In the NFL, they say that the head coach is a reflection of his football team. In New York, Tom Coughlin has proven that his relentless competitive spirit has trickled down to his players. In his five seasons as the coach, Coughlin has helped restore a new sense of GMEN pride that his players and fans feed off of.
Earning individual respect has not been an easy task for Coughlin. It was less than two years ago when the whole metropolitan area wanted to run the coach out of town. Certainly, a Super Bowl victory has transformed all of the former nay sayers into Coughlin supporters.
This season, Coughlin will certainly have his work cut out for him as the Giants are a sure contender in a very competitive NFC. The Giants will definitely make some adjustments on both sides of the football.
In his two seasons as the offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride has helped establish a great source of stability. The combination of a solid offensive line along with a dangerous running game, has helped the Giants have become one of the elite forces in the NFL. Meanwhile, Gilbride has done a spectacular job with Eli Manning, in both protecting him and also finding effective ways for him to thrive in the offensive system.
Unfortunately, at the end of last season, Gilbride was unable to find ways to generate the same offense that had won 12 games in 17 weeks. One of these reasons was because Eli Manning was never able to establish a number one target when Plaxico Burress left the team. While the pool of talent might not have been much to work with, it was very disappointing that nobody from the receiver corps was able to take their game to the next level. And while the blame gets put onto the receivers, it also goes to Manning and Gilbride as well.
The last knock on Gilbride is that his 4th down play-calling in the playoff game against Philadelphia was atrocious. The Eagles read the Giants like a book. In the words of Tiki Barber, “We were out-coached.” Obviously, the Eagles manhandeled the Giants and coaching was just a part of it. This season, Gilbride will have to find some creative ways to move the chains when Big Blue’s back is up against the wall.
In his two seasons as the Defensive Coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo placed himself in hall of fame company, joining Bill Belichick as the only Defensive Coordinators to help lead the Giants to Super Bowl victories. Spags did a superb job with his defensive line, putting a premium on the pass rush and going after the quarterback. Now that he is off to St. Louis, the key question is, how much will Spags be missed?
There is no question that the new Defensive Coordinator, Bill Sheridan has some very big shoes to fill, despite the fact that Spags was about 5'7". Obviously, Sheridan is very familiar with the Giants 4-3 Defense, otherwise, he would not have been hired. Expect Sheridan to manage a defense very similar to that of Spagnuolo, but look out for some slight adjustments.
Overall, what really hurt the Giants in 2008, was their inability to establish an effective fourth quarter pass rush. However, this is nothing to fret over. Jerry Reese loaded up on defensive talent this past off-season and once again, the Giants will have one of the most solid defensive fronts in the NFL.
Along with an inefficient pass rush, the Giants got burned on third down last season way too many times. This is something that they have to be careful about. It is inexcusable to have on of the best defenses in the NFL, but continually struggle in third down situations. In addition, one thing that Coughlin constantly griped about was the inability of his defense to create turnovers in crunch time. This is something that Sheridan will definitely have to monitor closely.
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