Several months removed from watching his team stumble to a 9-7 finish and no playoffs, Giants co-owner John Mara expressed confidence on this, the day before the team was scheduled to report for the start of its 2013 training camp at the newly renamed Quest Diagnostics Training Center, that this year’s club would be much improved.
“I do,” Mara said following a press conference to announce the team’s new corporate sponsorship with Quest Diagnostics. “We signed a lot of players. We’ve got a lot of guys on one-year deals who have a chance to re-invent themselves and re-establish their careers and they’re going to be highly motivated.
“And we filled in some needs for ourselves. I think we had a good draft,” he added. “So yeah, I’m excited about it. I think we have a very solid organization, a very solid team. Hopefully we’ll stay healthy and I think we can be as good as anybody.”
Mara believes that a combination of the team still being bitter about not being able to defend their Super Bowl championship from 2011 combined with the fact that this year’s Super Bowl will be played across the parking lot in MetLife Stadium, will be a driving motivational force this year.
“I would hope that that’s in the back of their minds, but I would like to think we’d use that to motivate you to play. There’s enough motivation in every NFL season,” Mara said.
The Giants spent the offseason handing out one-year contracts to nearly a dozen players, a curious move which would seem to indicate that the team might be looking at its window closing given the likelihood of increased turnover at the end of the year. But Mara said the trend just worked out that way.
“Some of them were in positions where I guess they were looking for longer term deals and didn’t find them and wanted to come to an organization where they felt like they had a chance to win and contribute and kind of re-invent themselves.”
The team did address one of its biggest issues and that was improving the depth in the trenches, most notably along the defensive line.
“That certainly was a goal through the offseason and I think through the draft and through some of the free agent signings we have accomplished that,” Mara said. “But they’re going to have to prove it on the field.”
And then there is Eli Manning, the franchise quarterback, who as long as he is on the field, Mara believes gives the team the best chance to win.
“As long as he is behind center, yeah, we still have a chance to win and compete,” Mara said. “He has got to have some help and I think we have enough players to give him that help. We put together what I think is a good team, and it comes down like it does every year to staying healthy and guys playing up to their potential. We have a lot of players with a lot of pride in that locker room and I think they are ready to get going and put last year behind them and play like Giants.”
And just how good of a team does Mara think the Giants have as compared to the 2011 squad, the last Giants team to win a super Bowl?
“I look at us on paper and I think we’re every bit as good as that team,” Mara said. “But there’s a long way to go between the paper and proving it on the field. But we have enough talent to compete with anybody.”
The Giants and first-round draft pick Justin Pugh have agreed to terms on a new contract. Pugh tweeted he was packing, presumably to head to East Rutherford for the start of tomorrow’s camp. Meanwhile one of his representatives, CJ LaBoy, tweeted the announcement that the two sides have agreed to terms.
Mara said that a group of staffers from the Giants front office will make the trip to Canton to watch former Giants head coach Bill Parcells be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I am looking forward to it,” he said. “A number of us here are going out there for it. We are looking forward to being out there. Obviously he was a great coach for us, I know he will be very emotional. I am looking forward to seeing him and congratulating him in person. It will be a great day.”