Just as he has for the past 15 seasons, Kevin Abrams has been keeping a list of ideas on how to improve the Giants. Abrams, the long-time assistant to former general manager Jerry Reese, maintains this list throughout each year.
Obviously, the 2017 version of this list, with the team sitting at 2-11, is longer than most. But like its predecessors, it contains his thoughts on how the team handled its personnel, coaching, salary cap and just about every other aspect of being an NFL franchise.
The main difference this time is that there is no one to give it to.
Reese, the GM for most of Abrams’ 16 years with the organization, was fired earlier this month. Most often, Abrams presented his ideas to Reese, then left them there and waited to see if they were implemented by the man in charge.
Now Abrams is the interim general manager trying to see the Giants through to the end of this miserable campaign. And the list?
Well, instead of heading to the suggestion bin, it very well could be the blueprint for a new era of Giants football.
Abrams said he will use it as an outline for his upcoming interview with co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch for the full-time position. That interview is expected to take place next week, although Abrams said only that it will happen before the end of the season.
“A lot of what would come up in an interview is already on the table because we’re always looking to get better,” Abrams said of repurposing the list. “It just segues into the next conversation.”
Abrams would not divulge the contents of his list. He said he does not want to appear to be politicking for the job through the media. Undoubtedly it includes a short list of candidates for head coach, free-agent targets and draft-pick objectives.
He did say he wants the job (“I think everyone wants this job”) and believes he is ready for it.
“My role has been more than just doing the cap stuff,” he said of the perception that his job with the Giants all these years has been to line up the numbers on the salary cap and not focus on the football. “I wasn’t raised to be a cap guy; it was just the opportunity that was given to me.”
He could be getting a new one.
Abrams’ intimacy with the Giants could be both a positive and a negative in the interviewing process.
Positive because he can speak the language of Mara and Tisch and has been in the loop on just about every major decision made by the franchise in the past decade; the Giants love the idea of continuity. Despite the ugliness of actually firing Reese, hiring Abrams to replace Reese would allow the Giants to continue the unbroken GM chain that goes back to George Young’s hiring in 1979.
Negative because that chain is part of what got them to this point. The owners may believe it is time for a new approach with fresh faces and philosophies.
That’s not to say Abrams would be a Reese clone. There likely were decisions made by Reese that he disagreed with over the years. That list, and its previous incarnations, is concrete evidence that he has his own ideas. How many of them were implemented by Reese? Mara and Tisch will want to know that, if they don’t already.
Until that interview, Abrams said his main job as interim general manager is to keep things moving forward during a harrowing time.
“The job is to support the staff, support the players,” he said. “There is not a lot you can do in these last four weeks of the season. You do what you can, but it’s mostly support.”
He said the college scouting process is moving forward as “business as usual” with a very high and very important draft pick looming in April and a key decision to be made by whoever gets the job. He said he believes Eli Manning still has good football left in him, which would seem to echo Mara’s statements from this week regarding his desire to have Manning back on the team in 2018. He also said he’d like to see rookie quarterback Davis Webb get some game action this season, although he understands that only one quarterback can play at a time. He is leaving that decision to interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
“I think I’m just a little busier because of all the things that would stop at Jerry’s office now stop in my office,” Abrams said. “But the subject matter hasn’t changed a whole lot . . . It’s not Jerry coming to me or I don’t have Jerry to go to for anything right now. So it’s kind of operating without a net a little bit.”
If he gets to drop the “interim” from his job title, he’ll have to get used to that.