Warning: If you're a diehard Giants fan, you might find the below diatribe a bit hard to digest. If you are a realist that understands the globe spins for a reason and change is constant, read on...
This offseason, the Giants were hellbent on change. A new offensive coordinator with a new system and several other coaches were brought in. They went out and fortified the back seven of their defense and grabbed a handful of offensive linemen and a top RB in free agency. In the draft, they filled in the blanks with some very promising players.
Yet, here we are, on the apron of the season staring a team that is projected to win no more than seven or eight games this fall. It was hoped that this year would be the one that re-charges the Giants' battery and shoots them back up the standings and into the postseason.
Instead, it may end up being the beginning of the end of the Jerry Reese/Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning era. Seven or eight wins is not going to be good enough to get the Giants into the postseason, and that will pose a problem within the walls of QDTC.
The Giants have not qualified for the postseason since they went on their Super Bowl run in 2011, which happens to be their only appearance since 2008. They have hosted only one playoff game in their new home, MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010. The clock is ticking on the current staff and they need to show improvement or they'll likely be shown the door.
Now, I could be reading the tea leaves wrong here, but it makes sense that if you ran a business that had three disappointing years in a row and only one successful year over the last six, you'd likely be in for a slew of changes, if not a housecleaning.
Reese's draft reaches and failures as GM have been well documented over the past few seasons. Sure, he's done well in free agency but truth be told, the Giants' overall talent isn't where it needs to be to seriously compete in 2014.
We've outlined over time how Reese and his staff have walked away from the draft table shortchanged and it's evident as there is a dearth of talent across the current roster at many a key position.
Giants' CEO John Mara is a patient man, but the NFL is a very competitive neighborhood these days. After last year's epic failure of a season, especially on offense, Mara will be more results-oriented going forward with this group. Reese has little wiggle room right now. Those two Super Bowl rings will be as valuable as paperweights if the Giants turn in another clunker of a season, which is very likely to happen in 2014.
Peruse the Giants' roster and point out the Pro Bowlers. Last year, they had only one (S Antrel Rolle) and he's a FA import that was vastly overpaid at the time of his contract. Over the past several seasons Rolle has been a stalwart, but come December the Giants will have paid him every penny of that NFL record 5-year, $37.1 million contract he signed back in 2010.
Coughlin's tenure here has to end sometime and the team is perhaps coming to grips with that reality. That is why his contract gets extended for only a year at a time each offseason. Although he has boundless energy, he is, at 68, the oldest coach in the league and a changing of the guard is inevitable. Tom has been a great coach, teacher and mentor during his time here and, ironically, may be the one that gets to stay, but I'm guessing another 7-9 season will seal his fate here.
Manning is wrestling with a new offense that requires him perform tasks that do not suit his talents. He is a classic dropback passer with minimal escapability to extend plays. The new west coast-style system is predicated on the short pass with the ball coming out hot, or quickly, and the ability to move in the pocket. Thus far, Eli has struggled to acclimate. He's 33 with limited foot speed and is coming off an ankle injury. It's laughable they actually have him rolling out and throwing on the run!
It's almost as if they want him to fail so they don't have to extend his contract beyond 2015 at it's current rate (his cap hit for the final two years is over $40 million). They have given him a subpar offensive, no tight ends and his WRs outside of Victor Cruz are still trying to distinguish themselves. The fact that first round pick WR Odell Beckham, Jr.'s NFL career is on hold due to a chronic hamstring ailment has not helped. It actually serves as a microcosm of the current Giants' situation: setback after setback.
Eli is in for rough go this year and his market value, which has sunk dramatically over the past two seasons, will sink even further. He won't be worthy of his cap number the final year of his contract in 2015 and it will make the Giants' decision to part ways with him much easier.
Next up: The Offense.