Jerry Reese's days are numbered.
That's how he started the season, announcing in training camp that there were 191 of them until Super Bowl XLVIII and deciding to post a countdown calendar to instill urgency in all who passed by it. There were times during the Giants' 0-6 start that those numbers seemed to be mocking the team, not inspiring it, but Reese said he never considered taking it down.
On Tuesday, it read 95 days left on the wall of an empty bye- week locker room, as close to halfway there as is mathematically possible while the team that normally looks at the number could not seem further away. Yet though Reese said that he is disappointed and surprised by the team's record and that being on the unfamiliar side of .500 has given him a new perspective for how hard it is to win in the NFL, his first public comments about the state of the team since the season began kept coming back to one central theme: "We're still in it," the GM said.
So the pages on the calendar are changed every day, dwindling down one by one. There certainly have been low points for Reese during the historically bad first half of the season. When the Giants were 0-6, he met with Tom Coughlin and the most optimistic thing he could manage to say was that there were 10 games left. During another meeting after another loss, he made a point to remind his coach that the sun had, indeed, come up that morning.
Now, the Giants have won two games in a row and are two games back in the NFC East, a division that Reese points out is "slow to get started" and the only one in the NFL without a team above .500.
"To have two wins after such a rough start, that's positive for us," Reese said.
The man who put this Giants team together knows there have not been a lot of them this season -- wins or positives. Eli Manning has struggled with interceptions. The offensive line crumbled from injuries to veterans. Younger players who were expected to contribute in key roles haven't always done so and the high-priced talents on the salary-cap list haven't, either.
"Whatever you want to say is wrong, you're right," Reese said in regard to questions about several of the more obvious reasons for the slow start.
He also admitted that if the Giants do not rebound and fail to make the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years, "you're not going in the right direction." But he balked at the idea that the roster needs an overhaul, either long-term or in relationship to Tuesday's 4 p.m. trade deadline.
"We try not to knee-jerk on anything," he said.
Reese has managed to change some key elements on this team, though. Many of the contributors in the recent wins were not on the roster when the season began, including Brandon Jacobs, John Conner, Peyton Hillis and, of course, Jon Beason.
Reese also pointed to the idea that things are starting to go the Giants' way in a more mystical sense, noting the Jacquian Williams fumble recovery against the Eagles that was inches from being out of bounds or the two fumbles by running backs in the win over the Vikings that bounced right back to them and were recovered.
"You can start to see a little bit of a shift," he said. "When you play bad, nothing goes your way . . . You have to have a little luck to get to where you want to go."
Where they want to go is to the Super Bowl. In 95 days and counting. "It has even more emphasis for me now," Reese said of the calendar. "That should put us on notice even more that time is running out."