Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Giants: What's next - II

The last post looked primarily at the defense and what has to be changed there. This post will concentrate a bit more on the offense. Before I get to that, it is interesting to review some of the comments that were made in the press by Giants management on Monday, specifically by owner John Mara, GM Jerry Reese and HC Tom Coughlin. There seemed to be some disparity in their remarks and definite differences of opinion on what went wrong this year. Mara was spitting mad and said he was angry at everyone and everything that moved. He thought major changes were required and I assume by that he meant both in the roster and in the coaching staff. He also railed at the fact that the team gave up and didn't try hard. The games that the Giants got blown out and were completely uncompetitive particularly got his goat and he said there were way too many of those. His interpretation of the blowouts were that the team didn't try. He agreed that there were some injuries, but asserted that the injuries were not catastrophic and the team should have managed through them. The roster was way stronger than the results.

You got a bit of a different picture from Reese and Coughlin. They insisted that injuries really hurt the team and that the team tried hard and did not quit on the season. With the announcement that 5 key Giants players are due for surgery this week, one has to admit that it gives a little credence to their position. Tuck (shoulder), Canty (knee), Jacobs (knee), Hedgecock (shoulder) and Bradhaw (ankle) are all due for surgery. With Robbins and Cofield coming off knee injuries, Alford out for the season, and the players that stayed on the field, Tuck and Canty, limited by injuries, you can provide an explanation for why the DL underperformed. Of course the biggest loss may have been Phillips and the CBs who missed a fair amount of time. Phillips was a star in the making and he was irreplaceable. I love it when people say you can't use injuries as an excuse. Perhaps it's not an excuse for the players to quit and stop trying, but it is certainly an explanation for poorer performance. If the substitutes were as good as the starters, they would be starters and not substitutes. There has to be a drop off in performance when starters go out. Coughlin and Reese also felt that the roster did not need to be blown up and reconstituted from scratch, but some tweaking (perhaps heavy tweaking) was in order. Of course Coughlin and Reese insisted that the players did not quit, that the effort was there. The Giants have some serious questions to answer: was Canty hurt or is he overrated; can Phillips come back from the serious surgery he had; is Osi done or is he due for a revival; will Alford come back from knee surgery? Giants have to guess at these answers and stock their roster based on the results. Tricky. Notice that I am not putting in a question about Antonio Pierce. Everyone is assuming that he is done. Interestingly, when Reese reviewed his off-season FA acquisitions, he said something cryptic, like "maybe we got the worng guys".

On the offensive side of the ball, notwithstanding the fact that Jacobs was hurt all year (he admitted that he hurt his knee in the first quarter of the first game of the season) , the Giants running game needs to be upgraded. Bradshaw is a nice change of pace RB who can get 10-12 touches per game, but the Giants need a RB with breakaway speed. Just as the offenses are dominated by the passing game, the running game has turned into a track meet and teams need to be able to make big plays in the running game as well. Besides the RB upgrade, the Giants need to get better play in the OL. The Giants running game was built around the strong athletic interior OL-men pulling and getting out in front of Jacobs on the stretch play. Seubert had a bad season and O'Hara was not great either. MacKenzie at RT was solid but unspectacular, but started to get hurt this seaso. Diehl at LT was a little up and down this year, and his play tailed off towards the end of the season. The Giants OL is a collection of good players with moderate athletic skills who are coached very well, are smart and get absolutely the most out of slightly-above-average ability. When their play slips a little bit, they get overwhelmed athletically and their smarts can not compensated for their lack of pure talent. If the Giants think that they have the LT of the future on the team now in Will Beatty, they should move Diehl inside to replace Seubert and turn over the LT position to Beatty. At RT, I would not simply cut MacKenzie; but if I could upgrade the position, I would do so. The WRs are very strong and may be the best unit on the team. Even Ramses Barden is starting to open people's eyes with his performance in practice this season. Travis Beckum did not show a lot this year, but the TEs are fine with Boss and Bear Pascoe, who I really like.

Finally, I would look real hard at upgrading the OC Gilbride with someone young and creative. In other words, Giants need someone with a brain. The OL coach Flaherty is a keeper, perhaps the best in the NFL. TE coach Pope is strong, Mike Sullivan did a great job with the WRs and Ingram does well wih the RBs. On ST, Quinn should be shown the door, he did not do a good job.

In summary, fewer changes are probably required on the offensive side of the ball, but the OL and running game are definitely in need of an upgrade.

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