EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Facing the prospect of a third straight season out of the playoffs, general manager Jerry Reese believes the New York Giants can get back into contention. Cut out the mistakes and start playing good, consistent football is how.
In a 20-minute state of the team availability after the bye week, Reese said Monday that while disappointed in the team's 3-4 record he believes the Giants can challenge for the NFC East title if the team jells over the final nine games.
''It's not over right now,'' Reese said. ''It's early. There are still a lot of teams that have a chance to get back in the picture, and we think we are one of the teams that can do that. We have to start right here, right now.''
If the Giants are going to make the playoffs, they must step up against a murderer's row in their next four games. It starts with a Monday nighter against the Indianapolis Colts (5-3) and finishes with a game at Seattle (4-3) and home contests against San Francisco (4-3) and Dallas (6-1).
''That's a tough stretch, but we seem to play better when it's like that,'' Reese said. ''When odds are against us like that, we seem to play better and I expect us to play better, regardless of who we're playing.''
In evaluating the team, Reese said the Giants have the talent, but are not making enough plays. He wants the offense and defense to be more aggressive. He wants quarterback Eli Manning to throw the ball downfield more instead of being cautious. He wants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has played well, to play better. He wants to see second-year defensive end Damontre Moore on the field more because he is a playmaker.
Reese said neither the injuries to receiver Victor Cruz, linebacker Jon Beason, guard Geoff Schwartz and running back Rashad Jennings nor installing a new offense or adding new personnel in the offseason were to blame for the current record.
''It's time for us to stop talking about we got new faces, new this, new that. It's time for us to play good football,'' Reese said.
The Giants did not do so heading into the bye. After losing their opening two games and winning the next three, they played horribly in being shut out by Philadelphia (5-2) and then were overwhelmed in the second half in a loss at Dallas.
They spent the past week licking their wounds and trying to figure out how to improve.
Reese sees a need for the offensive line to start opening holes and protect Manning. The receivers must to step up with Cruz out for the season. The defense needs to prevent opposing teams from putting together long drives, a major problem so far.
Reese thinks coach Tom Coughlin has done a good job integrating the new offense and getting his players to perform.
''One thing I would never do is I would never bet against Tom Coughlin,'' Reese said. ''He always seems to have, when his back is against the wall, that's when he seems to come out swinging and get his football team ready to go. I expect him to do the same right here going down the stretch.
''This is a big moment for all of us, the second half of this season. It starts one game at a time, one play at a time. I think coach will get it done.''
Reese said the Giants would consider making a trade by the NFL's Tuesday deadline if the right deal came along.
Coughlin was animated talking to his players Monday, telling them other teams have turned things around.
''We've got nine games to play as well as we can possibly play,'' Coughlin said. ''I think anybody in that locker room can do that. They just have to realize the amount of the season and the schedule that's gone by and yet we have nine opportunities. Let's go. One at a time.''
NOTES: Coughlin does not expect Jennings, who has missed the last two games, to be ready for the Colts. ...Schwartz practiced Monday but he does not know when he will be cleared to play. ...The Giants said Beason will need season-ending surgery on his foot, leaving Jameel McClain as the middle linebacker. ...RB Peyton Hillis and LB Spencer Paysinger came back from the bye sick and were limited Monday.
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