Sports fans are fickle. And fans of losing teams are impatient, always on edge, out for someone's/anyone's/everyone's head, and ready to pounce with vitriolic criticism at a second's notice. Every decision they don't understand, or completely agree with, is evidence that the decision-makers in charge of the team they love are idiots who don't deserve their jobs.
Such is the case with the New York Giants these days. The Giants like to point to their four Super Bowl titles and their proud history as one of the NFL's original franchises. These days, though, the reality is the Giants are just another losing NFL team, another also-ran. Four straight playoff-less seasons and three straight losing ones mean this generation of Giants has a lot more in common with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans than with the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and other perennial contenders.
Why do I bring up this harsh reality about the Giants? Because of the wild, and completely unrealistic, mood swings we have seen in the fanbase since the beginning of free agency a little more than a week ago.
Before free agency, general manager Jerry Reese was a target for frustrated fans tired of watching their team flounder. He was also a pin-cushion for writers -- yours truly included -- willing to jab the franchise for saying the weak roster was the problem and then acting differently. For basically firing a two-time Super Bowl winning coach while keeping the general manager who built the not-good-enough roster the coach couldn't win with in the first place.
A few hours into free agency, though, Reese was a hero. He re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul. He brought in the best defensive end (Olivier Vernon), best defensive tackle (Damon Harrison), and best cornerback (Janoris Jenkins) on the market. In the eyes of the fan base he had finally begun to do something to try to fix the mess he had created.
It is a what have you done for me lately world, though, and in this day and age "lately" is defined as within roughly the past five minutes. Since his opening splurge in free agency Reese has signed a middling middle linebacker in Keenan Robinson and ... well, and nothing.
There have been some swings and misses, like with offensive tackles Donald Penn and Russell Okung. But Reese and the Giants haven't done anything to improve the Giants in a whole week! All the good linemen are gone. So are all the good wide receivers and safeties. The Giants, some would say, LET the New England Patriots trade for Martellus Bennett.
Reese is a bum again! Because he hasn't done anything to fix all the problems the Giants have in the past week! A whole week of ... well, nothing. And there are many, too many, who just can't stand it. Who just can't stand the idea that on March 18, nearly six months before the New York Giants have to take the field to play in a game that matters, not every single one of the problems the team so obviously has is fixed.
News flash to those of who are impatient for everything to be fixed, for everything to be wonderful in Giants land. You are going to have to have patience, whether you want to or not. It took the Giants years to get into this situation. They aren't getting out of it in a week, a month, or maybe even a single offseason. They have, after all, actually been trying unsuccessfully to fix it for years now.
The draft classes from roughly 2009 to 20012 simply didn't give the Giants enough talent. The players from that time period should now be forming the core of the roster, and that core does not exist.
Recent free agent classes haven't given the Giants enough, either. Unless they re-sign placekicker Josh Brown or defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, they will have no one left from their 2013 free agent class. They have only Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and John Jerry left from the 14 guys they signed in 2014, the last time they went on a huge free-agent binge.
The Giants seem to have drafted better the past couple of years. Players like Dwayne Harris and Shane Vereen, free agents signed a year ago, may prove worth the money. The big-name players the Giants signed on Day 1 of free agency could help. They certainly make the defense look better on paper than it did a year ago.
There is still much to be done. There are several positions on the roster where the Giants do not yet appear to have starting-caliber players. All across the roster they could probably use more depth.
Fans know these things. The Giants know them, too. Everyone thinks they have the answer, and they want the problem solved. Yesterday! It isn't, however, that easy. You can't snap your fingers and collect players, or issue a blank check to anyone you may be interested in.
There are 31 other teams also seeking players, each of whom has the right go anywhere he wants and who has his own criteria for the team he eventually chooses. The Giants are not always going to get players they want, or want the players who fans think they should. Case in point was Okung. The Giants wanted him to play right tackle. He still wants to be a left tackle and held out for a team that would allow him to do that, and pay him handsomely. He found one in the Denver Broncos.
There are also cases where the Giants may see the market differently from the inside than we do on the outside. They may believe a young player on the roster can fill a position. They may believe a free agent some think is an obvious fit doesn't fit them at all. The safety position in 2015 was an example. The Giants chose to believe in their young players, and injuries never gave that plan a chance. The plan itself wasn't the problem.
There is still plenty of time and there are still plenty of players available. Not the sexy, big-name ones, but useful players. The 2016 NFL Draft is coming. After that, teams will release more veteran players. A good player or two at a position of need could fall to the Giants this summer.
Fact is it's possible some of the positions we see as weaknesses right now may still be weaknesses in September. They might be strengths while other things pop up as weaknesses.
Relax. On paper, the Giants look better than they did 10 days ago, so that is a start. Get excited about the draft. I understand there is anxiousness and a lack of trust because of the results in recent years, but the Giants do know where the issues are. Reese and Co. aren't sitting around doing nothing. The GM is aware that his job could hang int the balance if he doesn't get things right for 2016. There is a long, long way to go before the season starts. Let's see what happens between now and then.