Since the 2013 season has basically come to an end, you naturally start looking towards the future prospects of the New York Football Giants. The moment you start attempting this assessment and look at each position, you come to the realization that the questions far exceed the answers. This is very shocking considering this team just won a super bowl less than 22 months ago. Allow me to delve into this from the top of the hierarchy:
Jerry Reese – I would think most Giants fans would agree that the positives have outweighed the negatives during Reese’s tenure. 2 Super Bowl wins will buy that leeway. More recently though, you get a big bag of mixed results. His recent drafting record has been spotty at best. This year was slightly better as Justin Pugh, Jonathan Hankins & DaMontre Moore appear to players going forward. The best move Reese made this year was the acquisition of Jon Beason for a 7th round pick. He also bet too much on an aging injury riddled offensive line, left no depth at the RB position and never addressed a lackluster LB position for years until the Beason acquisition. He put everyone on notice before the season and used a Super Bowl clock as motivation however this blew up in his face in a big way. Lastly, the salary cap has been a mess for years under his watch. I would assume that his job is safe at least through this year but can he continue to miss on draft picks and mismanage the salary cap to survive another year after next?
Tom Coughlin – I’m in the camp that this year was Coughlin’s best year of pure coaching. Almost every coach in the NFL would have succumb to the New York Media pressure that was on after the horrendous 0-6 start. I believe that he will be back for at least another year as he shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, it appears he enjoys what he does much more now that when he first started with the Giants. I also believe it’s his job until he doesn’t want in any longer. However, how much long can a man near 70 years old continue and at what point would the team want him to walk off into the sunset?
Kevin Gilbride/Perry Fewell - Ahhhh, here they are. I believe these 2 would draw the ire of Giants fans the most, especially Gilbride. It’s safe to say both coordinators had their fair share of issues this year. I believe that Gilbride did a far poorer job in comparison versus Fewell. At least Fewell in the middle of the season made adjustments to simplify the scheme which did result in better play, albeit against weak QB’s. Gilbride never adjusted his scheme from the down the field, big play offense when it was clear his offensive line was not able to hold up. He also failed to compensate for having no running game early. Before the season started, Jerry Reese stated that it was unacceptable to miss the playoffs 4 out of 5 years. If that is the case then if the GM is safe & the Coach is safe and changes need to be made, who does that leave to ax? (Writers Note: My personal opinion is that Gilbride takes the fall. I also feel that his system while still can be successful is now stale and has been on tape for multiple years now with opposing coordinators figuring how to defend)
Eli Manning - Our 2 time Super Bowl Champion/MVP QB had the worst season of his career and that includes his rookie year. He never resembled a comfortable QB after the first game of the season. He was constantly pressured and clearly never was right the entire year. His mechanics are terrible right now and need to be fixed. This really marks almost a year and half of substandard play considering someone of his resume. He’s going to turn 33 in January. He still would be considered in the prime of his career. Have we seen the best we will see from Eli already and will we see an even worse decline over the next few years? (This is one answer that I think I have. I do not think we have seen the best from Eli and I think he will bounce back. I believe he thought he could over come any lead and when he realized his team wouldn’t allow that he pressed, made poorer decisions and he collapsed. However, I think with an off season of self study, he will right his ship. )
Andre Brown/David Wilson/Brandon Jacobs/John Connor/Peyton Hillis/Henry Hynoski/Michael Cox
Regardless of the David Wilson’s neck situation, which is still very much in the air, I believe the Giants realize that he cannot be a full time 20+ carry guy. He cannot pass protect and his ball security is very questionable. In a perfect world I would think they would want to get Brown 15 carries to Wilson’s 10. They would also need to find ways to get Wilson into space to take advantage of his speed. Jacobs is clearly on his way to retirement. Hillis might be able to stick around next year and I would assume they would let Connor and Hynoski go to training camp to battle it out. I hope they just decide to keep Connor. However, can the Giants depend on 2 lead guys in Brown & Wilson who are both injury prone? Do they not address the same problem that was huge detriment this year?
Victor Cruz/Hakeem Nicks/Ruben Randle/Louis Murphy/Jerel Jernigan
The only givens coming back to the team are Cruz & Randle and I believe they will be your starting 2 receivers in 2014. I feel like Nicks has had one foot out the door since the beginning of the off-season. He wants to be paid like a top receiver and while he won’t get Mike Wallace money some team will pay him given his performance when healthy. (Writers Note: Can anyone say Carolina, it just makes too much sense. His home state & front office Giants connection now with Carolina) That team that pays him will not be the Giants. There has been a rift starting months ago and he is out the door. Jernigan has shown signs of life the last few weeks and might have saved himself for next year. Murphy Jr is likely gone as he have shown nothing to indicate they would be brought back. How will the team reload at WR, especially if Nicks leaves, when there are probably more important places to look at for impact players in free agency and the draft?
Brandon Myers/Larry Donnell/Adrien Robinson/Bear Pascoe
Myers was supposed to be the next in line of Giant TE that were essential to the offense. It just never was a fit. The current Giants scheme asks for the TE to do more than catch the ball and Myers skill set just isn’t up to that task. I think he is a very good receiver but that not what it’s all about. I would think his contact would be voided (at the last 3 years of his deal are voidable) and the Giants must hope one of Donnell or Robinson is ready to step up into more of a prominent role. I would think Pascoe could return on a one year minimum deal. Adding an other veteran at a minimum deal could be another way to go. Would the Giants go into next season with such unproven commodities as Donnell & Robinson?
Will Beatty/James Brewer/Kevin Boothe/David Diehl/Justin Pugh/Chris Snee/David Baas/Brandon Mosley/Eric Herman
In my humble opinion, the biggest cause of the Giants problems this year and the biggest need of fixing. Let’s first look at bright side, Justin Pugh. He has graded out as one of the top rookie lineman this year. He has passed my eye test and appears to be set at tackle for many years to come. Kevin Boothe really has proved his worth to me and I would feel totally comfortable with him returning as the starting center. Most games the pressure did not come from either Pugh or Boothe. That leaves still 3/5 of the offensive line that needs to be looked at seriously. Though he was a warrior for many years and a terrific player for the majority of them, Chris Snee’s body has failed him and is probably headed for retirement. David Baas never lived up to his contract and will be a cap casualty. David Diehl has tried admirably but is no longer a starting player any more and probably hasn’t been for a few years. I wouldn’t be shocked if they wanted him back at a minimum veteran deal to be a pure backup. James Brewer has been given a chance and hasn’t done much with it. Brandon Mosley is the only one we really don’t know what he is all about. I’m sure he will be in the mix next year but cannot count on anything from him. Then there is Will Beatty. Where to start with this guy? He looked like he was developing into a solid left tackle and he basically s**t the bed in every way possible. He has another year of guaranteed money coming so, like it or not, he’s probably not going anywhere. The question is how do you proceed from here with this group? Do you invest more early draft picks or try to piece meal together free agents in what’s an obvious large overhaul of this group that has been a long time coming? Is there a realignment in store with maybe moving Beatty to RT and Pugh to a guard position?
Justin Tuck/JPP/Cullen Jenkins/Linval Joseph/Kiwi/Jonathan Hankins/Damontre Moore/Mike Patterson/Shaun Rodgers/Markus Kuhn
Another disappointing unit that failed to live up to expectations. After a very slow start Justin Tuck has played a pretty strong all around game the last 2 months of the season. It appears that Giants will offer him another deal. JPP struggled health wise all year and never looked the same. Damontre Moore has been getting more snaps as the year has gone on and will be looked upon next year. Cullen Jenkins has been a decent signing and his play has been pretty solid. Jonathan Hankins hasn’t receive much playing time until recently but when he has played has flashed. He’ll be a cog in the middle next year for sure. This is where the questions start. With the exception of Will Beatty, the most disappointing Giant has to be Mathias Kiwanuka. He has been horrendously bad in his overall game and has tacked on at least 3 personal foul penalties to boot. His one good game came last week against Detroit but I think it’s too little too late for him. If they are able to cut him without severe cap ramifications I see no reason why they wouldn’t move on from the former first round pick. He rode the coattails of Tuck, JPP & Osi for years and basically never did anything to warrant being in the same conversation. Mike Patterson was a nice signing for a year and might have done enough to come back or will another team offer more. Shaun Rodgers career is probably over. Markus Kuhn has hung around long enough to be in the rotation conversation next year. The big question is what to do with Linval Joseph. Again, with some many needs and having a young guy coming up in Hankins, do the Giants splurge on someone who is a very good but not great player?
Keith Rivers/Jon Beason/Spencer Paysinger/Jacquain Williams/Mark Herzlich/etc
This is a pretty sad unit when you look at them on paper. The lone bright spot was Beason at times. He can go sideline to sideline but isn’t the greatest in coverage. However, I think he is our MLB going into the future if he can stay health and I believe he is a chip you can build around. Paysinger is a decent run stopper but that’s about it. Jacquain Williams flashes at times but then disappears at time as well. I think those 2 return next year. Herzlich is a great story but he no longer is a good player. He could return on special teams but I’m pretty sure he will not see playing time on defense. Keith Rivers never really seemed to have a position on this team and can’t see them bringing him back. This position needs bodies and do the Giants brass finally start putting resources into this part of the team?
Prince Amukamara/Will Hill/Antrel Rolle/Jayron Hosley/Charles James/Trumaine McBride/Cooper Taylor
My feeling is this is probably the strongest part of the roster. It’s far from perfect but some additions here would solidify a relatively solid group. The safety position is the deepest position on the entire team. Antrel Rolle has had his best individual season as a Giant. His cap number is pretty big for next year but I think that he returns regardless. His too important of a cog to try to replace. He is also playing at a very high level. Will Hill is a real player in the making. As long as he can stay out of trouble, then he can be a playmaker. Stevie Brown possibly could return after his injury and Ryan Mundy has played well when called upon. The CB position is a little different. Prince has played well and should be matched up against the oppositions best receiver every week. They need to find a full time #2 CB. Trumaine McBride is a nice player but I don’t think he is a full time #2 corner. He would be a great guy to have for depth. Jayron Hosley is still an unknown. Terrell Thomas has exceed expectations. All of these guys will probably be in the mix. Who is the X factor that is either on the roster or someone on the outside to become the #2 CB?
Josh Brown/Steve Weatherford/Zak DeOssie
Although each has some shaky games earlier in the season both Brown and Weatherford have finished very strong. Brown’s leg is a huge improvement over Larry Tynes’. Weatherford has for the most part had solid season after a small funk earlier. Zak DeOssie had that one hiccup in the Eagle game when he sailed one but overall he’s fine. I expect all to be back in 2014.
This is an area that needs huge improvement. It’s also an area where I think a coach will take a fall. Tom Quinn’s chances of returning are not very good. The coverage teams have been a disaster giving up multiple returns for TD’s this year. The return games are not much better. I like Randle as the punt returner as he is very sure handed. He’s not very dynamic but had a few decent returns this year. I think the team is dying for Jernigan to grab the KO return job but he just hasn’t done that. If Wilson comes back and isn’t the lead dog in the backfield he could return to that role. Does the coach take the fall and is that enough to turn this group from a liability to an asset?