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Thursday Transcript: Interim General Manager Kevin Abrams

Eric from BBI : Admin : 12/14/2017 3:24 pm
Interim General Manager Kevin Abrams

December 14, 2017

Q: What is this like for you?

A: Initially, it was a shock and surprise and emotional and uncomfortable a little bit. Now, itís starting to take on more of a business as usual, but the circumstances arenít getting any less unfortunate.

Q: Whatís the job of an interim general manager and what changes for you in the short term?

A: Well, I donít have Jerry (Reese) down the hallway to make all the final decisions right now and the job is to support the coach, support the staff, support the players. Thereís not a lot you can do the last four weeks of the season. You do what you can, but itís support. Support all day.

Q: What have you been told about your future here and whether you have a chance to be the permanent general manager?

A: Iíve been told nothing definitive and that Iíll get an interview before the end of the season.

Q: What do you know about personnel and how would you describe your role on the personnel side since you were mostly on the business side at first?

A: Well, it would be better to answer that more in-depth probably as we get towards 2018. I donít want to interview or campaign for a job today, here and now, but my role has been more than just doing the cap (salary cap) stuff. I wasnít raised to be a cap guy. It was just the opportunity that was given to me and I was grateful of the opportunity and the Giants do a great job with everyone Ė not just me. But, weíre all encouraged to grow professionally and like everyone else, I was getting a lot of opportunities to do that and I try to take advantage of them whenever I could and a lot of that included being involved with our personnel departments.

Q: What are the challenges of going through the scouting process without much direction in terms of having a permanent general manager in place?

A: I mean, nothing on our scouting side of things has changed. Itís business as usual. Marc (Ross) and his staff are preparing for the draft like they would normally. Our pro department is doing what they do Ė advance books, following the wire, finding opportunities for us to incrementally get better at the bottom of the roster and preparing for next offseason. So, nothing really changes.

Q: What do you think went wrong with this team this year?

A: I donít know if I want to dissect the whole thing right now. There will be a time to do a full autopsy of 2017, but itís been Ė like John (Mara) said Ė itís a bit of a perfect storm. Thereís nothing that we can use as excuses, but weíve had some areas where weíve underachieved. Weíve had some unfortunate instances. Weíve had some runs of injuries. Weíve had a lot of things and you guys were at all of our games. Youíve seen some of the things that have worked out for us and against us that, you know, sometimes you go .500 on the bounces that go your way and sometimes they donít. I donít know if weíve fallen short of that this year, but itís been a tough year for a lot of different reasons and thereís no one person, position group, individual thatís the cause of us being 2-11. Weíre collectively 2-11. So, the short answer is we need to get better in a lot of areas.

Q: How much change have you experienced day-to-day this past week?

A: I donít think a lot has changed. I think Iím just a little busier because of all the things that would stop at Jerryís (Reese) office now stop in my office. But, the subject matter hasnít changed a whole lot. Jerry was always great at involving me as much as possible when appropriate, so I feel like none of the subject matter is new to me. Itís not Jerry coming to me or I donít have Jerry to go to for anything right now. So, itís kind of operating without a net a little bit, I guess, would be the one big difference and more interaction with the owners and more interaction with the head coach. Otherwise, itís not much different.

Q: Do you want to see quarterback Davis Webb at some point this year?

A: I think weíd like all of your young guys to get a chance down the stretch. Davis, in particular. Because of the position, itís just hard to do. And I know you guys know this already, but you can only play one quarterback at a time. So, itís not like trying to sprinkle in a defensive tackle or a linebacker into the mix and give him some reps. Itís a bit different, it has a bit more of an impact on everything else that you do. Spags and I talk about it all the time, Johnís talked about it on plenty of occasions, and we know what we want to accomplish, itís just not easy to do it necessarily. Itís an ongoing conversation and hopefully we get an opportunity to put him out there, but itís got to be done the right way.

Q: Itís easy to do if you just start Webb in a game, right?

A: Yeah, if you make that decision, yeah. Itís making that decision thatís not as easy.

Q: Whose decision is it whether or not to start Webb in a game?

A: Spags. That will be the head coachís decision.

Q: How much were you a part of the decision to start Geno Smith against Oakland?

A: Jerry kept me in the loop, I certainly gave him my two cents. So, I knew it was coming, I didnít know exactly when or how the switch was going to flipped, but I knew it was coming and I knew what the plan was. So, to that extent, I was involved.

Q: What is your message to the Giants fan base right now?

A: Well, I think, first and foremost, Spags has a really hard job now and heís doing it really well. His first 10 days on the job have been exceptional. His message to the team has been fantastic, the changes have been subtle, but theyíve had impact, and I think the players are buying in. I think we had a bit of a blip coming out of the bye, I think, where maybe it wasnít our best efforts, but I think that otherwise, I know our record doesnít show it, but our guys have played their tails off. Our preparation and efforts on Sunday, I think, have been great. I think they deserve more positive results than theyíve gotten, but two things I know Spags is doing a lot during the stretch, and thereís not a lot you can do, but heís getting everything out of this team he can right now and I know the team has responded well, even before last week. But, especially now, theyíre responding well.

Q: Do you want the full-time general manager job?

A: Yes.

Q: No hesitation?

A: I think everyone would want this job.

Q: Do you think youíre ready?

A: Yes.

Q: Why?

A: Why do I think Iím ready? It sounds a little bit like Iím going to be interviewing on the spot here. Iíd rather not do that just because of the appearance of a campaign and I want to play it straight.

Q: How do you view the salary cap going forward?

A: Weíre healthy. We wonít have any restrictions on what we can do based upon the salary cap. Weíll have tough decisions like we have every offseason, but we donít have to make any decisions because of the salary cap.

Q: Do you think the in-house relationship that you have will be an advantage or a disadvantage in this process?

A: I donít know. That really depends on what John (Mara) and Steve (Tisch) want to hear in a candidate, so thatís really more of a question for them. I feel prepared to talk about our program because Iím very familiar with our program, but I donít know if thatís an advantage. Itís going to depend on their perspective.

Q: Do you have a definitive plan on where you think things went wrong and what you would do differently?

A: Yeah, I guess to go back to your last question. If there is an advantage, itís not an advantage, as it relates to my preparedness to interview for the position, I guess it would be I already had a plan of things I wanted to talk with my boss about what we can do coming off of what at that point in time was looking like a pretty poor season. So a lot of what would come up in an interview is already on the table to be discussed because weíre always looking to get better. So I guess that segues into the next conversation.

Q: Do you already have coaches you would present to them?

A: I donít want to talk about that. Thatís a 2018 question.

Q: Do you think Eli (Manning) still has good football left in him?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you think getting him an offensive line is the biggest piece to get him to perform the way he can?

A: Yes, every quarterback needs an offensive line, but I donít want to give the impression that Iím putting 2-11 at the feet of this offensive line. I think theyíve actually played solidly and I think going back to what I said before, this is a collective 2-11. I know they take a lot of heat and every position group and every part of this organization could have done a better job this year. To be 2-11, it takes a lot of people to not do their best to get to this point.

Q: How can you afford 18, 19 guys being on injured reserved?

A: You just budget for it. You know going into the season what your worst case scenario is. Sometimes you exceed that even, but you better make sure you can absorb it and we were touch and go this year for a little bit. We werenít expecting this many.
This won't be popular with the fans...  
Dan in the Springs : 12/14/2017 4:13 pm : link
Yes, every quarterback needs an offensive line, but I donít want to give the impression that Iím putting 2-11 at the feet of this offensive line. I think theyíve actually played solidly and I think going back to what I said before, this is a collective 2-11.
Dan in the Springs  
Eric from BBI : Admin : 12/14/2017 4:43 pm : link
Mara: Do you think the offensive line is a problem?

Abrams: Not as bad as most think.

Mara: NEXT!
I think he gave perfect answers.  
robbieballs2003 : 12/14/2017 5:34 pm : link
He is very honest but understands what not to say. He was blatant with respect to the OL. He said that they need to get batter there but also phrased it in a way where he isn't giving sound bites where people are gonna twist what he is saying.

I think he is 100% spot on. The entire team needs to get better. He didn't defend the OL like McAdoo did where they could do no wrong. He placed blame equally across the board including the OL without publicly humiliating them.

I would be totally on board with Abrams if he has a plan to improve the way we evaluate OL-men and how we rate and develop players. Fans want everything turned upsidd down. They want everybody fired. That is basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater. These scouts have put in years of service. Maybe they did phenomenal jobs on these prospects but we put too much emphasis on stupid shit which altered the evaluation of the player. We don't necessarily need new scouts. We just need to alter how we evaluate these players or emphasise different characteriatics more than others.

Ross seems like one of the biggest burdens of this franchise. The "laziness" tag has been around for years with him. That should be the last thing you hear about a front office guy. If you don't want to be here then leave. If you do then put in the necessary time.
Waving the flag!!  
Colin@gbn : 12/14/2017 7:57 pm : link
I thought Abhrams did well in this interview but then I am a tad biased because he's Canadian!

And re his thoughts on the OL I was looking for a place to post the following observations on the offensive line and this might be as good as any.

Fun with football facts:

Afternoon guys; itís a quiet day (and too cold to do anything else here) and being a metrics sort of fellow I thought I would run a few numbers by folks that have me scratching my head a little. Letís start with a little trivia type question:

Which of these NFL RBs has a higher average yards per rush this year than the Giantsí Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman?: a) LeíVeon Bell of Pittsburgh; b) Shady McCoy of Buffalo; c) Zeke Elliott of the Cowboys; d) Len Fournette of the Jags; e) Marshawn Lynch of Oakland; f) all of the above; or g) none of the above. In fact, Iíll make it easier and give you a hint: itís one of the latter two. So of course its f) all of the above. Except itís not! Orleans is averaging 4.3 yards per carry this year and Gallman 4.2 and all those other guys are 4.2 or less. How can that be? Certainly an interesting question.

I could ask a couple of secondary questions related to pass protection. There are 6 QBs in the NFL with passer ratings over 100. Have those guys been sacked and/or hit more or less on average than Eli this year. And again the answer is not what one would think. Its more: Eli has been sacked once every 10.7 throws this year versus once every 10.1 for the 6 top-rated passers. In fact, Eliís sack/hit numbers are almost identical to those of the recently sainted Tom Brady; the Giants are also 9th in the league in fewest QB hits allowed. Now, of course, Eli does tend to get the ball out quickly but his release times are actually only slightly quicker (1-2 tenths of a second faster) than most other QBs in the league.

Whatís it all mean. I have no idea. But if an alien sports analyst looked at those numbers theyíd probably conclude that the Giants had a pretty normal offensive line. So its really hard to tell whether the Giants do in fact have an historically bad offensive line and the metrics are lying or whether there is in fact something to think about here, although obviously there is work to do there.

Certainly, a couple of things do tend to happen in these kinds of circumstances. First, as fans we tend to micro analyze the Giants down to how well they have their shoes tied and then compare what weíve seen with highlight reel stuff from other teams. Iíve watched a few New England games this fall, for example, and seen Brady ducking and dodging and getting hammered when he steps up to make the throw.

Again no one is going to suggest that there isnít a lot of work to do on the OL, but the notion that this is a terrible unit isnít necessarily borne out by the numbers.
Eric from BBI : Admin : 12/14/2017 9:39 pm : link
I hear ya, but if I know on thing about football, I know this: this Giants team has been a FINESSE Giants team for about five years now. We can't run. We can't pick up six inches on 3rd-and-1. Some of that is on the CBA and how the game has "evolved" (I would argue devolved) and the offensive scheme we've morphed into (WCO). But even Bill Walsh's teams could run the football.

The epitome of this OL is John Jerry. An inconsistent player in general who doesn't like to get his nose dirty in the run game and does a decent (but not good) job in pass protection. And yet, we not only signed him from Miami (which looked like a stop-gap move at the time), but we re-signed him when his contract ran out. Ughh.
John Jerry is serviceable if he's like your 7th O-Lineman  
est1986 : 12/15/2017 12:16 am : link
Next year if possible I would field Flowers, Pugh, Richburg, a draft pick, a free agent, and have Fluker, Jones and 1 of Bisnowaty or Wheeler as back-ups. John Jerry would be so lucky if he makes this team next year.
Lies, damned lies and stats  
Colin@gbn : 12/15/2017 9:52 am : link
Morning guys: Agree with your point to a degree Eric; one of the frustrating aspects of this season was the number of times that the Giants got 6-7-8 yards on first downs this season and could not convert. And nobody is pretending that the OL doesn't need a whole lot of work. But you get the sense that the Giants, who will break everything down and quantify it all do not appear to think that the OL was the major problem here as opposed to the average fan in the street who will contend that 'hey if Geno Smith can't get more than 17 points with this OL' what chance would guys like Brady and Rodgers, not to mention Eli, have. Should be an interesting off-season.
armstead98 : 12/15/2017 10:04 am : link
One of the better interviews I've read, especially given the circumstances.

Yes he probably has a role to play in the debacle but we all know people who are talented and great at their jobs but their boss isn't so they can't really shine.

Not sure that's the case here but I'm certainly open to Abrams. Question is, does he have an eye for talent? Impossible to say from here.
if they are saying that they will only hire a coach who has had  
idiotsavant : 12/15/2017 10:57 am : link
a team in the playoffs successfully as a head coach, that narrows the field a lot.

It makes sense at first look, but, it also seems like lacking the courage of your convictions or relying on rules of thumb rather than insights or other factors such as schematics or emphasis.

If you see a great DB in the draft, do you not draft him because he is only 5'11" and 199 as opposed to the lesser player at 6'3" and 210, just because you have a rule of thumb regarding heights?
RE: John Jerry is serviceable if he's like your 7th O-Lineman  
japanhead : 12/15/2017 1:10 pm : link
In comment 13741243 est1986 said:
Next year if possible I would field Flowers, Pugh, Richburg, a draft pick, a free agent, and have Fluker, Jones and 1 of Bisnowaty or Wheeler as back-ups. John Jerry would be so lucky if he makes this team next year.

if you're fielding pugh next year you can count on him missing 4 or so games. flowers has not been a good player, despite some recent claims that he has turned the corner. richburg is a question mark who's missed more than half this season with a serious head injury.
Ross should be gone  
TMS : 12/15/2017 1:21 pm : link
but guess he is very involved with the current scouting reports so he is getting a very SHORT reprieve. Abrams knows what he knows but would rather have Gettleman or a new broom.
idiotsavant : 12/15/2017 1:46 pm : link
With regards to OL stats one wants to see the line enabling the O to do what it needs schematically ....rather than the schematics functioning to ..(getting the ball out quickly short routes etc) cover the lines weaknesses. If that makes any sense. You could have the same stats within very different situations.

More abstractly. Better line play = different routes = less WR injuries = we may have had Beck's all year!
Colin@gbn : 12/15/2017 3:44 pm : link
Idiot: Interesting point although I would have to think that blaming Odell's injury on the OL is a bit of a stretch even for the BBI. At the same re the stats one of my rules is never say never.

I have a couple of other rules that I try to work by: 1) never get invested in personalities and 2) never get invested in a theory. If one does get invested in a player or a coach or a concept the danger is that when contradicting evidence is presented the temptation is to disregard it or rationalize it away.

There's a great line in Ernie Accorsi's book (and if anyone hasn't read it is a great read; get it for yourself for XMas). He talks about what he calls an 'anesthetic player" which he defines as a 'subtly declining veteran whose past is so storied that it lulls the organization into thinking that position is safely taken care of.' (Accorsi actually borrowed the phrase from Branch Rickey but that's another story)

The fact is that the Giants, like all NFL teams, break down and grade every player from every play from every game and as a result have a pretty objective measure of how each player is playing. So when everyone in the organization from Mara to McAdoo is saying we need a new QB then believe it because they aren't heading into a back room after every loss looking for someone to blame, but are as much as possible trying to figure out objectively how to get better.
Breaking down every play from the Offense this season  
Jimmy Googs : 12/15/2017 4:59 pm : link
should take very little time.

We have to lead the league in 3&outs by a wide margin so shouldn't be too many plays to watch...
True Colin  
idiotsavant : 12/15/2017 9:59 pm : link
At the same time, as they do have to be hard nosed and rational about the decline of certain stars, along with the anaesthetic players, you have the aspirine of themes, which you also mentioned.

They may have been slower than we were with regards to seeing the light that the Macadoo/Sully concept wasn't going to work. Closer in since they had recently and personally that choice. So it's self reflection also - to be truly hard nosed.
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