New York Giants: Takeaways from Jerry Reese’s Press Conference

New York Giants

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese met with the media for the first time since July 31 to discuss the state of the team.

As he does every year around the bye week, New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese provided the media with a state-of-the-team update covering a variety of questions ranging from the sluggish offense, to the defense to specific players.

While Reese did decline to speak about the fallout resulting from the team’s handling of Josh Brown, he otherwise spoke pf his hope that the Giants, who are in second place in the NFC East, might make a run for the division.

On the surface, Reese might not be overly generous with the level of detail his answers provide, but upon closer review, there might just have been a few extra crumbs offering a glimpse of the team’s thinking about the second half of the season and beyond.

Let’s take a deeper dive into what Reese had to say and what implications his statements could have for the team going forward.

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Ereck Flowers’ Status at Left Tackle Seems Fluid

It’s been no secret that Ereck Flowers, the team’s 2015 first-round draft pick, has been inconsistent and slow to make progress in his second year.

Ereck has done okay,” Reese said. “He’s still a young player. I think he’s 21 now. He’s played a season and a half. We think he still has a lot of upside. He will continue to improve.”

Yes, but will that improvement continue to come at left tackle?

“He’s our left tackle going forward right now,” Reese said, leaving some wiggle room for down the road should the Giants decide to move Flowers to the right side where many draft analysts had projected the former Miami offensive lineman.

“We’ll keep all of our options open, but right now he’s our left tackle going forward.”

Reese’s words were interesting considering the Giants reportedly lost out on other veteran offensive tackle prospects, such as Russell Okung, supposedly because of their commitment to keep Flowers at left tackle. Might that mean the Giants are going to trade for a veteran such as Joe Thomas of Cleveland, to whom the Giants have been linked to having had discussions with Cleveland?

As usual, Reese wouldn’t offer specifics.

“We’ve had some conversations, but there’s always some chatter this time of the year,” he said of trade talks ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline. “A lot of talk and not much action usually at the trade deadline.”

Speaking of the offensive line, if a trade doesn’t take place—and it seems like it’s a long-shot not to—can the Giants get by with what they have on the offensive line?

“I think they’re good enough,” Reese said. “I think we need to do better, obviously. We need to run the ball better. That starts with the offensive line. Our runners need to run hard in there, but the offensive line has done well so far. We can definitely be better, but they’ve held up well.”

Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants kicker Josh Brown (3) before the preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. The Giants won, 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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Josh Brown is Still a Taboo Subject

Reporters hoping for Reese, the only member of the front office team who did not offer any public comment regarding the Josh Brown situation, to speak were left disappointed.

During his press gathering, Reese said numerous times that he was “not answering or taking any questions on Josh Brown.”

Why not?

“Because I don’t think it makes sense for people to keep talking about that situation right now,” he said.

Although Brown has been gone from the team for a week, the unanswered questions about why the Giants, an organization that was so outspoken about domestic violence in the past, re-signed Brown despite having knowledge of past allegations against him, including a May 2015 arrest, still keep the topic in the forefront.

Reese, like many others on the team, does not appear to be comfortable speaking about the situation. However, he might have taken a page from co-owner John Mara’s book by simply admitting to having erred in judgement.

As far as the media’s perceived “obsession” with the case, the bigger picture here is about a league that has been inconsistent thus far with its handling of a hot social topic. Whether he likes it or not, as the man in charge of putting the roster together, the questions about Brown were legitimate considering how outspoken the organization has been against domestic violence.

That Reese chose not to decline answering the questions was not the best look from a team that fumbled the ball on the subject.

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Pinpointing the Problems on Offense

Reese didn’t provide any new insight regarding the conclusions reached by the coaching staff. But when asked if the biggest problem has been the lack of execution, he said, “It’s a combination of everything. It’s personnel, it’s play-calling, it’s execution. It’s really everything involved.”

However, he also added, “I think we really have the right play callers and the right personnel. We just have to go out there and do it. We have to make it happen. We can’t go out there and think it’s going to happen. We have to go out there and make it happen.”

If it’s a combination of everything involved, yet the team has the right people in the right places, then the question needs to be asked just what it is they think they accomplished during the bye week self-scouting process?

It’s possible that there are still some final tweaks being made before the next game. however, based on what Reese had to say as well as some of what head coach Ben McAdoo had to say, it doesn’t sound as though there are going to be a lot of major changes made to jump-start the sluggish offense.

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The Lack of Sacks by the Defensive Front

Reese was very bullish on the job done by his multi-million dollar defensive front—defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, and defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Damon Harrison—even though the unit has combined for 4.5 sacks through seven games.

“I always say this about sacks, sacks are a little bit overrated,” Reese said. “You want to get sacks, but you just want to push the quarterback off his launch point. We’ve been able to do that a little bit better.

“I think the last game (against the Rams), we got the quarterback off his spot a little better than we have been doing. We’re hoping to continue to do that. Sacks can come in bunches. I think we’ve done a decent job getting the quarterback off his spot.”

He’s right about this point. While ultimately you’d like for a defense to rack up the sacks, forcing the quarterback to make errant throws that turn into interceptions or incomplete passes is just as effective in the grand scheme of things.

Reese also became the latest member of the front office to mention Vernon’s injury. The team had been trying to manage Vernon’s snaps prior to the bye. Whether that will continue post-bye will be very telling.

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Eli Manning Still Has It

Dak Prescott of the Cowboys and Carson Wentz of the Eagles might be drawing all the love these days as far as discussions about NFC East quarterbacks go, but Reese still believes that 35-year-old Eli Manning still gives the Giants a better advantage.

“We should have the advantage because we do have a veteran quarterback and he’s seen everything,” Reese said. “[Prescott and Wentz] haven’t seen half the things that Eli Manning has seen.”

Maybe not, but in terms of production, both Wentz and Prescott have had more success than Manning, which raised questions about whether the two-time Super Bowl MVP’s skillset has finally begun its descent.  

“It’s not all on Eli; it’s everyone involved,” Reese said of the Giants’ struggles to get to 4-3 at the bye. “We all have to do better moving forward. I see a guy that is trying to get our team and our offense going. I see a veteran that knows what he’s doing. He’s seen everything.”

Maybe so, but according to NFL.com statistics, Manning has been hit by opponents just 25 times through seven games, which is the 2nd lowest total in the league behind the Oakland Raiders (18). Manning has also been sacked 11 times, again the 2nd lowest total in the league (tying the Giants with the Saints, Cowboys, Steelers and Washington).

So why then, if the protection has been okay as the numbers have suggested, are the Giants ranked 20th in the league in passing with an 87.3 passer rating despite Manning getting the Giants to 14th in the league in terms of accuracy (64.8 percent)?

There are several reasons why, starting with the 11 dropped balls by his receivers and tight ends to the predictability of the passing offense to the poor throws made by Manning himself. Still, as it was pointed out to Reese, Manning isn’t going to be around forever. The general manager though insisted that they’re not worried about Manning’s age so much as they are his skill set.

“We’re not really thinking about what his age is. We’re just thinking about what his skill set is. How long does he have to play? Who could we get in line?

“Eli is not going to play forever, but we still think he has a lot of football left in him.”

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