EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Jerry Reese made it clear that the team he assembled for the Giants is far too talented to be 1-6. He believes the pieces are in place for success all over his roster, including along the much-maligned offensive line.
But as his boss said two years ago, there's no way the Giants GM can hide from his record. So he took the hit on Tuesday for this disappointing season that will almost certainly result in the Giants missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
"This is the roster that I put together. I'm the reason we're 1-6," Reese said at his annual bye-week press conference. "But we do have to play better as a team. We win together, we lose together. I believe everybody is accountable here for what goes on. Our coaches are accountable. Our players are accountable. We're 1-6 together.
"But you can put it all on me."
Many will, of course -- and inevitably at the end of the season, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch might, too. But really, that's not exactly what Reese did. As much as the GM took "ownership" of the Giants' mess, he also deferred some of the responsibility for why it's gotten this bad. Instead of admitting mistakes with the moves he made (or in the case of the offensive line, the ones he didn't make), he made it clear that he believed the players he assembled were good enough to win.
They just "bought into the hype" about their potential far too much coming off an 11-5 season. And Reese lamented how the Giants lacked "hunger", "passion" and "fight" at the start of the season, which caused them to drastically underachieve.
"It's almost like we came out of the gate, there was a lot of chatter about how good the team looked and how good it looked on paper, some talk about Super Bowl, and things like that," Reese said. "But in this business, the 11 games we won last year, that's over with. You have to start over with every time and you have to earn wins and you got to do it the right way. … I think we bought into some of the hype of, you know, 'This is a good-looking football team.'"
That would seem to be a damning assessment of head coach Ben McAdoo and his ability to get the team ready for the start of the season -- which was already in question given their 0-5 start including two particularly pathetic performances in their first two games. But Reese insisted "it's not on the head coach, it's on all of us."
And none of them were able to stop this relatively young team from getting too overconfident after their success last year.
"When you have a young team -- which we have, a relatively young team - you have to protect against winning," Reese said. "And when you win 11 games, then you've got a little bit of a swagger about you, you come back and say, 'Well, this is pretty easy, we won 11 games with a rookie head coach.' So, you come back and think, well, 'We already got 11 wins.'
"That's just not how it works. So, you have to protect against winning. That's all I can say: You have to protect against winning. You have to start over. You have to put in the work. You've got to play with some passion out there. So that's what I'm trying to say."
Left unsaid by Reese was anything critical about the roster he assembled. He defended the offensive line he built and defended his decision not to bring in any veteran help in the offseason. To his credit, he also didn't blame the injuries -- including to key players like Odell Beckham, Jr., Olivier Vernon, and almost all of his receiving corps -- that have absolutely decimated his team.
Instead, he lamented what should have been, if only his roster had played the way he's convinced that it should have played from the start.
"We're 1-6. This is not where we want to be obviously, but this is where we are," Reese said. "This roster is my roster. I'm responsible for everybody on the roster. I'll take ownership of where we are right now, this 1-6 start. But I do believe we still have good players on this roster. I do believe that."