"Jerry Reese made it clear what he thought about the Giants 2013 season. “7-9 sucks,” he said Monday as players cleaned out their lockers at the team’s training facility following a 20-6 win over the Redskins on Sunday.
At least the general manager is already on the same page as his coach and owner. Reese, Tom Coughlin and John Mara all expressed their disappointment with the Giants missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. But it’s Reese who is charged with making the necessary changes and upgrades needed to contend for another Super Bowl.
This easily will be the most challenging offseason of his seven-year tenure as the general manager as he faces a lengthy list of decisions that will need to be right for the Giants to be winners again.
The first task is to evaluate the performances of his coaching staff and players. He said he “absolutely” wants Coughlin to return as the head coach, but stopped short of endorsing the return of the entire staff.
“Until we talk to the head coach about those things it’s inappropriate to talk about that right now,” Reese said.
In addition, the general manager must address the 23 unrestricted free agents on his roster, including players such as defensive end Justin Tuck, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and running back Andre Brown. Reese also must identity free agents from other teams the Giants might want to pursue. Then there’s the upcoming draft, which the Giants need to be a success to address areas like the offensive line, running back and cornerback.
“When you’re 7-9 there’s obviously some personnel issues,” Reese said. “We’ve got to have better personnel.”
That’s the hard part. Reese had the magic touch early in his tenure, especially in 2007 when nearly all of his draft picks played a role in winning the Super Bowl. But the Giants haven’t been getting the same type of production from their middle- to late-round selections in recent years.
Other than first-round pick Justin Pugh, who started all 16 games at tackle, the Giants didn’t get a lot out of their 2013 selections, and the 2012 draft hasn’t produced much with first-round pick David Wilson proving fumble- and injury-prone, and second choice Rueben Randle developing slowly at wide receiver.
Marvin Austin, a defensive tackle taken in the second round in 2011 is long gone, while fourth-round pick, James Brewer was unimpressive during his play at offensive guard this year when injuries forced him into the lineup. If you go by the theory it takes three years to properly evaluate a draft, 2010 was not a winner. Jason Pierre-Paul and Joseph, the top two picks, are potential stars, but none of the next five picks are on the team. That is why the Giants have no depth.
“I don’t think anything’s wrong with our system and how we draft players,” Reese said. “But obviously we’ll evaluate that as well.”
Reese has two Super Bowl championships on his resume offering the kind of security that allowed him to take some risks drafting players that needed development. Players such as Pierre-Paul and offensive tackle Will Beatty were drafted without a deep football background.
But that might have to change. With the need for players to step in and be competitive right away, an NFL source said the Giants and other NFL teams may have to start drafting players primarily from the power conferences like the SEC, the Big Ten and ACC.
“They’ve already played in big games,” the source said.
Mara all but put Reese on notice when he said, “Personnel-wise, I think we obviously overvalued certain people. I think we have not gotten the production that we wanted out of certain draft slots.”
Yet Reese said he has total confidence his personnel department can find the right players to upgrade the talent.
“We have good personnel people in our building and we’ve done it well enough to win a couple of Super Bowls,” he said.
True. But the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league. And the Giants haven’t done much at all."