Picking Up Reese’s Pieces

In the wake of a disappointing season, a lot of the media criticism for the New York Giant’s mammoth failures have fallen squarely on the shoulders of General Manger, Jerry Reese. And in my opinion, this criticism is warranted.

The 2013 Giants were a team whose narrative symbolically began with Reese. Last July he made headlines for hanging a Super Bowl “countdown clock” on the wall of the Giants locker room.

The story’s tragic conclusion came abruptly in mid-October, six weeks into the season, when the team had compiled a shocking 0-6 record.

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It seems reasonable to hold Reese, a man often considered the organizational mastermind, accountable. In recent years, lackluster drafts and off-season mismanagement contributed greatly to the Giants’ free-fall out of playoff contention.

Coming into the 2013 season, the Offensive Line was an unaddressed liability, and that was before the Giants’ two most proven offensive linemen, Chris Snee, and David Baas, went down with season ending injuries.

At the tight end and running back positions, the front office guru fared no better.

Reese signed Brandon Myers to replace the “Black Unicorn”, the enigma that is Martellus Bennett. Myers failed at every aspect of the position.

Reese felt confident beginning the season with the unproven running back tandem of David Wilson and Andre Brown. While there is no way Reese could have predicted Brown’s preseason injury, he doesn’t escape the shadow of responsibility for drafting David Wilson in the first round of the 2012 draft.

I acknowledge that Wilson spent a great deal of his rookie year off the field and in Coughlin’s dog house and that an unfortunate neck-injury this year shortened his season. But when he has gotten touches, the young tailback has disappointed. Wilson seems lost in pass protection, has difficulty holding onto the ball, isn’t very effective catching passes out of the backfield, and frustratingly spends his few rushing opportunities running east-to-west.

Many more efficient running backs were picked far later in the same draft. Every Giants fan knows about the bruising sixth round steal for the Washington Redskins, Alfred Morris, but guys like Lamar Miller (Miami, 4th Round), Vick Ballard (Indianapolis, 5th Round), and Bryce Brown (Philadelphia, 7th Round), have been more meaningful to their teams than Wilson.

And here’s a depressing bit of information for Giant fans. Coby Fleener was picked almost immediately after Wilson (the anxiety surrounding this off-season would be greatly reduced if the Giants were secure at the tight end position).

I admit that hindsight is “20-20”. Every GM across the league probably reflects on missed opportunities in previous drafts. But the good GM’s compensate for these missteps by making Pro bowl picks in late rounds. Over the last few years, Reese has not been one of these GM’s.

Most of his “development picks” over the last half-decade (Marvin Austin, Ramses Barden, Travis Beckum, Guy Whimper) are no longer with the team, and the one that remains, Adrien Robinson, the “JPP of tight ends”, never sees any offensive action.

Even with all my criticisms, I have not completely lost faith in Reese’s ability. He has earned his two Super Bowl rings, and this fact alone should earn him some leniency. If he has dug the team into a hole, he deserves the chance to dig them out of it.

But I am also glad to see that Reese is no longer untouchable.

After the Giants’ first losing season in ten years, Reese deserves to be in the hot seat. He deserves the public scrutiny. He has worn out the adulation of years past, and his future with the Giants (2015 and beyond) should largely depend on the way he handles this year’s draft and free agency signing period.

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