EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — General manager Jerry Reese believes the New York Giants are not that far away from being successful despite a third straight losing season that led to the resignation of two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin.
Reese said a turnaround could be in store with one good offseason of free agent signings and draft picks.
“I hope it’s real soon,” Reese said as he addressed the media during Coughlin’s farewell news conference Tuesday. “We lost eight games by a close margin. I don’t think we’re that far away.
“Obviously when you’re 6-10 everybody thinks you’re a bad team. But in the National Football League, things can get fixed quickly, and we expect to do that. We expect it to change quickly and have a chance to get back in the tournament and play Giants football the way we like.”
An estimated $50 million of salary cap space to sign veteran free agents, plus the No. 10 draft slot, put the Giants in an advantageous position to fill the gaping holes on defense that caused six losses in the last 1:14 or overtime.
Reese and his scouting staff, the makeup of which will be evaluated in the coming weeks, must choose wisely to avoid the slew of subpar veterans and broken draft picks that have sent the organization spiraling since the Super Bowl championship season of 2011.
“It’s a combination of things,” Reese said. “We’ve missed players in the draft, we have injuries that come into play. We have free agents that leave. We’ve had some players we wanted to become staples in our organization that just got hurt.
“You have to keep building the roster, but when you have 25 guys on injured reserve, depth is hard to find.”
Co-owner John Mara offered a vote of confidence, but also placed Reese firmly on the hot seat.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t provide (Coughlin) with enough talent,” Mara said. “That’s why we’re standing here today.”
Mara explained that Reese did not pay the same price as Coughlin for four straight failed seasons because of Reese’s past success in building two Super Bowl-winning rosters.
“I still believe that Jerry Reese is the right guy to lead us going forward,” Mara said. “Why do I believe that? Jerry put together two Super Bowl-winning teams. I would venture to say that if we were to poll all of you in this room two years ago about who the top general managers in the league are, every one of you in here would have him on your list. So now, two years later, after another bad season, do we want to throw all that out? I still think he’s capable of putting a great team together.”
But the owner said changeover must happen fast. He fell just short of reissuing last year’s “win-or-else” edict.
“Listen, he knows what the expectations are,” Mara said. “But he’s done it before, and I believe he can do it again. If you still believe the person has what it takes to build a team, you’ve got to stay with it and give him a chance.”
Major holes at safety and linebacker, as well as offensive line depth, will rank high among Reese’s offseason tasks. So will bulking up a pass rush that had just 23 sacks, third lowest in the league. Mara said he will also be involved in the preliminary interviews for Coughlin’s successor.
Mara said both offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be considered to replace Coughlin. He did not rule out hiring a college coach with no NFL experience. He also didn’t dismiss the possibility of trading a draft pick to acquire a coach currently under contract — New Orleans might be willing to part with Sean Payton.
Hot seat or not, Reese had no doubt he remains the right man to rebuild the roster quickly.
“I know how passionate I am about it,” Reese said. “I know we’ve put together championship teams before. I know what the big picture of the National Football League is.
“I just know that if you lose eight games by 26 points, you’re not that far away. Things can be fixed, and fixed quickly.”
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)