The Giants have their new general manager. Joe Schoen now has the daunting task of turning around the fortunes of a franchise that sunk to the bottom of the NFL during five years of unprecedented losing.
Schoen, 42, is the choice of Giants ownership, surviving the initial nine-man candidate pool and then rising above the other two finalists, Adam Peters of the 49ers and Ryan Poles of the Chiefs. The decision to hire Schoen was made by co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. If he can infuse the Giants with what he helped inject into the Bills, it will be a move to be praised for years to come.
There is no time for victory laps. Schoen must immediately turn his attention to moving forward with his list of head coach options, as the Giants fired Joe Judge two years into a five-year contract. Schoen’s Bills face the Chiefs in Kansas City Sunday night in an AFC divisional playoff game but Schoen will immediately dive into the coaching search with the Giants.
The natural instinct is to link Schoen to Brian Daboll, the Bills’ offensive coordinator, and that instinct should not be ignored. Figure Daboll is a serious contender and at the top of Schoen’s list. Co-owner John Mara last week said there are no “package deals’’ when it comes to a general manager bringing in his own head coach, but a Schoen-Daboll power pairing to lead the Giants is definitely a strong and possible option.
The Giants, before choosing Schoen as their new general manager, requested an interview with Dan Quinn, the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator (and former Falcons’ head coach). Brian Flores, unexpectedly fired by the Dolphins after this past season, also will interest the Giants.
Schoen replaces Dave Gettleman, who the Giants sent into retirement after producing a record of 19-46 in his four years running the football operations. The Giants parted ways with Gettleman the day after their 4-13 season ended and Mara immediately stressed what he wanted out of the next general manager.
“We are looking for a person who demonstrates exceptional leadership and communication abilities,’’ Mara said, “somebody who will oversee all aspects of our football operations, including player personnel, college scouting and coaching.’’
Schoen will be the point-man for the head coach search, and his recommendation must be approved by Mara and Tisch. This is common practice with the Giants, but there is nothing common with the authority Schoen will be given. Mara wants Schoen to handle every aspect of the football operation, acknowledging that there must be a new way of doing things and that the comfort zone the Giants have existed in, to a certain extent, can no longer be tolerated.
Schoen (pronounced “Shane”) is the first Giants general manager with no ties to the team since 1979, when George Young arrived to save a franchise on the tail end of what would be a 17-year playoff drought. Schoen was the first candidate the Giants met with via teleconference in the first round and he was going to be difficult to beat, as the Giants were high on him from the start of the process. He was also the first to be called back for a second interview, this time in-person at the Giants’ facility. That was Tuesday. Poles and Peters came in the next two days, respectively, but Schoen was the pick.
As the Bills’ assistant general manager, Schoen came to Buffalo in 2017, hired by general manager Brandon Beane (the two worked together previously with the Panthers). The duo helped the Bills end a stretch of 17 consecutive seasons without a playoff berth and built a powerhouse team, led by fast-improving quarterback Josh Allen.
In Buffalo, Schoen had a hand in personnel, analytics, communications and football operations. He was a finalist last year for general manager openings with the Panthers and Falcons.
Schoen played quarterback and wide receiver at Indiana’s DePauw University. As a national scout with the Dolphins in 2008, Schoen made an impression on Bill Parcells, the Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion head coach with the Giants. Parcells at the time was the executive vice president of football operations in Miami.
Schoen got his start in the NFL in 2000, working as an intern in the Panthers ticket office. It is 22 years later, and Schoen is entrusted with rebuilding the Giants.