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You might love the moves Jerry Reese and the Giants have made since the start of free agency or you may hate them, but you can't say that the general manager doesn't know what's riding on his decisions.
Reese made it clear during a defiant and arrogant press conference on Thursday that he's in charge of what's going on and that anyone who suggests he doesn't know what he's doing can go pound sand. Fans who are howling about the lack of additions and flood of defections simply don't understand the process of running a football team.
The G.M. said everyone should look at the lack of splashy moves by the Packers and Steelers before last season and see that such things aren't necessary to win big in the NFL. But both of those teams kept their own players from leaving for other cities, something Reese wasn't able to do even though he made overtures toward both Kevin Boss and Steve Smith.
Again, that's just part of the process. Reese said he made "responsible" offers to both men, but they went off and signed somewhere else because that's just what happens in free agency.
That cool deflection of any bad feelings about Smith's decision was a nice change of pace from Tom Coughlin's whiny comments earlier Thursday about never getting a chance to match the Eagles' offer. Reese was smart enough to know that you don't get any sympathy points when you let a player leave without a contract and then watch him sign somewhere else.
It wasn't much reassurance that the last couple of weeks have gone exactly according to plan, as Reese would have you believe. Snide comments about not understanding the process don't cover up the fact that there are two ways to build a team -- signing guys from other teams or holding onto your own -- and that the Giants did neither of them.
As the questions rained down on him like he was in the interrogation room of a police station, Reese seemed to realize that it was going to be impossible to sell the idea that everything was going according to plan. So he switched gears and stole a page from the book Rex Ryan has used to capture the fancy of this town.
"We won 10 games last year. It wasn't like we were 6-10, we were 10-6," Reese said. "We expect to build off that. We made a couple of plays last year, we'd have been in the playoffs and who knows what would have happened. But it didn't happen, so we'll make the plays this time and we'll get in the playoffs and we'll make a run."
Reese has done well enough in his time as the general manager that the level of panic about his moves seems out of proportion to the players who have actually left the team. That said, you don't take as defensive a posture as Reese took on Thursday without putting yourself on the line as well.
No one will remember these dismal weeks as anything but a feather in the G.M.'s cap if the Giants make good on Reese's guarantee a few months from now. The sky hasn't fallen because a tight end and a wide receiver coming off serious surgery are now working elsewhere, so Reese's team has plenty on hand to make him look smart come December.
If they can't back up Reese, however, that little passage is going to come back to haunt him. As it should, because you don't get to say that everything is A-OK when the sky actually does cave in on top of you.