“The bar is set very high here and we didn’t get the job done. I wish I had something clever to say to you guys, but that’s soup to nuts. We didn’t get the job done. I’ll open the floor for questions.”
Q: Do you understand why you weren’t able to get the job done this season?
A: Well, it’s a combination of a lot of things probably. Right now, we’ll go in and evaluate everything that happened and look closely at the games we lost and why we lost them. We’ll try to correct those things in the offseason.
Q: Does it frustrate you that you have so much talent on this team, yet there were some games where it seemed like nothing could go right?
A: It’s very frustrating when you go out there and you see us play very well at some point during the season and then at other times, we don’t play very well. It’s a head scratcher a little bit for me and for the head coach and for everybody in the organization. Why can’t we be more consistent and play at a high level every week? But it’s the National Football League. Nobody plays at a high level every weekend. You see some of the teams…it’s a week to week league. Some weeks it’s Houston that’s on top, then Green Bay’s on top, then New England’s on top. It’s a tough league. It’s a hard league, but if you want to be good, you have to play consistent every weekend.
Q: Do you see this team that finished 9-7 as a team that needs to get better in terms of your record next year?
A: 9-7…yeah. We don’t get paid here for the Giants to go 9-7. We got away with that last year, things worked out for us, but we don’t go into our season saying, “Man, let’s go 9-7.” We look at our schedule and I think most teams look at their schedule and say, if you can get to double-digit wins, you’re going to have a great opportunity to get into the postseason. That doesn’t always happen. The Bears, they go 10-6 and they don’t get in. A couple years ago we go 10-6 and we didn’t get in the playoffs. That’s not a given either. We don’t go into the season saying, “Wow, let’s go 9-7.” Again, we set the bar very high here and we didn’t get the job done. Like I said, I wish I could say something clever to make it sound good, but we didn’t get the job done.
Q: Did you see this as a lost opportunity in terms of the talent you had on your team?
A: Our goal is to win a championship every year and when you don’t win it, it’s an opportunity lost as far as I’m concerned. We felt like there were some talented players on the roster, but it really doesn’t matter because we didn’t come together as a team at the right team. We could’ve closed the division out a couple times and we didn’t get the job done. That’s really disappointing because we had plenty of chances. You want to go into the season saying, “We have a nice roster. We’re going to be relevant.” We were relevant up until yesterday and still had a slim shot to make it in Week 17, but we should’ve closed the division out a couple weeks before we even got to yesterday. We didn’t do it. That’s disappointing for us.
Q: Do you believe that you still have a core in place to get back to the Super Bowl?
A: I don’t think we’re that far off, to be honest with you. This team will look different next year, but I think we’ll have a good core of players coming back and I think we can see what we can do in free agency in the offseason. Of course, we always have the draft. We’ll start rebuilding a team and the evaluation process has started already. We put our heads together and we let our emotions die down a little bit and really step back and see what happened. Why are we not playing right now? There are 20 other teams having this same conversation right now. It’s not unique to us. Everybody goes into the season hoping that they’ll have a chance to make the playoffs and have a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
Q: Can you go through your draft picks and what you saw from them this year?
A: We picked David Wilson. David flashed some things and he looked like the guy we thought he could be. Again, you fumble the ball early on in the season and that kind of set him back. Coaches get a little bit nervous when young players…you put them in and they turn the ball over early in the game. He proved himself and got back in there and we think he’s going to be a terrific player for us. He’s a dynamic, really kind of a world class athlete. We think he has a bright future for us.
Rueben Randle, we picked him second. Again, we talked about him in the first round as well. He came on late. I think he started a game right in the middle of the season somewhere and flashed some things. We think he can be a terrific player for us as well in our receiver stable.
Hosley. He had some injury issues, but we think he’s going to be a terrific young player for us as well. I really think he can help us as a punt returner as well. You saw him return some punts in the preseason, but after he hurt his foot and had some injuries there, we took him off the punt return duties, but we think he’s going to be a really good player for us. He has that “moxy” about him that you like. He had some growing pains like all rookies do, but he flashed some things that we like from him as a third round pick.
Adrien (Robinson). Adrien, he did a lot of good things in practice and unfortunately he wasn’t able to get a suit much during the season. I think he only got a suit a couple of times during the year. We still have very high hopes for him. He’s a big, talented guy that’s fast and can run and can do all the things. But again, it’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to get him the suit on Sundays and get him some experience playing in the National Football League. We hope he’ll continue to develop…have an offseason under his belt to go through. Hopefully he’ll be able to help us moving forward as a tight end in our tight end stable.
Sixth? The two young offensive linemen (Brandon) Mosley and (Matt) McCants. They’re both developmental kids and they’ll have the offseason program and hopefully they can give us some depth and who knows? Maybe one of them will be a starter at some point.
We picked the big defensive tackle, (Markus) Kuhn, in the seventh round. He came on and did some nice stuff for us and obviously hurt his knee, but we think he’s going to be healthy and back ready to play and be a big imposing figure in the middle for us at our defensive tackle position.
Q: Did you expect Wilson to take a little while to transition in regard to pass protection?
A: I’m not a coach. Your talented players, you want to try and get them out there as much as you can. Again, with young running backs, that’s the number one thing you hear about a lot of the time; if you’re not going to give them the ball every time he’s out there, he has to pass protect and you don’t want your quarterback getting hit because your runner doesn’t pass protect for him. That’s part of the maturation process for running backs and he’s no different from a lot of the other running backs. Nothing we can do about this season. He played the amount of plays that he played, so it is what it is. Hopefully next year he’ll be up and running quickly and he’ll know what he’s doing and we can see a dynamic player.
Q: How difficult is it to evaluate a player like Justin Tuck who admits that his last two seasons were below par?
A: Justin has been a good player for a long time for us. Obviously he didn’t play as good as he wanted to play and as good as we wanted him to play, but it’s not just Justin. I don’t think you single anybody out. Here with the Giants, we win as a team and we lose as a team. You can’t single any one player out. I know you’re asking individually about Justin, but he wanted to play better, we wanted him to play better, he’s not getting any younger, but I think he’s got a lot of tread left on his tires and we expect him to come back and be the Justin Tuck we know.
Q: How difficult is it to separate the emotion from the evaluation process?
A: It’s never personal, guys. We evaluate everybody. There’s going to be changes. There’s changes every year. It’s part of the business. There are some guys…that’s probably the hardest part of my job. I’ve said this to you guys many times that when you have to go in there and tell people like David Tyree or Amani Toomer, guys like that, “Ok, we’re going to go a different direction,” that’s always hard to do. That’s my job. That’s what I have to do and when it’s time to move on for players and go a different direction, we have to do that, but it’s never personal. It is a hard part of my job.
Q: Are you nervous that another team may approach Martellus Bennett and offer him a salary that you guys are not comfortable matching?
A: It can happen. Absolutely it could happen. Again, free agency, guys are free to shop themselves on the market. That’s what free agency is. All players like to get to free agency and Martellus is a free agent. Again, we’re in the evaluation process, we’ll see how it plays out. I think he did do a good job for us for a guy coming in. The system is not easy to learn. Our offensive system is a lot…you have to read the defense on the run and I think he did a pretty good job with that. I think he ended up with 55-56 catches, over 600 yards and five touchdowns (55 receptions for 626 yards and five TDs). He did a nice job, but that could happen.
Q: Do you think tight ends are going up in income nowadays?
A: Well, I don’t know. There’s several good tight ends around the league and the salary structure, it is what it is. The salary cap is what it is. It’s pretty flat still. The money is what it is. Are the tight end salaries going up? Probably a little bit because there’s been some terrific tight end play as of late in the last couple years.
Q: Do you expect Marc Ross to be targeted for some GM positions around the league?
A: Everything I see from people like yourselves says that Marc the hot prospect. We’ll see. Marc has done a terrific job for us. If he ends up going somewhere else, it will be a loss for us, but we’ll be happy for him if that’s the way it goes down.
Q: Are you expecting to get a long-term deal locked up with Victor Cruz?
A: All that is part of the evaluation process. Obviously we talked a little during the season about an extension with him, but obviously it didn’t work out. We’ll see what happens during this offseason.
Q: Is the deal that you were negotiating during the season off the table?
A: Everything is on the table.
Q: What did you think about the progress of the linebackers this year?
A: Well, the linebacker corps, Chase (Blackburn) was in there, Michael Boley was in there, Jacquian (Williams) was hurt some, (Mark) Herzlich played some the latter part of the season from scrimmage quite a bit, (Spencer) Paysinger played some. The unit, they did okay. I think the unit as a whole could do better. (Keith) Rivers is another guy who had some injuries through the season. I do think it was a banged up unit for the most part of the season. I do think we have to have better linebacker play moving forward.
Q: What do you think was the main problem for your defense that finished 31st in the league?
A: It goes hand-in-hand. Part of what happens with the defense is what happens with the offense. What happens with the special teams…everything encompasses what happens with the defense. You’d like your defense to just go out there and shut people down and get thee-and-outs all the time, but I think the offenses…the National Football League is structured for the offense to be dynamic and I think it’s tough for the defense a lot of the time. It’s no excuse. We expect our defense to play better than that. We think we had some good players defensively. There were some plays that needed to be made that didn’t get made. Moving forward, we have to look at that and I think we have to make more plays defensively.
Q: What did you think about your cornerback play, especially Corey Webster in Baltimore?
A: Corey got targeted some days. A cornerback has some bad days. It was a bad game and I think Corey expects himself to play better. We expect him to play better. Prince (Amukamara) had some injury issues again, but when he was in there, he played pretty solid. Cornerback is a tough position. You’re out there by yourself a lot of the time and you get targeted a lot. Some days at the office you have some bad days and in the Baltimore game, Corey had a bad day.
Q: What about your safeties this season?
A: We felt like they were good players. Stevie Brown, he had a terrific season with respect to intercepting the football and we looked at him as a free agent, we liked him. He really caught our eyes as a special teamer. That’s where he really caught our eye, as a special teamer. We thought he was a young kid that had some upside. He was a nice guy to sign as a free agent to ascend and he definitely did that. Our personnel staff did a good job digging him out and he did a good job making some plays back there for us. Will Hill is a young player who played really good on special teams and when he got to play from scrimmage, he did a nice job for us back there as well. Of course, Kenny (Phillips) was banged up during the season. Antrel (Rolle) plays all over the place.
Q: Osi Umenyiora said there was a high probability that he could be gone, do you think that’s the case?
A: The evaluation process will take care of itself. Osi has been a terrific player for us. I tell you guys this all the time, he’s one of my all-time favorite players in the National Football League. Not just Giant, all-time favorite players. I was happy to see him stay healthy this season and when he’s a healthy guy, he’s another guy that has some tread left on his tires. He’s still got a lot of football left in him.
Q: Do you have any idea about what happened with the pass-rush this season?
A: Well, there’s other coaching staffs, they get paid too. “The Giants have this big, tough defensive front so we’re not going to drop back five-seven steps. We’re going to three step drop. We’re going to chip defensive ends and we’re not going to let these guys wreck our entire offense.” These coaches get paid for strategizing for their team as well. We saw a lot of teams do a lot of quick-game stuff against us; get the ball out of quarterback’s hands quickly. Again, sacks are a little bit overrated. I say this, too. Sacks are a little bit overrated. You have to chase guys out of there. We didn’t get a lot of sacks last night on the guy, but we chased him off his spot some. You just have to chase the quarterback off his spot. You don’t have to sack him all the time, but if you let him sit back there, the quarterbacks are too good in this league, you’re going to get beat if you can’t chase them off their spot. Just a sack in itself, we didn’t have the numbers that we’ve had in the past, but there’s a reason for that. Coaching staffs on other teams, they get paid too.
Q: What do you think about your offensive line and at right tackle? Could we see James Brewer there in the future?
A: Well again, the process is what it is. We evaluate and see where everybody is. We do expect James Brewer to continue to develop kind of like Will Beatty did. David (Diehl) has been a terrific player for us. We’ll evaluate David. Everybody on the entire team will get evaluated… (Chris) Snee, (David) Baas, Kevin Bootheis a free agent. Will Beatty is a free agent. There’s a lot of work to do and wish we were playing instead of evaluating our players right now, but we’re not, so we’re moving forward. No crying in football. We’ll regroup and we’ll get better for next year.
Q: I think you have 23 free agents…is that more than normal?
A: It’s a pretty big number, but nothing we can’t handle.
Q: Any updates on Terrell Thomas?
A: I haven’t talked to Terrell Thomas lately. I’m not sure. I know he had this surgery, but as of late, I have not spoken to him. We’ll investigate that and see where he is and see what we can do with respect to him as well.
Q: Isn’t there some wiggle-room in his contract that you guys could get out of the deal?
A: We’ll see. We’ll see where he is and we’ll exercise all of our options. We keep all of our options open.
Q: How can you evaluate Hakeem Nicks this season based on his limited time and battling injury?
A: We’ll take into consideration that he battled through the season injured. We expect him to get healthy. He’ll be back next year. He’s really one of the linchpins of our offense. For him to be banged up most of the season, I think that hampered some of the things we were trying to do. We expect him to get healthy and be back 100% and be the Hakeem Nicks that we know.