Senior Vice President and General Manager Dave Gettleman
September 2, 2020
Opening Statement: I’d like to first say I hope everybody is feeling well, everybody’s family is safe and healthy, and just that you’re working your way through this pandemic and all the other stuff. I just want to give a quick rundown on how we got here. There are a lot of people behind the scenes that have done a lot of amazing stuff in the Giants organization to get us to this point. We came back from (the Combine in) Indianapolis and our Senior Vice President of Medical Services Ronnie Barnes came to me three times that first week and the third time he looked at me and said, ‘Dave, this is going to be really bad. This is going to be really bad.’ So, I walked down to my office, went to my Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit, told him to get together with the Director of Football Data and Innovation Ty Siam, and I said, ‘Get with him. This draft is going to happen remotely. That’s what we have to plan for, and I don’t want to do anything different. I don’t want us to prepare any different.’ After that conversation, I went down to Joe’s (Judge) office with Ronnie in tow, of course, and told Joe, ‘You’re not going to see your players until August, so get with Ty, get with your coaching staff,’ and everybody went to work.
Justin Warren is in charge of our IT Department, he did a great job. That allowed us all to continue to do our jobs. Obviously, in different settings, different pace and in a different way, but it still allowed us to do our jobs. Then in the spring, we decided to go to the stadium. The protocols were coming down, the rules were coming in as to what we could and could not do. I really thought it was critical that Joe and his staff, as a new staff, had the ability to look at players in the eye all day long. We went over to the stadium, took a look, and Victor McLoughlin, our Director of Buildings, just did a fantastic job planning everything out. Basically, we’re able, we’re breaking camp tomorrow, but we’re able to have as normal of a training camp as you could have. Team meetings, unit meetings, people face to face. The one thing that the Zoom and all that working remotely taught me is what you lose is not being able to have those drive-by conversations and how much more difficult the communication piece is.
Well now, us being in the stadium allows me and Joe and Kevin Abrams and Tim McDonnell and Ronnie Barnes and anybody else to have those drive-bys that really improve the workflow and accelerate the pace in which you’re able to work. We’ve had a lot of people that have done a great job. K.C. Jones, the great basketball player and coach for the Celtics, used to say, ‘You give him lemons, he makes lemonade.’ That’s what we’ve done. It’s been a great organizational effort. Other people behind the scenes, Bill Heller and Christine Procops have been huge for us. Again, ownership. Ownership giving us the ability to do these things, to operate this way in as close to a normal setting as possible, has really put us in a good position. If anybody’s still awake, I’m ready to take questions.
Q: You had two players arrested this offseason, including DeAndre Baker, obviously, facing serious charges. I’m just curious, based on your emphasis on culture and character, what is your reaction to those arrests?
A: Obviously, it’s disappointing. There was nothing in Aldrick’s (Rosas) background, nothing in DeAndre’s background that would suggest these things would happen. It’s disappointing. It’s disappointing on a variety of levels. It hurts us because they’re two talented players as well. It’s disappointing, and I guess what it teaches us all is nothing is 100 percent except death and taxes. Like I said, it’s disappointing. I’d be a liar if I said anything less. Aldrick was a Pro Bowl kicker two years ago, DeAndre was a first-round pick, I know all that. It’s disappointing, but it’s life.
Q: This is so unprecedented for everybody, even someone like you who’s been through so much. Do you think there will be a competitive disadvantage at all, you guys not having fans, some teams having fans? As a corollary to that, with the young team that you have, do you think this is going to be a big disadvantage going through this? Or maybe with a young coach and a young team, in some way it can be an advantage?
A: Joe and the guys are doing such a great job of building the team concept. I know that they’re going to have to bring their own energy. For us, we’re not going to have fans initially. When we go to Dallas, they are going to have fans. You can’t look at it as ‘oh, woe is me.’ I think you have to figure out a way to turn it into an advantage. Us not having that, it is what it is. When you get up in the morning and you want to play golf but it’s raining, you don’t play golf. I think more than anything else, it’s certainly a challenge. But I think it’s one that Joe and the staff and the players are up for.
Q: Obviously, you go into this weekend having a lot of decisions that have been evaluated in such a short window. How do you balance the idea of projecting a lot of the young players that you have on the roster versus being able to put tougher a team that Joe and his staff can come right out of the gates and compete in Week One?
A: We’re a young, developing team. That’s all there is to it. With the way Joe has run practice, you guys have seen it, he has what he calls his two-spot, when he has the team work on both fields. These guys have gotten a ton of reps. As we finish up, there is plenty of film available to legitimately evaluate all of these guys. Everybody is in the same boat, to a certain degree, with their young players. We feel good about the work these kids have put in, and I think we’re going to be fine. It’s a challenge, there’s no doubt about it. The one thing that happened is… Joe and the guys did a great job with OTAs. Believe it or not, building a team looking at 90 faces on a screen. They really did. We were really pleased with the condition that these players came here in. They were really in good shape, which enabled them and I tell young kids all the time, the best favor they could do themselves when they go to training camp is be in great shape because that will allow them to learn in meetings and study at night, rather than going to sleep. These kids did that. We got a lot of quality work. Joe and the guys put them through the paces, got a lot of quality snaps, and I think when we sit down on Friday after the scrimmage, we’re going to be able to really look at each other, and the one thing we talked about consistently is at the 53, I said, ‘we have to make informed decisions.’ You can’t do guess work on this part. That was a big emphasis. We want to make informed decisions, and I truly believe we’ll be able to.
Q: Just a quick follow up. You mentioned Joe’s practices. You’ve been at a lot of training camp practices through your career. I’m just curious, what’s your impression of a Joe Judge training camp practice? What have you seen? What have you liked?
A: What you see is everybody’s working. It’s funny, a little-known secret, a million years ago in my first Giants life, we had a little scouting exchange with the Patriots. I went to Patriots camp for three days and Scott Pioli came up to our camp in Albany and stayed for three days. So, I got a little bit of an inside view to what a Patriots practice looked like. That’s what we’ve had here. You guys have seen it. When special teams is working, if it’s a return or a cover, something the big guys aren’t involved with, you see they’re busy. They’re over doing things. There are times they will be in individuals and Joe will have a couple of players working with the special teams as gunners or as vices, whatever. People are busy. People are busy. No one’s standing around hanging out. The other thing that you see is the attention to detail. Attention to detail. There are some drills where you see five coaches standing there, they’re all coaching something. They’re coaching a point, and that attention to detail is huge.
Q: I want to follow up on an earlier question. You said there was not anything in DeAndre or Aldrick’s background that suggested this might happen. But Aldrick had an arrest in college, and DeAndre, there were rumors before the draft about his commitment. I’m just curious, when something like this does happen, do you go back and evaluate the scouting process with your personnel department and say, ‘what did we miss here?’ And will you keep DeAndre on the team? His court date isn’t until January, will you keep him on the team until that’s resolved?
A: You always debrief. You’re always going to go back. If there was something in Aldrick’s background from college, frankly, I didn’t know because I wasn’t here. Did we thoroughly investigate DeAndre’s background? Absolutely. There’s nothing there that we didn’t know. There’s nothing there that we didn’t know. But of course, you always go back. It’s no different than a coach going back, or anybody, after something doesn’t go right, you’re going to debrief. You’re going to write an article, you’re going to look at it and say, ‘Eh, I really don’t like that.’ So, you’re going to go write it again. It’s the same thing. We did that. Of course, we debriefed because you always want to get better.
Q: The second part of that, do you plan to keep DeAndre on until the legal issue is resolved?
A: We’re still in conversations on that.
Q: At a macro level, when you first came in as GM, what was your plan for the secondary specifically? How were you planning on building the secondary?
A: Obviously, your plan to build depends upon, for me as an incoming GM, your plan to build… First of all, you need to build a football team. You start from there. What’s your philosophy? Then what you do is you work your way through your position groups. Of course, every position group is in a different state. It’s not like there are any position groups that you don’t have to look at. What you have to do is… When you’re building a team, when you’re doing this, you can’t put pressure on yourself that I have to do this now, I have to get that down because what happens is you’ll make mistakes. You’ll reach, you’ll overvalue. You can’t be in a rush to do this. Where we are now with the secondary, I’m very happy with our safety group. Our safeties are strong. Unfortunately, X (Xavier McKInney) got hurt, but we fixed that with Logan (Ryan). We’re still building corners. We’re still building that part of the back end. Again, it all works as a unit in terms of you’ll have better coverage if your front end is better at rushing the passer. It all works together, and we’re working on building it every day. We don’t ever sit back and say, ‘Ok, we’re done. O-line, we’re done.’ You can’t do that because as soon as you think you are, you’re going to have an injury and then now what? There’s no me walking in the door saying, ‘Ok, the secondary will be done by the end of next year, the o-line is going to be done this year, the quarterbacks are going to be…’ you know what I’m saying? You can’t operate that way because you’ll overvalue players and you’ll miss out on players. Again, I’ve been saying this since I walked in the door, I said it down in Carolina, it’s about value. It’s about where you are, how you value a player, in the draft, as an unrestricted free agent, and then as a free agent. It’s how you value those guys. If you put the wrong value on them, you’ll make mistakes.
Q: Quick follow up on DeAndre, I know you said you’re still having conversations. The longer he lingers on the roster, the more it doesn’t look like there’s a zero-tolerance policy for the kind of thing that he’s accused of doing. I’m not accusing you of that, I’m just saying why not just set a precedent that this type of shocking, alleged behavior can’t be tolerated?
A: That’s fair. That’s a fair question. All I can say to that is in life, there’s timing that’s involved. In life, there’s timing. That’s how I’ll respond to that.
Q: I remember about this time last year you said that you would know whether you guys made progress when you walked off the field Week 17. I’m curious what the benchmarks are for Daniel Jones, that at the end of Week 17 this year, that you can look around and say, ‘Ok, this kid has checked the boxes. We feel really comfortable and confident in him moving forward.’ What are the things you want to and need to see from Daniel this year?
A: I’ll say this. I’m comfortable and confident with him right now, just for what that’s worth. Obviously, it’s how he plays, what kind of a year he has, how successful he is running, again it’s his third offense in three years by the way, running the team, how he handles the leadership piece. It’s all of those things and, obviously, how well he plays. I can say this very comfortably, the only thing that was a little frustrating last year were the turnovers, the fumbles. He had a solid rookie year. He did things that no other rookie quarterback has ever done. For some reason, I just feel like the fumbles have overshadowed all of that stuff. He showed he can bring us from behind to win a game. He showed he can make big throws in an overtime period. This kid accomplished a lot last year. I would never put a win-loss thing on it. For me, it’s all about Daniel improving, and improving in all areas, which I’m confident he will.
Q: Quick follow up there. You mentioned this is his third offense in three seasons. What kind of a struggle is that for a quarterback to undertake?
A: I think it all depends upon a couple of things. Number one, it depends upon the coaches that are working with him. How they make it work for him. Obviously, it depends upon him. How hard he’s going to work at it. We all know Daniel is going to work his tail off. That’s not an issue. He’s picking it up. Yesterday, I thought he had a really nice day at the office, and he’s getting there. He’s getting there. Everybody needs to remember, I always go back to when a kid comes out, great high school football player and goes to college, how many of them are great immediately? It takes them all time. Unfortunately, we’re not patient. But Daniel is going to be fine. He’s going to be fine. He’s going to be a fine NFL quarterback.
Q: I wanted to go back to something you said earlier about the roster building process. Obviously, this year you don’t have the benefit of seeing them in preseason games, to look at them and do scouting. You also have the challenges of a potential cap dropping next year. I’m just wondering if you could talk a little bit about that because, obviously, that’s going to affect your job.
A: What’s going to happen this year is when the wire comes out Saturday night and everybody is running around, it’s almost like you’re going to be drafting based off, if it’s a rookie or a guy who came out in 2019 and got hurt in training camp and didn’t practice, you’re going to be basing it off college tape. That’s what you’ve got to do. Obviously, with everybody else who’s got time in the league, you’re going back. So, if there’s a guy who got drafted in ’18 or ’19 and they played preseason but have never played varsity football, you have NFL film to look at but obviously, it’s very, very different. You’re going to have to, this year, especially with the rookies, you’re going to have to really rely on your college stuff. That tape is still available. We still have it. That’s what we will be doing.
Q: I was just going to ask you, are you going to have to put more of an emphasis on the guys you have now on whom you have tape, can you see sort of like a shift in philosophy to where instead of going out on the waiver wire, you’re going to explore your own guys first?
A: It’s funny you bring that up. I was talking about that to Pat Hanlon. Really and truly, because of the protocols that are going to be in place during the season, your immediate help is going to be the practice squad guys, because anybody, whether it’s a waiver, a trade, a claim, taking someone off somebody else’s practice squad, or bringing in a street free agent, is going to require time. You can touch them, but they can’t come in your building and they can’t practice. The practice squad is going to be really important, how you set those up, because those guys are going to be your immediate help. People would say, ‘well, bring people in on Friday and start the testing protocols so that you have them ready for the week.’ You don’t know what’s going to happen that weekend. You don’t know what position you’re going to need. There may be guys out there you want to work out that you’re going to do anyhow. But at the end of the day, you’re really going to have to really be very intentional about your practice squad. The league has given us that flexibility because they’re allowing us six veterans on the practice squad. They’re allowing for what they call practice squad exception players, and those are guys that have some NFL experience, varsity experience. You’re allowed four of those, so 10 of the 16 could be guys with NFL snaps under their belt. But that’s where your immediate help is going to come from because anybody you get any other way, there’s going to be the protocols, testing cadence, physicals. It’s going to be a process.
Q: You guys won five games the first year, you won four games last year. You’ve had an opportunity, at least the last two weeks, to really see what you have this year. What from a big picture perspective gives you confidence that this organization and the franchise is moving in the right direction?
A: I think we’ve had three years of roster development. I think we have brought in a number of players that are going to help us be a part of this winning process. Obviously, we have had a change in coaches and we have a young, developing team. I think Joe and his staff are going to develop those players, so that’s what gives me confidence. Its gives me confidence that we have our quarterback, we have a heck of a running back. We’ve got some nice pieces on defense. The O-line, we have pieces, we’re getting there. I believe we are going to be competitive.
Q: You mentioned that when you first took the job, the offensive line and getting that right was a huge part of it. How close are you to being there in your eyes in that regard?
A: The closest we’ve ever been. I feel like we’ve got the right guys, they just have to learn how to play together. They have to grow up, we have puppies. You have Andrew, who has never played an NFL snap, at an important position. We’ve got some youth and they have to learn how to play together. Those five guys have to learn to play in the ?. Talent wise, I’m really pleased with the room.
Q: You said you have a young developing team and you expect it to be competitive this year. You basically turned over the entire roster in three years. In a lot of ways, this is the closest you’ve had to your team. Do you look at it that way, too? Do you finally have on the field what you’ve wanted from the beginning? Do you think that being competitive and developmental will translate to wins this year?
A: First of all, it’s not my team, it’s the New York Football Giants’ team. There’s a lot of people that have worked extremely hard to get the roster to this point. Kevin Abrams, Mark Koncz, Tim McDonnell, Chris Pettit, Kenny Sternfeld and his gang. A lot of people have worked to get the roster to this point. I think we obviously have young players that are continuously developing. Dalvin (Tomlinson) has gotten better every year, you are looking for Dexter (Lawrence) to improve, you are looking for all those young kids to improve. We’ve also got some veterans that have skins on the wall and can help those guys develop, help those guys become team players. I just feel like the roster is going to be competitive. It’s going to have the ability to win games. I’m not putting a number on it. You put a team out there and they will be the ‘Fighting Joe Judge’s’, I have no doubt. It’s going to go well.
Q: I know you don’t worry about your job, but do you think your bosses need to see wins to really buy into everything you are telling them?
A: That’s a question for them.
Q: Circling back on Logan Ryan. You kind of hinted earlier that signing him solves the issue with Xavier’s injury. Do you guys see Logan as a free safety and as your starting free safety? Where do you guys see him? How did the deal come together and why did it take so long to get him in the mix here?
A: One of the things you guys will see once we start playing games, we’re going to be pretty multi-dimensional on defense. You are going to see a lot of stuff and Logan fills a lot of roles. It’s at a point where, what does being a starting player mean? It means probably playing 75, 80 percent on defense. He’ll be well up there. We see him as a fit in a lot of different roles. He had quite a year last year, you guys know that. Tennessee used him a little bit differently and it certainly gives you ideas about how to use him.He’ll be fine. As far as getting the deal done, I’ve always believed that deals get done when they are supposed to get done. Once you get to talking, it takes two. Once the team starts talking to the agent of a player and the player, if there is something there that tells you you are going to get something done, you work at it. When you do deals, you know pretty quickly if there is something there. You’ve bought cars before. You walk into the car dealership and they start giving you the runaround, you say there is no deal here, goodbye. It’s really the same thing, I mean it. It really is the same thing. When Kevin (Abrams) gets on the phone with an agent, for example. I firmly believe, I don’t believe in the low ball, high ball game, I really don’t believe in it. I believe in if this is your value, I’m going to show you what I have, a fair starting offer. If you start off low balling , you’re starting off the whole thing negative. The whole point of it is getting to a win, getting to yes, they call it. I don’t believe in that. I tell the agent, we can justify this offer. If the agent comes back, we tell them we don’t believe in high ball, so if the agent comes back with a cockamamie counter, then we know there’s no deal there. You go in and you want to buy a car for $40,000 and the guy tells you it’s a $70,000 car, you walk out the door. It’s really the same stuff. When two parties and you start the back and forth, you know pretty quickly if there is a deal to be done. Basically, that’s what happened. It happened in, I don’t know, 36 hours. It happened quick. They get done when they are supposed to, and we’re glad he’s ours. Glad he’s here.
Q: If you look at things like baseball and basketball and you watch them lately, it just doesn’t feel like it’s a game. With all the distractions of COVID 19, racial equality and an election coming up, are concerned about the season? Can everyone avoid all the distractions and play like it’s a regular season?
A: I think for us, Joe and his staff have done a great job of opening the lines of communication with the players and the staff. There’s been constant communication with all of us. Again, the blessing of being at the stadium, we can look at each other and say, ‘hey’ and ‘how’s your family?’ and do all that stuff. I think part of it is about being a professional, part of it is about respecting other people’s opinions and attitudes. I think it can be done. It all depends on the atmosphere you have. We’ve created an atmosphere of safety and openness. I read a book a couple years ago called The Culture Code. They talk about the most important thing you can do in an organization is for everybody to feel safe. It’s very important that anybody in the organization can walk into my office and say, ‘Gettleman, you knucklehead’ and not worry about that I’m going to get upset about it, not worry that I’m going to hold a grudge. That culture of safeness has been created here. Guys are comfortable talking about things. The other thing that you teach is you have to respect, there is a great management concept called ‘seek to understand’. I’m going to get philosophical here. Sometimes we don’t listen to each other very well. Here at the Giants, we really work hard at that. Listen to what the other person is saying, think about where they are coming from. Seek to understand and if you understand each other, we can have those conversations and there will be conversations. Sometimes I think in today’s world, people think if I yell the loudest, I’ll win. You know what, it doesn’t work like that. You raise a hell of a point. There is a lot of stuff going on in this world right now, a ton of stuff. I like the way we have positioned ourselves and the culture and the type of people we have. We can do this.