Jerry Reese‘s comments in a rare public appearance on Tuesday will do little to soothe the anger of Giants fans.
You’d figure a bye week would give fans of the 1-6 New York Giants a rest from unleashing their anger on social media.
But when Senior Vice President and General Manager Jerry Reese spoke on Tuesday afternoon for a rare in-season appearance, the vitriol broke out like it was a whole new Sunday.
While Reese did take responsibility for the idle Giants’ brutal start, the longtime Giants’ general manager seemed to show no regrets over the decisions…or lack thereof…that have led to the Giants’ season ending before Halloween. Namely, Reese defended the Giants’ decision to remain with the same starting five on the offensive line.
“We felt like [they] had a lot of snaps together and we felt like those guys, when you have some continuity in your offensive line, that’s a help,” Reese said. “We have some young players. I think they have improved. We’ve run the ball some, a little better than we have in the past.”
Reese went on to call the line “comparable” to other units in the league. He didn’t specifically call out the line, and rather cited the offense as a whole, as well as the defense’s, inability to close games.
“There were a few close games where the defense could have closed some games out. Some tight games that last year we closed some games out. This time, we let some games go that we could have closed out. [The] offense could have closed a game or two out late in the game when we’ve been ahead. So, you have to do the little things,” Reese stated. “We’ve beat ourselves, not taking anything from anyone that beat us, but a lot of things are self-inflicted that happened to us and we have to clean those things up. It’s pro football. You have to do the little things right and it starts with preparation.”
When discussing the aforementioned five (John Jerry, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Bobby Hart and Ereck Flowers), the conversation inevitably turned to tackle Ereck Flowers, 2015’s ninth overall pick and frequent scapegoat for the line’s problems. Like he has so many times in the past, Reese defended the Miami product, citing he was “not the reason we’re 1-6” and that he has “improved”. More incredulous, however, was a question he asked reporters moments later.
“Is he going to be our long-term left tackle?” Reese said before instantly answering his question. “We don’t know that, but if you look at him compared to a lot of left tackles around the National Football League, there’s a bunch of comparables around.”
— New York Giants (@Giants) October 24, 2017
Reese went to say “He’s still a young player, he’s been a starter for us for three years, I still believe he will develop and get better. He’s gotten better as the season has gone on, so far. But again, it’s a common theme for people to take swipes at Ereck. Ereck is not the only reason that we’re 1-6.”
While Reese’s defense of Flowers was probably expected, perhaps even admirable, he raised more eyebrows when he insisted the Giants wanted to be a “younger” football team. For the most part, this rang true during the offseason, especially on the offensive line. The Giants made minimal moves when it came to their blockers, adding only 26-year-old veteran DJ Fluker on a one-year deal, and rookies Chad Wheeler and Adam Bisnowaty, the latter of whom failed to make the team after being selected in the sixth round.
“It didn’t make sense for us [to add veteran line help] and that’s what we went with,” Reese said. “We want to be a younger offensive line. Again, do you want to try to develop a 23-year old guy, or do you want to bring in a 36-year old guy? We chose to go with the young guy.”
Seemingly out of the question, in that case, were free agent veterans Andrew Whitworth, Russell Okung, Ricky Wagner, and Riley Reiff. Yet, for all his talk of being a younger team, Reese still splurged on 33-year-old receiver Brandon Marshall, strengthening a group that was strong as it was.
Reese wasn’t asked about the Marshall addition but fielded questions on the Giants another injured receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. Fans and opponents alike have stated that Beckham should be the league’s highest-paid player, but Reese instead simply wished his receiver well.
“Really all I need to say about Odell is we need him to get healthy and that’s what’s most important right now, is that he’s healthy moving forward,” he said. “He is a terrific football player and it hurts anybody’s football team if you lose a player of his caliber.”
It all leads to the most important question of all…is Reese on the hot seat? Reese did answer this one, saying he feels he’s on notice, but it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before.
“I’ve been left for dead a lot of times since I’ve been doing this job and that’s just part of the business, it comes with the territory,” Reese said. “It’s a high-performance business. I’d love for us to have won 10 Super Bowls in my 10 years as the general manager of the Giants, but we haven’t. I wish we could have. We’ve won some games, but I sure believe we could have done better than we have.”
In addition to himself, Reese, who has not witnessed a playoff victory since Super Bowl XLVI, also insists that the Giants aren’t quite dead yet.
“We’ve been left for dead by a lot of people, but don’t count us out yet,” Reese said. “We’re going to go into the second half of the season, give it everything we have, do some self-evaluations and figure out what we can do better, what things we have done good, what we’ve done bad, how can we manufacture and win football games. That’s where our focus is moving forward right now.”
Following their bye, the Giants will return to action against the Los Angeles Rams at home on November 5.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490