Speaking to the media for the first time since his team’s disastrous season ended, Giants owner John Mara admitted that he was embarrassed by how things panned out.
Just how embarrassing was the Giants’ finish to the season? Mara said it was the lowest point of his time in charge of the franchise.
“I kept thinking during the season that we had hit rock bottom, and then each week it got worse,” Mara told reporters when asked how he felt about the team’s performance in 2021. “So honestly, I’m not proud of saying this, but if I’m going to be 100 percent honest, I would have to say the answer is yes.”
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It’s hard to argue with Mara’s assessment. The Giants finished the season 4-13 and closed the season on a six-game losing streak. Their offense struggled immensely during the six game skid. They averaged a measly 9.3 points per game and scored 10 points or fewer in five of those six contests. Meanwhile, their defense allowed an average of 32.6 points. Simply put, they were not competitive.
That was not acceptable to Mara, who referenced how the team had hope coming into the 2021 season. Coach Joe Judge led the team to just a 6-10 record in 2020, but the team had finished the year going 5-3 in their final eight games. With Saquon Barkley returning from a torn ACL and two new receivers joining the fold in Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, the Giants were supposed to improve, especially if Daniel Jones could take a step forward.
Instead, the team regressed under Judge’s watch. Surprisingly, though, Judge survived Black Monday. GM Dave Gettleman announced his retirement on Monday, however.
Then, Tuesday came around.
Mara explained Wednesday the decision wasn’t made on one factor alone. It was more a combination of the team’s poor performance and Joe Judge’s strange end-of-season news conferences where he called out a former Giants coach and Washington’s team before their final week matchup, among other issues within the locker room.
“I can’t say there was one specific act that was the last straw,” Mara said. “It was just a culmination of things. We just got to a point where I thought we had dug ourselves a hole so deep that I didn’t see a clear path to getting out of it unless we completely blew it up and started all over again with a new general manager and a new head coach.”
Still, Mara didn’t criticize Judge on his way out of the door despite his decision to move on from the 40-year-old coach.
“I still think that there is a really good head coach inside of Joe Judge,” Mara said. “I just felt like given where we are right now, on the verge of bringing in a new general manager, we have to give that person the flexibility to bring in the head coach that he wants. And I think that was a large part of the decision and making a major change. I just felt like we really needed to just start from the ground up again.”
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The latest rebuild will mark the fourth restart in the last six seasons by the Giants, and the second turnover in which both the coach and general manager are out at the same time. Both Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur lasted just two years before Judge, but Mara is confident that he will find the right fit this time around — even though he knows the fans might not be as confident.
But first things first, the Giants are looking to hire a general manager. They wasted no time interviewing Buffalo Bills assistant general manager Joe Schoen for the open spot along with Cardinals VP of Pro Personnel Adrian Wilson as they look to get their front office set before the coaching staff.
“[The GM] will lead the search for a head coach but those decisions always are subject to final approval by ownership,” Mara said, while also vowing to complete a “more extensive” process than the one that led them to hire Judge.
We’ll see if they can get it right this time.
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