Three years after drafting Ereck Flowers, Giants general manager Jerry Reese still can’t say for sure what the Giants have in him. “Is he going to be our long-term left tackle? We don’t know that,” Reese said on Tuesday.
What Reese does believe is that Flowers takes too much of the blame for the Giants’ woes.
“It seems like this is a common theme: Everybody wants to beat up on Ereck Flowers,” Reese said. “Ereck Flowers is not the reason we’re 1-6, OK? He’s still a young player, he’s been a starter for us for three years. I still believe he will develop and get better. He’s gotten better as the season has gone on . . . Ereck is not the only reason that we’re 1-6.”
One of the most rational criticisms of Reese for his role in the team’s misery this season was his unwillingness to improve the offensive line as a whole and the left tackle spot in particular. He gambled on young players such as offensive linemen Flowers and Bobby Hart developing into solid players rather than drafting new ones or signing veterans.
“There weren’t a lot of choices out there,” Reese said. “We looked at a lot of different situations, but there just wasn’t a lot of offensive line help out there from our perspective. We looked at some different situations and it didn’t work out for us.”
Other teams — the Rams, the Lions — found ways to improve their lines with veteran free agents. Why didn’t the Giants?
“We want to be a younger football team and everybody has an opinion about who was available and who wasn’t,” Reese said. “To us, it didn’t make sense for us and that’s what we went with. We want to be a younger offensive line. Again, do you want to try to develop a 23-year old guy, or do you want to bring in a 36-year-old guy? We chose to go with the young guy.”
Hart lost his job to Justin Pugh, but Flowers has played every snap of the season at left tackle.
“If you look at him compared to a lot of left tackles around the National Football League, there’s a bunch of comparables around,” Reese said. “If you put ‘Flowers’ on some of these guys’ jersey and you’d be like, ‘Wow.’ So, I do think that he gets pointed out unfairly a little bit at times.
“But, it’s the National Football League. If you can’t take criticism, you should quit. If you’re a general manager of a football team, if you’re a player, if you’re a quarterback or you play any position, if you can’t take criticism, you should quit. Ereck is a big boy and there’s been guys that have been picked higher than him on the offensive line who have struggled. Different positions struggle at different times and I do think he’s working hard and I do think he’s improving and we’ll continue to support him and hopefully he’ll continue to improve and be a good player.”