Will the Giants wave goodbye to Justin Tuck this offseason?
For the New York Giants, beating the Philadelphia Eagles by 35 points on Sunday should bring with it the same amount of personal satisfaction one would get from watching a group of adults beat a group of children in a game of tackle football.
It won't be all that impressive.
But long-lasting impressions are what we are left with from the failure that was the Giants' 2012 season, impressions that demand swift and authoritative action be taken.
When you are the defending Super Bowl champions, anything other than a return to the postseason to mount a defense of your title is unacceptable. The fact that this very scenario has happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers twice in recent years means nothing.
As our mothers told us as children when we'd try to explain our way out of a bad grade, they don't care about what your best friend got on the test—they only care how you scored.
For all of the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the Giants' defense, there may not have been a more underwhelming group in the NFL.
Entering the Philadelphia game, that group ranked 25th against the run and 28th against the pass.
With numbers like that, there shouldn't be a player on the Giants defense who is assured of a roster spot heading into 2013.
Outspoken defensive end Osi Umenyiora believes that big changes are needed as well—though he doesn't expect to be around to see them, as he told the team's official website in an interview:
Where are they going to make the changes is the question. There's no individual, there's no aspect of the team this year that stood out. If you want to talk about the pass rush... Well maybe we didn't get 50 sacks like we did last year, but was the offense playing well? Was the special teams playing... Like where?
He's got a point. The Giants did falter in all areas of the game—the blame cannot, and should not, fall on the shoulders of the defense alone.
That being said, Umenyiora talks as if the pass-rushing trio of himself, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck still produced at a pretty high level—they didn't.
Those three players combined for 16.5 sacks on the season—the same number of sacks that Pierre-Paul recorded by himself in 2011.
There's nowhere that was up to the standards that we set last year. If they're going to be making changes, it has to be wholesale changes. Everybody has to leave. There has to be changes for everybody because nobody played above average this year.
Is there a high probability that I’m going to be playing somewhere else? I would say there is a high probability, and that’s just me being honest, but I’m not certain of what’s going to happen. Anything can happen. We can get in the playoffs. Anything is possible, but it’s a high probability that I’m going to be playing somewhere else and I think everybody knows that. Let’s don’t kid ourselves.
Everyone doesn't have to leave—to be fair, not everyone associated with the club performed well below expectations in 2012.
But from David Diehl's inability to pass-block to Ahmad Bradshaw's inability to practice; from offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's sometimes questionable play-calling to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's inability to come up with more effective defensive schemes, changes are needed.
Who bears the brunt of the blame for the Giants' disappointing season?
GM Jerry Reese, head coach Tom Coughlin and the team's front office must make the decision—nay, the statement—that the status quo is not acceptable.
If that means cutting ties with some popular, long-time members of the team, so be it.
The Giants can no longer take past success into consideration.
It's time for Big Blue to start looking towards the future.
Change is needed, and it must come soon if the Giants hope to return to the level of Super Bowl contenders in 2013.