|ESPN.com: NFL||[Print without images]|
Fans are screaming for blood after Reese lost out on Plaxico Burress, Kevin Boss and now Steve Smith in free agency.
But the general manager says the Giants are going to be just fine. In fact, he confidently says the Giants will return to the postseason for the first time in three years.
"We won 10 games last year; it wasn't like we were 6-10," Reese said. "We expect to build off that. If we made a couple of plays here and there last year, we would have been in the playoffs. And who knows what would have happened? But it didn't happen, so we will make the plays this time and we'll get in the playoffs and make a run."
Considering that the Giants' biggest moves thus far have been re-signing running back Ahmad Bradshaw and defensive end/linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, while adding free-agent center David Baas, frustration has been boiling to the point where it feels as if angry fans will be trying to storm the Giants facility doors with pitchforks and torches.
"It seems like people are in a panic about the perception (that) we are not doing a lot," Reese said in his first meeting with reporters since the start of training camp. "We had a game plan, we stuck to our game plan."
"When I say sticking to our game plan, we made responsible offers and if those offers weren't good enough, we would move on," Reese clarified. "The proof's in the pudding. We'll see when we get out there. We feel like we have a strong squad."
While teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots went on spending sprees and orchestrated blockbuster trades, the Giants have chosen to add a few pieces here and there while hoping that several of their young players on the roster will step up and fill holes.
They brought in Burress for a visit before he joined the Jets for a fully guaranteed one-year, $3.017 million contract.
Boss was expected to re-sign until the tight end left for a four-year deal with the Raiders worth $16 million, with $8 million guaranteed.
And then Smith visited with the team on Monday and Tuesday and had his surgically repaired knee examined. Smith ended up signing with the Eagles for a one-year deal reportedly worth $4 million, with $2 million guaranteed.
Reese said he made "responsible offers" to those players.
"Sometimes it doesn't work out the way you want it to work out," Reese said. "We will play the hand we are dealt and we will win with it."
Some wonder, though, how the Giants will close the gap between themselves and their division nemesis Philadelphia.
The Eagles have beaten the Giants in six straight games and now have added players like Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Ronnie Brown and Smith.
Still, Reese sees no reason why he needs to go out and make some big headline-grabbing transaction.
"Look at how many big sexy moves the Green Bay Packers made last year. ... I don't remember a lot," Reese said. "Who won before? Pittsburgh? How many big sexy moves did they have? You develop players. The making a splash, the big sexy move, I don't know if that always works. I don't know if all the big sexy moves are the right way to go."
Reese restructured several contracts to get under the salary cap to re-sign Bradshaw and others. He modified the deals of Brandon Jacobs, Antrel Rolle and Corey Webster.
"Obviously you have to stay in the confines of (the) salary cap but our cap situation is we are flexible," Reese said. "We can still do some things if we need to do something in respect to the salary cap."
The Giants, though, have to keep some flexibility in case something happens later in the season. As for how his free agency is going, Reese defended several of his moves thus far.
The general manager believes he solidified the Giants with moves like adding Baas at center, re-signing a key backup like offensive lineman Kevin Boothe and signing punter Steve Weatherford to compete with Matt Dodge.
He also is counting on one of his several young receivers to step up and give the Giants a third receiver to go with Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.
Reese is banking on tight end Travis Beckum to replace Boss in the receiving game and for former second-round pick Will Beatty to start at left tackle.
Reese is confident his vaunted defensive line will remain stout, as he expects Osi Umenyiora to remain a Giant this season.
But Reese understands that explaining that young players like Linval Joseph will step up at defensive tackle just isn't as tantalizing as signing a recognizable free-agent talent.
He knows the perception is that the Giants have taken a step back. But the general manager respectfully disagrees.
"I'm not bothered by that," Reese said of the perception that the Giants are not better than last year. "That's mostly fans who say that kind of stuff and really don't understand the process. We have good players on the team. We are not looking to go out and make every sexy splash that can be made."
"We will make solid football decisions," he added. "That has been happening for a long time. You can go to any camp and the fans are saying that about their football team. That is what fans do and that is what makes fans great."
Even those fans who criticized Reese for drafting Smith and Boss are those same fans who now scream at Reese for letting those two go elsewhere.
"Come up to my office and let me show you some of my mail I get and I will show you 'under the microscope,'" Reese said of being scrutinized. "It is pretty vicious in the very beginning, some of the mail I got. But this is a big boy sport. If you have thin skin in this market, in the National Football League period, then you are in the wrong job. I'm tougher than I look."Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.