It was press conferences galore at the QDTC Tuesday morning, with Giants CEO John Mara giving his take on a disappointing 6-10 season. In a nutshell, Mara said he and his partner, Steve Tisch, still believe GM Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin -- who also met the media Tuesday -- are the right men to direct the Giants going forward. That is, for one more year at least.
"I do not think that is an unfair statement," Mara replied when asked if 2015 would be a "win-or-else proposition" for a lot of people.
Reese has had two strong drafts in a row after several subpar classes. Mara pointed out that the Giants "need another one" and feels Reese is the man to get that done.
Mara said Coughlin, 68, will come back on his current deal, which has one more season. He said the team preferred to not play the season with a "lame duck" coach, but things could change.
"That has been our policy in the past, but that is not set in stone...I have to talk about that with him," Mara said. "I am not so sure that will be the situation anymore. I need to talk to him about that first. We haven’t had that discussion yet. He is going to be back."
Coughlin will also be responsible for maintaining his coaching staff, meaning if he wants to keep Perry Fewell as defensive coordinator, he can. Mara went out of his way to characterize last year's departure of former OC Kevin Gilbride as a retirement, insisting that Gilbride was not forced out.
"I will give him (Coughlin) my opinion, but it has always been the case in this organization that the head coach makes the final call on assistant coaches and whether he needs to make any changes, contrary to popular belief."
Last year the focus was on fixing the offense. This year, Mara would like improvements to the defense.
"They did not play well," Mara said. "There is no secret about that when you finish (29th). They had opportunities in a lot of games this year to make a key stop at the end of the game, and they didn’t do it," Mara said. "There is no question that has to be a focus going into next season. You look at the number of players that we got hurt here. We had three or four corners hurt. We were playing in a lot of those games with guys we had signed off the street, which is not the ideal situation. Again, that is no excuse for going 6-10 and, believe me, I am not under any illusions about where we are right now. I am aware of what teams we have beaten over the last two years and what teams we have lost to. We have a lot of work to do."
There was no question that the unusually high number of injuries contributed to the 10-loss season. Mara said the team used every method at their disposal to reduce injuries after 2013, but instead ended up having more.
"For some reason, here we are again leading the league in that category. We cut down the number of soft-tissue injuries and then, all of a sudden, we get all these broken bones and torn tendons and torn biceps. I just don’t have an answer for that right now. Obviously we will spend a lot of time on it this offseason, talking about that and looking at ways that we can improve upon that...but this is the NFL. People are going to get hurt. Why it happens to us in such extraordinary numbers, I don’t know. I am just hoping that we are due to have a change in luck in that area, and hopefully that will happen next year."
Mara also said the Giants would like to retain impending free agents S Antrel Rolle and DE Jason Pierre-Paul but it would have to be at the right price. Same goes for QB Eli Manning, who has one more year on his deal.