Senior Vice President & General Manager Jerry Reese
Press Conference, July 23, 2014
Welcome to Giants Training Camp again. Seems like it was a short summer. Obviously, we did a lot of work in the offseason and tried to turn the roster over a little bit. But there were plenty guys who were here last year for that 0-6 start and have a bad taste in our mouth. Weíre just thankful to have another opportunity to come back and try to get that taste out of our mouth. We want to start fast this season and not put ourselves in a hole like we did last year. Early thoughts on camp: thereís a lot of positions and competition at those positions and weíre excited about that. Yesterday was kind of a slow day, it was hot out there. Some players went out with some heat illness but it was just one day. So donít put us into the grave before we get on the field. I think weíre going to have a really good football team. Iím very excited about the young players. We wanted to build a younger team, a more physical football team that plays fast. So Iíll take any questions from anybody.
Q: Was there anything that you could point to in that 0-6 start that made you want to do things differently?
A: If you stay in this business long enough, some of those things might happen to you and it happened to us last year. I really donít have a lot of good answers for that but we sure donít want it to happen again. We did everything in our power during this offseason with free agency, draft, coach(ing) changes, to prevent that from happening again.
Q: Can you take any encouragement from the way the team finished or has there been too many changes for that to happen?
A: Like I said, there are still a lot of players from last year that are here on this football team. The defense really should get more than they got last season. We struggled offensively but the defense kept us in a lot of football games. We could have easily won a couple more games. Who knows what would have happened. But we have a lot of players back and weíre expecting big things.
Q: It has not been your way to delve so deeply into free agency, you have made moves obviously. Is there a danger you can see or any concern from bringing in so many different players from different team?
A: I say this a lot of times, there is no template to being successful. We try to do what we have to do every year to put the best football team out there for the New York Giants, the organization, and for our fans. Sometimes you can do it with drafts, sometimes you can do it with free agency, sometimes you donít have to do much at all. We have done all of that but this time we lost a lot of players via free agency, retirement, injuries. So we had to bring other players in.
Q: Would you prefer not to have to do that if possible or is it ok?
A: You like continuity on your football team but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If you go back and look at Seattleís roster last year, just think about what they did going into the season in their off-season. They turned it over with a lot of new faces and a lot of new people on that team. So, you can do it. We expect to do it. We have five preseason games this year and I think that helps us because we have some new coaches, some new philosophies, some young players and a lot of players who havenít played together. So I think the five preseason games help us this year.
Q: Do you have to be more patient than in the past because of that? You have so many new players and young players that it might take a bit longer.
A: I think it takes a little bit longer to gel when you have a lot of new faces. You could see yesterday, we practiced one time and it wasnít real pretty. Some guys flashed yesterday but it was only one day. Coach Coughlin is always worried about those things. I told him last night, ďWe donít want to peek too soon; it was only one day.Ē We think weíll have enough time this preseason to get ready to go.
Q: Can you comment on the chemistry and how thatís coming along based on your [observation]?
A: Well after one practice we have a lot of work to do. Our guys are willing and working hard. Our coaching staff is working hard. Again, the five preseason games help us and I think weíll be ready for opening week.
Q: You say you expect big things out of this team. Last year you were pretty bold saying you expect to be in the Super Bowl. Do you set that bar the same with your team each year?
A: Our expectations are very high; this is a high performance business. We expect our team to be good every year. Thatís just the way weíre built around here. Thatís what we think, thatís what our ownership expects from us. Our coaches expect that, our players expect that. We wonít back out of that. We want to start by trying to win the division and then get yourself in the tournament. Weíve seen us go all the way when weíre in the tournament. We just have to get into the tournament.
Q: Youíve mentioned Seattle a couple of times when youíve talked this offseason. Do you study the rosters of other Super Bowl teams?
A: I just know thereís different ways to skin a cat. We donít pigeon-hole ourselves with a template. We do what we have to do to win football games. Just looking at Seattle, they did a lot of nice things last year with their roster. They turned it over, moved a lot of people around, and had good success.
Q: Do you think the team got too old too quickly?
A: Thatís always part of it. As a general manager, front office, and personnel, you always try to watch that and be leery of the team getting a little bit too old. You always try to infuse some young people on your roster. At times, you have rosters with older guys and they when Super Bowls with older guys. Thereís different ways to do it.
Q: Does last yearís results tell you you waited too long?
A: I donít know. Maybe that was part of it. Thereís a lot of things that went wrong last year, and we donít want them to happen again.
Q: Coach Coughlin said it was good to feel a little uncomfortable. Do you think that the team got a little too comfortable, especially the offense, given they were in the same offense for years?
A: That could be possible. Thereís always different reasons for losses. That could be part of it but I canít pinpoint it to be the reason why we started so poorly.
Q: You have a fairly new group at tight end. After OTAs, how do you feel about that group and your confidence in them?
A: We still have some guys that have to prove some things. We have some young players with some dynamic skill sets that can get out there and do it. Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, and couple of young tight ends that we like. Those guys have to do out there and do it. I always refer to other peopleís roster. Julius Thomas only had one catch going into the season. Hopefully we could have a guy that can step out of the shadows and do that for us. They just have to get out there and do it.
Q: The confidence was so high last year. John Mara talked about the talent on this roster and you were confident. A year later, do you guard against some of that at this point?
A: Iíll always have confidence in our coaches and players. I believe in them in getting the job done for us.
Q: You talked last camp about the pressure from missing the playoffs the last three out of four seasons. Now being four out of five seasons, the pressure that puts on the organizationÖ
A: This is a high performance business. You have to perform high. The owners expect everyone to perform high from me to the coaches and the players. This is a high performance business and we expect to perform at a high level. Being out of the playoffs the last few years everyone should look at that and say, ďWe have to get something done and we expect to do that.Ē
Q: You mentioned about the fact that you have to guard against teams and rosters getting older. Your coaching staff is old and you could replace them with some younger guys.
A: I donít think coaches get old. I donít necessarily agree with that - that our coaches got old. Coaches donít forget how to coach, so I donít know if I necessarily agree with that.
Q: But you made significant changes on the offense
A: Sometimes in the business you have to make some changes like that and we thought it was time to make a change right there. I donít think it was because somebody got old.
Q: You said that you wanted a more physical team. How are you going to make that happen?
A: Thatís our coachesí job. We try to bring in free agents and draft picks with that kind of background and pedigree. Itís up to our coaches to give our team that mindset. We have some players with that mindset and we just have to grow as a football team and do that. In this league, if you lose the physical battle, itís hard to win games. You have to win the physical battle. You have to tie or win the physical battles in this league.
Q: Who would be examples of players youíve brought in that you think fit that mold?
A: Well we think all the players we brought in. The proof is in the pudding so they have to get show us. Weíll see what happens when the preseason starts and then when we get to the regular season.
Q: Any concern with Odell [Beckham]? I know he injured his hamstring in the preseason and missed some of spring ball.
A: Well he missed part of spring ball with the hamstring and he tweaked it again yesterday so obviously thereís some concern about that. But you see that in some younger players sometimes. They get out there and theyíre a little bit nervous, a little bit anxious, and that happens to them. This guy has that track speed so hopefully he can get back out there pretty quickly because weíre expecting big things from him.
Q: Because of what you experienced last year, if things donít click right away, do you think thereís a fear that maybe people can say ďoh here we go againĒ Ė even if itís just one game?
A: Well thereís always some conversation about ďhere we go again.Ē In my tenure here as the GM, weíve been given a grade before we even get to the first game during some seasons. So I donít think itís time to panic. Weíve only had one practice. Weíre working hard, our players are working hard, and weíll see where it goes. We expect big things.
Q: It seems like youíre putting so much emphasis on the start. If you lose the first game sometimes it doesnít matter, but if you put so much emphasis on it, it can.
A: Under Tom Coughlin, we havenít had a lot of bad starts. Thatís the first time Ėreally - under Tom that we had such a poor start last year. We usually start fast and kind of wane at the end and then pick up some more steam later, during play-off time. We havenít had a lot of bad starts and again, we want to thank God for another opportunity to get out there and start practice again and get to the season.
Q: What are your thoughts on Eli? What are your best guesses on what you expect from him, coming off a difficult year?
A: I expect nothing except for him to bounce back and be the pro-bowl caliber football player that we know he can be. Heís still a young football player, all things considered with respect to the quarterback position. We expect him to come back and be a leader, bounce back and not have some of the things that happened to him last year and to be a dynamic football player for us. Thatís what I expect from him.
Q: 33 is not something you look at? You said heís still young.
A: The quarterback is a little bit different. 33 is getting up there, but quarterbacks are different. Itís not like a running back at that age or some other positions at that age. Quarterbacks donít take the hits like a lot of other positions do. Hopefully Eli wonít take a lot of hits like he took last year. We tried to fix that with some of our offensive linemen that we brought in. We got some guys back off the injury list that we expect to play better. Weíre hopeful that everybody gels upfront and we can have a deep offensive line so we can protect our quarterback.
Q: Is extending his contract an option or something you look at here moving forward?
A: We keep all our options open with respect to that. Right now, thereís really nothing to talk about. Weíre 2 days into training camp. We really donít even talk about contracts at this point.
Q: Yesterday you guys hired David Tyree and have taken some criticism from outside the organization. Why was he the right guy for that job and did you discuss beforehand some of his controversial quotations?
A: We do our due diligence on everybody we try to hire around here. David - number one - was qualified for the job. We think heís a terrific fit for us. Weíre happy to have him on board.
Q: Were you worried at all about some of the things heís said in the past about homosexuals?
A: In this day and age, sometimes you say some things that maybe you donít want to say, or shouldnít have said, or something like that, and things can get blown out of proportion to a degree. But Iím not here to talk about social issues or somebodyís personal opinion about their beliefs. I believe everybody should be treated equally. I believe everybody should be treated fairly. I believe everybody should have an opinion to what they want to say. Most of all, I believe I should mind my own business and try to keep the plank out of my own eye. Thatís what I believe the most.
Q: Does it concern you that there was that kind of criticism towards it?
A: Again, Iím not talking about that. Iím here to talk about the football team. Thatís as much as Iím going to address that, guys. I tried to express how I feel about that and weíre happy to have David on our staff.
Q: You talked about the fact that thereís always pressure on you to win. When you have an offseason when youíre given the chance to spend as much money as this team did (which is a little unusual), does that change anything about the pressure youíre under?
A: No, itís the National Football League. Itís a high performance business. You can win the Super Bowl and the pressure is still there. You have to come out and perform high. Itís no different from any other season. We have high expectations. We expect people to perform high and thatís just the way it is in this business.
Q: In the past Ė maybe Ė youíve had the luxury of bringing your rookies along a little slower. Because of all the transition here and all the turnover, do you expect maybe more contribution from them this year?
A: Years ago, you used to bring your rookies in and they could sit out for a year or two and try to groom them and get them ready. In this day and age, with free agency, rookies have to come in and be contributors. We expect our rookies to come in and be contributors for us. We always say your first three picks should really come in and be strong contributors for you. If you get somebody on the backend of the draft, they can contribute on special teams or in some other way. Thatís a bonus for you. Rookies have to come in and contribute these days. We expect that from our rookies.
Q: Do you feel like this year is more of a gamble than other years? You made more changes and shook things up. Is it more of a gamble, a roll of the dice?
A: No, I donít think so. You can say that some years we didnít do a lot at all in the offseason, so was that a gamble because we didnít do a lot? You just try to do whatís best for the New York Giants at the time. Thatís what we did this offseason. We had more money with the salary cap so we tried to fill some holes.
Q: Were you pleased with who you brought in?
A: It looks good right now on paper to us. We feel like we got some good players, some quality football players that have winning in their background. We feel like those guys are going to come out there and help us. But you have to go out there and do it. You canít talk about it Ė you have to get out there and do it. Weíre working hard right now to do that.