Since winning their last Super Bowl, the Giants have been in a steady decline.
But the man in charge maintains that he has the ability to reverse the course he charted, as the team enters an overdue rebuilding phase with a new coach and a new quarterback.
As the face of the franchise, co-owner John Mara has the final say on those decisions, and he insists he’s still capable of making them effectively.
“I don’t fear that I’ve lost the touch,” Mara told Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “But I certainly understand our fans’ lack of trust in what we’re doing right now. And the only way to win that back is to start winning games. I get that. The record is what it is, and I can’t defend that. I don’t feel any differently about myself and my judgment now than I did in February of 2012. Certainly, the record doesn’t bear that out. But I have just as much confidence in myself now as I did in 2012.”
In 2012, the Giants were coming off a dramatic Super Bowl win over the Patriots. Flush with that success, they stuck with a familiar formula, even as the results waned.
But even coach Tom Coughlin was let go, and even as General Manager Jerry Reese was let go, they held onto quarterback Eli Manning until the early stages of last season, before finally letting first-rounder Daniel Jones assume leadership.
Now, new coach Joe Judge — himself a bit of a risk — takes over for Pat Shurmur, who took over for Ben McAdoo, who took over for Coughlin. And as he looked back over their past problems, it’s hard not to see a pattern.
In a 2000 interview with the Newark Star-Ledger, Mara said he often worried about his father — Hall of Famer Wellington Mara — and his willingness to hold on too long.
“Loyalty is a wonderful trait, but you have to know when to be loyal and when to do what’s best for the organization,” Mara said then. “I don’t ever want to go back to those days. They were painful decades.”
Now, looking at the mess the Giants have become, it’s hard to not see those lessons unlearned, or only partially learned.
Whether they’re able to bounce back now depends on some new faces like Judge and Jones, but the Giants still aren’t what you’d describe as a young team. Mara is 65. One of his most trusted advisors is 78-year-old former G.M. Ernie Accorsi. Current G.M. Dave Gettleman’s a spry 68.
The old ways haven’t gotten them far since 2012. Now we’ll see if Mara is able to change his, enough to help them improve.