After back to back 6-10 seasons put New York Giants GM Jerry Reese on the hot seat, he has responded with two impressive offseasons.
There was a distinct difference between prominent rapper Drake’s “Back to Back” and the one courtesy of New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese.
For the Canadian artist, it was a diss track that boosted his popularity and sent the entertainment world into a frenzy. For Reese, it was consecutive 6-10 seasons that put him on the hot seat, as Big Blue had missed the playoffs in back to back years two times over.
But credit has to be distributed where it’s due. Reese responded by drastically improving his product. Dominant defenses are often synonymous with a Giants franchise that has hoisted four Super Bowl trophies. But in 2015, that side of the ball was comically horrendous, finishing 30th in points allowed and dead last in yards. Spending $200 million netted positive results as the G-Men returned to glory with the second-best scoring defense in the league.
The end result wasn’t what they had hoped for as the Giants were bounced in the first-round of the postseason at the hands of Aaron Rodgers, who lit them up for 38 points. So, this just meant there was more work to be done.
After the Jets released Brandon Marshall, it became clear the 11-year wanted to sign with a contender. He’s nearing the end of his career and it’s time to win a championship or at least play in the postseason, which he’s never done.
On the first official day of free agency, Marshall inked a two-year deal to stay in New York and play for the crosstown rival. From a dysfunctional franchise to a competent one, good move, B. Marsh.
This is a tremendous move for a unit that was near the bottom of the league in two major offensive categories (25th in yards and 26th in points). Marshall had arguably the worst season of his career in 2016, but he was hampered by nagging injuries and his quarterbacks were Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty.
The Giants are hoping they signed the same receiver who set two franchise records for the Jets in his inaugural season with the team. Marshall had 109 catches and 1,502 receiving yards. He’d presumably be the No. 2 receiver behind Odell Beckham Jr. and could contribute to the growth and maturation of now second-year player Sterling Shepard.
There is trepidation, though. Marshall and Beckham are both alpha males who have had their characters impugned numerous times. But the feeling is that his veteran presence will have a profound impact in a favorable way.
Many of the issues last year for the Giants revolved around the failures of the offensive line. This group was wildly inconsistent. D.J. Fluker, who they signed to a one-year deal, will compete for the starting spot. The hope is that a change of scenery will enable him to tap into the potential that surrounded him as a former 11th overall pick.
It’s still too early to tell how the roster will shake up with so much time left between now and the first game of next season. But so far, so good. Reese will obviously look to continue rebuilding that offensive line in next month’s draft.
The responsibility will ultimately fall on the Giants to take the next step and become a better team. Ben McAdoo is set to begin his second year at the helm and figures to show improvement. In a press conference two weeks ago, he addressed some of team’s flaws.
“Turning the ball over 27 times isn’t acceptable,” McAdoo said at the Combine. “We’re fortunate to have the wins that we had turning the ball over the way we turned the ball over. We can’t turn the ball over that way.”
Then he went on to publicly criticize Eli Manning, who was responsible for 20 of those turnovers. While many gravitate toward defending the two-time Super Bowl MVP against a man who just finished his rookie season as the head coach, what McAdoo said was warranted. He was correct.
Eli has to simply play better. Wins and losses will always fall on the quarterback for better or for worse and for Manning, he threw 16 interceptions, which was the most since 2013 when he led the NFL with 27. He also had his lowest rating (51.8) and passing yards total (4,027) since that year. Manning averaged 6.7 yards per attempt, his lowest mark since 2007.
And you can try pointing to the offensive line to absolve Eli of some of the blame. That’s fair, but remember, the Giants surrendered 21 sacks and 64 QB hits. This ranked 3rd and 4th lowest respectively. Manning wasn’t an innocent bystander.
Everyone heralded the Dallas Cowboys as the favorites to win the NFC East next season, which might prove to be the case. But the Giants, and Eagles for that matter, aren’t going down quietly.
There are still glaring holes that need to be addressed, but for the second-straight offseason, Jerry Reese has done a commendable job. And now, his team looks to be gearing up for another chance at contending for a title.