Reese Ready for GM Debut

Jerry Reese is champing at the bit for his first season as Giants general manager to get underway. Reese was kind enough to give TGI a few minutes late in training camp to discuss all things Giants. Here's what he had to say.

Q: As camp comes to a close how do you feel about your team?

A: Coming toward the end of camp I feel much better about the defense, especially after how they played against the Ravens. Eli has stepped up and looked comfortable in the pocket; you didn't see any panic in his play. You like that about him. As a whole with the team, I like the attitude. Everybody's got a good attitude; everybody's working hard. I think they're buying into the team concept. That's what we've been preaching. We want them to buy into the team concept. We said it from the beginning. We have a lot of good individual players, but until we play as a team, we're going to get put out in the first round of the playoffs. I think everybody's buying into that. I think injuries are an issue for us right now, but we have to make adjustments and move on from the injuries. We're trying to do that. We think we're going to put 53 good football players on the field.

Q: Were you happy to see Eli stand up for himself a little bit?

A: Eli is very conscientious of trying to say the right thing. Sometimes it's better off not saying anything and I think he's gone that route before. But at some point you have to stand up for yourself, and he did what he had to do. Eli can speak for himself. He's our team leader and he's showing it.

Q: Everyone has their opinion of his leadership abilities. Where do you stand on that one?

A: I think it's an over-exaggeration, just like a lot of things about Eli. For the last two years, Eli's thrown for 48 touchdowns and over 7,000 yards and everybody makes it sound like he's awful, and he's not. Everything's over-exaggerated and sensationalized here in this area and that comes with the territory. But I think Eli's going to be a strong leader for us. He's very conscientious of what we're trying to do as a team and he's going to be a great team leader for us.

Q: Is he a guy in which you have total confidence?

A: I have no problems with Eli. I'm very confident in him. I told him before the Ravens game, ‘just go have some fun. You know what to do. You're prepared. Just go out and have some fun and be the player we know that you are. I have all the confidence in the world in you.'

Q: We've seen a noticeable difference in Tom Coughlin. Have you seen it too?

A: There's no question. It's a testament to Tom and who he is and how passionate he is about wanting to do the right thing for this football team. Tom got a lot of bad press, and I think a lot of it was unwarranted. Tom stepped out of the box and looked at himself – we had some conversations about it – and Tom was willing to change some things about himself because Tom's a team guy. He set the pace for being a team guy. He said, ‘you know what? There are some things about me that I can change.' He's still running the ship; there's no question about that. But there are some things that he thought about and changed. He's done that and I admire him for that. That's not easy for some guys to do that. He did it and he should be given credit for it.

Q: How has it been for you now that it's your neck on the line?

A: It's been good in that aspect. That's what I asked for and that's what I always dreamed about. My buddy, George Kokinis, who's the pro personnel director with the Ravens, joked when he saw me in the press box. He said, ‘man they didn't give you any days in shorts in training camp. You went right into full pads right out of the gate.' I didn't get any grace period with it. But that comes with the territory. You have to make adjustments quickly, you have to make adjustments on the fly and you have to be able to make hard decisions. That's what you have to do in this job. It's been fun; it's been challenging.

Q: Are there any of your early moves that you regret?

A: It's still early so we don't know how our decisions will pan out until after the whole cycle. We'll see as the season goes along. But without having even played a game yet, no, there's nothing that I regret. We'll see what happens going forward.

Q: How has your life changed being the GM?

A: I'm kind of a simple guy so my life really hasn't changed that much. It's funny because fans will tell me I'm doing a great job and to keep up the good work. I get some comments like that and I get some bad comments too. I get some vicious phone calls. Some people like you and some people don't. That's part of the deal.

Q: What's the worst you've gotten so far?

A: I can't even share it with you. I can't even share some of the vicious calls that I've gotten. And most of that was early on because people wanted me to jump out and try to make a splash in free agency. It would have been nice to do that and make people happy and look good to the media but that's not what they ask me to do. They ask me to make solid decisions and do what's best for the New York Giants. That's what I have to do. It would have been great to get into the paper and have people saying, ‘wow, Reese is really making a lot of great moves in free agency,' but the moves weren't there to make for us. We had to do the right thing for the Giants and we'll continue to do the right thing.

Q: You didn't think we'd make it all the way through this without a Michael Strahan question, now did you? What's the latest?

A: Obviously we're a stronger team with Michael. But if Michael comes back he has to come back with the right frame of mind that he's going to come in and give us 100 percent, like he always does. If he doesn't come with that frame of mind and is still wavering on whether he should retire or not, I think you set yourself up for failure if he does that. I'm thinking if Michael comes back, he's going to come back and give us everything that he has. That's what I think about that. The timing wasn't great, but we're passed that. It is what it is at this point. We're just hoping that he comes back soon enough to get some work in. He can be in great physical condition, but there's no condition like football condition. That's the thing that concerns me the most at this point, him getting into football condition. If he comes back and gets some work in, he'll be fine. He's a genetically-gifted athlete so if he gets the work in, he'll be fine.

Q: Finally, how good do you honestly think this team can be? What are your expectations?

A: We can be as good as anybody else. We can be as good as anybody in the National Football League. That's the beauty of the National Football League. All 32 teams are right there together. You just have to be lucky enough to stay healthy and have your coaching staff put your players in the right situation and you'll be there in the end. We feel like we have that. We feel like we can get into the playoffs and go much, much deeper into the playoffs than we've been. It's exciting for us and we're looking forward to it.

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