Sports

Mara: Giants GM not on hot seat, wins overdue

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Co-owner John Mara believes this is an important year for the New York Giants. It just doesn’t mean that general manager Dave Gettleman is necessarily on the hot seat.

Instead, the entire organization should be on notice.

“We’re all on the hot seat, with our fans in particular,” Mara said Tuesday in his summer State of the Giants address. “We’ve given them too many losing seasons. It’s time for us to start winning. But no, I wouldn’t say [Gettleman is on the hot seat]. I wouldn’t say that’s an accurate statement.”

The Giants have won 15 games in the three seasons since Gettleman took over as GM. They were in contention for the NFC East title last year heading into the final week, in part because of the division’s overall struggles.

Gettleman was active in free agency this offseason and has a third-year quarterback in Daniel Jones that he drafted sixth overall. He conceded in a recent interview that this was an important year for Jones, and that was “stating the obvious.”

That would seem to apply to Gettleman as well.

“Well, I think it’s the same for the entire organization,” Mara said. “I want to see us make progress and become a winning team again. We’re overdue on that and we spent a lot of money in free agency. I think we’ve had a couple of really productive drafts, now it’s time to prove it on the field.”

Mara seems to expect this team to compete for a playoff spot this season. He believes they are headed in the right direction.

That is why there never was a serious conversation at the end of the season to replace Gettleman. Giants ownership liked the way he worked with coach Joe Judge in their first year together.

But at some point it has to lead to wins and Super Bowl contention. Those are the expectations. What that means for this season was left to interpretation by Mara. Ownership will decide based on their feeling and the evidence at the end of the season.

Gettleman pointed out other accomplishments he’s had since becoming GM.

“Objectively speaking, I don’t put that kind of win total, a number on it,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve done a lot of things. I feel like I really love Joe and the process that he brought, that we brought. We worked really hard since I got here in terms of not only on the on-the-field operations but the off-field operations. We made big changes in our football operation and how we operate.

“Really and truly, my goal when I got here was when I left, that whenever I leave here and however I leave here, that we set this team up, both on the field and off the field; that has been my goal, and I feel like we’ve done that and I’m excited to see what happens on the field this year.”

The Giants are hoping that includes running back Saquon Barkley, who is still a limited participant in practice coming off an ACL tear last season. He has missed 17 games the past two seasons combined.

But Gettleman remained bullish on the star running back who he selected second overall in the 2018 NFL draft.

“Really and truly I would not make a different decision today that I made in 2018,” Gettleman said. “Plain and simple.”

Barkley is playing on the final year of his original rookie deal. The Giants picked up his fifth-year option next year for 2022. Mara would like to see Barkley producing on the field before addressing his contract.

The Giants also want to see more tangible progress before concluding Jones is absolutely their franchise quarterback moving forward.

“Obviously we want it, we need to see more wins, but I do have a lot of confidence in Daniel,” Mara said. “One of the things that gives me that confidence is the way that the coaches in this building feel about him. They love him. They love everything about him, we just have to win some games now. I like everything that I see on the field with him. I like his leadership, I like his work ethic, I like the way the players respond to him. We just have to win some games now.”

According to Gettleman, their trade in the first round of this year’s draft that netted the Giants another 2022 first-round pick had nothing to do with Jones. They acquired the Chicago Bears’ first-rounder and pick No. 20 in exchange for the 11th-overall selection.

It was more about adding value than an indictment on Jones.

“Not even a thought. No,” Gettleman said. “We believe in Daniel and we’re excited to see what he can do [in a] second year in the system.”

Still, the time is now for all of them to produce, from the general manager to the quarterback to the star running back. It has been a rough run for Mara and the Giants. They have enjoyed one winning season in the past nine years.

The results the past few years haven’t been what they wanted.

“Yeah, I would say that’s an understatement,” Mara said. “I certainly think we’re a lot better on paper. I’d like to see us show that on the field now and win more games and make the playoffs. I mean, that’s my expectation every year coming into the season. Obviously, we’ve fallen far short of that the last four years, but I think on paper, I’m pleased with where we are, but I want to see us win some games.”

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