Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images
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GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants Senior Vice President and General Manager Jerry Reese addressed the media on Tuesday. Video of the press conference is also available at Giants.com:
Opening Statement: Good afternoon to everyone. I’ll start with, we’re 1-6. That’s not where we want to be obviously, but this is where we are. This roster – it’s my roster. I’m responsible for everybody on the roster and I’ll take ownership to where we are right now with this 1-6 start. I do believe that we still have good players on this roster. I do believe that. I do believe we have to play better, though. We splashed, you know, big plays at different times. But, in this league it’s almost like we came out of the gate, there was a lot of chatter about how good the team looked and how good it looked on paper and we also talked about the Super Bowl and just things like that. But, in this business, the 11 games we won last year – that’s over with. You have to start over every time and you have to earn wins and you have to do it the right way. You have to put in the preparation and you can’t walk out there and think people are going to just lay down for you because people are saying good things about you. You have to earn wins in this league and I think we bought into some of the hype of this is a good looking football team. But, again, I do believe we have good players on the roster. I do believe that during this off time that we can make some adjustments and we have nine games left and I feel like we have the coaching staff and the players with the pride to be a New York Giant in this organization and nobody is going to lay down. We’re going to come back after this break and we’re going to leave everything out there. I’ll open up for questions.
Q: What is your opinion of where things have gone wrong in the first seven games?
A: Well, it’s a lot of different things. You can point to a lot of things I guess where things have gone wrong. We just have to play better. We have to put players in a better position than we have and then players when we put them in that position, they have to make plays. So, you can point to a lot of different things. 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. 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. 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. You have to prepare during the week. You don’t win the game on Sunday. You win the game during the week when you practice. That’s where you win the football games. You don’t win on Sunday. So, those type of things. I think we have to, again, I think we bought into the hype. We just didn’t go out and strain as hard as you have to strain to play in this league and you have to do it every Sunday. Every Sunday you have to do it and we just didn’t come out. That fight that I saw from us last year and I have seen it at times, but it hasn’t been consistent enough for us to win games.
Q: Did you overestimate what you had on the offensive line in the tackle spot?
A: No. I think our offensive line – 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. But, you have to be consistent doing it. You have to commit to running the ball some. I think our offensive line is comparable. Do we want to upgrade our offensive line? Of course we do, but is our offensive line comparable to a lot of teams around the National Football League? Absolutely, it is. Whatever we have to do to manufacture wins, you have to do it and we felt like we had some young players in our offensive line that had a lot of snaps together. They flashed some good play at times, but obviously if you’re not winning, a lot of things get pointed at. People like to point at the offensive line. It’s totally not all on the offensive line. We win as a team. We lose as a team. It’s a whole team effort that’s caused us to be where we are right now.
Q: Why didn’t you upgrade your offensive line?
A: Well, the starting five we felt like 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. We brought (D.J.) Fluker in. We drafted a young kid we felt like the offensive line – and there weren’t a lot of choices out there to go out there. We looked at a lot of different situations, but there just weren’t a lot of offensive line help out there from our perspective and we had an opportunity to get somebody, but we looked at some different situations and it didn’t work out for us.
Q: T Ereck Flowers was a top ten pick and most former players analyze him and say he’s not a developing player. How do you evaluate him and do you think you missed out on a high pick?
A: Well, again, I think Ereck has improved, first of all. I think he works hard and I think everybody has an opinion about where players should be played and what their development is. All young players do have to develop. I do think he’s developed. Is he going to be our long term left tackle? 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. But, if you put Flowers on some of these guys’ jersey and you’d be like, ‘Wow.’ So, I do think that he gets pointed out unfairly a little bit at times. But, it’s the National Football League. If you can’t take criticism, you should quit. If you’re a general manager of a football team, if you’re a player, if you’re a quarterback or you play any position, if you can’t take criticism, you should quit. Ereck is a big boy and there’s been guys that have been picked higher than him in the offensive line who have struggled. Different positions struggle at different times and I do think he’s working hard and I do think he’s improving and we’ll continue to support him and hopefully he’ll continue to improve and be a good player.
Q: Why were the various options at offensive line in the offseason not a fit for this team?
A: Well, again, we want to be a younger football team and everybody has an opinion about who was available and who wasn’t. To us, it didn’t make sense for us and that’s what we went with. 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.
Q: Doesn’t the whole paradigm of your team say to go with the older guy, having a 36-year old quarterback?
A: Yeah, well, again, we want to be a younger football team. We looked at all different situations with all the offensive linemen available. We stayed with what we have.
Q: Did you think this past offseason that the team was only a few pieces away from being the Super Bowl contender that you started to look like last year?
A: Yeah, well, the team starts over every year. What happened last year, the 11 wins, that goes away. You have to start over every year, you have to prepare the right way, you have to get good players, your coaches have to put them in good positions and the players have to make plays. So, everything’s different, the dynamics are different every year, every team. You never know what you’re going to get. We felt good about our team going into the season. Again, the season’s not over yet, we have nine games to play. 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.
Q: Shouldn’t you know by year three whether or not Ereck Flowers is your long-term left tackle, or is he still too young to determine that?
A: Yeah, well, you would like to know. Again, Ereck Flowers – it seems like this is a common theme, everybody wants to beat up on Ereck Flowers. Ereck Flowers is not the reason we’re 1-6, okay? 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.
Q: Is the offensive line the reason the team is 1-6?
A: No, I said it when I first came out here, okay? This is the roster that I put together, I’m the reason we’re 1-6. But we do have to play better as a team. So, again, we lose together, we win together, I believe everybody is accountable here for what goes on. Our coaches are accountable, our players are accountable. We’re 1-6 together, but you can put it all on me.
Q: Do you feel that you are on notice?
A: Yeah, well, you’re always on notice. I’ve been doing this over 10 years now and every single time – 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. 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.
Q: When you said that the team ‘bought into the hype’ before the season, whose feet does that fall on?
A: It falls on all of our feet. Again, there was a lot of chatter, a lot of good things were being said about the team. But again, when you have a young team – which we have, a relatively young team – you have to protect against winning. And when you win 11 games, then you’ve got a little bit of a swagger about you, you come back and say, ‘Well, this is pretty easy, we won 11 games with a rookie head coach.’ So, you come back and think, well, ‘We already got 11 wins,’ that’s just not how it works. So, you have to protect against winning. That’s all I can say, you have to protect against winning, you have to start over, you have to put in the work, you’ve got to play with some passion out there. So, that’s what I’m trying to say.
Q: Is that on the head coach if that message did not get through?
A: No, it’s not on the head coach, it’s on all of us. 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.
Q: Where do you see quarterback Eli Manning at this point of his career, and what kind of job do you think Head Coach Ben McAdoo has done this year?
A: Well, Eli, just like everybody else on the team, Eli needs to play better. Every position needs to play better. As far as Ben, he won 11 games last year as a rookie. It’s been a little bit tougher, you can’t sneak up on anybody in this league, he has to do better at what his job is and I think he will and here’s why I think that, is because, it’s important to him, number one. He’s a hard worker, he’s smart. He’s smarter than all of us in this room, I can tell you that. It’s not even close, all of us together, he’s smarter than all of us. So, it’s important to him, it means something to him. He’s not a guy that you can’t talk to and give suggestions to. He’s going to do whatever is best for this football team.
Q: What do you see from the defense?
A: Well, I think I said this to somebody during the preseason, some of the preseason interviews that I had, that, what does a defense have to do? I said, ‘The defense has to stay hungry.’ I don’t think we had that hunger when we first came out during the season because, again, we could’ve closed some games out defensively. So, the hunger from the defense, but the hunger from the entire team has to be there as well. But the defense in particular, I saw a hungrier defense last year than I’ve seen – I’ve seen it at times, but you have to be consistently hungry every week and get the job done.
Q: Do you think that Eli (Manning) should remain the starter for the rest of the year or is it worth taking a look at Davis Webb?
A: Right now, we have nine games to play and I feel like, don’t count us out yet. We’ve been left for dead by a lot of people, but don’t count us out yet. 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.
Q: At some point, is it worth looking at him?
A: At some point, but when is that some point? It’s not right now because we’re going to fight with everything we have with these nine games left and hopefully we can turn our season around.
Q: What would your response be to people saying there should be a change after missing the playoffs in five out of the last six seasons?
A: That’s up to the owners of the New York Giants. You can ask them that if you’d like. I just know that I come to work every day and I know people come in here and they work their behinds off every day. So that’s a question I think you should ask ownership.
Q: Are you concerned the team needs to improve in the second half of the season in order for your future to continue here?
A: I come to work every day. I do what I do every day and try to help this football team be the best football team that we can be moving forward and that’s what I’m going to do.
Q: When you say things like, “we didn’t have the hunger” is it the coach’s job to get the team mentally ready to play?
A: Again, it’s all about the team. It’s my job, it’s Ben’s (McAdoo) job, it’s the players’ job, it’s all of our jobs to be professionals and be ready to play. Again, we have a pretty young football team and you have to protect against winning. We won 11 games and that was, wow we won 11 games. But still, you have to earn wins in this league and sometimes you have to learn that the hard way. I think this is a hard lesson for us to learn to go out and figure out the right way to do the things it takes to win football games.
Q: Can you name any examples on how the team bought into the hype?
A: Again, I don’t think we played as hungry as we did last year. I think that’s evidence for me. I don’t see any of the hunger coming out of the gate. I thought we played hard in some games, but there’s a difference between playing hard and having that hunger that you have to have to win in this league.
Q: Did you bring that up with the coach after the first game?
A: We talk about everything, yeah.
Q: Does Odell’s (Beckham) injury show you anything about his value here and has your thinking of his future here changed?
A: 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 is a terrific football player and it hurts anybody’s football team if you lose a player of his caliber.
Q: Are you under the impression that he can be 100% though?
A: We sure hope so, that’s the plan. We sure hope that he can come back from this setback with the injury and be even better than he was before.
Q: Sitting here at 1-6, are you frustrated? Angry? What’s going on inside of you?
A: If you guys want me to get up here and have a tantrum, I’m not going to do that. It’s frustrating. Anytime you lose football games and you’re 1-6, there’s some frustration, but I’m not going to get up here and fall on the floor and kick and scream. I’m not going to do that. But of course, we’re all frustrated, but we can fix that by playing the game the right way and you do that by the preparation that you put in and you win the games during the week. You get out there and you play with some hunger and passion and the playmakers have to make plays when we get out there. So there is frustration, but again, anybody that’s not winning, there is going to be.
Q: Do you have enough playmakers to be competitive?
A: Yeah, we have to be. It’s funny, I was talking to another GM this morning and he was kind of down about some injuries and things, and I was like, ‘man, no crying in football.’ And he was like, ‘you know what, Jerry, thanks for saying that.’ But there is no crying in football. We have some young players that we have a great opportunity for them and we have to put them in positions to make enough plays. We have to run the ball, we got to play complementary football, we got to win the kicking game and we got to win field position. That’s nothing abnormal from any football game, no matter who’s on your roster. You have to play complementary football to win, to win games. The kicking game has to be better, we run the ball pretty good at times offensively, but when they put eight, nine guys in the box, you got to be able to throw some passes out to the guys. We have some guys that are capable of doing that, we have receivers that are capable of doing that. And our defense has to play well. We can’t give up scores late in games to lose games. So it’s a combination of a lot of things and we’re going to take these last nine games and we’re going to give it everything we got.
Q: How were you expecting the offense to make strides and why do you think it hasn’t happened?
A: That’s a good question. We thought we upgraded the offense in some different positions and it didn’t take off. The continuity wasn’t there like we wanted it to be at the beginning of the season. But again, it’s a work in progress. Our backs are against the wall. Our backs are firmly against the wall. It’s a bad formula to use, to wait until your back is against the wall. But we are where we are right here, right now and we’re going to give our fans every ounce of what we have. Let me say, I do appreciate our fans because our fans were out there Sunday. They were giving it all they had and we owe that to them to give it all we have as well and we appreciate them for their efforts to try to cheer us on no matter what, real Giants fans.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants are on their bye week. There is no media availability to the team until Monday, when the players return to practice.