BAYONNE, N.J. - Justin Tuck can see exactly what Giants GM Dave Gettleman is trying to do with his old team. He knows Gettleman is trying to rebuild the Giants the way they were built back in the 2000s, when they emerged as one of the best franchises in the league.
Of course, that doesn't mean he's happy about every move Gettleman has made.
"I love Landon (Collins)," Tuck said on Monday. "That's probably the one that I'm most pissed about."
He's not alone in being unhappy about Gettleman's decision to let Collins get away in free agency (where he landed with the Washington Redskins). But despite that, Tuck does sense something very familiar about Gettleman's overall plan.
"Listen, I know Gettleman well. I know how he likes to build teams -- or at least what his thoughts around that is," Tuck said before co-hosting the Newark Mentoring Movement's annual charity golf outing at the Bayonne Golf Club. "He's putting his stamp on it. Regardless of if you like it or not, this is what it is.
"And I think one thing the Giants have done very, very well in their past is building through the draft. You can tell that's kind of been the focal point. If you look at history, the great teams that have been in the Giants' past didn't come from us making splashes in free agency. It came from having guys come in and learn the Giant way and being there for 10-11 years. I thought that started again last year with Saquon (Barkley)."
There's no doubt that Tuck is correct. Gettleman has been systematically purging the Giants of players brought in before he arrived, and trying to build a new core through his last two draft classes. Over the last two years, he's also added some players in trades (like safety Jabril Peppers and linebacker Alec Ogletree) and added a few free agents (like safety Antoine Bethea and receiver Golden Tate). But overall, he's looking for a new group of players doing things the way he believes is the "Giant way."
That has led to some high-profile departures - like the trades of Odell Beckham Jr., defensive end Olivier Vernon, and defensive tackle Damon Harrison on top of the decision not to re-sign Collins. In a recent interview, Collins said it appeared Gettleman was trying to get rid of the organization's most outspoken, high-profile players.
Tuck wasn't so sure about that, though, since the core of the Giants' last championship teams (2007-11) had some pretty talkative players, too.
"I don't know if that's really right or not," Tuck said. "I was very talkative. Antrell (Rolle) was very talkative. Michael Strahan was very talkative. But I guess the only difference in the two is we were part of teams that won, so that afforded us the opportunity to be very talkative."
Tuck said he actually spoke to Collins last year about becoming more vocal and outspoken in his role as a captain, "because I thought he was one of the only guys who could get his message across and unify that football team.
"But if you take that stance you have to back it up," Tuck added. "I thought he did with is play, but it's unfortunate the team didn't necessarily have the success that some of the previous outspoken Giants (teams) did."
In the end, though, Gettleman's purge isn't necessarily about outspokenness. As he's said over and over again, it's about "culture." Gettleman believes the culture of the locker room and the character of the team can be even more important to a franchise than talent.
And Tuck agrees.
"I think culture's more important," Tuck said. "If you look at what the Patriots have done, outside of at the max five guys on that football team, anybody outside Boston doesn't know 85 percent of that football team. But what they've done is they've brought in the right people that's pulling the rope the same way.
"And when it comes to that, you don't need the most talented team. Trust me, the most talented team I've been on didn't win a Super Bowl (the 2008 Giants). I remember Philly having that year where they brought in what seemed like every All-Star that ever played the game. They didn't win the Super Bowl. So at the end of the day, it has to start with culture, it has to start with the leadership of the football team. Obviously you need talent. Don't get me wrong. You definitely need it. But I don't necessarily know that it's more important than the other two."