Dave Gettleman made it clear that one of the biggest reasons he hired Pat Shurmur to be the Giants' next head coach is because the 52-year-old is "an adult".
And yes, that certainly sounds like a subtle dig at former Giants coach Ben McAdoo, and maybe even a couple of the other candidates that were high on the Giants' list.
What it definitely is, though, is confirmation that Gettleman and the Giants weren't looking for the latest hot, young assistant coach, or the next rising star in the coaching ranks. They wanted what John Mara said they wanted all along - someone with experience, and someone mature enough to learn from his previous mistakes.
In short, they wanted want it turned out they did not have in McAdoo: A professional head football coach.
"I really believe the head coach job for the New York Football Giants is a job for an adult, and Pat's every bit of that," Gettleman told reporters on Wednesday at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. "He's an adult. He's mature. He's got wisdom. He's very even-keeled. It really pays off. I've watched him on the sideline. He doesn't get shook. He doesn't get rattled.
"This is a job for a grownup. We're halfway through the interview and I wrote down, 'This is an adult.' Everybody wants the next whiz-bang kid. Let me tell you something, you look at history and see how that's worked out. He's a veteran, seasoned, professional football coach."
The Giants don't have to do a deep dive into history to see how a "whiz-bang kid" worked out. In many ways, that was a good description of McAdoo, who got the Giants job at 38 after only two years as an offensive coordinator, and only 12 years in the league. The Giants hired him in 2014 as their offensive coordinator because of the outstanding work he did in Green Bay as Aaron Rodgers' quarterbacks coach the previous two seasons. And the two Top 10 offenses he ran with the Giants was the main reason he got their top job.
In hindsight, that relatively meteoric rise was too much. In Year 1, McAdoo seemed like a breath of fresh air to what some felt was the stale atmosphere Tom Coughlin had left behind after 12 seasons. He updated the strength and nutrition programs, revamped the schedules, added a musical soundtrack to practices, and used more pop culture references in motivational speeches and videos. He was also was much more lenient in his discipline, and more determined than Coughlin ever was to be his players' friend.
And it was nice when the Giants went 11-5 and returned to the playoffs. Even the ill-fated, pre-playoff party boat trip to Miami by the Giants' receivers - and McAdoo's startling refusal to criticize his players for it - seemed like a blip on his radar. But then last season, the losses mounted, players began grumbling, and fighting and paying no attention to team rules, and his act with the public and media wore thin. McAdoo simply crumbled under the weight of a job he likely wasn't ready to have.
Gettleman is pretty sure that won't happen with Shurmur, because Shurmur has been through this before.
"People aren't honest enough with themselves," Gettleman said. "It's a problem that people have. You don't think for a moment that after I got fired back in July that I didn't say, 'Ok, what did you do wrong?'
"In any walk of life, if you get let go, you were somehow complicit. And you have to be honest with yourself and figure that out. We talked to Pat about what he learned in Cleveland. He learned a lot and he was honest with himself and figured a lot of things out."
It's hard not to wonder if that was a concern in Gettleman's interview with Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator, who sources say is likely going to be the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. McDaniels was one of three finalists for the Giants job, according to a team source, but who knows how much blame he put on himself for his unsuccessful, short time as the head coach of the Denver Broncos (2009-10)?
Shurmur, by all accounts, understands what went on during his 9-23 tenure as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns (2011-12). And while he could blame starting his tenure during the NFL lockout, having to build a team while the franchise was being sold, or the general lack of talent (and a lack of a quarterback) that always plagues the Browns, he apparently didn't.
He told Gettleman what he did wrong, and what he'd do right the second time around.
That's the behavior of "an adult", and that explains why so many team sources said Shurmur's interview was by far the most impressive of the six candidates the Giants met with during their search. Maybe McDaniels or their other finalist, Matt Patricia, will turn out to be great coaches. Maybe McAdoo will one day get a second shot to be a great coach, too.
But the Giants right now needed someone to come in and clean up a mess - a professional who wasn't going to be learning on the job. That's what Shurmur is to the Giants.
And that's what they didn't have in the two years since they ushered Tom Coughlin out of town.