The Giants got flat-out manhandled by a good – not great – Minnesota Vikings team Sunday night. What I think is worse: it looked like they were trying, too. It’s one thing to not be putting in the effort—that a lot of times can just be blamed on the head coach, as bad as it is to watch that go down. But it’s another thing to really put your team out there and just get defeated in the way the Giants did. They were just crushed.
Now, there’s so much that could be said. Fire Coughlin. Fire Reese. Spend more in free agency. I’m not saying I believe all of it, but fans are too frustrated at this point and changes need to be made—and they’re coming. It’s been four seasons since the Giants made the playoffs. Three since they’ve had a winning record. All with generally steady quarterback play along the way—a rarity in the NFL—and they don’t seem to have a clear direction going. Something’s obviously not right.
So what will they do? Well, I’m not sure they’re going to revamp the whole organization. They’ll keep Eli, they’ll (likely) let Ben McAdoo keep running the offense, and they’ll probably keep a few more pieces. But after their crushing loss to Minnesota, it not only became most clear to me that the Giants will be expecting some changes, but some pretty big ones. I believe a few are to be expected, and there are some that will be pretty disappointing, and really surprise people. I list the biggest here:
It’s becoming inevitable.
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I’m not sure too many coaches can survive four straight seasons without a playoff berth, even those that have won multiple Super Bowls. Tom Coughlin couldn’t come up with an answer after the team’s loss to Minnesota, saying, “Disappointed is not the word. It’s just very difficult for me to explain to be honest with you.” It’s an honest quote, and a telling one.
On the surface, it seems like he’s having trouble reaching his team. He claims the team had a good week of practice, then they lay a dud like that on national television. And he can’t seem to grasp why that happened. And his team didn’t really have answers either. To me, it simply signals it’s time for a change.
The Giants have Eli Manning playing the best football of his career. They have arguably the league’s best receiver. And they seemed to find their run game late in the year. But the arrow isn’t pointing up. It’s really not pointing anywhere. I don’t think Jerry Reese handed Coughlin the best roster this season, but I also don’t believe Coughlin maximized their potential.
It’s a sad end to an exceptional coaching career.
Steve Spagnuolo Will Be Fired
With the First Pick
After one season? Yup.
I understand Steve Spagnuolo will, and should, live in Giants immortality after playing such a key role in their 2007 Super Bowl season. But he coordinated as poor a defense as the Giants have fielded in the Tom Coughlin era (he one-upped Bill Sheridan, and that’s not easy…).
Entering Week 17, the team is giving up nearly an absurd 420 yards per game, is 30th in the NFL in sacks, and they’ve given up the most passing yards in the NFL. Again, I’m not sure he was handed a ton of talent to start the season, and it only made things worse when his best player missed eight weeks with a freak injury.
But there’s no excuse for coordinating a defense this bad. It seems like his players respect him, since they’re not publicly making their frustrations known and don’t throw him or “the scheme” under the bus after the games. But when the Giants hired him, they expected improvement on the defensive side of the ball, even with Pierre-Paul getting injured. They didn’t just tread downward—they fell straight to the bottom of the barrel. I think Spags is on the outs.
Jason Pierre-Paul Will Walk
Following along the Steve Spagnuolo narrative: he’s had his great moments, but I think Pierre-Paul’s time with the Giants has come to an end.
Pierre-Paul returned and showed he could still be an effective pass rusher by consistently pressuring the QB. But he’s registered just one sack and the defense hardly improved upon his return.
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And, I’m not sure how smart of an investment it would be to bring him back. Entering next season at 27-years-old, he won’t earn the contract he would’ve prior to his hand injury, but he will still get a multi-year deal. And he’ll still get a lot of money, and it’ll all be for a player who wasn’t able to lead the defense in a different direction upon his arrival this season.
It’s a lot to ask for one player to change the way a defense is playing. And given the limited depth this defense had, I don’t think Pierre-Paul could’ve done that, but his impact should’ve been felt more. Think about Jon Beason, whose presence improved the play of those around him when he was acquired in 2013. Pierre-Paul didn’t have that same kind of impact this season, and that’s why the Giants won’t give him a big contract. It’s one of the reasons why I think he’s on the outs this offseason.
Larry Donnell Will Not Return…
This isn’t shocking, particularly with the emergence of Will Tye, but it’s still worth mentioning, since the Giants have had trouble getting production out of the tight end position the past two seasons.
Donnell looked like the Giants’ tight end of the future last season. Big-bodied, decent hands, and was able to stave off defenders and catch jump balls. But this year, it was just the opposite: slow-footed, dropping passes, and couldn’t seem to garner any yards after the catch (just 7.7 yards per catch this season).
I don’t actually think Will Tye is the Giants’ starting tight end to be, but I don’t think they’ll turn back to Donnell either. The team will look for an upgrade at the position both pass catching and blocking-wise.
Rueben Randle Will Not Be Re-signed
On Sunday, I think fans saw Rueben Randle in a nutshell. Big play ability, as shown with his impressive 72-yard touchdown in which he bounced off a defender. But then, there was the fact he had just two catches. And continues to drop passes. And he struggles to get open. I think the Giants have seen enough of Randle in his four years to comfortably let him walk.
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It’s unfortunate, too. Sure, he was a second-round pick, and any time a high draft pick doesn’t reach his full potential it’s disappointing. But it’s also that’s shown some of that potential, which is what makes him frustrating. He has a career-high seven touchdowns this year, and was a couple big plays away from having a 1,000 yard season in 2014. To me, he has the talent to be a number two receiver—one that could eclipse 1,000 yards even. But four years without building rapport with Eli Manning, and continuing to make mental errors like dropping passes and not being in the right position on routes, is too unreliable of an option to have as a number two receiver.
Who else do you think is on the way out after the 2015 season ends?