John Mara something less than proud of Giants' season
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The word of the day Sunday was "proud.'' The Giants were pleased with the way they held together through an arduous season, the fact that they won seven of their last 10 games and their ranking as the No. 8 defense in the NFL. In the glow of a season-capping win over the Redskins, Tom Coughlin said he was proud of that, and many of the players echoed it.
On Monday, when the entirety of the flop of a season could start to be digested, that mood turned. And when team president and CEO John Mara took to the stage for his end-of-the-year news conference, the word "pride'' did not emanate from his mouth or posture. In fact, it was just the opposite.
"Obviously, this is a very disappointing season, as disappointing a year as any in my memory," the boss of Big Blue said somberly. "I know I speak for [co-owner] Steve Tisch that we are bitterly disappointed with the results this year. I think our fans deserve better and we vow that we'll do everything that we have to do to improve."
General manager Jerry Reese put it less delicately just a few minutes earlier.
"Seven-and-nine [stinks]," he said, reflecting on the team's final record.
Though the organization's hierarchy will remain in place -- Mara backed Reese, Reese backed Coughlin -- the brass made it clear that not everyone will be back. Evaluations of the coaching staff will begin later this week, and changes are expected after the team missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
Reese began the season by putting everyone on notice. Now he seems to be fulfilling that threat.
"I anticipate there will be changes," he said.
Later, he ominously added that it would be "disrespectful" to speculate on the futures of coaches who "have been here a long time and helped us win a lot of games."
That seemed to put offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride in the crosshairs. Eli Manning threw a team-record 27 interceptions and was sacked a career-high 39 times. The unit ranked 28th in yards and points scored, 19th in passing and 29th in rushing. The Giants had 44 turnovers that led to 137 opponent points, and their pace of 83.3 rushing yards per game was their lowest since they averaged 76.9 yards in 1945.
"I think our offense is broken right now and we need to fix that," Mara said. "We need to make some improvements on our defense, too, but obviously on the offensive side of the ball, we have to improve. We can't go into next season with the same personnel."
"There is definitely some reconstruction that has to be done," Reese added, with a slightly larger scope than just one side of the ball in mind. "I'm not sure where you start. It all has to be fixed."
Mara and Reese spoke about the personnel of the team, noting that the Giants took too many chances in the draft and overvalued some players on the roster. Mara even poked at himself, remembering that he began the season by saying he thought the roster was as talented as they'd had in years.
"Obviously,'' he said, "I was mistaken."
But it came back to coaching, too. Mara wondered aloud why it took three years to get Jerrel Jernigan onto the field; he scored three touchdowns in the last two games.
He said he'd like to see more from younger players, give them "a chance to fail." That seemed to be commentary about the use (or lack of use) of players such as running back David Wilson and defensive end Damontre Moore.
Coughlin has always been exceedingly loyal to his coaching staff, and over the years, there have been relatively few changes. But it will be hard for him to protect his assistants from the types of numbers that were assembled this season, especially when upper management still is wringing its hands about how close the team should have been to making the playoffs and potentially advancing to a home Super Bowl.
"For us to start out 0-6 is a little bit of a mystery," Reese said. "If we do anything the first half of the season, in those first six games, we have a chance to be playing for something [on Sunday]."
Instead, they were dissecting the season Monday and contemplating a different-looking Giants organization.