When you’re 1-5, no one is spared from criticism. Especially from Giants president and co-owner John Mara, who could barely hide his contempt for the team’s brutal start.
Not long before gathering with his fellow owners Tuesday at the NFL’s annual October meetings in New York, the Giants president and co-owner ripped into his team and offered no excuses for putting up the same record after six games as last year’s team.
“I’m sick about it, particularly the way we’ve disappointed our fans,” Mara said. “To start out like this is very disappointing. I don’t think you ever expect to go 1-5. I’m still embarrassed being 1-5. I can’t stand up here and make any excuses about that. You are what your record says you are, as a wise man [Bill Parcells] once said. Nothing I can say that will make me feel better about that.”
Mara particularly is upset at star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who earned a $95-million contract extension over the summer but created plenty of controversy with his remarks in an ESPN interview that aired Oct. 7. In the interview, he questioned whether Eli Manning was the biggest problem with the offense, wondered whether coach Pat Shurmur was being out-schemed by opponents and suggested he wasn’t entirely happy living in the New York area.
“I wish he would create the headlines by his play on the field, as opposed to what he says and does off the field,” Mara said. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”
Mara said he did not talk to Beckham after the interview aired, although Beckham was fined by the team for his remarks.
“I think enough people have spoken to him,” Mara said.
Beckham’s questions about Manning may be accurate, because the 37-year-old quarterback has struggled this season. In a league where passing offenses routinely are putting up huge point totals – the average of 48.3 points per game is the highest in NFL history after six games – Manning’s numbers are decidedly tepid. He has only six touchdown passes and four interceptions.
Mara acknowledged Manning’s struggles, although he didn’t blame just the quarterback for the weak offense.
“I think when you’re 1-5, it generally means that everybody needs to play better,” Mara said. “So [Manning] is not alone. A lot of guys just need to do their jobs.”
Is the team still committed to Manning?
“We still believe in him,” Mara said, then paused a moment. “He’s been our quarterback. He’s still under contract. I know he’s the punching bag right now, but a lot of guys need to play better. When you’re 1-5, it’s not just him. Everybody needs to do their jobs in order for us to be successful, and right now, that’s not happening.”
Mara wouldn’t say whether it might be time to get a look at rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta, a fourth-round pick out of Richmond.
“I’ll leave that up to the coach and the general manager,” he said.
The Giants elected not to draft Manning’s replacement with the second overall pick last April, choosing instead to take Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who is off to a terrific start with 438 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.
“We went best player in the draft, and I still believe he’s the best player in the draft,” he said. “I’m thrilled with what he’s accomplished so far, and I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
Despite the brutal start, Mara believes Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman have what it takes to rebuild the team into a winner.
“The one thing I will say about this season is I’m very confident we have the right guys in the building to turn this around,” Mara said. “I’m not sure it’s going to be a quick fix, but I’m confident in Dave and in Pat that they’ll get the job done.”
At 1-5, there won’t be a quick fix.
“I think we have more talent on the roster than 1-5,” Mara said. “But what does that mean? We’re 1-5.”