New York Giants have major decisions to make about future
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Figuring out what went wrong this season isn’t the New York Giants’ biggest problem heading into the bye week.
With a 1-6 record, the Giants probably are going to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, and co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch have to consider some housecleaning.
General manager Jerry Reese is certainly on the hot seat. The good will the 54-year-old Reese established in winning the Super Bowl in two of his first five seasons has been exhausted by the dismal recent run. This year’s performance is particularly frustrating because the Giants were coming off an 11-5 record in Ben McAdoo’s first season. Much was expected, even a run to a fifth Lombardi Trophy.
McAdoo hasn’t distinguished himself this season, either. The team obviously wasn’t ready for the start of the campaign. The offense has struggled for the second straight year with him calling the plays, and the defense has failed to close out games. His curt manner has alienated the media.
It is unlikely that ownership will give up on the 40-year-old McAdoo this early in his career. The last coach fired after two seasons was Ray Handley in 1992. He was canned after his team was in open rebellion in a 6-10 second season.
That brings us back to Reese. He barely survived the shakeup after 2015 that claimed long-time coach Tom Coughlin, the driving force behind the Super Bowl wins in 2008 and ’12. Mara and Tisch actually put Reese on notice after the 2015 season and he responded by spending nearly $200 million to sign defensive end Olivier Vernon, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Janoris Jenkins as free agents.
It was a bold move that turned one of the NFL’s worst defenses into a unit that led the Giants back to the postseason.
Inexplicably, Reese sat on his hands this past offseason. He had two major jobs. He needed to re-sign defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and he had to fix the offensive line, which was horrible in 2015. It failed to generate a running game and it allowed Eli Manning to get hit more often than any quarterback should.
The deal with JPP was done without a hitch.
The line was left to fend for itself, and it has been another major problem. The running game is again nonexistent and the passing offense has suffered with injuries to three-time Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard. Beckham and Marshall are out for the season.
Reese said he looked at the free agent market for offensive linemen and decided there was nothing he liked, saying he did not want to add old players to a young group. It was a major mistake, and not the only one the GM made.
Signing the 33-year-old wide receiver Marshall in an attempt to give Eli Manning a second option other than Beckham also turned out badly. He was hurt in training camp, didn’t produce once the season started, then had a season-ending ankle injury in the same game as Beckham.
Reese also re-signed 31-year-old starting guard John Jerry. He has disappointed. Free agent guard D.J. Fluker also was signed but he is one dimensional: a good run blocker who struggles in pass protection.
Speaking at his annual bye week news conference, Reese accepted the blame for the 1-6 record, saying he put the roster together and this was his team. He also dumped a little of the blame on McAdoo, noting the team got caught up in the all preseason hype and it didn’t have the same hunger as last season.
Everyone knows it is the coach’s job to have the team focused for the season.
“It’s not on the head coach, it’s on all of us,” Reese said when asked to clarify. “When I said, ‘Guys, we lose together and we win together,’ it’s on all of us. It’s every single body in this organization.”
Because the Giants haven’t won — or have flopped in such a disappointing manner — Reese probably will lose his job after 11 seasons if ownership makes changes.
“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.”
Reese won’t be the only one hit by changes. Expect McAdoo to make alterations to his coaching staff, probably with the offense and special teams.
With the recent drafts being hit and miss — the selection of left tackle Ereck Flowers in the first round in 2015 seems to be a miss — Marc Ross, the vice president of player evaluation, could be in trouble.
“Again, the season’s not over yet, we have nine games to play,” Reese said. “We’re going to prepare just as hard as we always do and our players and our coaches are super proud people and I still believe in them.”
The question is, do Mara and Tisch still believe in Jerry Reese?
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