He looked and sounded straight out of central casting, and for a franchise and a fan base that for most of the past decade has endured pure hell, Joe Schoen represents heaven-sent hope to bring Big Blue back.
No Ordinary Joe.
He came off as advertised … a relatable football guy, a team-first collaborator with smarts and poise, a genuine, humble, down-to-earth people person who knows how to evaluate people and players, and a driven leader comfortable in his own skin who knows what sustained success looks like and feels like and how to bring it to a fallen flagship franchise desperate for him to throw it a lifeline and rescue it from the depths of despair.
When John Mara joked that Schoen never complained about the middle seat in the back next to the restroom on the flight to his dream job at 1925 Giants Drive, No Ordinary Joe laughed and said: “Our private jet around here is called JetBlue. … Put me wherever you want to put me, I’m going to interview for the New York Giants, I’ll ride on the wing if you need me to.”
He is the long-awaited change agent, the breath of fresh air very much needed to vaporize a building and an operation gone stale.
“I also think he has really strong communication skills, and is gonna be able to unite the building,” Mara told The Post. “The communication hasn’t been the greatest in the building over the last couple of years, and I think with Joe’s addition, that’ll get straightened out.”
The Giants Way is now the Schoen Way:
“I look forward to putting my stamp on the team, and building a team that will be able to sustain success year in and year out and compete for championships.”
“I believe in drafting, developing and then retaining our own.”
“I think you can compete today and still build for tomorrow.”
“We can all talk about what the problems are, our job is to find solutions.”
“I don’t think you have to make wholesale changes. … If you work really hard, you’re a good person and you’re a good teammate, I can work with you all day.”
He has immersed himself in the draft, and is armed with the fifth and seventh picks and nine in all.
“I think more times than not, you miss on the kid more than you miss on the player, if that makes sense,” Schoen said.
That is a resounding no on Deshaun Watson and a yes for now on Daniel Jones as long as his neck is healed as he enters his fourth year with his third head coach and umpteenth offensive coordinator.
“We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up,” Mara said.
Schoen has heavy lifting to do to lift a fallen franchise up by the bootstraps, this strangulating Losing Syndrome culture and this sorry salary cap predicament, for example, so he and Mara are well aware that this is no overnight project.
“I want him to build the thing the right way,” Mara said.
Above and beyond all else, Schoen’s legacy will ultimately be whether he finds the right coach and the right quarterback.
“In this league to have sustained success,” Mara said, “you need three things — general manager, head coach and quarterback. We’ve got the general manager now, we’ll have the head coach hopefully within the next week, and I think we have the quarterback in the building, but that’s for the head coach and the general manager to decide.”
Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is considered the leader in Schoen’s clubhouse because of their familiarity with one another. Brooklyn-strong Brian Flores, an appealing heavyweight challenger, might very well need a 12th-round knockout of Daboll when he steps into the Big Blue ring on Thursday to answer questions about his reported power struggle in Miami with GM Chris Grier. Dan Quinn makes a ton of sense. Previous head-coaching experience is not a concern.
“You gotta be able to lead the team,” Schoen said. “You have to be able to put together a good staff. … I think you gotta be able to develop players. … It’s gonna be important that some of those young players may have to be major contributors for us in 2022, so the willingness to play young players. I think intelligence is important. I think being progressive in your approach to coaching, whether it’s with analytics — when to go, when not to go, when to punt — you gotta be open to sports performance, strength and conditioning. You gotta listen to the experts in their field.”
When you are trapped for what seems like an eternity in a dystopian never never land, you summon an energetic, fresh-faced man with a plan, a tireless consensus builder with a new vision who will have this once-in-a-lifetime chance to leave his own footprints.
Is it any wonder why Mara picked his brain on what sold the Bills on Josh Allen?
“Separate apart from his obvious physical skills and ability to throw the ball,” Mara said, “they felt like his intelligence level and football knowledge set him apart from maybe the other quarterbacks that were in that draft.”
GM. Head coach. Quarterback. On this day, at least Mara could leave the field house convinced he has found the GM of his dreams.
No Ordinary Joe.