INDIANAPOLIS - Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman took to the same podium within the same half-hour Tuesday and offered a state of the New York Giants as the NFL Combine kicks into high gear.
Judge, head coach of Big Blue for six weeks, and Gettleman, general manager in the midst of his third offseason in the role, set forth a plan for how they promise to rebuild the roster and answer the call from ownership and a scorned fan base following yet another losing season, the organization's sixth in the last seven years.
Here are takeaways from their sessions with reporters:
What's this noise about Daniel Jones?
The Giants are committed to Daniel Jones as their franchise quarterback.
Yet given numerous opportunities to affirm that Tuesday, Judge and Gettleman essentially punted, leading to speculation that maybe the Giants were no longer sold on Jones the way we believed they were.
That's not why Judge - and then Gettleman, refusing to undercut his coach - still has not mentioned Jones by name since he was hired as head coach. Matter of fact, Judge has quite an incredible streak going right now, as he has yet to mention publicly any player on the current Giants roster by name.
Don't expect that to change any time soon, not until the Giants return for the offseason program April 6 and officially begin the Judge era, coaches and players together at work for the first time.
It's really a philosophical thing for Judge, who believes that every player on the roster deserves an opportunity to come back for the 2020 season with a clean slate. That does not mean Judge, Gettleman, the rest of the coaching staff or ownership are without evaluations of the players and where they fit.
Jones is the quarterback to lead the Giants forward, and both Judge and Gettleman believe he will be that guy. You may disagree with Judge's philosophy that, by not singling out any players, he's protecting the team and any expectations that would be placed by doing so. This isn't a statement about Jones or a lack of commitment to him.
"I never in any way, shape or form said that" he was not committed to Jones being his quarterback, Judge insisted when pressed Tuesday.
Remember: it was not long ago that Ben McAdoo - before his second year as Giants' head coach began - declared Paul Perkins the starting running back. Perkins struggled, and the decision to announce something like that so soon became a source of criticism of both the player and the coach.
Judge fully admitted Tuesday that he knows some will criticize him for refusing to praise his players, and, with a smile, he said: "I accept that."
He did also say he believed his players would understand when they got the chance to finally go to work together. Judge has what he believes is the blueprint to building a team - he's not trying to be the next Nick Saban or Bill Belichick, but this is a glimpse into some of what he learned from their success.
“I’m not going to establish any status or hierarchy within the player or position groups by spending a month talking about individuals,” Judge said. “That’s important to me.”
2. 'We're open for business'
Gettleman has never traded down to accrue additional assets in the NFL Draft, but he declared that the Giants were "open for business" with regard to the No. 4 pick.
Does that mean the Giants will seriously entertain offers? That's debatable, and the way Gettleman put it Tuesday, it's not that he is philosophically opposed to trading down - it's that he believes the deal must be sweet enough to willingly accept the pitfalls that come with it.
"We're all creatures of what we've done, of our experiences," Gettleman said, adding: "I've tried to trade back as a general manager, but the value wasn't there, and there was a player there that we really liked. I've seen teams trade themselves away from really good players, and while it hasn't scarred me, I've seen what it has done to those teams, and it's something I just have in my head."
Of the No. 4 pick, Judge said: "A great pick – there’s a lot of beachfront property right there ... Whatever the scenario that comes to be that’s best for the Giants, if that’s trading back, we’re open to listen. We don’t have to do anything but we’ll listen to anything.”
3. The gold jacket test revisited
When the Giants held the No. 2 pick two years ago, Gettleman was adamant about his "gold jacket test" - whomever they selected needed to project as a Pro Football Hall of Famer - and how Saquon Barkley met those qualifications.
"We were talking about that the other day, and you can make the argument that it still should be there," Gettleman said. "I mean, there's a lot of good players in this draft. There really are. I'm excited about the process and diving in, and doing the film work, and having the guys come in for private visits - there's a lot of good players in this draft."
At this point, if the Giants stand pat, logic suggests they could be choosing between offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton and Andrew Thomas and a defensive stalwart such as linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
Gettleman reiterated his belief that the offensive line is the most significant component in accelerating a young quarterback’s maturation.
“Last time I checked it’s really difficult to complete a pass when you’re on your back," he quipped.
4. Establishing the Giants' identity
Judge is not shy about discussing what he has learned coaching at the hip of Saban at Alabama and Belichick with the Patriots.
But make no mistake: the 38-year-old does not want to turn the Giants into Alabama North or Foxborough South.
“The only priority is to bring in good football players,” Judge said. “We’re not trying to recreate anywhere we’ve been before. We’re interested in building the 2020 New York Giants, not recreating any of those other programs.”
5. The Leonard Williams decision
Gettleman is adamant about not discussing contract negotiations in the media.
But when it comes to impending free agent Leonard Williams, whom he promised season ticket holders after trading for him that he'd re-sign him, there is no question of the fallout if the former Jet is not back.
The Giants traded their in-state rivals a 2020 third-round pick and a conditional 2021 fifth-round pick that turns into a fourth rounder if Williams gets a new deal with Big Blue.
"He's a good young player," Gettleman said of Williams, on whom the Giants could use the transition tag. "I'll get killed [if the Giants don't resign Williams], but I have thick rhino hide."