*The Giants speak with the media as the team reaches the halfway point of the 2017 season: *
Senior Vice President & General Manager Jerry Reese
Opening Statement: Good afternoon to everyone. I'll start with, we're 1-6. That's not where we want to be obviously, but this is where we are. This roster – it's my roster. I'm responsible for everybody on the roster and I'll take ownership to where we are right now with this 1-6 start. I do believe that we still have good players on this roster. I do believe that. I do believe we have to play better, though. We splashed, you know, big plays at different times. But, in this league 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 and we also talked about the Super Bowl and just things like that. But, in this business, the 11 games we won last year – that's over with. You have to start over every time and you have to earn wins and you have to do it the right way. You have to put in the preparation and you can't walk out there and think people are going to just lay down for you because people are saying good things about you. You have to earn wins in this league and I think we bought into some of the hype of this is a good looking football team. But, again, I do believe we have good players on the roster. I do believe that during this off time that we can make some adjustments and we have nine games left and I feel like we have the coaching staff and the players with the pride to be a New York Giant in this organization and nobody is going to lay down. We're going to come back after this break and we're going to leave everything out there. I'll open up for questions.
Q: What is your opinion of where things have gone wrong in the first seven games?
A: Well, it's a lot of different things. You can point to a lot of things I guess where things have gone wrong. We just have to play better. We have to put players in a better position than we have and then players when we put them in that position, they have to make plays. So, you can point to a lot of different things. There were a few close games where the defense could have closed some games out. Some tight games that last year we closed some games out. This time, we let some games go that we could have closed out. Offense could have closed a game or two out late in the game when we've been ahead. So, you have to do the little things. We've beat ourselves, not taking anything from anyone that beat us, but a lot of things are self-inflicted that happened to us and we have to clean those things up. It's pro football. You have to do the little things right and it starts with preparation. You have to prepare during the week. You don't win the game on Sunday. You win the game during the week when you practice. That's where you win the football games. You don't win on Sunday. So, those type of things. I think we have to, again, I think we bought into the hype. We just didn't go out and strain as hard as you have to strain to play in this league and you have to do it every Sunday. Every Sunday you have to do it and we just didn't come out. That fight that I saw from us last year and I have seen it at times, but it hasn't been consistent enough for us to win games.
Q: Did you overestimate what you had on the offensive line in the tackle spot?
A: No. I think our offensive line – we have some young players. I think they have improved. We've run the ball some, a little better than we have in the past. But, you have to be consistent doing it. You have to commit to running the ball some. I think our offensive line is comparable. Do we want to upgrade our offensive line? Of course we do, but is our offensive line comparable to a lot of teams around the National Football League? Absolutely, it is. Whatever we have to do to manufacture wins, you have to do it and we felt like we had some young players in our offensive line that had a lot of snaps together. They flashed some good play at times, but obviously if you're not winning, a lot of things get pointed at. People like to point at the offensive line. It's totally not all on the offensive line. We win as a team. We lose as a team. It's a whole team effort that's caused us to be where we are right now.
Q: Why didn't you upgrade your offensive line?
A: Well, the starting five we felt like had a lot of snaps together and we felt like those guys, when you have some continuity in your offensive line, that's a help. We brought (D.J.) Fluker in. We drafted a young kid we felt like the offensive line – and there weren't a lot of choices out there to go out there. We looked at a lot of different situations, but there just weren't a lot of offensive line help out there from our perspective and we had an opportunity to get somebody, but we looked at some different situations and it didn't work out for us.
Q: T Ereck Flowers was a top ten pick and most former players analyze him and say he's not a developing player. How do you evaluate him and do you think you missed out on a high pick?
A: Well, again, I think Ereck has improved, first of all. I think he works hard and I think everybody has an opinion about where players should be played and what their development is. All young players do have to develop. I do think he's developed. Is he going to be our long term left tackle? We don't know that, but if you look at him compared to a lot of left tackles around the National Football League, there's a bunch of comparables around. But, if you put Flowers on some of these guys' jersey and you'd be like, 'Wow.' So, I do think that he gets pointed out unfairly a little bit at times. But, it's the National Football League. If you can't take criticism, you should quit. If you're a general manager of a football team, if you're a player, if you're a quarterback or you play any position, if you can't take criticism, you should quit. Ereck is a big boy and there's been guys that have been picked higher than him in the offensive line who have struggled. Different positions struggle at different times and I do think he's working hard and I do think he's improving and we'll continue to support him and hopefully he'll continue to improve and be a good player.
Q: Why were the various options at offensive line in the offseason not a fit for this team?
A: Well, again, we want to be a younger football team and everybody has an opinion about who was available and who wasn't. To us, it didn't make sense for us and that's what we went with. We want to be a younger offensive line. Again, do you want to try to develop a 23-year old guy, or do you want to bring in a 36-year old guy? We chose to go with the young guy.
Q: Doesn't the whole paradigm of your team say to go with the older guy, having a 36-year old quarterback?
A: Yeah, well, again, we want to be a younger football team. We looked at all different situations with all the offensive linemen available. We stayed with what we have.
Q: Did you think this past offseason that the team was only a few pieces away from being the Super Bowl contender that you started to look like last year?
A: Yeah, well, the team starts over every year. What happened last year, the 11 wins, that goes away. You have to start over every year, you have to prepare the right way, you have to get good players, your coaches have to put them in good positions and the players have to make plays. So, everything's different, the dynamics are different every year, every team. You never know what you're going to get. We felt good about our team going into the season. Again, the season's not over yet, we have nine games to play. We're going to prepare just as hard as we always do and our players and our coaches are super proud people and I still believe in them.
Q: Shouldn't you know by year three whether or not Ereck Flowers is your long-term left tackle, or is he still too young to determine that?
A: Yeah, well, you would like to know. Again, Ereck Flowers – it seems like this is a common theme, everybody wants to beat up on Ereck Flowers. Ereck Flowers is not the reason we're 1-6, okay? He's still a young player, he's been a starter for us for three years, I still believe he will develop and get better. He's gotten better as the season has gone on, so far. But again, it's a common theme for people to take swipes at Ereck. Ereck is not the only reason that we're 1-6.
Q: Is the offensive line the reason the team is 1-6?
A: No, I said it when I first came out here, okay? This is the roster that I put together, I'm the reason we're 1-6. But we do have to play better as a team. So, again, we lose together, we win 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.
Q: Do you feel that you are on notice?
A: Yeah, well, you're always on notice. I've been doing this over 10 years now and every single time – I've been left for dead a lot of times since I've been doing this job and that's just part of the business, it comes with the territory. It's a high performance business. I'd love for us to have won 10 Super Bowls in my 10 years as the general manager of the Giants, but we haven't. I wish we could have. We've won some games, but I sure believe we could have done better than we have.
Q: When you said that the team 'bought into the hype' before the season, whose feet does that fall on?
A: It falls on all of our feet. Again, there was a lot of chatter, a lot of good things were being said about the team. But again, when you have a young team – which we have, a relatively young team – you have to protect against winning. 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.
Q: Is that on the head coach if that message did not get through?
A: No, it's not on the head coach, it's on all of us. When I said, 'Guys, we lose together and we win together,' it's on all of us. It's every single body in this organization.
Q: Where do you see quarterback Eli Manning at this point of his career, and what kind of job do you think Head Coach Ben McAdoo has done this year?
A: Well, Eli, just like everybody else on the team, Eli needs to play better. Every position needs to play better. As far as Ben, 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 and I think he will and here's why I think that, is because, it's important to him, number one. He's a hard worker, he's smart. He's smarter than all of us in this room, I can tell you that. It's not even close, all of us together, he's smarter than all of us. So, it's important to him, it means something to him. He's not a guy that you can't talk to and give suggestions to. He's going to do whatever is best for this football team.
Q: What do you see from the defense?
A: Well, I think I said this to somebody during the preseason, some of the preseason interviews that I had, that, what does a defense have to do? I said, 'The defense has to stay hungry.' I don't think we had that hunger when we first came out during the season because, again, we could've closed some games out defensively. So, the hunger from the defense, but the hunger from the entire team has to be there as well. But the defense in particular, I saw a hungrier defense last year than I've seen – I've seen it at times, but you have to be consistently hungry every week and get the job done.
Q: Do you think that Eli (Manning) should remain the starter for the rest of the year or is it worth taking a look at Davis Webb?
A: Right now, we have nine games to play and I feel like, don't count us out yet. We've been left for dead by a lot of people, but don't count us out yet. We're going to go into the second half of the season, give it everything we have, do some self-evaluations and figure out what we can do better, what things we have done good, what we've done bad, how can we manufacture and win football games. That's where our focus is moving forward right now.
Q: At some point, is it worth looking at him?
A: At some point, but when is that some point? It's not right now because we're going to fight with everything we have with these nine games left and hopefully we can turn our season around.
Q: What would your response be to people saying there should be a change after missing the playoffs in five out of the last six seasons?
A: That's up to the owners of the New York Giants. You can ask them that if you'd like. I just know that I come to work every day and I know people come in here and they work their behinds off every day. So that's a question I think you should ask ownership.
Q: Are you concerned the team needs to improve in the second half of the season in order for your future to continue here?
A: I come to work every day. I do what I do every day and try to help this football team be the best football team that we can be moving forward and that's what I'm going to do.
Q: When you say things like, "we didn't have the hunger" is it the coach's job to get the team mentally ready to play?
A: Again, it's all about the team. It's my job, it's Ben's (McAdoo) job, it's the players' job, it's all of our jobs to be professionals and be ready to play. Again, we have a pretty young football team and you have to protect against winning. We won 11 games and that was, wow we won 11 games. But still, you have to earn wins in this league and sometimes you have to learn that the hard way. I think this is a hard lesson for us to learn to go out and figure out the right way to do the things it takes to win football games.
Q: Can you name any examples on how the team bought into the hype?
A: Again, I don't think we played as hungry as we did last year. I think that's evidence for me. I don't see any of the hunger coming out of the gate. I thought we played hard in some games, but there's a difference between playing hard and having that hunger that you have to have to win in this league.
Q: Did you bring that up with the coach after the first game?
A: We talk about everything, yeah.
Q: Does Odell's (Beckham) injury show you anything about his value here and has your thinking of his future here changed?
A: Really all I need to say about Odell is we need him to get healthy and that's what's most important right now, is that he's healthy moving forward. He is a terrific football player and it hurts anybody's football team if you lose a player of his caliber.
Q: Are you under the impression that he can be 100% though?
A: We sure hope so, that's the plan. We sure hope that he can come back from this setback with the injury and be even better than he was before.
Q: Sitting here at 1-6, are you frustrated? Angry? What's going on inside of you?
A: If you guys want me to get up here and have a tantrum, I'm not going to do that. It's frustrating. Anytime you lose football games and you're 1-6, there's some frustration, but I'm not going to get up here and fall on the floor and kick and scream. I'm not going to do that. But of course, we're all frustrated, but we can fix that by playing the game the right way and you do that by the preparation that you put in and you win the games during the week. You get out there and you play with some hunger and passion and the playmakers have to make plays when we get out there. So there is frustration, but again, anybody that's not winning, there is going to be.
Q: Do you have enough playmakers to be competitive?
A: Yeah, we have to be. It's funny, I was talking to another GM this morning and he was kind of down about some injuries and things, and I was like, 'man, no crying in football.' And he was like, 'you know what, Jerry, thanks for saying that.' But there is no crying in football. We have some young players that we have a great opportunity for them and we have to put them in positions to make enough plays. We have to run the ball, we got to play complementary football, we got to win the kicking game and we got to win field position. That's nothing abnormal from any football game, no matter who's on your roster. You have to play complementary football to win, to win games. The kicking game has to be better, we run the ball pretty good at times offensively, but when they put eight, nine guys in the box, you got to be able to throw some passes out to the guys. We have some guys that are capable of doing that, we have receivers that are capable of doing that. And our defense has to play well. We can't give up scores late in games to lose games. So it's a combination of a lot of things and we're going to take these last nine games and we're going to give it everything we got.
Q: How were you expecting the offense to make strides and why do you think it hasn't happened?
A: That's a good question. We thought we upgraded the offense in some different positions and it didn't take off. The continuity wasn't there like we wanted it to be at the beginning of the season. But again, it's a work in progress. Our backs are against the wall. Our backs are firmly against the wall. It's a bad formula to use, to wait until your back is against the wall. But we are where we are right here, right now and we're going to give our fans every ounce of what we have. Let me say, I do appreciate our fans because our fans were out there Sunday. They were giving it all they had and we owe that to them to give it all we have as well and we appreciate them for their efforts to try to cheer us on no matter what, real Giants fans.
Quarterback Eli Manning
Q: What's the message during this Bye Week?
A: Well, I think obviously take some time off, get away. After seven games, you're going to have bumps and bruises and obviously we've gone through a tough stretch. So, get away from it a little bit, but come back understanding we got a lot of football games left and we got to get better. We have to make improvements and we have to find ways to win some football games.
Q: How do you evaluate your performance during this first part of the season?
A: Everybody knows the record, so I got to play better. I'm going to keep fighting, keep finding ways to get completions and see if we can move the ball and score some more points.
Q: Do you feel confident in your abilities and do you question yourself in any way?
A: No. I can still play at a high level and can get this offense going and do better than what we're doing.
Q: Does it bother you when you hear talk that the Giants should be thinking about the future?
A: Hey, you know, I got to play better. So, I'm going to worry about my job – going out there and playing at a high level.
Q: Is it fair for people to say that you have to make the receivers better since they have less experience?
A: Yeah, well I think that's definitely part of the job. You got to find out what guys do well and put them in a position to make plays, throw accurate passes and give them a shot to make plays. So, it's a combination. We have to make improvements. I have to – not coach them up – but make sure we're doing things the right way and everybody is playing at a high level.
Q: Do you think in the remaining games that you can make something happen in terms of consistency?
A: Yeah. I think we can win some games and it starts each and every one. Just have a great game plan, understand what that is and how we're going to have to play and I think we've done a decent job of hanging in games. These last couple weeks when we lost some guys and really the last five games, we've been right there in them until the last seconds of games, last quarters of games. So, we understand. We got a good defense. We got to rely on them. We have to do better offensively, get some big plays, do better getting some explosive plays, get to the fourth quarter and then make the plays there to win the game.
Q: When you look at the big picture of 1-6, what do you see that went wrong?
A: Well, it's tough. Each game is different. I don't know if there's necessarily one thing that went wrong. We had a little stretch there where we had leads and lose a couple games in the last seconds – last minutes of games. So, you're right there in the stretch. That's just football sometimes. We're just not playing well enough, just not doing everything that we need to do to win football games and I think obviously when two weeks ago, this last week – right there in it in the fourth quarter. Just didn't make the plays in the fourth quarter.
Q: Are you going to spend any time putting anything together for the new receivers on the Bye Week?
A: Well, I mean, everybody knows their assignments. It's guys who have been here, so they're running the right routes. It's just a matter of – it's not all on them. It's not on the receivers. It's not just, 'Hey, the receivers ran bad routes. That's the reason we're not having success.' So, I think they're doing a good job. We got to give them an opportunity. We got to give them shots to make plays. So, this isn't the receivers' fault. They're doing some good things. It's our job to give them an opportunity to get open.
Q: Did the offensive line play better as the season went on or did you guys alter enough to allow them to play better?
A: Well, we have to put them in the same situation. Can't be second, third and longs. Thought last week, we did a good job managing the offense. So, we had third down protections that were good. We just weren't able to convert on them. We went against a good defensive front and they got pressure on a few things. But, some of them I got to stand in there and make throws. So, I think the offensive line, hey, they're competing. They're doing a good job. We're getting positive runs and putting us in a position to convert on third downs and now we just got to convert on those third downs.
Q: When you see that Philadelphia is 6-1 and think about how you almost beat them on the road, does that make this tougher to take in?
A: It's tough just because, hey, you're not winning football games. That's the only reason it's tough. It's not comparing yourself to other teams. It's just what the facts are and we've lost a bunch of games and that hurts. So, you want to go out there. You want to compete every week. You want to get wins and that's what we're working towards.
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
Q: What does the team need to do to get more wins after the Bye Week?
A: It's all three phases coming together as one. Some games, the defense, they're on, and we [the offense] is off. We've got to make every group the same and everybody has to be on at all times.
Q: What was coach McAdoo's message to the team heading into the Bye Week?
A: Just kind of regroup. They're regrouping as coaches and trying to find out the thing that work and find out the things that don't and get them out of there. And we've got to stay focused as a team and don't get into any trouble, just little things like that. We've got to come back ready to work.
Q: Will you be ready to play after the Bye Week?
A: Yeah, I'll be ready to go.
Q: What changed between Sunday morning and later in the afternoon, as it seemed like you were encouraged that you were going to play last week against Seattle?
A: It wasn't Sunday, it was – I mean, after the Thursday practice, I kind of tweaked it during that practice and it kind of carried over to Sunday and I just didn't feel ready to go, didn't feel 100% to go.
Q: What has the dynamic been like in the wide receivers room?
A: We're getting back on track. We had a fine board going and it kind of died off, but we know we've got some new guys in there, so the fine board is back alive. Just trying to get everybody on the same page and everybody get ready for their assignment.
Q: Is it back to business in the wide receivers room, back to reality?
A: Yeah, we have to go back to business. We don't have some of the same faces. When you have veterans like Odell [Beckham, Jr.] and you have Brandon [Marshall], you don't have to really hold that accountability for those guys, you know? They pretty much know what they're doing. But when you have new faces, you kind of have got to make sure everybody's on their p's and q's and that's kind of what the fine board is there for.
Q: Are fines less a smaller amount now?
A: Less money? Oh, no.
Q: Are the fines more frequent?
A: I mean, you've got guys that haven't been out there before, so they're going to mess up a little bit. We've got a lot of fines, but no, the money hasn't changed. It's stayed the same. Find a way [laughs].
Q: Not as many big contracts in that room anymore, right?
A: No, there's not. That's what I'm saying, find a way [laughs]. That's why you don't get fined.
Q: Are you sticking around the facility for treatment during the Bye Week?
A: Yeah, I'm staying around for treatment. Just trying to get it back to 100%, so I can feel good about going out on the field.
Q: Will the Bye Week help you in your recovery from injury?
A: I think the Bye Week couldn't have come at a more perfect time. So, trying to get it back right.
Q: Is it any harder to be ready for a game when you're 1-6, as opposed to being in contention?
A: No, not at all. I mean, we've been grinding with each other for a long time, going over in the summer, in camp, so you never want to give up on your brothers and I think everybody has that kind of mindset. So, we're going to keep grinding, even though the record isn't too good right now. Just got to grind this thing out for the rest of the season and come together and get some wins.
Q: Are you as surprised as everybody on the outside that the team is 1-6?
A: I just think it comes down to the little things. Last season, we were closing out those fourth quarter games, those close games. And this season, it's just kind of slipped from us and I think it's all three phases of the game we've kind of been lacking on.
Q: When you return from injury, how much changes for you and your role?
A: I mean, it's going to be different, you don't have the same faces in there. That alone, it's going to change. But my role is going to stay the same, I'm kind of a guy that leads by example, but I'll be vocal if I have to and that's kind of what role I've had to take these last two weeks, is just staying in the guys' ears and keeping their heads held high.
Q: How do you feel about the opportunity to play more on the outside?
A: I know the system, I know what needs to be done outside, so I don't think that'll be a problem. I've played a lot of outside in college. It is an opportunity, but I'm just going to do what I'm asked and try to make plays.
Q: How do you think McAdoo has kept the team playing hard the last weeks?
A: I don't think Coach McAdoo has much to do, he can say a lot of things, but as a team, we have to come together and we have to fight. That's the thing, we have a good group of guys that don't ever give up and that's not going to change.
Q: How tough has it been for you to watch the offense be so limited the past two games?
A: It's been pretty tough, but we've been handling it pretty well. I mean, we have a great game against Denver running the ball, so it's only natural to keep what's going good, keep it going. So, we tried to transfer that over to the Seahawks, it just didn't work out the way it did before.
Tight End Evan Engram
Q: How would you describe the first seven weeks for you?
A: Individually, the biggest thing I've been learning – a lot about myself, about this team, about kind of handling adversity and how hard it is to win in this league. So, definitely a lot of learning, a lot of fighting. This team is really relentless and I try to come in here and be the same with these guys each and every day.
Q: Last year things weren't going well for Ole Miss and you had to step up. Are you ready to take on that role here heading into the second half?
A: Definitely. I mean, guys are going to have to step up across the board, but personally, I definitely am ready to be whatever I have to be to help this team as much as I can. So, that's an increased role. I'm going to embrace it. I'm going to attack it. These guys are going to push me and I'm going to push them as well.
Q: Individually, do you feel that you've established yourself as something here already?
A: I'm not really complacent. I never get complacent, so definitely I'm always aiming for more. I'm always aiming for improvement. So, I definitely, I'm definitely getting some confidence in making plays and being confident on the field, but definitely some things I can be better at and things I'm going to improve on.
Q: Are you aware of some of the rookie tight end numbers and records?
A: Not really, no.
Q: Will you take a look at them at some point?
A: Are you talking about other rookie tight ends?
Q: Not even just this year, but will you look at Jeremy Shockey's numbers, etc.?
A: I mean, I get tagged in some tweets here and there, but I don't really – I just kind of keep my head down, keep putting the work in and then we'll see what the numbers say at the end of the year.
Q: Do you look ahead and say that you can be a complete tight end?
A: Definitely. Definitely. That's the big thing I've gained this season. Definitely my confidence and believing in myself and definitely looking forward to coming back and making more plays for my team.
Q: Are you taking things hard this first month and a half being 1-6? Individually you've played pretty well but overall is that something that you take personally?
A: I mean, it's tough to be pleased when we're losing as a team. Big games here and there. With a loss, it's kind of hard to feel good about it. There's always things that you can look back on – maybe if I did this better, we score here or if I did this better, we get this first down. So, it's definitely tough to kind of enjoy playing well but not getting the results we want as a team.
Q: You do wear your thoughts on your sleeve, don't you?
A: I mean, I try to stay positive and I don't live in the past. It's definitely tough in the moment and in situations, definitely in games when things aren't going our way. But, I definitely don't let it linger. I kind of throw it in the trash and get ready and get excited for the next opportunity.
Q: Can you believe you still have more games to go than you've already played?
A: Yeah. That's the craziest thing. That's crazy. I mean, coming into it, people kind of tried to warn me about the length of the season and the rookie wall, but it's really not that bad. I think it's kind of a mentality – a mental thing. It's tough right now for us, but I'm enjoying each and every day coming up here and putting the work in.
Q: How do you think your rookie class here has dealt with the 1-6 start?
A: I mean, we're all just embracing our role and doing our job. We're a close knit group and we push each other. We help each other. So, these guys, these young guys are definitely fighting and some things we can get better at, some things we can continue to improve on. But, we're staying positive. We're coming up here and working.
Q: What do you plan on doing for the Bye Week?
A: I'm going back to my school. They got Arkansas at home this weekend. Go see some of my coaches and some of my friends and kind of just get away from here and get kind of a reset and a fresh mindset coming back from our off week.