Each and every New York Giants fan has his or her own ideas for how to fix what went wrong in 2009 -- beyond just shaking up the coaching staff.
At Big Blue View, we -- of course -- have our own ideas on how to turn things around in 2010. Below, you will find 5 keys to fixing the Giants from each member of your crack BBV writing team. Except for me. I am actually staying out of this one. You guys hear my opinions all the time, and the ideas floated below by Jim, CJ and David pretty much cover everything.
Are you reading John Mara? Tom Coughlin? Jerry Reese? Everything you need to do is laid out right here. Now, if we can just get you guys to pay attention.
Here are my keys to fixing this team:
1. Attitude adjustment: This team came into this season with a sense of entitlement, and completely forgot the mantra "Talk is cheap, play the game". I haven't seen a chip on their shoulder in a long time. Remember when Mickey told Rocky "You ain't been hungry since you won that belt!"? That's the way I feel about the Giants. Ed, I know you love a good Rocky reference.
2. O-line needs an overhaul: Obviously between the problems the Giants had running the ball, and Eli taking more hits than I can ever recall him taking in his Giants career, this line is showing its age. Changes are needed here.
3. Linebackers ..... please? Do you guys realize the Giants have not drafted an impact linebacker since Jesse Armstead? That was 1993!!! For an organization that has a history of storied LBs, this is unacceptable. Giants need to find an impact linebacker early in this year's draft.
4. Get back to Giants football: This team has an over 80 year tradition of playing great defense, and running the ball. The 2009 edition did neither of those things. While its great to see Eli throw for 4K, we all know a big part of that was because the Giants couldn't run the ball for the yards they are accustomed to.
5. Fix the special teams: Jeff Feagles showed his age this year, and I think we heard the phrase "off the side of Feagles' foot" way too much. I've also never been a fan of Tynes, and I think the Giants need to find a kicker as well. Giants surrendered way too much field position this year on poor punts and short kickoffs.
My 5 Keys:
1) Linebackers. To paraphrase Rick Pitino: "Lawrence Taylor is not walking through that door. Harry Carson is not walking through that door, and Carl Banks is not walking through that door." The Giants linebackers, a position at which the Giants have a rich history, have been nothing short of awful the past few years. I know Antonio Pierce was the leader of the defense and Kawika Mitchell had a nice run two years ago, but that just doesn't cut it at the Meadowlands. They need a speed upgrade everywhere on defense, but nowhere more so than at linebacker.
2) Safeties. The safeties were the #1 weakness of the Giants this season, giving up more big plays than I can remember the Giants giving up in years. Without the injury to Kenny Phillips, I highly doubt I'm writing this piece write now, and the New York media would be wetting itself at the prospect of a Subway Super Bowl, at least until both teams would inevitably lose their first round playoff games. That said, this isn't the #1 need to me for a few reasons: first of all, until I get complete confirmation otherwise, I'm gonna hold out hope that KP will be back and effective next year, which would give the Giants a massive upgrade at safety without having to spend any money or waste any draft picks. Second, I think a strong linebacking corps is more important to a defense than a strong safety corps, and impact linebackers tend to get drafted earlier & paid more money in free agency. Really, though, linebackers & safeties should be priorities 1a & 1b.
3) Find a true left tackle. I appreciate what David Diehl has done, but I think the best scenario for the Giants offensive line is to find a true left tackle and move Diehl back to guard. If they think William Beatty can take over left tackle, then let him do it. If not, go find someone in free agency or the draft. Moving Diehl to guard and having a true left tackle will solidify a declining O-line, and combined with a healthy Madison Hedgecock should help the running game rebound next year.
4) Hire a "real" defensive coordinator. Much like milk on a hot day, Bill Sheridan was a very bad choice. The results speak for themselves, but even before the season there were a lot of questions about Sheridan. System continuity is a good idea when you have a guy like Sean McDermott, who had been working under Jim Johnson for a decade when he got the promotion to Eagles DC this year. Poaching an up and coming assistant coach is also a pretty decent idea, as the Giants did when they hired Steve Spagnuolo away from the Eagles three years ago. Promoting an assistant who's only been working in your system for two years and who wasn't highly coveted around the league so that you can maintain "system continuity"? That's just a bad idea. The Giants don't have to hire a former head coach like Dick Jauron. They don't have to hire an up-and-coming assistant coach. They don't have to overpay a highly respected defensive coordinator like Gregg Williams. What they have to do is find the right guy to lead this defense, no matter what his resume is. At this point I'd even be willing to take a 3-4 guy and deal with the growing pains. Just find someone who won't turn one of the best defenses in the league into the worst Giants defense in 40 years seemingly overnight.
5) Force Justin Tuck to follow Michael Strahan around for the next 9 months. Tuck is the best player on the Giants defense, and many expected him to become the leader this year. It didn't happen, and when Antonio Pierce went down the D was rudderless. Becoming a leader doesn't happen overnight - some players spend a decade in the league before it "clicks" for them. It doesn't have to be Tuck, though he is the obvious candidate and does seem to possess some of the traits necessary. Whatever they do, though, they need to find someone on the field who can inspire the defense even when things get rough, as Strahan did for all those years and as Harry Carson used to do.
Watching the last two weeks was like watching my dog get put down and right before he dies the doctor takes out an Uzi and blasts him, just in case.
Here are 5 keys to making sure my new puppy doesn't meet the same fate in 2010.
1) Change the status quo. It's clear John Mara won't accept the status quo. I know this because Mara said "the status quo is not acceptable." It's time to weed out the coaches that built this status quo and get rid of the players who quit on the team. Allowing 44 points in your final game, with nothing but pride on the line, is unacceptable. Watch the tape, find the players who A) Simply don't have the talent to play on this level and B) Put there heads down and accepted the drubbing. The Giants have begun the process, Bill Sheridan has been fired. Bye Bye, Bill.
Every Giant fan realized that Steve Spagnuolo was an integral part of the Giants Super Bowl run in 2007. It was an embarrassing 2009 that may have proven just how valuable Steve was. The Giants finished 30th in the league in points given up per game at 26.7. They allowed more points in one season then they have since 1966. They allowed 40 or more points on four separate occasions, something they hadn't done since 1966 as well. Bill Sheridan got off to a poor start in pre-season as Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora left practice after a disagreement with Sheridan and things never got better. Despite all the injuries there is far too much talent on this defense to be this bad.
Now the trickle down affect starts. If any defensive assistant keeps his job it will probably be defensive line coach Mike Wauffle, other then that I think they will be ravaged. Next step, find a new coordinator, and then weed out the players who don't have the attitude you want. After the disaster of 2009 I imagine the Giants will seek out a veteran coach, Bill Cowher please. No it's not happening, but one can dream.
2) Find a defensive leader. As Eminem taught us in "8 Mile," "there ain't no such thing as halfway crooks." Despite the double negative, rendering the statement completely useless, Eminem has a point. There ain't no such thing as halfway leaders either. You can't be a leader if you can't play like one. You don't have to be the best player on the team, just look at Chris Drury/ Kevin Faulk/ Derek Jeter but you do have to be at the top of your game. It's clear Antonio Pierce is not what he once was. He is owed 4.75 million, has a bulging disc in his neck and may be asking for a new contract. If he can't play at his best, he can't lead this team. If Jonathan Goff is not the answer the Giants need to find a replacement.
3) Decide whether or not you believe in utilizing the safety position. It seems like a good idea as every other team has 2 on the field at all times. I for one think having safeties is a key, hence my third key EMPLOY REAL SAFETIES. You cannot convince me that Aaron Rouse/ CC Brown/ Michael Johnson are real safeties. Go ahead, try and convince me, nope can't be done. Every year during the offseason fans and analysts beg for upgrades, but once the season starts you grab your LT jersey and buy in with everything you have. It's what makes you a die hard, but the fact is we bought into one starting safety and a bunch of in the box tweeners. Once Phillips went down disaster ensued. You can cover up for your secondary with a great pass rush, you remember 07 right? But this year, without the pass rush, the safeties were exposed, and it was Paul Giamatti ugly. With Phillips dealing with patella femoral arthritis there is no way the Giants can count on their once rising star, changes must be made, and the Giants should consider the safety spot a valuable one.
4) The O-line needs a small makeover. Not a facelift but a little botox. The Giants offensive line played an incredible 38 consecutive games together. The streak ended in 2009 and the line is showing cracks. At 30 years old Kareem McKenzie has a bad knee, back and groin. He can't be counted on for more then 12 games a year. Rich Seubert is 31 and dealing with a bad shoulder. William Beatty has shown that he can play and most likely he will be at tackle next year. Right now there is no real replacement for Seubert, but the writing is on the wall. Diehl, Snee and O'hara are still going strong.
5) Try Again. The Giants tried to overhaul their tackles but fell flat on their faces trying. Chris Canty barely saw the field due to injury. Rocky Bernard got old fast. Fred Robbins struggled to get penetration and Jay Alford was lost for the season. I thought Barry Cofield was the best of the bunch, but his future will be based on wether or not there is a new CBA agreement. If there is a new agreement Cofield will be an unrestricted free agent and his future is up in the air. If there is no agreement Cofield will be restricted and there is a good chance he will be back. Without a push in the middle the Giants line struggles as a whole. These meat eaters in the middle have to suck up lineman so guys like Tuck, Osi and Kiwi can do their thing on the outside.
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