Joe Schoen lays out clear philosophy as Giants GM: ‘Find solutions’
Cut through all the words and the messaging and the specifics of what Joe Schoen intends to change and instill in the Giants and it comes down to this:
“We can all talk about what the problems are,’’ Schoen said Wednesday, his very big day. “Our job is to find solutions.’’
This is why the Giants hired Schoen last week as their new general manager and why five days later they introduced him and billed him as the right man at the right time to fix what ails their franchise. The problems are many, often glaring and fairly obvious — a team does not lose 73 percent of its games in the past five seasons without many, glaring and obvious problems.
Schoen, 42, arrives after a productive four-year stay in Buffalo, where as the right-hand man to general manager Brandon Beane he helped engineer an immediate turnaround. After a 17-year postseason drought, the Bills made the playoffs in 2018, the first year of the Beane-Schoen partnership.
How long will it take with the Giants?
“I’m not a big tear it up, rebuild — I think you can truly build a roster when you can compete for today and build for tomorrow,’’ Schoen said.
The Giants sent general manager Dave Gettleman off into retirement and then fired head coach Joe Judge after a 4-13 season — despite co-owner John Mara’s assurance that he would be more patient with Judge than he was with Ben McAdoo (fired after 28 games) and Pat Shurmur (fired after two years).
Mara said he has not issued any time frame for Schoen to turn things around.
“I’m looking at this as a process,’’ Mara said. “I haven’t told him ‘Joe we better make the playoffs next year, otherwise you’re outta here.’ I want him to build the thing the right way and give us a chance for sustained success. I’m not giving him any specific demands for next year. Just build the team the right way.’’
Can there be a quick turnaround?
“I expect us to be a heckuva lot better than four wins next year,’’ Mara said.
The head-coach search is paramount and pressing. Schoen and ownership have already interviewed Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. Patrick Graham, the Giants’ defensive coordinator, interviewed Wednesday. Brian Flores, fired by the Dolphins, comes in on Thursday and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier meets with the Giants on Friday.
Schoen, with his wife, two daughters and one son sitting in the first row, was soft-spoken and poised in his first public appearance as the man in charge, fielding questions comfortably and often quite honestly. His first connection with the Giants was a Jan. 15 teleconference interview and afterwards, he said he told his wife, Marie, “That’s a job I want. I want to go get that job. It’s right for us.’’
Schoen inherits a financial mess, with the Giants listed as $5.7 million over the salary cap. He said his team-building vision is to build through the draft and use free agency only to augment the roster. This is a good approach for what comes next, as the Giants will not have much money to spend.
“It’s a concern and it’s real,’’ Schoen said of the Giants’ salary cap constraints.
In Buffalo, Schoen was a big part of the evaluation process that made Josh Allen the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. A year later, the Giants made Daniel Jones the No. 6 pick. Schoen did everything but endorse Jones as the quarterback in 2022.
“The kid has physical ability, he’s got arm strength, he’s athletic, he can run,’’ Schoen said. “I’m really excited to work with Daniel and, again, when the new staff gets in here, we’ll build an offense around Daniel to accentuate what he does best.’’
Mara said the Giants have not been fair to Jones.
“We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here,’’ Mara said. “We keep changing coaches, keep changing offensive coordinators, keep changing offensive line coaches, I take a lot of responsibility for that.’’
The Gettleman-Judge relationship deteriorated badly from Year 1 to Year 2. Schoen is here to fix that.
“The communication hasn’t been the greatest in the building over the last couple of years,’’ Mara said. “I think with Joe’s addition that will get straightened out.’’
Lack of communication had nothing to do with the woeful offensive line, where four new starters might be warranted. Schoen did not parse words here: “You got to get better players, that’s the best way to fix it,’’ he said.
Gettleman lasted four years on the job. The Giants are looking for their fifth head coach in the last eight years. Schoen and Mara both spoke of the need for continuity. The lack of it is what has defined the franchise for far too long.
“I’m dying to get off of this train,’’ Mara said. “I hate being in the position we are in right now. I want continuity, I want somebody that’s going to be in the building for a long period of time, I don’t want to do another one of these press conferences for many, many years.’’