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By the time John Mara and Dave Gettleman were done spinning Wednesday morning it seemed their first announcement of the postseason would be this: whenever the 2021 season commences at MetLife Stadium, a banner will be raised underneath the American flag, with a dozen marching bands adding pomp and circumstance to the occasion.
The banner reading:
2020 N.Y. FOOTBALL GIANTS: GREATEST 6-10 TEAM IN NFL HISTORY
Try as they might – and they tried mightily – it is difficult to believe that after all the dust settles Giants fans are anywhere near as satisfied as the co-owner and the general manager about the way this season played out.
There is one thing everyone seems to agree on: Joe Judge was an excellent hire to coach this team. Some (your humble narrator among them) believe he is bound for truly great things in his career; most seem content that he’s on the right track, has built a sound locker room filled with same-page believers who buy what he’s selling.
A few have been kind enough to tweet and e-mail this inconvenient truth: “I like what I’ve seen so far. But let’s not fit him for a jacket in Canton just yet. Six and 10 is still 6-10.”
Ah yes. Six and 10.
We can break that down farther, if you’d like. The Giants won one game against a team with a winning record this year, that still-hard-to-fathom upset of the Seahawks in Seattle. They also beat the Bengals, who finished 4-11-1. They also feasted on the NFC East which, you might have heard, was historically awful this year; they went 4-2 against Washington, Philly and Dallas, and swept the champion WFT.
After the Giants’ last game, a playoff-esque win over the Cowboys whose feel-good element lasted as long as it took Nate Sudfeld to start warming up on a sideline in Philadelphia a few hours later, it was almost cute to hear players talk about how that 4-2 mark had proven they deserved to represent the East in the playoffs.
“I feel like we run the division,” the ever-effervescent Logan Ryan said. “I feel like we’re the best team in the division.”
You could actually make a sound argument in defense of that position.
But the point remains: 6-10.
“We didn’t deserve to make the playoffs at 6-10,” Mara admitted.
“We didn’t win enough games,” he insisted.
“We’re all disappointed we couldn’t win more than six games,” he declared.
And while he also conceded he was “tired” of making it an annual tradition of sitting behind a podium and having to apologize for a losing record, he quickly talked about bright skies and brighter days ahead. He retains full confidence in Gettleman, made it seem that making a change there was never in the cards.
He also said: “I think the fact we went 5-3 in the second half is a reason for encouragement,” and that may actually be so. But it also sounded an awful lot like the hopeful declarations a lot of folks on the other side of town made last year when the Jets went 6-2 in the second half of their 2019 season.
(Spoiler alert: that turned out to be no reason for encouragement.)
“We’re on right track right now,” Gettleman insisted. “We’ve done some good stuff the last few years. We’ve learned from our mistakes, our processes are better. I believe we’ll continue in that vein.”
Now, it is important to say here: none of this should be terribly surprising. For as long as there has been a Mara in charge of the Giants – and that’s only been since 1925 – the company credo has been to err on the side of continuity. In recent years Mara has drawn fire from impatient Giants fans for behaving the very way he and his father and his uncle and his grandfather have always tended to act: by believing in their people. Sometimes past the point where anyone else did.
It’s why Allie Sherman wasn’t fired in 1965, why Bill Parcells wasn’t fired in 1983, why Tom Coughlin wasn’t fired in 2006. It’s why Jerry Reese wasn’t fired the first time the wolves started to bay, and why Gettleman has retained a federal judge’s job security through the 5-11/4-12/6-10 start to his tenure here.
That patience has proven wise in some instances, foolish in others, and it will take a full tour through the 2021 schedule – which, if you’ve taken a look, isn’t exactly what you would call “easy” – to know if it is misplaced here. It is perfectly fine to have that kind of belief in your people if you are John Mara.
But it’s wrong to think the fans who pay the freight share your unmitigated optimism. Many of them still need to be convinced. Six and 10 is still 6-10.
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