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COMMENTARY : Giants Wrong to Complain After Dumping Phil Simms

October 23, 1994|MIKE LUPICA | NEWSDAY

Dan Reeves, who has lost not only some games but also some patience, said this week that if Dave Brown doesn't start making plays, he will have to give somebody else a chance to quarterback the Giants. Somebody else, in this case, is another kid named Kent Graham. Reeves must be kidding. Graham won't make enough plays, either. He will make the same mistakes Brown is making. It is what young quarterbacks do. If Dan Reeves was hot to win a lot of games this season, he shouldn't have cut Phil Simms.

This isn't nostalgia for Simms, or football things the way they were at Giants Stadium. This is about the season George Young and Dan Reeves chose for the Giants. After going 11-5 and nearly winning the NFC East from the Cowboys, they chose to go with quarterbacks no better than rookies. When you do that, you are not a contender anymore, even if you start the season 3-0. You are a rebuilding team looking to get lucky. Reeves can't make it another kind of season six games in.

"Dave's got to start making plays," Reeves said. "If he doesn't, then Kent certainly has to have the opportunity to see if he can be the spark that might change it. I'm not going to do that this week. I mean, Dave's our starting quarterback, but he's got to start making the plays a quarterback has to make."

Dave Brown got off to a fast start this season. He seems to be tough enough to play in the big leagues. He seems to have the brains for the job, and enough poise. Only time will tell about his arm, and his ability to win a lot of games. The only way to find out is by playing a lot of games. Brown has played six. And all of a sudden this Giants season is about where we thought it would be when Young and Reeves made the decision to let Simms go.

Maybe the Giants would be no better than 3-3 if Simms were still around. Maybe the real problem on this team right now is that the Giants are incapable of pushing anybody around anymore and have a defensive line about as intimidating as a line of cheerleaders. Maybe Simms would have thrown interceptions when the Saints got after him, thrown a real bad interception on Monday Night Football against the Vikings.

And maybe he doesn't make those mistakes and the Giants are 5-1 and tied with the Cowboys.

Young and Reeves made a football decision with Simms, and also a business decision. They fired him. So here is the deal for the coach: Live with that decision. Reeves has been a great coach since he came to New York, I say that all the time. That doesn't change because the Giants have lost three in a row. Clearly a decision was made that this was supposed to be a transition season, with new faces all around, and not just at quarterback. Fair enough. A decision was made to move on without Simms. The Giants have moved on. But if Reeves wants to second-guess somebody about quarterbacks, he should start with himself.

It is ridiculous for Reeves or anyone else to expect more from Brown than we have seen so far. He has completed 89 of 154 passes for 1,082 yards, six touchdowns, nine interceptions. The first six games John Elway played for Reeves, he had one TD pass, six interceptions. Brown will never have Elway's talent, or Drew Bledsoe's. And even Bledsoe, for all the yards he has gained passing, looked like a scared kid for most of Sunday's game against the Jets. Bledsoe threw three interceptions against the Raiders the week before. These things happen. You take the hit and keep going.

Brown will survive if he gets benched. No one said this was his job for life. That is not the issue here. Reeves said before the season that he thought the Giants might be able to get to 9-7 and make the playoffs. Even that modest goal sounded ambitious. Then Dave Meggett handed everybody an opening-day win against the Eagles. Then the Giants scraped past the Cardinals and the next week Brown had his best day against the Redskins and all of a sudden the Giants were 3-0 and people in three states were giddy with the possibilities.

Now come hard times, and the reality of the season. Brown throws that interception against the Saints. Touchdown for the Saints. The Giants are tied with the Vikings at halftime. Brown throws another interception, on the first Giants drive of the third quarter. Another touchdown for the wrong team. Giants lose again. Last Sunday the Rams threw a shutout at the Giants in the second half, and the Giants looked as bad as they have since Ray Handley.

Earlier this week Reeves said Brown hasn't been making the plays and started warming up Kent Graham in the bullpen.

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