It will not be an easy turnaround, and there are no guarantees that Joe Schoen indeed will be the one to transform the Giants into winners again after a decade’s worth of misfortune. But take it from Bill Parcells: If there is anyone who is well prepared to take on the massive challenge of lifting the Giants from the NFL’s worst team to one of the best, it’s Schoen.
"He’ll be ready to go to work," Parcells said Friday from his home in south Florida after the Giants named Schoen as general manager Dave Gettleman’s successor. "He’s a serious guy."
Parcells first got to know Schoen after being introduced by his good friend, Dan Henning, who was the Panthers’ offensive coordinator when Schoen and Brandon Beane were young personnel executives in Carolina.
Parcells hired Schoen for the Dolphins’ front office in 2008, when the Hall of Fame coach of the Giants and Jets became Miami’s executive vice president of football operations.
"Brandon Beane and Joe and Sean McDermott were with Carolina as young guys in their 20s, and that’s where I first met him," Parcells said. "Joe worked with us in Miami, and I like Joe very much personally. I really formed my opinion of him from working with him in Miami. He’s a very good evaluator and he is a serious football man."
Beane went on to become the Bills’ general manager in 2017, bringing Schoen with him as assistant GM. Under their watch, Buffalo has become one of the NFL’s best teams by drafting with patience and with purpose.
The Bills found their quarterback in Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick in 2018 and have built around him by solidifying every position through the draft and a handful of key free-agent moves and trades, including the deal that brought Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs to the Bills in 2020.
Allen’s selection, of course, was the key move, and it came at a time when the Giants and Jets made their own fateful decisions. With the second overall pick, Gettleman took Penn State running back Saquon Barkley during the twilight of Eli Manning’s career, thinking that Manning still had years left and Barkley could help ignite one more Super Bowl run. With the third overall pick, the Jets landed USC quarterback Sam Darnold, believing they had found their next Joe Namath.
Both decisions proved misguided. Barkley hasn’t been the same since a superb rookie season and Darnold isn’t even with the Jets anymore. Allen, meanwhile, has become a generational talent at quarterback, a strong-armed passer who can run nearly as well as he can throw.
If Giants fans want to see a best-case scenario of what their team can become under Schoen, who was a major factor in Beane’s roster transformation, they ought to pay particular attention to Sunday’s AFC divisional-round playoff matchup between Buffalo and Kansas City. The Bills reached the second round with a resounding wild-card victory over Bill Belichick’s Patriots, and Sunday’s game in Kansas City could determine the AFC’s Super Bowl participant.
The Bills are one of the most complete teams in football, with the league’s No. 1 defense and with Allen powering an electrifying offense.
The Giants also might see their next head coach in that game: Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier ought to be near the top of Schoen’s list of successors to Joe Judge. Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy also are worthy of consideration.
It will be a monumental decision for Schoen, just as hiring the general manager was a critical first step for Giants co-owner John Mara and Steve Tisch, who completed the most exhaustive GM search in franchise history. The Giants had gotten spoiled from the time George Young began to turn things around in 1979, and they never had to go outside the organization until now.
Gettleman, the former Giants personnel executive who became the Panthers’ GM, flamed out spectacularly and forced the owners to take a new — and necessary — approach.
And out of it comes Schoen, who has their seal of approval. And Parcells’ affirmation, too, although the former coach did not speak directly to Mara or Tisch during the search.
"Steve and I were both impressed with all nine candidates," Mara said. "We came away from this process feeling like all nine will be a general manager in this league at some point. We just felt like Joe was the right fit at the right time for us."
He now faces the herculean task of lifting the Giants from a years-long funk, although the path forward might be a bit less complicated than you think.
"There’s a lot of work to be done there, and you never know how these things will turn out," Parcells said. "The GM’s job is to get players for the organization. If they do a good job with that, they’ll be successful."
Welcome to Joe Schoen’s new world.