As autumn turns to winter, the New York Giants are in for a long, cold offseason to ponder what went wrong in a season in which they set their sights on becoming the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl hosted in its home venue.
Instead, the Giants started 0-6, their worst start to a season since 1976 when they lost their first nine games, and they've found themselves eliminated from playoff contention with three games to go.
That’s they earliest they’ve been bounced from the hunt under Tom Coughlin since 2004, his first season as the head coach.
It’s also the fourth time in the last five years that the Giants will not be in the postseason tournament.
That will certainly not please general manager Jerry Reese, who put everyone on notice at the start of training camp that anything less than a playoff berth would not be acceptable.
So that brings us to this week’s mailbag, powered by your questions. Because I received many excellent ones via Twitter, I expanded this week’s edition to include a couple of extra questions.
Let’s get right to it.
Do you think major changes are coming or is the same situation coming back next year?
By major changes, if you mean will the roster undergo a significant overhaul, I think considering that they’re going to finish with at least one more loss than they did the last two years, yes, major changes should be coming.
I know the popular opinion is that both offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell should be shown the door, but I don’t think that happens,
I believe that once the offensive line is fixed, Gilbride’s offense might not be so bad. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t think he’s in danger of being fired at the end of the season.
I’ve gone back and forth regarding Fewell. I’m going to guess that he gets one more chance. And I think special teams coordinator Tom Quinn is gone.
I think a healthy Jason Pierre-Paul will make a world of difference. With next season being a contract year, I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’ll come back in the best shape of his life, ready to get going.
Hopefully next season, the very talented Will Hill, who has served two four-game suspensions in as many seasons, will be able to play all 16 games.
I’d also like to see them upgrade the cornerback spot opposite of Prince Amukamara. I like what Trumaine McBride has done, but I think if they have a chance to upgrade that spot, they will, especially if Corey Webster and Aaron Ross aren’t brought back.
Lastly, I’d like to see them address the linebacker position. I think they’ll work something out with Jon Beason, but what about the two outside spots? Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger have been splitting the weak-side job, as the former is good in coverage while the latter’s strength is against the run.
On the other side, Keith Rivers has played well in a contain role, but I wonder if they might try to upgrade at that spot as well.
Would Tom Coughlin stay if he had to get rid of Gilbride and Fewell?
I think so. He’s under contract next year, and he’s not a quitter. To go along with that, I think Coughlin will get a short contract extension (one year at the most) as the Giants do not like having a coach go into a season as a “lame duck.”
Historically, extending Coughlin has worked out well for the Giants. Despite his age—he’d be 68 by the time the 2014 season starts—Coughlin believes that he can inspire his team to be competitive, he’ll continue to do so.
He also has the support of ownership on his side.
In an interview this past summer with the New York Daily News, Giants co-owner John Mara, admitted to favoring stability, which is what Coughlin brings.
Combine that with his two championships, and I firmly believe that the only way Coughlin leaves is when he’s ready to do so.
I know people think Coughlin is loyal to a fault, but I also believe that people forget that he won’t hesitate to make a change on his staff if he’s not getting the desired production.
For example, he dumped Bill Sheridan after one season as defensive coordinator. He also fired his first defensive coordinator with the Giants, Tim Lewis, defensive line coach Mike Waufle, and offensive coordinator John Hufnagel, who was let go with one game remaining in 2006.
Coughlin wants to win, but won’t make a knee-jerk decision. My guess is when he sits down with Reese, Mara and Steven Tisch at the end of the year, he’ll be asked what his plans are regarding his staff.
I also think, by this point in their working relationship, management trusts Coughlin to do what’s in the best interest of the team, loyalty or no loyalty.
Are the Giants likely to ask Antrel Rolle to take a pay cut next season?
I could see them offering him an extension that would lower his scheduled $7 million base salary. Rolle has been solid for the most part, except in those times when he’s had to play out of position, which isn’t really his fault.
He’s also a respected leader in the locker room and someone whom the coaches appear to trust as a communication channel between the players and coaches. So I don’t think they’ll look to rid themselves of him.
Looking ahead, I believe that Rolle and Will Hill will be the starting safeties. The depth will consist of Cooper Taylor, who will hopefully put these nagging muscle pulls behind him once and for all, and Stevie Brown, who should get his wish to return to the Giants next year via a one-year minimum qualifying offer.
Which position group needs the biggest upgrade this offseason?
Say it loud: “Offensive line!”
This is obviously subject to change, but here’s what I would do.
I’d let Will Beatty return at left tackle, despite his poor season. He’s only one year into his new five-year deal, and if he were to be cut after this season, the Giants would be looking at a whopping $15.45 million cap hit which would wipe out a large chunk of their projected 2014 cap space.
Per Over the Cap, the soonest the Giants could cut Beatty and recognize any kind of significant savings would be 2016. That’s why it’s not going to happen in 2014.
I would re-sign Kevin Boothe to a two-year deal to play center and consider drafting a prospect for the future.
There once was a time when I thought a healthy David Baas would be just fine. The problem is that he can’t seem to stay healthy. Given all the surgeries he had this year, there might be some concern about whether he’d be able to pass a physical.
I doubt David Diehl is brought back, and I think Chris Snee retires. I also don’t think James Brewer is a lock for a starting job next year—I could see Brandon Mosley and Eric Herman being in the mix for at least one of the guard spots.
I also think that they’ll add at least a reserve tackle via free agency.
Do you believe Eli Manning has lost arm strength? Could he be hurt since he has been hit this year more than ever?
I don’t doubt that Eli Manning is sore from taking the beating he has this season, but I don’t believe he’s hurt to the point where it’s affected his throws.
I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I believe, as I outlined in my breakdown of the passing game issues, that the problems originate with the offensive line.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required) , Manning has been under pressure 200 times out of 493 dropbacks.
Not surprisingly, he’s been graded poorly under those conditions, earning a -9.12 when under pressure (50.6 percent completion), and a -8.7 when blitzed (53.5 completion).
Manning, remember, is a quarterback that historically has made teams pay for blitzing him. That hasn’t happened this year, because he doesn’t have the time to throw, nor are his receivers winning their one-on-one battles.
Add in the fact that Manning has made some poor decisions this year, and it is no wonder that the passing game has been disappointing.
Have a Giants-related question? Hit me up on Twitter using the hash tag, #askpat, or post your question below. Thanks!