How New York Giants GM Joe Schoen plans to 'push the envelope'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Joe Schoen took the stage Wednesday afternoon with a sharp navy suit, matching blue patterned tie and a New York Giants pin gleaming on his lapel. They were accompanied by a pair of fancy designer suede driving shoes and a smile befitting the achievement of becoming one of 32 NFL general managers in the world.

This scene marked the dawn of a new Giants era. One they hope is much different from the previous four years under Dave Gettleman.

Schoen had the look, feel and words of a very different general manager than the Giants have ever had.

"I believe in [analytics]. Any tool that can help us win games or give us a competitive advantage, we're going to continue to push the envelope and find out what those are," he said.

Pushing the envelope wasn't a hallmark of Gettleman's tenure. That was more trying to catch up with the rest of the league, not just with analytics and technology, but pretty much everything -- including talent.

Schoen, 42, was hired away from the Buffalo Bills, where he was the assistant GM, to reshape and restore the once-proud Giants. He even mentioned something Wednesday during a radio interview on WFAN as basic as updating the magnets they've used since forever in the draft room to a digital version. Simple, but likely necessary. The Giants' decision-makers should have every tool at their fingertips like the rest of the league.

That's just scratching the surface of what will ultimately change, and it's part of what impressed ownership.

"His vision in how to build a team combining all the analytics and sports science and how to build a staff and different roles for each person on the staff -- how he wants our scouts to act, how he wants our pro personnel department to act. ... There's a lot of thought that went behind that," co-owner John Mara said.

"They've obviously had success with it in Buffalo and we need to make some changes in how we do things around here and that was one of the big reasons why we wanted to bring somebody in from the outside that can look and see ... what we're doing well, see what we're doing poorly at and just change things to a point where everybody's on the same page moving forward."

It's what needs to happen after a decade of poor results. The Giants have made the playoffs once in the past 10 years and went an ugly 19-46 under Gettleman. They're going from an admitted "dinosaur" to a general manager who, unprompted, said he wanted a "progressive" head coach.

That alone appears to be progress. The days of punting from the opponents' 40-yard line for the sake of field position appear to be over.

"Intelligence is important. I think being progressive in your approach to coaching, whether it's with analytics, when to go, when not to go, when to punt, I think you've got be open to all that stuff," Schoen said of some of the character traits he's looking for as the Giants continue their search for a new coach. "You've got to be open to sports performance, strength and conditioning. You've got to listen to the experts in their field. Those are some of the major qualities that I'm looking for as we move forward."

Schoen and Mara said a coaching hire was likely to happen by early next week. The other changes in the organization might be subtle at first. For example, Schoen is adamant about evaluating everyone in the building before making any moves.

And the coach will still report to the general manager.

"Yes, that is fair to say. That's the structure that I believe in with the head coach reporting to the general manager," Mara said.

Ownership will still be involved. This isn't a hands-off group, and Mara talked Wednesday about the coaching hire being a truly collaborative process. He, along with his brother, Chris, and co-owner Steve Tisch, have been in every in-person interview. Mara even denied that Schoen would have more say in finding a coach than his predecessors at GM.

While somewhat concerning that a process which has failed the Giants several times over remains mostly unchanged, the results have a chance to be different with a more forward-thinking general manager who saw firsthand in Buffalo how a struggling organization can be turned into a Super Bowl contender.

Schoen is the first GM the Giants have hired from outside their family in more 40 years, and his willingness to consider new ideas at every level of the organization could be the biggest change the Giants have needed.

"If it's going to help us in the draft process with the evaluations or the free-agency process with the evaluations or contract value and who do these players compare to, if it's going to help us with our practice schedule to keep guys healthy, keep guys on the field, if guys are running too much or working too hard or there are signs -- you have to be open-minded to the information. It's a piece of the puzzle," Schoen said. "It's not going to drive the entire process, but it's another tool that we need to use in order to get whatever competitive advantage we can and make the best decisions we can for the New York Giants."

It has to better than operating as they have, at a competitive disadvantage.