- Johnette Howard, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- By Thursday, the tear-away calendar in the Giants' locker room that general manager Jerry Reese had hung up at the start of the season to count down the days to the first New York-hosted Super Bowl was still tacked to the same bulletin board on which it had been hanging for months.
It's a sort of wondrous reminder of how badly Reese misjudged the team he was rolling out in 2013. As of Friday, there are exactly 100 days until the championship game. And the Giants have never looked further away from being a title contender on Reese's watch.
What was Reese thinking? Making a show of the Super Bowl countdown is the sort of motivational stunt that's more often associated with Rex Ryan's Jets, not the buttoned-down Giants. And especially not Reese, a no-nonsense man who is scheduled to finally speak with the media Tuesday in the first at-length interview he's given since training camp. Maybe he'll give us some answers then.
Of all the Giants who are having down seasons -- the offensive line, Hakeem Nicks, slowly improving defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who sat for a long time near his cubicle Thursday giving a long, frank critique of his unimpressive performances in 2013 -- Reese is having the worst year of any of them.
The Giants finally have a win, one lonely win, after seven games. But they will have to play a lot better against division-rival Philadelphia on Sunday to make anyone believe that they can still total even five victories the rest of this season.
Their much-needed Monday night victory over an unwatchable Minnesota Vikings team ended what felt like an O-for-forever slide, a run of futility safety Antrel Rolle admitted on Thursday "can play on your mind." But that's about it. The win proved next to nothing about how the Giants will fare against teams with a functional quarterback or even a marginally good secondary -- two things the Vikings didn't bring to MetLife, but the Eagles will certainly present on Sunday. That's why it's been a bit comical to see how some folks have taken up the task of looking at the remaining schedule and conjuring up convoluted ways the 1-6 Giants might still be able to sneak into the playoffs, helped by the NFC East being such a mess this year.
Save the brain cells, ladies and gents, and take some reasonable advice: The smartest way to gauge what's still possible for this team is not to look at the Giants' remaining schedule, it's to look at the roster Reese put together. The Giants' roster has holes all over. And what's worse, Reese should've done a better job of anticipating them.
So when he does finally surface for his annual bye-week talk next week, it's easy to imagine a wish list of questions you'd like to see him answer.
Even if Reese did want the team to get younger, why did he let so much depth walk away from the defensive line? Justin Tuck hasn't been himself for two years. Mathias Kiwanuka hasn't made anyone forget Osi Umenyiora coming off the edge. And JPP said he and the Giants knew all along he was going to need back surgery either this season or next.
"To be honest, I wasn't expecting myself to be Superman," Pierre-Paul said Thursday. "And I'm pretty sure the coaches weren't expecting that. ... It's going to take the whole next offseason."
The Giants' offensive line has been an even worse mess, if you can believe that. Center David Baas, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve this week, has been hurt since he arrived. Chris Snee was coming off hip surgery and is now out for the season because his other hip needed fixing. The Giants have been trying to move David Diehl aside for a while, so it's a bad sign to see them forced to rely on him so heavily again. They also miss departed tight end Martellus Bennett's blocking and pass-catching. (But wouldn't they have had a better chance to afford him if Reese hadn't misread the market and overpaid for Will Beatty, only to see comparable offensive tackles sign for far less last offseason?)
Reese does deserve praise for his recent trade for middle linebacker Jon Beason, who has been a godsend for the Giants' mediocre linebacking corps.
But let's be honest: The only title the Giants are in the running for right now is to remain the best of the NFL's very worst teams. That's it. Their starting running backs, Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis, are two guys they signed off the sofa. And Hillis admitted his legs turned to "jelly" from fatigue late in Monday's win.
There's something perversely admirable about Eli Manning's refusal to give a damn about his stats. He just keeps slinging the ball all over the yard while trying to win games for the Giants single-handedly. But it's hard for even Manning to be magical when he is constantly getting hit, has no time to throw and no running game to rely on.
Manning finally said the hell with it on Monday and actually tried to scramble for a first down rather than throw the ball away.
It may be an entire year before you see him take that risk again.
But it shows how desperate he is to win.
Taken all together, Reese should've seen more of it coming.
One hundred days to go now until New York's Super Bowl Sunday arrives.
Four more days until the Giants GM discusses how quickly Big Blue's dreams of getting there went wrong.
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