John Mara brings the thunder
The Giants had an end-of-the-season press conference, starting with head coach Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese. Their comments were very vanilla and didn’t really reveal anything.
Then John Mara, team owner and son of the late Wellington Mara, stepped up to the podium. And he was PISSED. Here are some comments from Mara about the team.
“I’m probably as disappointed as I’ve ever been in my life at this team.”
“There are 8-8 seasons … but this one felt a lot more like 2-14 to me.”
“We did have some injuries but I don’t think we had catastrophic injuries.”
“The status quo is not acceptable on any level. We need to do something. And I will be expecting them (Coughlin and Reese) to give me their recommendations.”
“I’m sure I’ll cool down at some point, but obviously I’m not very happy right now. And they know that.”
“When you have that many games where you get blown out, there’s something wrong, and it means that something has got to be done.”
Mara also said that he would wait to cool down before making any decisions, but there is a lot of get over from the last two weeks. The Giants organization prides itself on its toughness, but there was a “lack of mental and physical toughness, and frankly a lack of effort the last two weeks. It was something I never expected to see from these players.”
Mara did not address the players at all during the season’s turmoil, but looking back, perhaps he should have.
He said he’s not going to tell Coughlin how to coach the team, but the team needs to do something about the coaching staff. When asked how he would react if Coughlin wanted to keep the staff intact and assured better results, it would still be a tough pill to swallow.
Mara said he felt the Carolina loss more than any other loss before. He’s been around a long time and thought he’d seen everything. But he said he didn’t see this coming, especially not the last two weeks. He couldn’t understand how the team collapsed after the Mario Manningham fumble in the first quarter. he said the score was still 0-0. Just stop them.
Mara acknowledged that the Giants spent a lot of money in free agency and didn’t get the results they expected. Perhaps the team wasn’t as good as they thought it was.
He said there was a definite lack of leadership. There were a couple of players capable of stepping up, but was disappointed that no one really ever emerged.
He thought the receiving core was the best part of the team, but nothing was more disappointing to him than the lack of pressure the defensive line got on the opposing quarterbacks.
Regarding Osi Umenyiora’s comments after the Carolina loss, where Osi basically suggested he might be done as a Giant, Mara stated that he didn’t take much stock in the comments. He joked about how he used to be in the locker room when Harry Carson suggested he would retire and going into Iran to rescue the hostages. He said that Osi was a competitor and he expected Umenyiora to be a big part of the team in the future.
Finally, Mara stated that Coughlin and Reese’s jobs are safe. There had been some speculation, especially from ProFootballTalk.com, that Coughlin might be on the hot seat. But it would appear that Coughlin will be the head coach in 2010.
As a fan, it was a very uplifting response from the team’s owner. Coughlin and Reese sounded very business-like with their comments, but Mara spoke like a fan. He was the fan’s voice in all of this. He demonstrated more passion in a 10-minute conversation with the media than the Giants did in their last 120 minutes of football this season. It’s good to see that someone is taking this seriously.
Based on Mara’s comments, it sounds like defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan is a goner. No idea on the rest of the staff, however. For the record, I would be shocked if the Giants responded everything like the Buffalo Bills, who fired their entire staff today. But if the Giants bring in an established coach as a new DC, and he wants to bring in his own position coaches, there could be a big turnover on the coaching staff. Two hours ago, I would have said that the Giants’ habit of being loyal to their players and coaches migght prevent a big name from coming in as the DC, but after hearing Mara’s comments, I don’t see that being a problem anymore.
There is speculation that offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride coming get the axe, but I don’t expect it. While I disagree was some of Gilbride’s decisions, you can’t argue that Eli Manning had flourished since Gilbride took over for John Hufnagel as OC. However, Al Davis reported was very interested in Gilbride last offseason before finally deciding on Tom Cable, and Steve Corkran of the Silicon Valley Mercury News has reported that Davis may be about to fire Cable.
The Giants have historically been a praise publicly, criticize privately, kind of team. So this is out of character, but appreciated by the fans. And I have to wonder, if Mara said this publicly, I wonder what he’s saying behind closed doors. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that…