EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – John Mara would be perfectly happy if two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning had a great season for the New York Giants and heir apparent and first-round draft pick Daniel Jones never took a snap.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday for the first time since training camp opened, the Giants’ co-owner said he wants to walk off the field after the final game and feel the franchise is heading back in the right direction.
The Giants have made the playoffs once (2016) since winning the Super Bowl in February 2012. The have won eight games over the past two seasons, five last season under then-new coach Pat Shurmur.
Manning, who is entering a record 16th season with the Giants, is in the final year of his contract.
Mara said the 38-year-old Manning would have his contract handled on a year-to-year basis, something Manning felt was fair.
“I hope Eli has a great year and Daniel never sees the field,” Mara said. “In an ideal world you would like to see that. At the end of the day, it is going to be a decision by the head coach as to when or if Daniel ends up playing.”
Mara said Jones not playing would mean the Giants and Manning are having a great season.
If a change is made, Mara said the only thing he wants is to hear about it before he reads it.
Looking at this season, Mara feels general manager Dave Gettleman has done a good job rebuilding the team through the draft, trades and decisions on free agency. He sees good young talent on both sides of the ball, which is a cause for optimism. He also likes the feel of the locker room this year, adding it’s stronger than last year.
While he admitted it was tough seeing players such as receiver Odell Beckham Jr., safety Landon Collins and linebacker Olivier Vernon either traded or sign elsewhere as free agents, Mara supported Gettleman’s decisions.
“You don’t like to see all that talent go out the door,” Mara said. “But let’s face it we had one winning season in ‘16 and the other five or six years were not-so good since we won the last Super Bowl. We needed some drastic changes. Again, he (Gettleman) had the courage of his convictions. He knew they would be unpopular moves but he went out and made them anyway.”
Mara has never been a patient owner and he takes losses pretty hard. However, he understands there is a big picture to look at, although he still hates losing.
Manning’s mindset is to play well, win games and have a great year. The goal is to make the playoffs and make a run in the postseason.
“The goal is to always win a championship,” Manning said. “You can’t do that without making the playoffs. The goal is to win the division and go from there.”
Manning isn’t worried about his contract, saying it’s fair for the Giants to discuss it after the season.
Jones has been good in training camp and was very impressive in the preseason opener against the Jets, hitting all five of his passes and throwing a touchdown pass in his only drive.
“I think people need to temper their enthusiasm a little bit,” Mara said. “It’s one preseason game, one series. But so far, so good.”
Mara said he met with Jones before the draft and asked him if he had a “thick skin.” After the draft, Mara asked the Duke product whether he understood why he was asked about his mental toughness and the quarterback smiled.
“He can handle being the quarterback of the New York Giants,” Mara said, adding talking to Jones reminds him of talking to a young Manning.
Mara said Manning has been a great representative for the franchise. He also knows the run will end at some point.
“It will be a difficult, emotional moment I’m sure, but I’m not thinking about that just yet,” Mara said.
NOTES: Mara spoke after a ceremony announcing that Investors Bank is introducing new checking accounts and debit cards with Giants’ logos. … CB DeAndre Baker says his sprained left knee is feeling fine. He did not practice. … Shurmur allowed S Antoine Bethea, G Kevin Zeitler and T Mike Remmers to skip the practice so they could rest.
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