Creating the Perfect Offseason Plan for the New York Giants
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, then Osi Umenyiora opened his mouth.
"If they're going to be making changes, it has to be wholesale changes," Umenyiora told Tom Rock of Newsday. "Nobody played above average this year."
The New York Giants can delay their offseason plans with an unlikely playoff berth that would hinge on them beating the Philadelphia Eagles at home and having the Dallas Cowboys lose or tie, the Minnesota Vikings lose and the Chicago Bears lose.
Two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning isn't hitting the panic button just yet.
"The scenario is possible. It's not like a bunch of huge upsets have to happen," Giants quarterback Eli Manning told Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger, before adding: "I think we knew there was going to be a chance, (but we're) obviously disappointed that this is what we have to rely on now."
The Giants front office and fans would agree 100 percent with the latter part of Manning's statement.
The shifting of focus toward offseason plans is palpable in New York, as Big Blue brass can't afford to take a wait-and-see approach to the insurmountable playoff scenario staring them in the face.
Let's take a look at a plan of attack that makes sense for Giants general manager Jerry Reese and company to adhere to this offseason.
The hardest decisions for Reese to make will be those pertaining to longtime Giants and fan favorites whose time might be up.
This class of Big Blue veterans will be headed by defensive captain Justin Tuck.
Tuck's production the past two years has been as anemic as his first two seasons in New York, and the 29-year-old appears to be on the decline. Reese will have to cast aside any emotions when evaluating Tuck as a cog in this defense.
The linebacking carousel has been frustrating to watch for the past few seasons, and Chase Blackburn needs to either be made a full-time special teams guy or have no role on this team.
David Diehl appears to have reached the end of his Giants career, or maybe football career, and an amicable split looks to be inevitable.
Osi Umenyiora admittedly stated that this Sunday's game against Philly could be his last in a Giants uniform.
Rocky Bernard's best years are behind him, and the 33-year-old's inability to stop the run and stay healthy this year really exposed his deteriorating level of play.
Corey Webster has been been picked on this season more than a loudmouth Boston Red Sox fan at Yankee Stadium, and he could be on the chopping block. Terrell Thomas' and Kenny Phillips' futures are unknown as well.
These players are just a fraction of the dead weight, but suffice it to say that Osi is right when he said that "it has to be wholesale changes."
Coaches on Hot Seat
After a consistent lack of execution on the defensive and offensive side of the ball this season, Kevin Gilbride and Perry Fewell could be, and should be, handed their walking papers.
At several different times in the season, there was the hope that Gilbride and Fewell would be able to suddenly start pushing all the right buttons, but they never seemed to be able to do it.
They each coach players that are far too talented for them to have struggled with scheming plays the way that they have.
Gilbride has always been more on the traditional play-calling side, and things may have finally caught up with him. He is simply not utilizing the explosive talent to its full potential.
Fewell's failure to design plays for the defense to disrupt opposing quarterbacks has been unnerving to watch week in and week out.
It's like Gilbride and Fewell were each given the keys to a Ferrari, but they can't shift out of third gear.
After the blowout the G-Men suffered at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons and then the Ravens, Tom Coughlin reminded his team, and maybe the front office as well, how paramount character guys and leaders are on this team.
"That is what I talked to our team [about] this morning -- pride, honor, dignity, play the game that we are capable of playing," a stern Coughlin said Wednesday. "Finish the season with a game we can all be proud of."
Whenever the offseason begins for the Giants, those character traits that Coughlin mentioned must be prerequisites for everyone that either remains with or joins Big Blue in 2013.
It's not enough to just have talent next season, but the Giants front office must make sure they have strong leaders with mental toughness on all three facets of the team—offense, defense and special teams.
Ultimately, the Draft
The last part of the Giants' offseason plan will be one of Reese's biggest strengths—the draft.
If you read my weekly Giants column, as you should, you saw my suggestions/opinions for Mr. Reese.
The Giants must grab a running back and a shutdown cornerback for insurance and really focus in on getting the best available defensive end and offensive linemen. A middle linebacker would be nice too.
Ultimately, this will be one of the most challenging offseasons that Jerry Reese has faced as general manager.
The 2013 Giants will unequivocally have new faces and new leaders.