Senior Vice President, General Manager Jerry Reese
Press Conference, January 5, 2016
JERRY REESE: First of all, I'd like to say thank you to Coach Coughlin for our years together. He's been a great partner to work with. He and I have a really great relationship. He taught me a lot. I learned a lot from him. He's just a hard-working guy who loves football. All we want to do is win for this organization.
I have great respect for him. I do say thank you to him and his staff because I see how hard these guys work, all the time they put in trying to put a good product out there on the field for the New York Giants.
We've had several really good conversations the last few days, even starting Sunday. I told coach that I love him, that he'll always be a good friend to me. I wanted to put that out there first for the coach.
As far as the season, we're 6-10. Obviously we had some issues with personnel. But let me say this. First of all, you always miss on some draft picks. I take full responsibility for every player that's been on this roster from the time I was director of player personnel to right now. So I'll take full responsibility.
Even though everybody's involved with grading players, the players that we take, I don't try to have full control of everything. Our coaching staff are involved, our personnel staff are involved, everybody's involved.
The first guy that we don't like, if there's too much controversy about him, we will absolutely think about taking somebody else into consideration. But everybody is involved.
But I take full responsibility. So let me put that on me right here, right now. The roster is up to me and I take full responsibility for everything that's happened.
Obviously there's some situations on the roster that need to be addressed, and we'll continue to try to build the roster. It's not easy to turn a roster over and start to rebuild. You want to make it competitive. We were 6-10. You are what the record says you are. I believe we were competitive. I think we lost eight games by a total of 26 points in the last couple seconds of the game. So we have some things to do obviously.
But the roster that we put out there, it wasn't a perfect roster. Nobody has a perfect roster. But you have to manufacture wins in different ways. You got to play the hand you're dealt and you got to win with it.
We lost too many close games. Had a chance to win a lot of games. Had a couple undefeated teams in here that we had a chance to win the games.
We won Super Bowls. Seasons are about a call here, a ball bouncing here, a tipped pass here. I've said that over and over again. It can change your whole season, just a couple of two or three plays. It happens. We've been on the wrong end of that. I'm not making any excuses. We have some personnel issues we have to resolve. We'll continue to do that, we'll get it right.
That's what I have to say about the season. We will evaluate our personnel staff and see if there need to be any changes to be made there. We are still trying to evaluate why the injury situation is happening for us. We're leading the league again in injury issues. We've tried everything with that. We've changed the schedule. We do GPS, done a lot of different things trying to correct some of those things.
Quite frankly, injuries happen in the National Football League. Everybody has injuries. We have guys that never got to the field that we were absolutely depending on. The Jason Pierre-Paul situation was unfortunate. Those things happen sometimes, that's just the way it is.
But you have to play the hand you're dealt. You have to manufacture things. We were close a lot of times. What if we win three or four of those games, two of those games? We're not even having a conversation of some of the things we talk about here today.
We'll work hard. Our fans deserve a better product than we put out there the last three years, and we'll work hard to do that. I know a lot of it's on me. I take full responsibility for it.
If anybody has any questions, I'll try to answer them for you.
Q. You won two Super Bowls with the process you have in place. Why do you think the last few years it's broken down a little bit?
JERRY REESE: Again, it comes down to, you can take 10 plays probably for the entire season and say, Okay, if these plays went a different way, the New York Giants have a completely different season. That's just part of it.
Coach is part of it, personnel is part of it, luck is part of it. I've said it over and over again. You have to have a little bit of luck, have the ball bounce your way. We haven't had some of those things bounce our way. The personnel needs to be better. So we'll work on those things.
Q. You said, I think we'll be really good defensively this summer. That was a comment you made. Obviously you finished 32nd in the league. Where did it go wrong in your estimation?
JERRY REESE: First of all, the Jason Pierre-Paul effect. When Jason was not able to get in there, had the accident, obviously it's hard to find guys of his caliber to come in and help with your pass-rush. That's an important part of the National Football League, you have to have some pass-rushers. Obviously Jason had an accident. So that was part of it.
But I thought our defense, I thought we were going to have enough. We lost three young safeties right off the bat, had to bring in some older guys. Not a lot of guys just walking around the street that could play safety. There were some situations like that that happened.
I think Steve and his staff work every week really hard. We were up in turnovers. We had a lot of turnovers. We were getting turnovers for the offense. Stopping the run game there for a while. Hankins went out. There were some injury issues. Kennard went out. Again, we have to have some more personnel to fix those kind of things. You have to create more depth on your roster. We'll try to do that. We will do that.
Q. Do you look at the linebacker corps that needs particular attention?
JERRY REESE: I think all the roster can improve. We try to improve everything. Obviously there's some holes defensively. But we try to upgrade every part of the roster. We always try to do that. We'll always try to do that.
We try to upgrade the linebackers. We had some linebackers we didn't bring back. We brought a couple new guys in. J.T. was hurt part of the time with an ankle injury that hampered him a lot of the season. We expected Kennard to be in there more. Jon Beason got hurt.
Q. You specifically mentioned roster depth.
JERRY REESE: There's a combination of things. We've missed players in the draft. We still believe that you build your team through the draft. Free agency is part of it. But we believe in building our team through the draft. We'll always try to do that as long as I'm here.
But you have injuries that come into play. We had some really good players that got hurt. Kenny Phillips. There's a few of them. You know them. We've had some really good players that we wanted to be staples in our organization that just got hurt. Kenny Phillips is a guy that I can think of right off the top of my head that got hurt.
That's just part of it. The attrition of the roster, you have to be lucky to have guys stay on your roster. Sometimes you just miss on guys. Everybody misses on guys. Sometimes you have injuries. Sometimes you have guys leave free agency. You have to try to rebuild your roster, try to keep some depth on your roster.
When you have 20, 25 guys on IR, depth is hard to find.
Q. It always seems as though you can turn things around quickly with the way the cap is set up. Do you believe you can do that?
JERRY REESE: The cap situation is a lot better than it has been for a while. Of course you can turn the season around quickly. Again, you can take 10 plays out of the season, we could be 11 wins right now. So absolutely you can turn the season around quickly, and we expect to do that. We'll work hard. I know everybody on this staff works hard. We'll continue to work hard to try to do that.
Q. You've been here a long time but have not been part of a head coaching search. How much do you think that stamps a general manager, bring in a coach that you've had part of the process?
JERRY REESE: I'm not trying to be stamped in any kind of a way. I'm trying to do a service to the New York Giants who afforded me a great opportunity to be here. I don't have ego in it at all. I just want the next guy to come in and be able to communicate with our players and be a good teacher, those type things, the qualities we like in a head coach.
The next guy that comes in here, utmost, I said this already, the GM and the coach's relationship, if you don't have a good relationship with the head coach and the GM, it's hard to win in this league, period. If your head coach and GM are not on the same page, I think you forget about winning in this league.
Q. A lot of times GMs say you have to have a list. Do you have a list?
JERRY REESE: Of course, we have a list. I have too much respect for Coach Coughlin to be talking about what we have on a list.
Since things have happened in the last couple of days, we started talking about a list, started to set up interviews with different coaches around the league. We want to do it sooner than later. I think John said that. We want to get the right guy. It has to be the right person who can communicate with the players, can teach, has something to prove, all those kinds of things, a guy that wants to win Super Bowls.
Q. A lot of Tom Coughlin's decisions were late-game decisions that were questioned. Was there a point you looked at the team and thought that coaching was the reason you were 6-10?
JERRY REESE: Coach Coughlin gets paid to make decisions. He made way more good decisions than bad decisions. I get paid to make decisions. You can make your own decision on whether I make good or bad decisions.
If the decisions he made, of course, if all of them would have went the way he wanted them to go, nobody would have had anything to say about that. You get paid to make decisions.
Q. When you evaluate yourself, are there things in evaluation going back from '07 through '11 that you feel you have gotten away from? If so, what are they?
JERRY REESE: You know, I always try to evaluate myself. I know one thing about myself, I work just as hard as I worked in 2007 when I was hired as a GM here with the Giants to right now. You never can expect me to do anything different. I always work the same amount of time, as hard as I can for the New York Giants under the circumstances, all the circumstances. I give everything I have to this organization.
Q. John said that you know this is on you, it's up to you to get it fixed. He also said he had confidence in you. Knowing the cap space you have to work with, how do you embrace the challenge?
JERRY REESE: I'm never afraid of a challenge. That's part of it. If you have thin skin, you're afraid, you can't work in this business. That's just the way it is.
I was raised that way. I'm tougher than I look. I know I don't look like a lot, but I'm tougher than I look.
Q. You haven't had a ton of success in the mid to late rounds. How do you view that? How do you fix that?
JERRY REESE: Mid to late rounds, you have lesser talent in the mid to late rounds. We've missed on some guys. Gotten good players out of mid to late rounds. You have lesser talent, to be frank, from mid to late rounds.
If you pick in the top 10, top 12, you get some higher-quality talent.
JERRY REESE: Have you researched that? Do you know that for a fact? Till you know that for a fact, I don't think you should say that. That's just my opinion. If you know that for a fact, you can tell me about that. But give me the facts on that.
Q. What does it mean to you personally to be endorsed by this regime?
JERRY REESE: I have great respect for this organization, for the Mara family, the Tisch family, in 2007 they walked out of here and said Jerry Reese is our general manager. Everybody was like, Who, what, who? I have great respect for those guys. That's why I give them everything every day I'm here in this office.
For them to come out and say, Jerry knows it's on him, but we know he can get it fixed. I appreciate John coming out and saying that, and the talks I've had with Steve as well.
JERRY REESE: We'll do the evaluation process with all our UFAs. I spoke with all of them yesterday. Had some good conversations with them all. Evaluation process starts right now. We'll get that going right away. We'll take everything into consideration. We'll leave all our options open with that.
Q. You went to the pass-rush, pass-rush. Do you feel maybe that is missing?
JERRY REESE: You want that. If your best pass-rusher has an accident and you have some young players, we were hoping that Damontre Moore would continue to develop. He didn't develop as quickly as we would like and he had some issues that were involved. We drafted Owa (Odighizuwa). He never got on the field this year.
We've tried to fix that, our defensive line. Obviously it starts a lot with your defensive front, it starts a lot with your offensive front, a lot of it starts with your quarterback, as well.
Q. There are teams that make the playoffs, they play one game, it's over with. There are other teams that challenge every year for a Super Bowl. When is this team going to be in that group?
JERRY REESE: I hope it's really soon. Again, you can take a few plays here and there. We lost eight games by a close margin, I don't think we're that far away.
Obviously when you're 6-10 a couple years, everybody tells you you're a bad team. In the National Football League things can get fixed quickly. We expect to do that. We expect to fix things quickly and expect to have a chance to get back in the tournament and play Giants football like we like.
Q. Do you and John have similar thoughts about what the makeup of your next head coach should be?
JERRY REESE: We talk about that. What does your next head coach look like? What do we want from the guy? What should he bring to the table?
Coach Coughlin, he's going to be a tough act to follow. First of all, if a guy has thin skin, he shouldn't come here. That's the first thing I'll tell him. If you have thin skin, this is not the job for you. Don't come here.
Q. Is head coaching in the NFL a requisite?
JERRY REESE: I don't think so. I think that's a good qualification to have, but I don't think that's a requisite to have, absolute requisite to have. I think there's some college coaches who have done a really nice job. So we'll take everything under consideration.
Q. Jerry, some of the players yesterday said, We feel like we failed Coach Coughlin. Would you ever say that?
JERRY REESE: We all failed. We all feel that way. Coach said this. We win as a team, we lose as a team. We all failed. Right here right now we all failed.
I understand why they feel like that. But coach feel like he failed, I feel like I failed. You're 6-10, we all failed.
Q. Why do you believe you're the right man for this job?
JERRY REESE: Because I know how passionate I am about it. I know we've put together championship teams before. I know the big picture of what the National Football League is. I'm not a guy, you can ask a lot of people around the National Football League, everybody has their opinion. Somebody wrote me yesterday saying, “You're taking some haymakers.” But that's part of the business.
I just know that if you lose eight games by 26 points, most of them in the last seconds of the game, you're not that far away, no matter what you say the personnel is. Things can be fixed and they can be fixed quickly.
Q. You have a lot of money to spend in this off-season. How do you approach that? Do you think you can build a team through free agency or is it more specific guys here and there?
JERRY REESE: We got a lot of situations personnel-wise that we need to fix. We'll try to do some, like always, with free agency. The draft, I think we're picking number 10 right now in the draft. We'll get some quality players up there where we're picking in the draft this time. We expect to get good players in the draft, we expect to get good players in free agency.