As the dust begins to settle from Steve Smith's decision to bolt the New York Giants for the Philadelphia Eagles, what are the New York Giants left with? The last few weeks have been, mostly, a time of saying goodbye to several veteran players who were part of the 2007 Super Bowl team.
Training camp began with offensive linemen Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert being released. Plaxico Burress chose the New York Jets, and I still doubt the seriousness of the Giants' interest, especially given recent developments. The Giants let Barry Cofield go to Washington. Kevin Boss took more guaranteed money than the Giants were willing to offer to go to Oakland. Smith did the same to go to Philadelphia.
Perhaps the most instructive thing that has happened is that rookie third-round pick Jerrel Jernigan, a wide receiver and punt returner, has already swooped in and taken Smith's No. 12. So, we have already moved from the SS12 era to the dawn of the days of JJ12.
Symbolic of what is going on with the Giants? Without a doubt. There is a changing of the guard going on with the New York Football Giants.
Jeff Roberts of the Bergen Record was right on the money this morning when he wrote "Reese’s get-younger-and-cheaper plan is in full effect."
Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger isn't really sure what Reese is doing. He wrote:
"... for the first time in his tenure, I can't see the method behind the madness. I'm officially skeptical. If he's got a plan, he's doing a great job of keeping it to himself right now. And he'd better have a plan because, much as he told us he thought this roster was good enough as currently constructed, it's not. It's just not.
"That's enough sitting back for Reese. It's time for him to jump up and do something here."
Where MG is wrong here is that Reese, as Roberts indicated, has already jumped up and done something. He has changed, in several key spots, the personnel on a football team that did not make the playoffs the past two seasons.
He did not do it in the splashy way the Eagles or Jets have done it. He did it by trusting his talent evaluation, by firmly and irrevocably planting the success - or failure -- of the Giants 2011 season on the backs of many of the players he has brought into the organization via the draft, trades and free-agent signings. Several of those players have not yet really had a chance to get on the field full time and show whether or not Reese was right about them.
Now, they will have that opportunity. The Giants season will ride on them, and so in some respects will Reese's reputation as a top-notch talent evaluator.
Let's look at some of the moves.
On the offensive line, Giants fans have clamored for years to get David Diehl out of the left tackle position. That has been done. Now, we also get to find out once and for all if Reese was right that 2009 second-round pick Will Beatty can handle left tackle. My guess is he does a better job than Diehl, who will be fine at guard. As for center, David Baas is an unknown, but so really was O'Hara when the Giants signed him away from Cleveland.
At wide receiver, the Giants have been preparing for 2011 as though Smith would not be around, anyway. That is why Jernigan, a speedster with a lot of experience collegiately in the slot, was drafted. Fans have clamored to see Victor Cruz and Ramses Barden get a chance. Some of you love Devin Thomas. There are still veterans like Domenik Hixon and Darius Reynaud. Sure the Giants could make a run at free-agent Jerricho Cotchery. Isn't it more fun, though, to watch guys with futures blossom than it would be to watch a guy who's receptions totals have declined from 71 in 2008 to 41 a year ago?
At tight end, Boss was a popular player. But, was he really that good? The most receptions he ever had in his three seasons with the Giants was 42. Some of you blame Kevin Gilbride for that. Isn't it just possible, though, that that was the type of player Boss was? Remember that Boss dropped 11 of the 66 balls thrown his way last season, a completely unacceptable 17 percent of passes in his direction. If he stays healthy and continues to develop the way he has thus far in training camp, I believe Travis Beckum has a good chance to surpass that 42-catch number. And Bear Pascoe or Jake Ballard -- or an extra offensive lineman -- can handle the blocking.
At defensive tackle, Barry Cofield was a good player but not one worth breaking the bank over. Who isn't excited about seeing what Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin can do given full opportunities? Those guys were drafted, to be honest, to replace Cofield. That's what they are doing. So, let's see if they are up to the task.
At defensive end, the Giants are still trying to come to some agreement with Osi Umenyiora. But, Jason Pierre-Paul appears ready to burst into stardom. He can't do that from the bench.
There is always a fear of the unknown, and in some ways the Giants have put their season in the hands of several players who are unknown quantities.
Isn't the definition of insantiy "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?"
Well, after watching his team fail to get where it wanted to go in each of the past three seasons (including the 2008 playoff flop) Reese HAS done something different. He just hasn't done it in a specatacular, flashy way.
All we can do now is sit back, watch and see if the Giants' general manager is right.
Question is "In Reese Do We Still Trust?"