Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin met on Tuesday night to discuss the first full day of training camp. The coach was not pleased with the opening practice and Reese tried to lighten the mood.
"I told him, 'We don't want to peak too soon,'" Reese recalled on Wednesday. "It was only one day."
It's hard to imagine Coughlin finding humor in that observation, because peaking soon is exactly what he wants from this team. While many of the faces have changed and the offense is new and the calendar has flipped, the scars of last year's six-game losing streak to open the season remain sore. To this day, the Giants still struggle to come to grips with that month and a half of misery that destroyed their season and eliminated them from the playoffs before December.
That's why Reese and the organization have changed their focus in this training camp. Last year the general manager opened the season with a countdown to the Super Bowl in order to instill some urgency. This year, the date circled is a lot closer. Sept. 8. The regular-season opener.
"We want to start fast this season," Reese said.
Like they normally do.
One of the first things Coughlin showed the players when they reported this week was the Giants' record in the first half of the season during his tenure.
"That's not the answer to everything, but it puts you in position," Coughlin said of the tendency that was bucked last year. "There is a lot of 6-2's, 5-3's, 7-1, and all of a sudden, there is an 0-6 start. We will do everything in our power to try not to experience that again, for sure."
Reese seconded that last part.
"We sure don't want it to happen again," he said. "We did everything in our power during this offseason with free agency, draft, coaching changes to prevent that from happening again."
The best way to do that would be to win the first game against the Lions. But even Reese admitted that if they don't, a loss won't be met with the nonchalance of the 15 other losing teams that weekend. It won't be a simple 0-1 start.
"There's always some conversation about here we go again," Reese said. "In my tenure here as GM we've been put in the grave before we even get to the first game in some seasons."
Complicating that need to start quickly is the glut of new players and ideas that have to jell in the coming weeks. The opener is in 47 days. Reese pointed to the five preseason games as a benefit.
"We think we'll have enough time this preseason to get ready to go," he said. "I think we'll be ready for opening week." But he also admitted that it "takes a little bit longer" to bring everything together with no many fresh pieces.
Unlike their new free agents, that's a luxury the Giants can't afford.
"Our expectations are very high," Reese said of a franchise that has won two Super Bowls under his watch but has not made the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.
"This is a high performance business. We expect our team to be good every year. That's just the way we're built around here. That's what we think, that's what our ownership expects from us. Our coaches expect that, our players expect that. We won't back down from that.
"I think we're going to have a really good football team," Reese added. "We'll see where it goes, but we expect big things."