John Fennelly, Lead WriterLet’s face facts: 2013 is over for the Giants in terms of the qualifying for the postseason. From here on in, they need to focus on the future.
There are several things that they can do this year in order set themselves up for 2014. First, they can amp up the reps for their younger players. They have a ton of veterans playing on one-year deals and many of them won’t be here next year. Get them off the field and get the younger guys out there.
The Giants have already begun the shift by playing S Will Hill and DT Jonathan Hankins extensively on Sunday. Both played well. The team should continue to increase their roles. Now they should find more reps for players such as DE Damontre Moore, OL Brandon Mosley, TE Larry Donnell, RB Michael Cox and S Cooper Taylor.
The key to reviving this team is a solid 2014 draft. They can start by recouping the two draft picks they lost by acquiring LB Jon Beason and QB Ryan Nassib.
There have been rumblings that Hakeem Nicks could be traded before the Oct 29 deadline. He is headed for free agency anyway, so it behooves the Giants to act on him asap. Possible landing spots are Carolina, Nicks’ home town, and New England, who are desperate for a top receiver. The trade could return two draft picks the Giants could really find handy.
Should Nicks be traded, the Giants will ride out the season with Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle on the outside and Jerrel Jernigan in the slot. Jerry Reese used a third round pick on Jernigan, they should at least give him an extended shot to prove himself.
It’s clear QB Eli Manning has gotten into some bad habits. When you play over 140 straight games, you’re bound to get white line fever and burn out. Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Peyton – they’ve all fallen victim to this. In games that get out of hand in the second half of this season, the Giants should pull Manning and let Curtis Painter and Nassib play at garbage time. This might also help elevate Nassib’s trade value.
The offensive line is a mess. Chris Snee will likely retire and the Giants would do everyone a service if they cut David Baas. David Diehl will probably be gone, too. I envision a 2014 offensive line where a top left tackle is brought in via the draft or free agency and Will Beatty is moved back to RT. Justin Pugh can then be moved inside, perhaps even to center. This would upgrade the line all around. Gotta do something, this is just one suggestion that could work.
All of this can only happen if the front office and coaching staff realize they have made mistakes and tweak their philosophy. It all starts with GM Jerry Reese and his staff. They have to stop drafting athletes and start drafting football players. Bring in people that can play the game Day One, not these projects who have “high ceilings” that have to be taught the game. That hasn’t worked. Also, stop with the “tweeners” who don’t have natural positions.
He’s got to commit to some linebackers. If Beason proves to be healthy and close to his old form, the Giants will have to keep him at MLB. Spencer Paysinger stays, too. Everyone else gets a bus ticket. Reese has to bring in at least one impact LB this offseason.
The Giants love Tom Coughlin. He’s hard-working, smart, dedicated and will only be replaced if the team finds a better alternative. That decision will come this offseason. Since 2014 is the final year on Coughlin’s deal, and the team does not like to have a “lame duck” coaching the team, John Mara will decide if it’s time for Tom to step down or continue.
That being said, if Tom stays, the coordinators have to be changed. Kevin Gilbride can stay on in another capacity because Eli will fight for him, but a different approach is needed on offense. This will be a delicate move and the right person would need to be brought in.
On defense, however, Perry Fewell can just be sent packing. His defense is now setting records for ineptitude. The fans will revolt if he’s retained. John Mara always reminds us that his father referred to the fans as customers, and the customer is always right.