Putting Jerry Reese's Tenure With The Giants Under A Microscope
Recently, I wrote a piece asking Whether Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin had another championship run in them. There is another man who will prove to be decisive in whether the New York Giants get back to the Super Bowl: Giants GM Jerry Reese. In this piece, we will look at Reese’s career with the Giants, cite some of his best roster moves, offer a few criticisms, assess his job security, and identify some challenges ahead as he looks to rebuild the Giants into a Super Bowl-caliber team.
Reese has had a successful run with the Giants. Dec. 15, 2014 will mark Reese’s 20th year with the team. In 1994 he was hired by the Giants to work in the scouting department where he scouted college players. In 1999 Reese was promoted to pro personnel assistant. In this position, his main task was to scout NFL teams and players. Reese was promoted to director of player personnel in 2002, and in January 2007 Reese took the helm as Senior Vice President and general manager, succeeding Ernie Acorsi.
By and large, Reese has been a very effective general manager for the Giants. During his time as general manager, the Giants have a 65-47 record with wins in Super Bowl XLII and XLVI. In the 2007 season, the entire draft class for the Giants made the team, and each player played a role for the Giants on their way to winning the Super Bowl that year. Over the last seven years with Reese as Giants GM, he has drafted solid players such as DT Linval Joseph, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, WR Hakeem Nicks and DB Prince Amukamara. In addition, some of Reese’s best signings includes WR Victor Cruz (who was an undrafted free agent), S Antrel Rolle and P Steve Weatherford, who have all made very positive contributions to the team over the last few seasons.
Reese has had a good stretch as general manager of the Giants. However, his time with the Giants has not been all sunshine and rainbows. The most glaring personnel problem for the Giants under Reese has been the offensive line. The O-line play has been subpar, and there has been a lack of quality depth for several seasons at that position. Anyone who watches the Giants can remember Manning getting battered and bruised in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers in the 2011 NFC Championship game.
In the 2011 season, the Giants offense ranked 32nd in the league in rushing yards. They have finished 14th and 29th in rushing the last two seasons. The Giants have drafted four offensive linemen in the last two NFL drafts. Brandon Mosley and Eric Herman have been backups, while Matt McCants is no longer with the team. Of his recent offensive line draftees, only first-round pick Justin Pugh has shown significant promise.
Reese can also be criticized for having inconsistent play at running back and cornerback, not resigning DT Barry Cofield in 2011 and allowing TE Marcellus Bennett and LB Chase Blackburn to walk after the 2012 season.
Is Reese on the hot seat?
There has been speculation concerning Reese’s job security. I think this speculation is only marginally warranted. In Reese’s defense, the Giants have suffered a rash of injuries over the last few seasons. The Giants offensive line was practically a mash unit last season, whose play has hampered the offense all season. I posit that a general manager that drafts and signs quality players and wins a Super Bowl ring tends to stay with their respective teams for a considerable amount of time — Jerry Reese fits this mold.
To cite some recent examples, Bill Polian was general manager of the Indianapolis Colts for 15 years before being fired after the Colts went 2-14 in 2011. Would Polian have been fired if Peyton Manning didn’t miss the entire season due to having neck surgery? I doubt it. Mickey Loomis is entering his 13th season as Senior Vice President and general manager of the New Orleans Saints. Kevin Colbert has been general manger of the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2000, Ted Thompson has been general manager of the Green Bay Packers since 2005, and Ozzie Newsome is entering his 13th season as general manager of the Baltimore Ravens. Reese has drafted good players, signed good players and won two super bowls. All things considered, I think Reese’s job is pretty safe right now.
This offseason is a pivotal one for the Giants and Reese. The Giants have some salary cap room but not as much as other teams. He has to rebuild the offense around Manning and Cruz. He has to add quality starters and depth at several positions on both sides of the ball and make important decisions on free agents such as Justin Tuck, Joseph, Hakeem Nicks and Jon Beason. Reese has built a championship team before, but the big question is this: Is Reese up to the task again?