Sitting at 0-6 and seemingly the whole world coming down on the NY Football Giants they are at a real crossroads as a franchise right now. Changes need to be and will be made. The QB will not be one of those changes despite his putrid performance this year. He has won 2 Super Bowls just like the head coach who it is a real toss up if he will be back next season. if Tom Coughlin is not the coach next year you can bet he will be allowed to leave with class and dignity and his successor will be a well known name. The biggest talk now is were those 2 Super Bowl runs lucky. I am going to discuss this below starting from the year of the first Super Bowl run.
In 2007 the jury was still out on both Eli Manning and Coughlin. After all they had never won a playoff game. Eli had not lived up to any of the expectations of being the first overall pick in the draft. Not to mention the Giants gave up 2 Number ones to him. Then GM Ernie Accorsi was extremely high on him. Coughlin was a blueprint Giant type of coach. Straight from the Bill Parcells tree and who had a lot of success running Boston College and building the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars. They ran him out of Jax and he never won the big game there despite having really good teams but give the man credit for making a expansion team relevant starting with their first season.
Eli came from the first family of football. Father Archie was a legendary quarterback despite playing on the dreadful Saints. Older brother Peyton is right now considered the best regular season player in the history of football. A sure fire hall of famer even back in 2007 coming off his first and only Super Bowl victory and Super Bowl MVP. Eli naturally is compared to his brother and going into that season both he and Coughlin were on the hot seat. It took a herculean game from Tiki Barber in the season finale in Washington leading the Giants into the playoffs to save Coughlin’s job even though the Giants lost in the first round of the playoffs that year. Tiki retired at the end of that season and was one of the many people questioning the leadership of Eli and Coughlin. Coughlin saved the career of Tiki by showing him how to hold onto the ball and Tiki had the best 4 year performance of any Giant RB in history.
As we head into the season The Giants are nto expected to do anything and the wolves wanted Coughlin fired and Eli out of NY. They started 0-2 and needed a goal line stand to beat the Redskins in Week 3. The season was just ordinary for the Giants. The dIvision rivals Dallas Cowboys were having a great season soaring all the way to the number one seed in the NFC. The New England Patriots were writing an undefeated season when they came into the Meadowlands to face the Giants in week 17. We all know the story. The Giants just clinched the playoffs the week before and had nothing to play for. They player all their starters that game and lost a great game. Still the Giants were never expected to do anything. This team was still average. Eli was just considered an ordinary QB. Michael Strahan was at the end of his career and while still a pretty good player he was no where the dominant player he used to be. Osi Umenyiora was an emerging star in this team.
The playoffs started with a win against the average Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa. It was significant only for the Giants. Coughlin and Manning finally had a playoff win. Next was a trip to Dallas. Dallas had beaten the Giants twice that year. There was the whole Terrell Owens sending Tony Romo on vacation story going around. There was the story of Jerry Jones talking about tickets for the NFC Championship game before they had won the game to get there. To say Dallas was over confident would not be a stretch. There were people like me saying Romo would never win a big game ever even back then. Well the Giants shocked the world and went into Dallas and won. The D Line harassed Romo all game long. Dallas was sloppy at times and Eli made them pay for all mistakes. This was the true coming of age game for Eli. He got points before the half when the Giants got the ball with under a minute left. He didn’t make any mistakes. The Giants did just enough on offense to win the game instead relying on their defense and were able to win the game. Does it matter how it got done as long as it got done. We all remember TO after the game crying “that’s my QB.”
Next up was a trip to Green Bay. More of the same. In what should have been the end of the Brett Favre era and in extreme cold weather Eli out played Favre in his own backyard. More players were getting noticed with their play. Corey Webster emerged. Aaron Ross playing on one shoulder was gutty and effective. Aaron Pierce was making plays. The Giants offense was making plays. Lawrence Tynes kicked the winning field goal in overtime despite missing 2 field goals in the second half. Ahmad Bradshaw emerged as a big time player for the Giants. And perhaps the biggest one of them all Justin Tuck. With Osi and Strahan the Giants had a one-two punch of speed pass rushers that was hard to deal with. Then you add Tuck coming up the middle and with the three of them sliding all over the defensive line this was impossible to stop. Sure Tuck was getting noticed a lot late in the season. Now the whole world saw this. The Giants should have won this game easier.
In the Superbowl we all know what happened. The Giants ended the dream of an undefeated season and won the most improbable of Super Bowls in history. The Giants a wild card team won the Super Bowl by getting hot at the right time with a dominate pass rush and a QB who was clutch and made plays without turning the ball over.
The next season is where things changed. The Giants were rolling. They were dominant. The defending champs were considered the best team in football. Despite an injury to Osi whoever Reese drafted and signed was working out. They were rolling.
Then star player and seemingly an un guardable Wide Receiver shot himself in the leg in a New York City night club. He might as well have put a bullet through the Giant season. While he was out healing the Giants suspended him before ultimately releasing him as he went to jail. The Giants struggled for the rest of the season. Despite the loss of a key player mentally it wore down Antonio Pierce who was the leader and mouthpiece of the defense. Pierce was in the club with Plax. So was Bradshaw too. The Giants managed to hold onto the best record and gain the one seed in the playoffs. The Eagles came to town in the second round and shocked the Giants and ended their season. This is significant because Plax was the one player Philly could never stop. He would dominate Philly every time.
Now in the salary cap age where you are forced to make tough decisions some players were not kept. But here is where I think the Giants defensive unbalanced problems started. Replacing Plax was not going to be easy. Eli needed a weapon. Yes the dogs were off Eli’s and Coughlin’s back. When you got a Super Bowl tucked away that tends to happen. The Giants had to use a first round pick to draft an impact Wide Receiver. Amani Toomer was not coming back and Steve Smith was taking over his job. Hakeem Nicks was drafted in the first round. Nicks became a big part of the next Super Bowl run but the Giants needed to address the linebacker position with that pick or perhaps the offensive line which can age at any time. Wide Receiver was supposed to be a strength and had Plax still been there Nicks would not have been.
The Giants regressed the next season going 8-8 including 2 blowout losses to finish the season. A bad Carolina Panther team came into Giants Stadium and blew out the Giants who were 8-6 at the time in their finale at the old Stadium. The boo birds came out again. Coughlin had to go. Eli had to go. That Super Bowl was long forgotten. The next year the Giants went 10-6 and didn’t make the playoffs. Normally 10 wins gets you into the playoffs. This time it didn’t. No coach gets fired after winning 10 games. But Coughlin was on notice. Eli too. Every loss by the Giants gets magnified.
The next season they were 7-7 going into a game against the Jets. The Jets were cocky despite their own problems. They had a couple of successful seasons and wanted control of the town. The Giant won the game and made the playoffs and the rest is history. In fact based on their last Super Bowl run the Giants were picked to be very competitive even against the defending champion and supposed super team the Green Bay Packers. A home blowout win vs the Falcons. A convincing win against the sloppy Packers in Green Bay followed. In fact the Packers rested their players in week 17 giving them 2 full weeks off and the rust showed. Then a great game in SF once again ending with Lawrence Tynes kicking an overtime field goal to get the Giants back to the Super Bowl. A familiar foe was waiting for them in the Patriots. In another good game the Giants won their second Super Bowl in the Coughlin/Manning era. This was supposed to cement their hall of fame careers and get every vulture off their backs. it took less than 2 seasons for those vultures to get even bigger. Here we are now with an 0-6 team. Eli has been dreadful and Coughlin has no answers. The media is all over this team as Eli continues to kill this team that now has so many holes to fill. For the first time in his tenure Jerry Reese is under fire. Reese who got kudos for seemingly pushing every right button is getting hammered for the lack of depth and players on this roster. When Steve Smith was let go a few years before he said we will be fine. Smith’s career basically ended when he left the Giants. Now the genius of Jerry Reese is no where to be found. As Giant fans we became accustomed to saying we believe in Reese and what he is doing. We don’t worry about anything. We just need to get in the playoffs and we will make a run.
Now some are saying this Giants team over the last 6 years or so is just an average team who managed to do enough to get into the playoffs and got hot and won it all twice. Eli is now a punchline. Everybody has Coughlin retiring at the end of the season with Bill Cowher already the new coach. And Reese needs to fix this mess quick while you still have some prime Eli years left. The David Wilson draft pick could turn out to be a flop. Despite his fumbling problems he can’t pick up the blitz and that means he won’t play RB. I don’t think any Giant fan wanted Wilson in that draft. I myself wanted Coby Fleener. But I get what the Giants were thinking. We don’t have a consistent running game. Let us draft a back who we think can give that to us.
What do you do if your Reese? At 0-6 the Giants are done. Despite the division being so bad. Had the Giants won last night and if the Redskins win and Eagles lose on Sunday the Giants would be 2 games out if first place. But forget it all now. Reese and the Giants ownership need to decide what players are staying as they reload for another Eli led run and who must go. Is Coughlin the man for this job. He is the oldest coach in the league at 67. I think if they feel they can get a established big name to coach this team they let Coughlin say he is retiring and let him go with pride and dignity.
1. Trade Nicks right now. Get as many picks as you can for him. He will not be resigned. Randle will do his job very nicely.
2. Decide if the other players who will be free agents are players you want to keep. If not try to get draft picks for them.
3. The offensive line must be rebuilt. Look the previous line was good for a few years. They started every game together. That is rare these days. Offensive lineman draft picks are boring we know that but now it is necessary.
4. Linebackers that can cover. This unit once a strength and the staple of the team is now a joke.
5. D Line/Defensive Backs. I think they go hand in hand. if you can rush the passer consistently like the Giants used to do you don’t need great defensive backs. Now they do. There is no pass rush. Justin Tuck might be done. Jason Pierre-Paul if he is hurt then that is one thing. He was dominant 2 years ago. Remember when the Giants were going to have to break the bank to sign him. Are you still saying that now.
6. Get Eli Manning straightened out some how. He is mentally tough and he will survive this. But he can’t keep killing this team every game.
7. The running game. Has been just decent for a few years. Hopefully a new offensive line will improve it. How many people were thinking that last night with the kind of space Jacobs had to run if that was Wilson how many of those does he break for TD’s.
Football trades during the season are not very common but the Giants need to build through the draft. They need depth right now. They need new hungry players. The Giants never get creative with the salary cap like Mike Tannenbaum used to do with the Jets. Sure it’s good to move money around to have more to spend that year. But at some point that money needs to be paid. The Giants don’t do stuff like that.
Hey they won 2 super bowls in the last 6 years doing it their way. How many other franchises would take that right now even if it came with an 0-6 start this year. Is this an 0-6 team talent wise. No. Changes need to be made and they will be coming.