Q&A with Giants GM Jerry Reese
Q: After a bit of a bumpy start, over the last few weeks, the team seems to be playing its best football. Do you agree with that?
A: "No, I don't agree with that. I don't think we're playing our best football. I think we've played pretty good in spots but I think we can play better and we have to play better. During this time of the year, you just have to stack wins any way you can get them, so I'm not complaining that we're 6-2 halfway. But I do know that we have to continue to correct a few things and in the fourth quarter of the season, if we want to go anywhere, we need to be playing our best football then. I don't think we're playing our best football now. We've played good in spurts and in different spots during the season, but I do think we have to play better."
Q: A lot of people talk about the Giants being a top contender and the best team in the NFC, the NFL. This team always does so well with its back to the wall. Can success be dangerous?
A: "I just think everybody is on the same page. It's only [November], so everybody is still alive. We're scrambling just like everybody else trying to jockey for position and stack some wins any way we can get them at this point. Again, I can't stress it enough, I think we have to be playing our best football in the fourth quarter of the season if we want to go anywhere. But we're doing OK right now."
Q: It's been a while since a team has repeated as Super Bowl champion. Can this team do that?
A: "We're not concerned about that. We're grateful for the opportunity, that means you won the year before. We're grateful for the opportunity to try that. But we're really just one game at a time. We're really just worried about Pittsburgh right now because they have a terrific football team and it's going to be a great challenge on Sunday. We're just trying to win one in a row right now, and that's what we do every week."
Q: Did you think in 2008 that you were in position to repeat that year?
A: "We had a chance. We were playing pretty good there. But it only takes one bad game at the end or late in the season and you're out of it. You do want to play your best football late in the year and we were going along pretty good there in 2008. But it only takes one bad game and you're out."
Q: Obviously, there were other circumstances in 2008, as well (Plaxico Burress accidentally shooting himself in the leg).
A: "Yeah, but I don't want to belabor that. That's been well documented. I just think no matter what your circumstances are, you should rally and give your team a chance to win and we didn't do it. It's not any one person's fault, it's our fault. We didn't get the job done."
Q: Have you ever been around a quarterback who played at the level Eli Manning has played at this season?
A: "Eli is playing good. And I think he can play better. I think he believes he can play better, as well. What's most important to Eli is, he understands the big picture and wins are the No. 1 stat for him. He's not a stat guy and he's not worried about what the stats are. He's just worried about who wins at the end of the day. He along with the rest of our team have got ourselves in pretty good position here at midway, but there's a lot of football left, so everybody is trying to stay focused. Eli, he's played pretty good at spots for sure."
A: "I don't think it's about one individual player for us. I just think it's always about the team concept for us. Offense, defense, special teams, it's all about playing together as a unit. Victor has done a nice job with some injuries but some other guys stepped up. Ramses Barden stepped up and played nice in a big spot. Rueben Randle stepped up and played nice in a big spot. The receivers, the receiver coach, coach [Tom] Coughlin and his staff, they've gotten guys ready to play. Really the guy who hasn't gotten a great opportunity to do a lot who we still like is [Jerrel] Jernigan. We think he's a talented football player and really hasn't had a lot of chances. That's a good thing if you have players stacked at a position and you can't get a player who you think has talent out there yet to display his talent. But I think his time will come at some point. To answer your question, a lot of guys have stepped up and done a nice job through some injuries."
Q: You've had some nice impact from the Browns -- Andre and Stevie -- two guys who you probably weren't expecting a lot from this season.
A: "Well, if a guy makes our team, we expect him to contribute. Those guys earned spots on the team. Andre Brown, his story is well documented. He got hurt, he got caught in a numbers game for us and we let him go and he bounced around the league some. But we always kept our eye on him, we thought he was a talented back. We're happy that he's come full circle and come back to us and has done a good job. I think he has a bright future and hopefully, he'll continue to help us down the stretch.
"Stevie Brown is a young kid. Our pro personnel department, we look at these guys and he's a guy we looked at during the offseason as a free agent, an on-the-street kind of a guy, and we liked him on special teams . . . You always like for your backup players, your fourth or fifth safety, those guys have to be good on special teams. So he met that criteria. We thought he was young and a good athlete who can run. We thought in the right spot, he could be an ascending player and to his credit and to his position coach, Dave Merritt, he's come on really quickly for us and done some nice things. So I'm really happy for him."
Q: What have you seen so far from David Wilson on offense? He had the fumble early that limited him, but did you think he'd be doing more by now?
A: "He's playing behind some good players in [Ahmad] Bradshaw and Andre Brown. I think his time will come, as well. He's done a nice job in his role as a kick returner. A few games, he gave us tremendous field position. I think he's learning as we go. We don't have to force him in there in a big role yet, but I do think he's dangerous with the ball in his hand and I think we'll continue to find some spots to give him some touches. He's coming along and I think he's going to be a really good football player for us at some point."
Q: Were you curious to see how his speed would translate in the NFL? As a scout, do you have to wait and see that or can you be certain when you see that kind of speed in college?
A: "Some guys are fast and play fast. He was one of those guys who played at a major level of competition in college and was fast and we felt like he would play fast up here, as well. It's not like he had played at a lower level in college and you were wondering if he's going to translate hat speed up to the National Football League. I don't think we were ever worried that his speed would translate up here."
Q: Are you surprised there were still some stories this week about second-half swoons after what you did last year?
A: "No, not really. That's just part of it. You guys have to have something to write about and that's something that is interesting. We've hit that 6-2 mark a few times, but this is . . . we're playing a No. 1 schedule and we earned it. It's not an easy schedule. Every schedule in the National Football League is a gantlet. For us to be at 6-2 right now, that's good position. Would we like to be 8-0? Absolutely. But I think anybody, if you ask them at the beginning of the season, would you take 6-2 halfway, I think most people would have said I'll take that. We've done OK. The schedule is tough. Everybody else has good players and good coaches, as well. We do like the challenge. Actually, we relish the challenge of playing this tough schedule that we've earned, and our players look forward to it every week."
Q: Will the addition of Robert Griffin III into the NFC East change the way you and maybe the Eagles and Cowboys have to draft on defense because now you have to compete against this world-class speed?
A: "I'm not too worried about that right now. Our focus right now is just on Pittsburgh. Those kind of things you talk about in the offseason after you've had a good dose of what you think your division looks like and what players in your division look like. Our focus really in personnel, regardless of who we're playing, we just try to stack good players. It doesn't matter what position. We try to stack as many good players as we can on the roster and then after that, after we have a number of good players, where are we and who do we need to defend? Those kind of things come second to what our philosophy is."
Q: We're probably beyond the point now where people are going to be calling for Coughlin's job. When he does leave, it will now likely be on his terms. Have you had any conversations with him or do you have any guesses on how much longer he'll want to coach?
A: "No, and I don't think that's something during the season we talk about. We just focus on the next game. Coach Coughlin deserves everything he's gotten because he's worked for it and nobody has given him anything. This is a tough neighborhood to coach in, and he's done it. Just look at his record, it speaks for itself. Nobody is more happy for him than I am."
Q: You've never hired a head coach as a general manager. What qualities would you look for in one?
A: "You look for a winner, that's first and foremost. You look for a winner and you look for a communicator. I think those are a couple of the qualities that you look for first. I don't want to play my hand to the media in what I'd look for, but I think you look for a winner first and Tom Coughlin is definitely a winner."
Q: So a Tom Coughlin Jr.?
A: "Yeah, well, if we can get a Tom Coughlin Jr. and he can replicate what Tom Coughlin Sr. has done, we'll take that."