Jerry Reese was on point at the dawn of New York Giants training camp. Big Blue's general manager put "everyone on notice" for the 2013 season, basically stating that it's playoffs or bust.
"All I know is that we've been in the playoffs one time in the last four years and that's really not acceptable for us," Reese said before the team's first practice of camp. "That's not our standards. That's not what we shoot for. We want to put everybody on notice, myself, everybody is on notice that that's not our standard."
Good for Reese. The Giants needed a kick in the rear end after last year's meltdown in the second half (stop me if you heard this before). After a 6-2 start the Giants finished 9-7, losing three of their final five games and routed by a combined total of 67-14 in back-to-back games at Atlanta and Baltimore.
Under Reese, the Giants have won two Super Bowls since his takeover as GM in 2007, but it's those frequent second-half collapses and non-playoff seasons in between that's touched a nerve. In opening his edict, Reese mentioned two numbers, one for the amount of playoff appearances in four years and 190, the days left (as of Saturday) until Super Bowl XLVIII to be held on the Giants' turf at Met Life Stadium.
Inside the Giants' locker room will be a countdown to the big game, a daily reminder of exactly what's at stake. Winning the franchise's fifth Super Bowl is incentive enough. Not allowing a rival NFC team to play the big game at Met Life only adds to the importance of getting there.
"When you look at it and you see that number jump out at you, 190 days, that's really not that far away," Reese said. "The sense of urgency really jumps out at me. We're going to put up in the locker room a countdown just so guys can see how urgent it is to be ready to go every week. You can't let games get away from you and expect to make it to the playoffs. We have to have a sense of urgency going into this season.
"Close is not good enough. You need consistency. At times last year we looked like a good football team, and at times we looked like a bad football team. We want to put everyone on notice that is not our standard. Being to the playoffs one time in four years is below our standards."
The Giants have their share of questions. First and foremost is the pass rush with Jason Pierre-Paul off June back surgery and Osi Umenyiora a free-agent defection to the Falcons. They're young and unproven at linebacker, are entrusting second-year pro David Wilson to split time at running back with Andre Brown and fullback will be an issue until Henry Hynoski (knee) comes off the physically unable to perform list.
All that said, I see the Giants making the playoffs by holding off the Washington Redskins to win a tight NFC East race. While Robert Griffin III and the Redskins have won three of four against the Giants and have an improved defense, the Giants offense is explosive. It will come down to defense and the desire to finish strong. After all, the GM is watching.
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