EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - From the moment Dave Gettleman learned he wasn't fired, he vowed to do whatever his bosses wanted in the best interests of the team. If that meant giving up some of his power or even final say over personnel decisions, he said he'd do it.
In the end, he didn't have to. And it turns out, no one asked.
According to Giants co-owner John Mara, Gettleman's power and status wasn't the big issue everyone thought it would be during their nine-day, five-interview search for a new head coach that ended up with former Patriots special teams coach Joe Judge. Not only did they not lose anyone because of their power structure, Mara said, but the subject hardly even came up.
"It was not a factor," Mara said. "Most of the coaches asked what their involvement would be in personnel and I think Dave answered the question satisfactory. Not one of them said 'Hey, that's a problem.'
"And his approach is to build a partnership with the coach and to try to come to a consensus on personnel issues. That's what he's doing the last two years and that's what he's going to keep doing."
Of course, who knows if Mike McCarthy or Matt Rhule or anyone else was scared off even a little by the Giants' old-school structure? Plenty of people around the NFL believe that subject would've been the centerpiece of their interview with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels if he had come in on Wednesday as they originally planned.
But the 38-year-old Judge, as a first-time head coach, had neither the leverage nor, apparently, the desire for a power play. He clearly wants a voice in picking the players, as any head coach does. He made sure to mention that his job in New England was "heavy on personnel" and involved "looking at players with a big-picture perspective."
But he said he "couldn't have been more excited" to talk football with Gettleman, whom he called "tremendous." And clearly it was music to Gettleman's ears when he listened to Judge and realized their football philosophies aligned.
"The biggest thing was when he came in and said 'You've got to run the ball and stop the run, and let's play special teams,'" Gettleman said. "There's a toughness you develop when you build your team to do those types of things.
"People say it's a passing league. I get that. You know, that (TV) graphic on Sunday afternoon should not have been lost on anybody: The top four passing teams were not in the playoffs. The top four rushing teams were in the playoffs. Again, it's a physical, violent game. And you don't build your team to do that, late in the year when the weather's lousy and it's mush out there, it's tough for that team to win."
Judge was all in on that, saying he wanted to build a team that will "punch you in the nose for 60 minutes." And for everyone that wanted the Giants to go deep on analytics and finesse and whatever it is they think modern football entails, Judge said "You can't get by with new gimmicks or new schemes and think you re-invented the wheel. The same things win football games that have always won football games. Fundamentals."
So the Giants have the alignment they're looking for between the coach's office and the front office, even without flipping their power structure the way so many other teams are doing. The key now is for Judge and Gettleman to make it work. It has worked often in the past - most notably when general managers listen to their coaches and they can agree on the types of players they want to get.
If you want to trace back to where this latest awful stretch of Giants football began, some former assistant coaches insist it started when former GM Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin started clashing. The coaches wanted the Giants to draft certain players. The GM picked the ones he wanted instead. And just like that, everything quickly fell apart.
Can Judge and Gettleman avoid a future power struggle? That remains to be seen. But they're the only ones that can insure they don't start pulling in two different directions.
"We're going to work together," Gettleman said. "It's collaborative. We'll work through every situation."
Added Mara: "I expect (Judge) and Dave to have discussions about the 53 (man roster) and about the draft, and to come to an agreement."