John Mara's New York Giants spent and spent some more in free agency this month, and it wasn't just out of desperation.
Mara believes the Giants have the quarterback to lead them to the postseason and beyond. He thinks his second-year coach, Joe Judge, is the right man for the job, too. It was time to build a roster capable of helping the two achieve that goal.
"I think our roster is good enough to make the playoffs," Mara told the New York Post's Ian O'Connor.
The same could not be said about the Giants' roster just a few weeks ago, at least, not if they were in any of the other seven divisions in the NFL in 2020. The Giants found a taste of contention last season, though, thanks to the ineptitude of the NFC East and a midseason winning streak that had folks in New York holding out hope their team would make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Ultimately, New York fell short, losing three of its final four and exposing some of its warts -- a process that might end up being necessary to take a step forward in 2021.
New York made a number of splash signings, including adding a new toy for Daniel Jones in receiver Kenny Golladay, luring corner Adoree' Jackson to the Big Apple, and adding a veteran with a decade of experience to the tight ends room in Kyle Rudolph. But the same process that sank the Giants' hopes in 2020 also revealed a need for another option behind Jones in case of emergency, the kind of emergency that has sent Jones to the sideline in each of his first two seasons. To better prepare for that, the Giants signed veteran backup Mike Glennon, a signing that isn't splashy but might help them be more competitive than they were when they had to break the glass to retrieve Colt McCoy for insertion in 2020.
Jones is entering something of a prove-it season with New York. Year Three tends to be a make-or-break year for first-round quarterbacks, and after general manager Dave Gettleman didn't shy from using his team's dollars in March, the excuses are going to be tougher to find if Jones doesn't perform well in 2021.
Mara believes Jones has the look of a future Super Bowl winner, adding "I can say that without any hesitation."
"Every single one of our coaches loves the kid, and believes he has the talent to win a championship," Mara said. "He really wants to be great, you can see that. ... I believe the sky's the limit with him."
Mara could be right. He could also be wishing for another return to success like the one his franchise enjoyed with coach Tom Coughlin and signal-caller Eli Manning, or the two-title era of Bill Parcells and Phil Simms. After all, following the disastrous tenures of Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur, the Giants are starting to flirt with a run that is reminiscent of the nightmarish era that preceded Parcells.
"It's not all that different, to be honest with you," Mara said. "I've said things in the past like, 'I'll make sure that doesn't happen again,' yet here we are -- four losing seasons in a row, we haven't won a playoff game since Super Bowl XLVI. Yeah, that is a fear of mine. Maybe that's another reason we committed so much money this offseason. We need to turn this team around."
The Giants have put their money where their mouth is, no doubt. And in their Jenga tower are key pieces -- Jones, Gettleman, Judge, 2020 first-rounder Andrew Thomas, and a quartet of players returning from injury (Jackson, Rudolph, Golladay and running back Saquon Barkley) -- who need to remain intact to keep New York's skyscraper upright. The Giants can't ever hide from attention, even after four straight losing seasons, and this offseason activity cemented their place of prominence entering 2021.
The time is now, and the clock is ticking.
"I'd be very disappointed if things don't turn around quickly," Mara said. "I'm starting to get impatient. It's been a while. I'm tired of explaining to fans at the end of every season, 'Things are getting better. We're on the right track.' You lose credibility with them.
"I'm not saying we have to [make the playoffs] this year. I never want to be in that business. I don't think we're a finished product by any stretch of the imagination. We need to add more pieces. But looking at the players we have added, there's reason to think we'll be in the playoffs sooner rather than later."