EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – There is no playoffs-or-else mandate from John Mara, and no win total the Giants need to hit for Dave Gettleman to keep his job.
But don’t be fooled: For Gettleman to stick around another season, his bosses definitely need to start seeing some results.
Mara may have left the specifics vague, but the Giants co-owner did at least set a bar that Gettleman’s team needs to clear if he has any hopes of returning for a fourth season as the Giants general manager. And that bar is far higher than anything the Giants achieved on the field in his first two years.
“I want to feel like when we walk off the field after the last game we play -- whenever that is -- that we’re moving in the right direction,” Mara said on a Zoom press conference on Thursday morning. “That we have the pieces in place to compete for a Super Bowl, and that the combination of people we have is going to work going forward.
“That’s what Steve (Tisch) and I need to feel like. You can’t pin it to a certain win-loss total. We just want to feel like this group that we have together right now is building something that’s going to compete for a championship.”
Yes, that answer is undoubtedly frustrating to a fan base reeling from just one winning season and one playoff berth in the last seven years. And it gives a wide berth to the 69-year-old Gettleman who was brought in to breathe life into the franchise, but has so far produced only the misery of a 9-23 record the last two seasons.
But it also shows Mara’s understanding of how far his franchise has fallen, and where the rebuilding effort stands after going 12-36 over the last three years. The Giants are not a Super Bowl contender. Even with the expanded postseason field, they might not even be a playoff contender yet.
That’s why what Mara needs to see more than anything else is hope.
“Obviously I want to win some games,” Mara said. “But I feel good about the direction we’re headed in right now. I want to feel that way in January as well.”
Mara added that, “I have every reason to expect that I will,” but he knows his angry fanbase likely doesn’t agree. Many of them have been calling for Gettleman’s firing since the end of his first season, unwilling to endure anymore rebuilding, and they were unhappy when Mara announced Gettleman was coming back at the end of last season.
At the time, though, Mara made it clear that Gettleman’s job security was going to be an issue. He said that the GM’s “batting average has got to increase going forward. We need to win more games, and Dave knows that.”
But he also refused to mandate a win total back then, too. He left it purposely vague, saying he wanted to see a “better product." He’s looking for progress, which of course can be interpreted in many ways – such as the stable of young, promising talent Gettleman has built on the roster. That’s the smart approach to building long-term success. The most important thing is always have the program pointed in the right direction.
That takes patience, though, which isn’t always easy to accept. Having promising young players is good, but it means nothing if they don’t start to produce. And Mara knows from the letters and emails he receives from long-time fans that they’ve had it with all the rebuilding. For them, nothing less than competing for a playoff berth or a division title will do.
“Well that’s certainly what we want to do,” Mara said. “That’s certainly what our goal is. And I’ll be very disappointed if we’re not in that situation.
“But I can’t sit here and say ‘We have to win a certain number of games otherwise I’m going to blow the whole thing up.’ I think Steve and I agree we just need to feel like we’re building something that’s going to compete for a championship. Maybe we’ll play meaningful games in December. That would be a sign, obviously, that we are doing that.”