EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – In Green Bay, it never would have happened. In Denver? Not way in hell. Foxboro? Keep moving, nothing to see here. Why, oh why, then, could it have happened in God’s Country that is East Rutherford? It is now officially time to start the clock on the previously Teflon-coated (and deservedly so) Giants GM Jerry Reese. Why now? Why has the bloom come off the rose in such rapid fashion for the 2-time Super Bowl winning architect? Well, in the cities mentioned above, the GMs understand that their top priority each and every season is keeping their QBs upright. The rest of their rosters be damned. The rest of their rosters could be filled with mediocrity but give Ted Thompson, Bill Belichick, and John (Mr. Ed) Elway credit. They understand that unless their franchise QBs are protected and given time to operate, their teams are sunk.
Somehow, beyond all logic, Jerry Reese failed to comprehend this. Almost dismissively and arrogantly, Reese allowed this season to begin with an offensive line that couldn’t – in Carl Banks’ words – “…stop a baby.” The Giants went into the 2013 season boasting a trio of receivers, who collectively are likely the most explosive in the NFL. Add a former 1st-round running back with sub-4.3 speed that was ready to ignite the running game… The defensive line featured the vaunted pass-rush triumvirate of JPP, Tuck and Kiwanuka. This team, in Reese’s eyes, was loaded and ready for another Super Bowl run that would be played on their home turf at MetLife Stadium in February.
So what went wrong? Well, a lot. The defensive stalwarts who were supposed to rush the QB consistently have not yet showed up this season. JPP in particular, blanched late in August when Coach Coughlin suggested that he would be ready to go in the season opener. Pierre-Paul responded by announcing he’ll “play when he was good and ready.” As usual, Reese forgot that you need linebackers to help stop the other team. He let Martellus Bennett walk, and showed Ahmad Bradshaw the door. Problem was-those guys were the best blockers in the league at their positions. But nowhere has Reese’s negligence been on more profound display than on the offensive line. Coughlin’s son-in-law is flat done. David Diehl? Done Deiehl. And injured… Justin Pugh? Please. William Beatty? Name me another LT in the league who weighs less than 280. Jerry, this is ALL on you. You must leave now. Your time is up. You have failed to keep your QB upright and have rendered this team powerless and bound for 4-12. Thanks, Jerry. This sense of powerlessness brings me back to another time of impotence and despair…
In the Summer of 1977, New York City was a cauldron of murder, looting, and urine. That Summer was perhaps the most memorable of my life for a number of reasons, starting first with the fact that in the middle of a July heat wave-the lights went out. The Air Conditioning went out. And the patience of millions of New Yorkers went out with them. A city-wide blackout crippled all five boroughs. Looting was rampant and unrepentant. All of this in the middle of the Son of Sam murders that scared the hell out of all of us. More on that later.
The Mets traded Tom Seaver on June 15th that year, and for weeks I dreamed of Dan Norman carrying the team on his back for weeks at a time. These dreams were interrupted weeks later when Son of Sam nearly ran my buddy and me down for sport while crossing Union Turnpike. The next day at Alley Pond Park Day Camp, I told my Camp Counselor what had happened, and he shockingly-believed us. He too lived in the neighborhood and while out with his friends on something of a vigilante ride, swore that he too passed David Berkowitz on Springfield Blvd. When two teens turned up shot to death in the parking lot of a disco on Northern Blvd the next evening, it all came to a head-and confirmed our worst fears-we all had in fact-crossed paths with this sick bastard.
Back in Day Camp, the days were spent playing baseball and drinking bug juice, and listening to our favorite counselor tell us great stories about ballplayers when he was much younger. We tried to carry on as normally as possible that Summer. I even had my bar mitzvah in August, wearing powder blue tuxedos with wide lapels and out of my mind in disbelieve that Gigi Grill came to my bar mitzvah party! She looked exactly as her name would indicate. 3 weeks later, Son of Sam was caught, the lights were back on and my dreams were again restored with Gigi returning as the chief protagonist in all of them. My Day Camp counselor? The guy who kept our minds occupied that Summer while we experienced the 1977 version of This is the End? The counselor who regaled us with stories of the early days of the Mets and kept a bunch of tweens feeling safe and focused on tween things? Well, that was none other than Howie Rose. Put THAT in the books.
Angry Ward, a man whose Vikings are also in the crapper, tomorrow.