New York Giants co-owner John Mara addressed the club's latest head coaching change Wednesday -- the team's fourth search for the right answer in that role since Tom Coughlin's exit after the 2015 season -- and described it as the most embarrassed he's ever been during his lifelong association with the franchise.
"Honestly, I would have to say yes. Yes it is," Mara said. "I kept thinking during the season that we had hit rock bottom and then each week it got a little worse. Honestly, I'm not proud of saying this, but if I'm going to be 100 percent honest, I would have to say yes."
That's a stark realization for a club that's endured eight losing seasons in the last nine years. The Giants fired coach Joe Judge after two seasons on Tuesday, and now must fill both the general manager and head coaching positions after four-year GM Dave Gettleman retired earlier this week. It's now a rebuild from the top down, one that comes with the challenge of allaying concerns of candidates about franchise stability.
"I certainly think it will be a factor that some of these candidates will consider," he said. "That's something we'll have to overcome in these interviews."
What was the worst point of the 2021 season for Mara? Unfortunately for Judge, it changed from one week to the next. The 4-13 campaign spiraled downward with the thud of a six-game losing streak to close the year, and another cellar-dwelling finish in the NFC East. Moreover, Mara mentioned that he "wasn't thrilled" with Judge's 11-minute press conference rant following the team's Week 17 loss, in which Judge took veiled shots at predecessor Pat Shurmur and rival Washington, while noting that former players continually contact him expressing their desire to return to the Giants.
"I can't say that there was one specific act that was the last straw, it was just the culmination of things," Mara said.
The last three Giants coaches have each lasted no longer than two seasons: Ben McAdoo, Shurmur, and now Judge. Gettleman's replacement as GM will lead the search for a new coach, and Mara said the new hires will determine the future status of quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley, both of whom were recent top-10 draft selections by the club. Mara said he had hoped to exercise more patience with Judge that he's previously shown, but ultimately couldn't extend the coach for a third season.
"We just got to a point where I thought we had dug ourselves a hole so deep that I didn't see a clear path to getting out of it unless we completely blew it up and started all over again with a new general manager and a new head coach," Mara said. "I still think that there's a really good head coach inside of Joe Judge, I just felt that where we are right now, on the verge of bringing in a new general manager, we have to give that person the flexibility to bring in a head coach that he wants. That was a large part of the decision here and making a change. I just felt like we really needed to just start from the ground up again."
That process already has begun, as earlier Wednesday, the club confirmed it has interviewed Buffalo Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen for the GM role.