This the last of a three-part series.
A seven-year run coaching a professional team is
impressive. A seven-year stint in the Big Apple? Very
impressive. That's what Jim Fassel will leave behind
as he wraps up his Giants career and heads elsewhere.
He'll walk out of Giants Stadium head held high,
statistically one of the best coaches in Giants
history. Fassel recently took some time out to sit
down with TGI for this exclusive question-and-answer
Q: In your worst nightmare before the year could you
have envisioned this unfolding?
A: No, never. You're always susceptible to not having
a good year, and there isn't a guy coaching that
hasn't had it. But I never thought that we'd get to
this point, especially right now. I always held out
hope that we'd keep fighting and close the gap down
the wire and that we could do it. Early on, turnovers
and losing some games. Now we're just so darn banged
up that it makes it difficult.
Q: What the heck went wrong this year?
A: First of all, it's been very frustrating and very
disappointing. I think more than anything else, what
really drives me is that Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch
mean a lot to me. I've had a long relationship with
them and I don't want to see them go through this. I
knew what the Giants were when I first came here.
There were a lot of problems going on, and I thought I
could do some things. But we're struggling right now.
Maybe I've never got the point across to them, and
I've had to battle the media, which in this town is
large. Before the season, everyone was talking about
how good we were going to be. But we had holes like
everybody else and concerns like everybody else. What
I tried to tell them is that we were no better off or
worse off than about 25 teams in this league, and that
we have to play a certain level of ball to be there.
We started off well, played a solid game to beat the
Rams. But that Dallas loss really took the wind out of
our sails; really shook the core. Then we tried to
fight our way back, not really playing as well. Then
after the Philadelphia game – we had them too. Two
teams in our division that are going to the playoffs,
we had them down and out. From then on, we never,
ever, ever were able to get our momentum back. And
where we are now, we're so banged up it's difficult.
Q: How do you feel when you hear Mr. Mara so
distraught with how the season's gone?
A: I'm ultimately responsible for it. Everyone knows
it's always been me; I'm out there. When things are
going well, there are a lot of people that want to
step up. When things aren't going well, everyone wants
to scatter. I'm the one responsible and it makes me
feel bad. But there's nothing I can do about it. I
work as hard as I can and do everything I can. If
you're going to have a downturn season, you're going
to have it. You just have to be braced for it. I have
an unbelievable amount of respect for Mr. Mara. He's a
very prideful man. This is his life. When it's not
going well, he feels bad. I feel even worse that he
Q: Looking back, what could you have done differently
to prevent this?
A: I knew the offensive line was a problem area, but I
didn't want to say that publicly. Then all the guys on
the offensive line think that we have no confidence in
them. You can only react to what the circumstances
were a year ago. At the end of last year, we had lost
some games because we couldn't hold up defensively up
front. We had had some injuries and we were really
thin. It cost us the Tennessee game when we were ahead
of them but couldn't put any pressure on (Steve)
McNair. It cost us the San Francisco (playoff) game,
because we couldn't put any pressure on them. That was
the first area. The second area was that we obviously
needed some special teams help. We needed a snapper,
we needed a punter; we needed some things. So we went
after those two areas. We didn't have enough money to
go after defensive line, special teams and offensive
line. What would have been good would have been if we
could have signed (Jason) Whittle back and (Mike)
Rosenthal back. Then we wouldn't have had to go
searching. I really thought we'd get those guys back,
so when we didn't, yeah, we have created another hole.
But there wasn't a whole lot we could have done about
it. You have to have some money to get some guys.
Q: What can you take from this season?
A: First of all, a bad year. It's the worst year I've
had. There are certain things you do to prevent
losing. The starting point for me was turnover ratio.
Going into this year, in six years, we were a plus-23.
Right now, we're a minus-12. You're not going to win
that way. There's really nobody in this league that
has a superior enough team to be able to survive that.
Philadelphia started the year with eight turnovers in
the first two games. In the next 10 or 11, they had
only nine, averaging less than one a game. You can see
it in their won/loss record. You just see things we
could have done that would have prevented it. You
wonder why we fell into that trap. Sometimes you just
don't know. We had a kick that if it had stayed in
bounds we would have won (Dallas). We have a kick that
if it would have gone out of bounds we would have won
Q: Can you find any positives in this mess?
A: You really have to reach for that. Honestly, one
positive thing is that I like our guys' attitude. They
will fight. They will come. They work hard. There's
been no quit in them. I have guys down there right now
that are hurt. I'm thinking I'm going to have to put
them on IR and they're begging me not to. They want to
play. People just look at the 4-9 and figure that they
must not be trying. That is not the case. Not at all.
That means a lot to me.
Q: Finally, what's the state of Jim Fassel right now?
How are you holding up?
A: I'm a little more worn out than usual. I don't
sleep as well. This is my life. This is all-consuming
to me. All I do is go home, go to sleep and come back
in here. There's nothing else in my life. A lot of
coaching associates and friends ask me and are worried
about how I'm doing. I'm doing fine. I'm doing fine.
I'm just trying to keep my focus on doing my job.
A Conversation with Jim Fassel Part III
The Giants Beat Top Stories
McAdoo; Beckham needs to control his emotionsNew York's head coach Ben McAdoo acknowledged on a conference call that his star player was out of control for his tantrum on the sidelines.
The Giants BeatTuesday at 7:33 AM
Insider Debate: Josh Norman vs Odell BeckhamThe Giants Beat's lead writer and Breaking Burgundy's expert debate the age-old question of who will get the upper-hand between Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman.
The Giants BeatSaturday at 8:36 AM
Start em', Sit em': Giants vs. RedskinsTake a look at who our fantasy expert says you should start and who you should sit in this week's NFC East clash.
The Giants BeatFriday at 8:24 AM
Manning gives Vikings R-E-S-P-E-C-TGiants quarterback Eli Manning has been brutalized by substandard Minnesota Vikings defenses. He seemed cautiously optimistic fresh off of film study of the 2016 Vikings – a…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 9:01 PM