Jerry Reese deserves to be NFL's Executive of the Year

Jerry Reese deserves an apology from all of us.

He’s gone from maligned to marvelous, lampooned to lauded, cursed to blessed by hitting all the right chords that have the Giants (10-4) positioned for their first playoff appearance since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy five years ago.

Sure, the Giants general manager’s brilliance was born out of desperation in the offseason, but who gives a rat’s derriere? He doled out obscene wads of ownership’s cash to cure what ailed his team.

Little known fact: Sometimes you can fix problems by throwing money at them.

Reese’s decision-making this spring has as much to do with the Giants revival as any tackle or turnover. He properly identified the exact right pieces by telling every free agent those four magical words: Money is no object.

Reese’s off-season moves make it a no-brainer now: He deserves to be the NFL Executive of the Year.

It was a preposterous notion 11 months ago when most wondered why the heck John Mara fired Tom Coughlin, but kept Reese.

Janoris Jenkins, who played under relative obscurity with the Rams has been a revelation with the Giants.

Janoris Jenkins, who played under relative obscurity with the Rams has been a revelation with the Giants.

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

“I still believe that Jerry Reese is the right guy to lead us going forward,” Mara said in January. “Why do I believe that? Jerry put together two Super Bowl-winning teams.”

Truth be told, Ernie Accorsi put together one of those championship squads, but who’s counting? There’s no denying that Reese, who has spent 22 years with the organization, has accomplished plenty as a general manager. Three lean (aka – losing) seasons might have prompted more fickle owners to hand out pink slips, but Mara stayed the course with his general manager.

Make no mistake: Reese would have been toast after this season if his free-agent splurge-fest flopped.

Dig up Wonder Woman and lasso the truth out of Reese: There’s no way that he could have envisioned that every big move he made this offseason would have turned out so well.

Reese spent more than $204 million, including $114 million in guarantees, to land his own personal Free Agent Mount Rushmore: defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Janoris Jenkins.

It was an epic spending spree that turned a laughingstock defense into one of the league’s most formidable units. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has made good use of Reese’s pricey quartet.

Olivier Vernon, seen here sacking Washington's Kirk Cousins, joins Jason Pierre-Paul and Damon Harrison on a Giants front that is once again fearsome.

Olivier Vernon, seen here sacking Washington’s Kirk Cousins, joins Jason Pierre-Paul and Damon Harrison on a Giants front that is once again fearsome.

(Elsa/Getty Images)

Vernon has 7 ½ of his 8 ½ sacks in the last seven games. Harrison has been the same run-stuffing anchor that he was with the Jets. Jenkins, third in the league in passes defensed, has replaced what’s-his-name as the best cornerback in New York. JPP had seven sacks in 12 games before going under the knife to repair a sports hernia stemming from a groin injury.

Each has been an integral reason why the Giants’ last-place defense from a year ago has become the engine of Ben McAdoo’s team. (Reese’s 2015 second-round pick Landon Collins has emerged as a versatile game-wrecker too).

The Giants, winners of eight of the last nine, can thank their defense for being in position to clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Eagles on Thursday night. The turnaround has been startling.

The Giants are allowing nearly 10 fewer points and 73 fewer yards per game than last season. Only two teams allowed more than the Giants’ 27.6 points per game in 2015. Only two teams are allowing fewer than the Giants’ 17.9 points per game in 2016.

The Giants turned a bottom-third run defense (120.9 ypg) into a Top 5 unit (90.1 ypg) thanks, in part, to Harrison, who has been a beast in the trenches. Only the Ravens and Seahawks are stingier against the run than the Giants (3.6 yards per rush allowed).

Spagnuolo’s defense is allowing a full yard less per play than a year ago.

In addition to spending in free agency, Reese also drafted Eli Apple in the spring. The cornerback has come on strong down the stretch.

In addition to spending in free agency, Reese also drafted Eli Apple in the spring. The cornerback has come on strong down the stretch.

(Kathy Willens/AP)

Reese’s fingerprints are all over this reversal of fortune.

Vikings GM Rick Spielman and Philly’s Howie Roseman were the early front-runners for the PFWA’s top honor for executives before both teams faded. Lions architect Bob Quinn made some savvy moves to put his team in position for a playoff berth, but Reese has done far and away the most impactful job to make the Giants relevant once again.

A lesser man would be flipping the bird to his critics, but Reese clearly isn’t fazed by public perception.

“He’s done it before,” Mara said in January. “I believe he can do it again.”

The bottom line in this bottom-line business: Reese delivered the goods.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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