EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Jerry Reese's press conference on Tuesday was his first in 89 days. If form holds, it'll be 69 more days before he speaks again, if he gets the chance to speak after the season at all.
That leaves a lot to unpack from the 21 minutes he stood at the podium -- the only time he'll spend explaining the state of the franchise to his paying customers in a more-than-five-month span. And the rarity of the moment leaves every word ripe for debate, every sentence open to interpretation, including his overall theme of "Blame me."
So here's a look back at some of Reese's greatest hits, with some analysis, a few unstated facts, and plenty of questions he left unanswered and things that went unsaid:
Jerry Reese takes "ownership" of the 1-6 start (before making it clear it wasn't all his fault)
Reese's words were strong: "I'm the reason we're 1-6," he said. "You can put it all on me." Those were the headlines he wanted, and it's exactly what many of the Giants' disgruntled fans wanted to hear. If only he had stopped there.
But instead he added that the roster that he assembled is filled with "good players" and blamed the Giants failures on players (and possibly the coaches) who "bought into some of the hype" coming off an 11-5 season. He also chided them for a lack of "fight," "passion," "hunger," and preparation and for not straining enough (whatever that means).
Talk about mixed messages. Reese's supporters scoff at the notion his message was mixed, but his claim of responsibility did not include an admission of any mistakes or a list of things he should've done differently. The message seemed clear: He's responsible for bringing in the players, but they were "good players." Then, somewhere else, something went wrong.
That lack of "fight," poor preparation, and the thing about buying into the hype? Reese insists that's not Ben McAdoo's fault.
OK, but how is it not on the head coach? Asked that direct question, Reese insisted "It's on all of us." But it's not John Mara or Reese or anyone other than the coaching staff who is in charge of preparing the players on a daily basis. Indeed, a primary job of a head coach is preparation -- mental and physical.
Sure, the GM could have a hand in getting them too big-headed (Remember Reese's ill-conceived Super Bowl countdown clock in 2013?) But unless Reese was giving locker room speeches that we don't know about, or leaving Super Bowl tickets on players' stools, it has to be McAdoo's fault. Reese blasted the players for thinking "'Well, this is pretty easy, we won 11 games with a rookie head coach' so you come back and think, 'Well, we've already got 11 wins.'"
So McAdoo either didn't have the pulse of his locker room or -- worse -- he did and felt that attitude was OK.
Reese believes his offensive line is "comparable to a lot of teams around the NFL"
Good luck finding a scout, an analyst, a former player, or really just about anyone who agrees with that. The Giants are 27th in the NFL in rushing (83.3 yards per game). They're also middle-of-the-pack in sacks allowed (17) despite first speeding up their offense to the point where Eli Manning dumps the ball off in two seconds or less most of the time and then scaling back their passing attack when the receiving corps got decimated.
Reese may truly believe this, but the prevailing opinion around the league is that the Giants' tackles are poor, and outside of the versatile Justin Pugh, there's no one on the line that would rate in the top half of linemen around the league.
Reese believes Ereck Flowers is comparable to a lot of left tackles … even though he might not be a left tackle
As stated above, the prevailing opinion in and around the league is that there are not "a bunch of comparables" to Flowers. But the more alarming part of Reese's statement was this: "Is he going to be our long term left tackle? We don't know that."
This is a guy that, on his draft day, scouting director Marc Ross said had the potential to be a "franchise left tackle." Yes, things can change and they obviously have. Even at the end of last season, Reese openly mused about Flowers moving to another spot on the line (which he obviously never did). But in Year 3, after 38 starts, shouldn't the Giants know whether he's their left tackle of the future or not?
And if they've had doubts for the last year or so, why didn't they bring in another tackle to at least compete for his spot? Speaking of that …
Reese didn't pursue 35-year old free-agent LT Andrew Whitworth because he was committed to a youth movement for his team
Reese said he stuck with Flowers (and the rest of his line) because he was committed to youth on the line and on the team. That's fine. But would signing one 35-year-old for a couple of seasons really have blown up that movement? The possibility didn't prevent him from re-signing 31-year-old guard John Jerry or bringing in 33-year-old receiver Brandon Marshall.
There were younger (albeit more expensive) options available on the market too, and they could've drafted a tackle in the first round. But the lack of pursuit of Whitworth was a real mystery. He got a three-year, $33 million deal from the Rams with $15 million guaranteed. Pricey, yes, but reasonable considering it includes a possible out at the end of this year.
In general it's better to build with youth. But remember: The Giants' offseason plan revolved around making one last championship run with a 36-year-old quarterback. Better then to bring in an older, proven commodity than bank on the hope that Flowers (and Bobby Hart) would eventually pan out.
The door is definitely open for playing Davis Webb once the Giants are mathematically eliminated
Reese dodged the question about replacing Manning with Webb at first, by insisting the Giants were still alive for a playoff berth ("Don't count us out yet," he said). Asked a follow-up, he said it would be worth considering "at some point."
Interesting, considering one day earlier McAdoo said the Manning-Webb situation would be his decision and that "I don't see that point coming." That raises the question of whether the GM and coach will be on the same page when - OK, if -- the playoffs become out of reach over the last few games.
Reese had a sneaky critical take of the job McAdoo is doing
Reese mostly praised McAdoo -- including making a Trump-like claim that the coach was smarter than him and all the media at his press conference combined. But when asked to give his assessment of his coach, he first said "He won 11 games last year as a rookie. It's been a little bit tougher. You can't sneak up on anybody in this league. He has to do better at what his job is."
Now put that in the context of all that talk about a lack of preparation and "fight," not straining enough, buying the hype, etc. Isn't that "what his job is?" If nothing else, the "You can't sneak up on anybody in this league" sure makes it sound like Reese thinks McAdoo got complacent … which apparently then trickled down to his players.