What’s Going on in Gotham?: How to Fix the New York Giants
After going on a spending spree last offseason signing the likes of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Geoff Schwartz, and Rashad Jennings, the Giants finished with a losing record for the second straight season under Tom Coughlin. Three years removed from a Super Bowl, the 2015 season seems to be do or die for Coughlin and Co. Even after three straight years without a playoff appearance, the Giants are sticking to their guns (besides bringing back former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo) to try to make one more run at the Lombardi Trophy. With an estimated $30 million in cap space after cuts, extensions, and restructures and their first top 10 draft pick since 2004, the Giants can fix the problems that plagued them all of last season. Let’s take a look at those issues.
The First Problem
1) Subpar Offensive Line Performance
The improved play of Will Beatty at left tackle was not enough to overcome the mediocre play of Justin Pugh, John Jerry, and J.D. Walton. The Giants drafted center Weston Richburg in the second round of the 2014 draft, but instead of playing him at center, they plugged him in at left guard where he experienced some growing pains. The line collectively was not able to create a sustainable running game throughout the year putting the entire offense on Eli Manning’s shoulders. Despite the lack of run game, Eli was able to put up one of his best statistical seasons yet with the help of budding star Odell Beckham Jr. and first year coordinator Ben McAdoo. If the Giants’ can create a running game next year, the sky is the limit for this offense. How do they do that you ask?
The First Fix
Move Justin Pugh inside. His arms are too short and his footwork is too slow to play at high level at right tackle. With a little experience playing left guard, Pugh could be one of the best at his position. It is also necessary to start Weston Richburg at center to get the best out of him as well. After those changes, there would be a gaping hole at right tackle. Although the Giants have the ninth pick in this year’s draft, I don’t think any of those tackles are worth that high of a pick. Using the $30 million in cap space, they should sign either Orlando Franklin or Bryan Bulaga. The 27 year old Franklin is 6’7”, has only missed one game in his four year career with the Broncos, and is an outstanding run blocker. Bulaga on the other hand is two years younger, but he has an extensive injury history and would cost the Giants more than Franklin would. Both would help the Giants in their run and pass blocking allowing the offense to reach its potential.
The Second Problem
Out of all 32 teams in the NFL, the Giants had the most players on injured reserve with 19. Not only did they have the most, but they lost key starters that could have made the difference between them sitting at home in January.
# Name Pos.
20 Amukamara, Prince CB
91 Ayers, Robert DE
52 Beason, Jon LB
73 Brewer, James T
29 Cox, Michael RB
80 Cruz, Victor WR
18 Harris, Marcus WR
33 Hillis, Peyton RB
48 Howard, Travis CB
12 Jernigan, Jerrel WR
94 Kiwanuka, Mathias DE
70 Kropog, Troy T
97 Manning, Terrell LB
38 McBride, Trumaine CB
74 Schwartz, Geoff G
68 Snyder, Adam G
30 Taylor, Cooper S
24 Thurmond III, Walter CB
57 Williams, Jacquian LB
Injuries to players such as Victor Cruz, Jon Beason, and Prince Amukamara really hurt the team down the stretch. If the Giants can get most of these guys back and healthy for next season they should be in pretty good shape.
The Second Fix
No amount of cap space or high draft picks can cure the injury bug. With 19 players on IR last year, the Giants should take a hard look at their strength and conditioning staff this offseason to prevent the same thing from happening next year.
The Third Problem
3) The Front Seven
At some points during the season the Giants run defense and pass rush was laughable. From allowing eight seconds in the pocket to getting gauged week after week on the ground, the Giants front seven was truly awful. The combination of injuries and Perry “Smiley” Fewell’s complex schemes resulted in the worst Giants defense since Bill Sheridan and Can’t Cover Brown in 2009. I know, I know. The Giants front seven had that string of sacks the last few weeks of the season, but that’s only because Fewell realized he was getting the axe and simplified his defense. The only positives from the defense were the sudden rebirth of JPP in his contract year recording 12.5 sacks and the secondary holding its own despite the slew of injuries and the ineffective pass rush. How do you fix the mess that the Giants called a defense?
The Third Solution
Well they already can check off part one of project defense revival. Hire Steve Spagnulo. Spags’ creative pass rushing will help the Giants tremendously if they can acquire the right personnel during the offseason. Retaining Jason Pierre-Paul is a must whether it be by franchise tag or long term contract unless some team is dumb enough to give up two first round picks for him (When the Giants place the Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag on JPP, if a team offers him a contract, the Giants have seven days to match or receive two first round picks as compensation). With the number nine overall pick, the Giants should definitely go “Best Defensive Talent Available” whether it be Dante Fowler Jr., Shane Ray, or Danny Shelton. New York is also low on safeties with Antrel Rolle entering free agency, so they would be wise to call up Da’Norris Searcy or Devin McCourty this March. With a strong draft and free agency, the Giants defense should be firing on all cylinders next year under Spagnulo.
How to Fix the New York Giants Ideal Free Agency and Draft
Free Agency –
- Extend QB Eli Manning
- Extend CB Prince Amukamara
- Resign DE Jason Pierre-Paul
- Restructure LB Jon Beason
- Resign CB Walter Thurmond III
- Resign Henry Hynoski
- Resign TE Larry Donnell
- Sign S Da’Norris Searcy
- Sign DT Stephen Paea
- Sign OT Orlando Franklin
- Sign RB Jacquizz Rodgers
- 1st Round– Dante Fowler Jr. ,OLB/DE, Florida
- 2nd Round– Michael Bennett, DT, OSU
- 3rd Round– Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
- 4th Round– Cody Prewitt, FS ,Ole Miss
- 5th Round– Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
- 6th Round– Andrew Chilkilo, DE, Miami
- 7th Round– Jordan Hicks, OLB, Texas
- 7th Round– Adam Snead, OG, Oklahoma
By Joey Alibro