Throughout his tenure as New York Giants general manager, Jerry Reese has had more than his fair share of criticism.
Despite being the general manager of two Super Bowl teams, many say he already had a championship team in place. The core of those New York Giants Super Bowl teams (Eli Manning, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora Chris Snee, Brandon Jacobs, David Diehl, Corey Webster) were all acquired under the previous general manager Ernie Accorsi.
With the exception of Manning when those players were past their prime or moved on to other teams, Reese failed to adequately replace them.
One of the major criticisms of the franchise’s current general manager Jerry Reese is how he has struck out on his second and mid round draft picks. Players such as Clint Sintim, Marvin Austin, Rueben Randle, Travis Beckum and Jerrel Jernigan were all drafted in either the second or third rounds and for one reason or another, they all had disappointing careers with the Giants.
Perhaps his biggest disappointing draft came in 2009 when the Giants have five picks in the top 100 and none of the picks made it to a Pro Bowl, and four of the five players were off the team by the 2014 season.
Player retention has also been an issue with Reese as with the exception of Jason Pierre-Paul, all of Reese’s first-round draft picks left the Giants after their rookie contracts were up.
Due to Reese’s miscues, the Giants missed the playoffs from 2012-2015 which ultimately led to the departure of head coach Tom Coughlin. Most felt that Reese should have left as well since he’s the one responsible for the roster. But since then, Reese has done his best work since becoming general manager and has vastly improved the roster.
First, he upgraded the defense via free agency by acquiring Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Keenan Robinson. These acquisitions were the main reason the Giants went from dead last in total defense in 2015 to 10th in 2016.
Reese perhaps had perhaps his best draft class since 2007 as Eli Apple, Sterling Shepard, Paul Perkins and Jerell Adams all had solid rookie seasons, and all have the potential to become full-time starters in 2017 and be the core of the team for years to come. This doesn’t even include third round pick safety Darian Thompson who showed promise before missing the final 14 games due to a foot injury.
These players made huge contributions in the Giants getting back to their winning ways with an 11-5 record and made the playoffs for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLVI.
But Reese was not content with the success the Giants had in 2016. He knew he needed to add key pieces to improve key positions on the roster.
He made a huge splash on day one of free agency by signing receiver Brandon Marshall to a two-year contract. Fans will miss Victor Cruz and all that he meant to the organization, but Marshall is a huge upgrade over Cruz.
Marshall will be the big and physical target the Giants have needed for years. A major problem with the offense last season was their deficiencies in the red zone. With Marshall now a Giant, many of the field goals they were kicking last season will be converted into touchdowns this season.
Reese then added fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison, who will be a big help to the offensive line as he is a terrific blocker. Last season, the Giants didn’t have a fullback, now with Ellison on the team they can attack defenses with different formations.
He then added former 1st round pick offensive guard/tackle D.J.Fluker who was recently released by the Chargers. Fluker may not have lived up to expectations with the San Diego Chargers, but he’s a versatile lineman that will be a welcomed addition to Big Blue.
Then, on Friday, Reese reached a deal with one of his own as he and Jason Pierre-Paul came to terms on a four-year deal.
No matter the era, the Giants have always been at their best when they’ve been able to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks. So making sure JPP would be a Giant for years to come was a priority. The Giants will now have JPP and Olivier Vernon signed through the 2020 season.
Some may say Reese spent too much with some of his signings. But if the Giants continue to improve the way they did last season, it will be money well spent and could make him the NFL’s Executive of the year.
It’s only March but you can’t fault Giants fans for being excited about the upcoming season. The team is now favored to win the NFC East and one of the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LII.
After years of bashing Reese and is decision making, it’s now time to give him his due for turning the Giants into one of the elite teams in the NFL.