Giants Mara says season was very disappointing

In the wake of another disappointing New York Giants season,

co-owner John Mara wasn’t so sure about his own job.

”Not according to my mother, it’s not,” the Giants president

and chief executive officer quipped Monday in his first comments on

the 7-9 season that left the team out of the playoffs for the

fourth time in five years.

A candid Mara confirmed the feeling that Giants’ fans

experienced this season and expressed his own frustrations.

”Obviously, this was a very disappointing season, as

disappointing as any in my memory,” he said addressing the media

at Giants headquarters.

Mara spoke about the many shortcomings of the team, including

the offensive line, but did not point the blame at coach Tom

Coughlin, general manager Jerry Reese nor quarterback Eli

Manning.

Coughlin was told Monday the team wants him back for an 11th

season as head coach.

”In terms of other changes that may or may not be made, that

will be discussed later in the week,” Mara said. ”I’d like to

think that the fans know we’re going to do whatever we have to do.

Not necessarily the moves they want us to make. Nobody wants to win

more than Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese, perhaps than myself. We’re

going to do what we have to do. We’re going to do it in an

intelligent fashion. Stability is important. There are times when

changes have to be made. We’ll do whatever we have to do to put a

team on the field that our fans can be proud of.”

Giants fans can be assured that Mara will be looking to improve

the offense, especially the offensive line.

”I think our offense is broken,” Mara said. ”We need to

improve on the offensive side. To me, that is the No. 1 personnel

priority going into the offseason is we need improve the offensive

line. My biggest concern coming into the year was if our offensive

line could stay healthy. We were never able to protect Eli or get

our ground game going well enough.”

Mara said it was obvious Manning did not have a good season. The

career-high 27 interceptions was evidence of that.

”With Eli, sometimes he tries to do too much,” Mara said. ”He

competes so hard out there. We have all the confidence in him. He’s

still the face of the franchise and we need to help him. We need to

give him some better tools and do a better job around him.”

Mara admits he made mistakes in evaluating the team and during

the draft.

”I was the same person who said in the preseason that this was

as talented a team as we’ve had in years,” Mara said. ”I read

some stories about our draft picks. We have missed on some guys and

have had bad luck with some second or third-round picks. There were

a few instances where we took a chance, knowing we were taking a

chance, thinking we were going to hit it out of the park, and we

missed.

”I think we have as good a group of scouts as there is in the

NFL. It’s as much as me as anything else. I knew the risks we were

taking. To be successful in this league you have to do a good job

in the draft, especially with those middle-round picks. No question

over the last few years we’ve missed on people. I’m not sure why it

took us three years to find out that Jerrel Jernigan can

play.”

When asked about Reese, Mara said, ”Yes, I’m convinced he’s the

right guy. I like the way he deals with the players in a direct and

honest way.”

Since it seems obvious that Coughlin will be back, Mara was

asked about the Giants philosophy of not letting a coach go into

the season with a one year left on his contract.

”Extending Tom? That has been our philosophy in the past,

whether that continues or not has not been decided,” Mara said.

”I’m not sure he knows how much longer he wants to coach. It’s

very tough to have an exit strategy in the National Football

League.”

Mara agonized over the 0-6 start as much as the fans. He thinks

the team could have won its division if not for the horrendous

start.

”It kills me to go into these other stadiums and see this large

collection of Giants’ fans come out to support us and we put on

performance like we did in Kansas City, Carolina and San Diego,”

Mara said. ”It’s painful to watch that. There is no reason we

couldn’t win our division this. We needed to just make a couple of

plays in those games.

”If there was one positive, at least the locker room held

together. Three was no mutiny or finger pointing.”

Both Eli Manning and GM Jerry Reese pointed to Broncos

quarterback Peyton Manning as a reason that next season can be

better.

”There are some really good quarterbacks who have come back

from rough seasons and been really good players,” Reese said.

”Actually, his brother (Peyton) had 28 interceptions one season

(1998). (Eli) has to play better, we expect him to play better. He

expects to play better. One of the things that attracted us to him

when he came out of Ole Miss was that he made everyone around him

better.”

Peyton Manning set an NFL record with 55 touchdown passes during

the regular season.

”You can get better,” Eli Manning said. ”That’s with Peyton

having his best year at 37, so I know I can get better. I can make

improvements and play at a high level these next years and get back

to making playoffs and winning championships.”