bills’ Practice Squad while offensive lineman Eric Smith was signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ Practice Squad.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Sunday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on Giants.com.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players return to practice on Monday.

 

Aug 262020
 
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Xavier McKinney, New York Giants (August 18, 2020)

Xavier McKinney – Courtesy of New York Giants

AUGUST 26, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media and team sources:

  • Light, 3/4-speed practice held on the field at MetLife Stadium. Emphasis was on communication, situational football, and special teams.
  • Offensive and defensive staffs were stationed on opposite sidelines. Some in coaching booths upstairs.

INJURY REPORT – SURGERY FOR XAVIER McKINNEY AND DAVID MAYO…
The New York Giants have announced that safety Xavier McKinney (left foot fracture) and linebacker David Mayo (torn meniscus in left knee) will undergo surgery. McKinney underwent surgery Wednesday afternoon and Mayo will undergo surgery on Thursday.

McKinney is expected to miss 2-3 months and Mayo three weeks.

McKinney was the team’s 2nd round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Mayo in September 2019 after he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers. He surprisingly ended up playing in all 16 games with 13 starts, playing in 57 percent of all defensive snaps, and finishing with 82 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 pass defenses.

Wide receiver Tony Brown (unknown), tight end Rysen John (unknown), center Spencer Pulley (unknown), linebacker Ryan Connelly (unknown), safety Nate Ebner (unknown), and safety Jaquarius Landrews (unknown) did not practice.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Giants practice on Thursday morning (9:45-11:45 AM). Head Coach Joe Judge and several players will also address the media.

Aug 202020
 
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David Sills and Grant Haley, New York Giants (August 18, 2020)

David Sills and Grant Haley – Courtesy of New York Giants

AUGUST 20, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media and team sources:

  • Right guard Kevin Zeitler, offensive guard Shane Lemieux, and linebacker Tae Crowder had to run penalty laps.
  • Giants ran the physical 1-on-1 full-contact drills again. In these drills, linebacker David Mayo, linebacker Ryan Connelly, and safety Jaquarius Landrews had some good pops.
  • Linebacker Blake Martinez beat running back Saquon Barkley in a pass blocking drill; Barkley handled Martinez on the next attempt.
  • Wide receiver Golden Tate was tough to cover in 1-on-1 drills.
  • Also in 1-on-1 drills, wide receiver C.J. Board beat cornerback James Bradberry deep.
  • A lot of touches in both the running and passing game for running back Saquon Barkley.
  • Running back Dion Lewis impressed with his speed, quickness, and burst on a few runs. Lewis also looked good picking up a blitz from linebacker David Mayo.
  • On one of Lewis’ big runs, tight end Evan Engram and left tackle Andrew Thomas made good blocks.
  • Linebacker Cam Brown showed good hustle on an outside run.
  • Place kicker Graham Gano was 6-of-6 on field goal attempts.
  • Wide receivers Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton returned punts.
  • In 1-on-1 coverage drills, safety Xavier McKinney broke up a couple of passes. He also later had a good hit on wide receiver Darius Slayton.
  • In 11-on-11 drills, quarterback Daniel Jones threw a perfect pass over the middle through a tight window to running back Saquon Barkley with safety Jabrill Peppers in coverage.
  • Cornerback James Bradberry blanketed wide receiver Darius Slayton on a deep sideline pass.
  • Tight end Rysen John made a spinning, 1-handed catch of a pass from quarterback Colt McCoy.
  • Safety Julian Love intercepted a pass from quarterback Daniel Jones over the middle that bounced off of the intended receiver’s hands.
  • Wide receiver Binjimen Victor had a potential touchdown pass from quarterback Daniel Jones sail through his hands, but Victor caught a touchdown pass from Jones on the very next snap.
  • Quarterback Colt McCoy threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver David Sills over cornerback Grant Haley. McCoy also had a nice connection with wide receiver Austin Mack.
  • Defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams clogged the line of scrimmage on a couple of running back Saquon Barkley carries.
  • Linebacker Carter Coughlin filled the hole nicely to tackle running back Saquon Barkley. Coughlin and linebacker Tae Crowder got into the backfield on a couple of blitzes.
  • Running back Wayne Gallman made a nice cut in the hole on a running play.
  • Wide receiver Alex Bachman made a nice move against cornerback Dravon Askew-Henry. Askew-Henry also tipped a pass that was caught by wide receiver Austin Mack.
  • Running back Saquon Barkley juked out linebacker Ryan Connelly in coverage.
  • Cornerback Jarren Williams saw his reps increased.
  • Cornerback Darnay Holmes broke up a pass.
  • A 24-minute video peek at today’s action is available on YouTube.

INJURY REPORT…
Everyone not on the various reserve lists practiced.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Thursday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at YouTube.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants hold an intra-squad scrimmage on Friday (10:45AM-12:45PM), with Head Coach Joe Judge and select players also addressing the media after the scrimmage. The players are off on Saturday.

Jul 282020
 
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Shakial Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (October 20, 2019)

Shakial Taylor – © USA TODAY Sports

ALL OF NEW YORK GIANTS 2020 NFL DRAFT CLASS SIGNED…
The New York Giants announced late yesterday that all 10 of their 2020 NFL Draft picks have officially signed. This includes offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round), safety Xavier McKinney (2nd round), offensive tackle Matt Peart (3rd round), cornerback Darnay Holmes (4th round), offensive guard Shane Lemieux (5th round), linebacker Cam Brown (6th round), linebacker Carter Coughlin (7th round), linebacker T.J. Brunson (7th round), defensive back Chris Williamson (7th round), and linebacker Tae Crowder (7th round).

ROSTER MOVES – GIANTS CLAIM CORNERBACK SHAKIAL TAYLOR…
The New York Giants have claimed defensive back Shakial Taylor off of waivers from the Denver Broncos. The 23-year old, 6’0”, 181-pound Taylor was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2019 NFL Draft. He was then claimed off of waivers by the Broncos in November 2019. Taylor played in five games and accrued seven tackles and one pass defense as a rookie.

The Giants have also waived undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Malcolm Elmore, who failed his physical due to a non-football injury.

Wide receiver David Sills was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, which means he either tested positive for the virus or came into contact with someone who did. While he remains on the list, Sill does not count against the team’s 90-man roster limit. The 6’3”, 211-pound Sills was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Sills to the Practice Squad in September 2019 after he was cut by the Bills. The Giants then signed him to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He did not play in a game however.

Quarterback Alex Tanney was placed on the Non-Football Illness List with an undisclosed issue. He counts against the 90-man roster limit. The Giants signed Tanney in May 2018 after after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. The 6’4”, 220-pound Tanney was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2012 NFL Draft. The well-traveled journeyman has spent time with the Chiefs (2012), Dallas Cowboys (2013), Cleveland Browns (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Titans (2014), Buffalo Bills (2015), Indianapolis Colts (2015), and Titans again (2015–2018). He surprisingly won the back-up quarterback job to Eli Manning in 2018, but was moved to third-string in 2019, being active for only one game.

Linebacker Tae Crowder was placed on the Non-Football Injury List with an undisclosed issue. He counts against the 90-man roster limit. The Giants selected Crowder in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

In other moves, the team officially announced that they have waived place kicker Aldrick Rosas. The signing of international player running back Sandro Platzgummer also became official.

GIANTS DECIDE TO GO SPLIT-SQUAD ROUTE…
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, NFL teams had to decide whether they wanted to reduce their training camp rosters on July 28 or August 16. The Giants have chosen the latter. But in doing so, the team must be split into (1) veteran and (2) rookies/first-year players/rehabbing players/select quarterbacks contingents until August 16. Teams will be allowed to begin practicing on August 17.

NEW YORK GIANTS VETERANS REPORTS TO CAMP…
As scheduled, the bulk of New York Giants players reported to training camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Tuesday. Quarterbacks, rookies, and rehabbing players reported on July 23.

Actual practices are not expected to be held until mid-August due to COVID-19 restrictions. All preseason games have been canceled. The Giants’ regular-season Monday night home opener is currently scheduled for September 14th. For the players who arrived on Tuesday, the current schedule looks like this:

  • July 28: Report and receive first test; return home/hotel and participate in virtual meetings.
  • July 29: Report and receive second test; return home/hotel and participate in virtual meetings.
  • July 30: Stay at home/hotel and only participate in virtual meetings.
  • July 31: Report and receive third test; participate in virtual meetings.
  • August 1-2: Players who test negative receive physicals and equipment fitting.
  • August 3-16: Strength and conditioning and on-field walk-throughs.
  • August 17: Helmet and shells practices begin, slowing being ramped up to full-padded work (14 padded practices maximum).

According to media reports, the Giants will conduct most training camp functions at MetLife Stadium in order to be better comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The home and away locker rooms at the stadium will allow for greater social distancing. The Giants will also have access to suites inside the stadium in order to hold team meetings. However, the Giants will still practice at nearby Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Practices will not be open to the public.

Jun 152020
 
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Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (September 29, 2019)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Defensive Backs

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: Heading into 2019, fans were generally upbeat about a secondary that was clearly in transition. The Giants had heavily invested in the position by drafting corners Deandre Baker (1st round), Julian Love (4th round), and Corey Ballentine (6th round) in the 2019 NFL Draft. At safety, the team had effectively swapped out Landon Collins (signed by Washington Redskins) and Curtis Riley (signed by Oakland Raiders) for Jabrill Peppers (part of Odell Beckham trade) and Antoine Bethea (signed after he was cut by the Arizona Cardinals). It was expected that Janoris Jenkins would rebound from a somewhat disappointing 2018 season and that Sam Beal (who missed his rookie season due to a shoulder injury) and Grant Haley (who started nine games as an undrafted rookie) would develop and improve. Michael Thomas provided depth and special teams value.

But it was a case of the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Once again, the Giants were one of the NFL’s worst in pass defense, finishing 28th. In the “you can’t make this shit up” category, the team’s best defensive back, Jenkins, was cut in December after calling a fan a “retard” on Twitter. Baker started 15-of-16 games as a rookie, but was very inconsistent with his work ethic being questioned. Nickel corner Haley regressed and was eventually benched. The injury-prone Beal was placed on IR in September with hamstring and groin injuries, added to the 53-man roster in early November, and missed the last game with another shoulder issue. Ballentine had to deal with being shot right after he was drafted and then being thrust into a nickel corner spot that he was clearly ill-suited to play.

At safety, despite being told by team officials that Bethea still had it, he clearly did not and was a significant liability at free safety both against the pass and the run. Peppers did not make much of impact and was lost for the season in November as his overall play was improving. Michael Thomas played in all 16 games with two starts but clearly wasn’t the answer. Julian Love was moved from cornerback to safety early. He ended up starting five games late in the season, flashing at times but also experiencing growing pains as a rookie.

Overall, the unit was a collective disappointment and a major reason the overall defense finished 25th in yards and 30th in points allowed.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: As mentioned, Janoris Jenkins was waived in December. S Michael Thomas was signed by the Texans and CB Antonio Hamilton was signed by the Chiefs. Safety Antoine Bethea remains an unsigned unrestricted free agent.

Grant Haley was re-signed as an exclusive rights free agent in January. The first player the Giants signed in free agency in March was CB James Bradberry (3-year, $43.5 million contract). S/special teams player Nate Ebner (UFA from Patriots) and CB Dravon Askew-Henry (cut by Steelers last year) were also signed.

The Giants drafted S Xavier McKinney (2nd round), CB Darnay Holmes (4th round), and CB/S Chris Williamson (7th round) in the 2020 NFL Draft. After the draft, rookie free agent additions included CB Christian Angulo, CB Malcolm Elmore, and S Jaquarius Landrews. S Montre Hartage was claimed off of waivers from the Dolphins after the draft as well.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: There is a lot going on here and thus each fan probably has their own top story line. Clearly, one is the offseason drama surrounding 2019 1st-round draft pick Deandre Baker, who may or may not make it to training camp depending on the outcome of his offseason legal troubles (four counts of armed robbery and four counts of armed aggravated assault with a firearm from a bizarre incident in Florida). My personal belief is that the Giants were counting on Baker to form a solid starting CB duo alongside high-priced James Bradberry. Will Baker even be a Giant in 2020? If he is, will he be suspended by the team or the NFL? Did he get scared straight and will he commit himself to the game? If Baker is not part of the equation, the pressure increases to find his replacement among Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine, Darnay Holmes, and possibly Julian Love. Are they up to the task? Can Beal stay healthy? Is Love athletic enough to handle corner at the NFL level? Will Ballentine shine more at outside corner rather than inside at nickel?

Speaking of the nickel spot, one would think the Giants would want Holmes to nail down the position if the rookie can handle it. But there are others possibly in the equation, including Love and maybe Williamson.

At safety, it would appear that Jabrill Peppers and Xavier McKinney will have the inside shot at starting, but the coaches may want to configure packages to get Love on the field as either a third safety or additional corner. Depth is still needed here with Sean Chandler (holdover from 2018/2019), Rashaan Gaulden (added late in 2019), Montre Hartage, Chris Williamson, and Jaquarius Landrews all competing to make the roster.

Big picture is this: for the past three seasons, the Giants have invested a tremendous amount of resources into the defensive backfield, including a trading for a former 1st-round pick (Peppers); spending $43 million on a corner in free agency (Bradberry); and drafting players in the 1st (Baker), 2nd (McKinney), 3rd (Beal),  4th (Love, Holmes), 6th (Ballentine), and 7th (Williamson) rounds. It’s time for the investment to deliver returns and for the Giants to get out of the NFL basement in pass defense.

ON THE BUBBLE: There are currently 18 defensive backs on the roster. Probably only nine or ten will make the final roster. The only sure bets are probably Bradberry, Holmes, Peppers, Love, and McKinney. Baker obviously isn’t safe. Beal has to prove he can be a reliable player.

PREDICTIONS: So much here depends on the new coaching staff, not just Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham but Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson, the latter coming from Atlanta where his unit struggled at times. It’s also interesting to note that Pat Shurmur holdover Anthony Blevins was moved from assistant special teams coach to assistant defensive backs coach. These three men have to develop all of the talent that been acquired in recent years.

In addition, so much depends on the legal and emotional status of Deandre Baker. He was (and still may be) and important piece of the puzzle. The expectation is that versatile Xavier McKinney, who many felt was the best safety in the draft, will be able to handle the starting free safety spot as a rookie.

My prediction is that if Baker is available and truly focused (two big ifs), this unit could be poised for a big turnaround. There were games last year where Baker did shut down his opponent. He can do it. But how important is the game to him? Usually you can’t count on a person to change their ways, but if anything was going to scare Baker straight, facing a long prison sentence might do the trick. Bradberry should be able to more than adequately handle the other corner spot, replacing Jenkins with less drama. The nickel corner should improve with Holmes, Love, or maybe Williamson an improvement over Haley and Ballentine.

At safety, the closer Peppers plays to the line of scrimmage, the more impact he makes. The drafting of McKinney should enable the coaching staff to play Peppers in a role best suited to his skills. I would not be shocked to see packages that get Peppers, McKinney, and Love all on the field together.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: James Bradberry, Deandre Baker, Sam Beal, Darnay Holmes, Corey Ballentine, Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Nate Ebner, Chris Williamson

I’m making some bold assumptions here: Baker being a Giant, Beal staying healthy, and Ballentine and Williamson showing enough to stick. Ebner is strictly a core special teams player who Joe Judge obviously targeted in free agency to lead his unit.

Jun 042020
 
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New York Giants Helmets (September 22, 2019)

© USA TODAY Sports

BABY STEPS – GIANTS BEGIN REOPENING TEAM FACILITY…
The New York Giants announced on Wednesday that the team has “started a slow, steady reopening” of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey “in accordance with the protocols of the State of New Jersey and the NFL.” The facility had been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 situation.

According to a Giants press release, approximately 15-20 team officials returned to the facility on Wednesday, including co-owner John Mara and General Manager Dave Gettleman as well as some football, business, operations, and medical staff. No coaches have yet returned.

The press release continues: “The number of employees in the facility will continue to increase slowly over the course of the next couple weeks with more business people filtering in. For the time being, those employees who can continue to work from home will do so.”

“We have been working diligently over the last couple months to prepare for coming back to the facility, the Quest Diagnostics Training Center,” said Senior Vice president of Medical Services Ronnie Barnes. “The primary focus has been to return our employees safely. And so everything that we have been doing has been related to the safety of our employees and how we can get back to work as safely as possible.

“We’re all happy to be back. We’ve been waiting for a long time. The Giants’ COVID-19 Task Force has been working hard to make this facility as safe as possible. We’ve made a lot of changes; those are all for (employees’) safety and they’re very important. We are following the CDC guidelines, the guidelines from the NFL and guidelines from the National Institute of Health, as well as the state’s protocols.”

DEANDRE BAKER UPDATE…
As previously reported, New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker was charged last month with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of armed aggravated assault with a firearm from an incident that allegedly took place at a house party in Miramar, Florida. The incident was allegedly sparked by a game of dice that involved high-stakes gambling and allegedly resulted in Baker robbing party guests at gunpoint. Baker was released on bond after he turned himself into police authorities.

Since the incident, the New York Giants told Baker to stay away from team offseason virtual meetings and concentrate on his ongoing legal situation.

In May, Baker’s attorneys claimed Baker was the victim of a shakedown. Now one of his attorneys believes Baker will soon be cleared of all charges. “I think we’ve got the case won, to be honest with you,” Baker’s attorney told SNY. “I think it’s only a matter of time…As soon this dismissal goes (through), he’s going to head back to Jersey and start practicing. If it becomes a charge, then the NFL will suspend him. So the Giants are really just playing it cool right now, which is the right thing to do. Just do nothing until the state makes a decision on what they’re going to do.”

However, even if Baker is legally cleared, the NFL could punish Baker for violating the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.

“Hopefully it’s a wake-up call for the young kid,” said Baker’s attorney. “That’s what he needed.”

The Giants drafted Baker in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Baker had an up-and-down rookie season for the Giants. He started 15 of the 16 games he played in, receiving 87 percent of defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 61 tackles and 8 pass defenses. He did not intercept a pass.

GIANTS.COM PLAYER BREAKDOWNS…
Giants.com has produced a number of informative players breakdowns on the New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft class:

ARTICLES…