As we get closer to the return of football, I'd like to put my thoughts out there on record. If I'm right, I'll get a table at the New Meadowlands Stadium where you can get signed copies of my "I told you so" list. If I'm wrong, well... I'm sure you'll think of something.
Ahmad Bradshaw is looking for big money and that's fine but I don't want Bradshaw back at $6+ million. That's what RV predicted that Bradshaw would get. He switched to Rosenhaus and has been talking up the Dolphins in an effort to drive up the price to re-sign him. I like him. Honestly, I do but not at what it will cost to keep him. I'm a firm believer that unless you are special like AP or CJ, forget about giving an RB a big deal. Fix your O-line and get a top-notch FB. Hello, Vonta Leach?
I also don't want the Giants to cut Brandon Jacobs so they can afford Bradshaw. You can find RBs who have Bradshaw's skill set. Nobody in the NFL has Jacobs' skills. Don't tell me that he doesn't run as hard as he used to since he got the contract. The guy averaged 5.0 YPC in 2008. In 2009 he played with a torn meniscus in his knee and should've had in-season surgery. Healthy again in 2010, his average went up to 5.6 YPC, even with the compromised O-line. I'll concede that he wasn't used as much as in the past but the Giants have always given Jacobs help. That's nothing new.
Sticking with the RBs, it's time for DJ Ware to get a real shot. He was supposed to be the 3rd cog in a 3-RB rushing attack. During the season Coughlin said that Ware was going to get more carries. He lied. Ware was put on ice while Bradshaw was running on fumes.
This idea that only Steve Smith has a special ability to get first downs is absurd. The Giants' inability to adjust in-season is the real issue. They couldn't adjust after losing Plax and they couldn't adjust after losing Smith. When Travis Beckum was drafted, Jerry Reese and Kevin Gilbride said that he'd be used as a halfback. That means Beckum should be on the field on all 3rd-and-short situations. Line him up at halfback, make him chip the DE as he goes out on a route (if necessary), throw him the ball, and let him outrun a lumbering MLB for the first down. Two years later, I'm still waiting to see Gilbride consistently use him that way.
Will Beatty should be starting at LT unless he's horrific in camp and the preseason. Even then, it's hard for me to imagine him being worse than Diehl. Let him gain some experience early in the season against some soft competition. If there's a need for a change, they'll make it during the season.
Clint Simtin should be at SAM - nowhere else. Fewell, stop with the insanity already. It's ridiculous that someone who led all D-I LBs in sacks is being used to chase TEs and RBs but isn't used to rush the passer. He should be on the field on all passing downs. Dare an RB to block him while Osi, Tuck, or JPP gets a 1-on-1 matchup next to him. Dare an RB to pick him up in blitz protection when he's coming through the A- or B-gap and one of our DEs is closing in from the outside. He's used to playing close to the line of scrimmage so let him play close to the line of scrimmage as much as possible.
If Rocky Bernard can't earn the starting job over Linval Joseph, then cut him and pick up a cheap veteran. Don't force him into a starting role just because he's a high-priced veteran. Give Linval a chance.
Last year I predicted that Chris Canty would make the Pro Bowl. I thought that Barry Cofield would stay as the NT/2-gap DT and Canty would be the 3-tech. It didn't happen. Fewell switched their roles. Cofield benefited from Canty being the NT and had a career year. Canty was very good but he didn't put up the numbers required for a Pro Bowl invite. I'm hoping Fewell lets Joseph or Bernard start as the NT. Let a guard try to block Canty 1-on-1. Not gonna happen. We'd finally see why Reese paid Canty so much.
Back in January 2010 I said that the Giants should trade Osi Umenyiora and draft Carlos Dunlap (he had 9.5 sacks for Cincy, by the way). I felt that if Osi had a bad 2010, then his value would be shot and he wouldn't be any good to the Giants anyway. If he had a good 2010, then he'd want a new contract and would be a pain to get it. Fast forward to July 2011 and we're hearing grumblings of Osi holding out if he doesn't get a new deal or isn't traded. I don't want to give him a penny more. If Mathias Kiwanuka is healthy, a team needing a pass rusher will give him big money and a starter's job. He'd definitely leave the Giants for that team. So with no Kiwi and a shortened off-season for JPP, do we really want to assume that Osi won't hold out? He'd have leverage because he knows how much the Giants value pass rushers. One injury to Tuck or JPP and the Giants will be in panic mode. I don't know what the solution is but I believe it gets worse before it gets better.
I'm concerned about what the lockout has done to the camaraderie in the secondary. Being that Kenny Phillips played in Bayonne last year, I felt that this off-season was a chance for him to reintroduce himself to his teammates. Fewell can assist the transition by letting KP play just a wee bit closer to the action. Also, stop using Antrel Rolle so close to the line. He's a play-making safety. Let him play like one. Yes, I know he takes bad angles and gives up big plays but he might make a few more plays back there too. I know you're going to say that our LBs are terrible and Rolle had to fill that void. There are LBs on the team. Use them. Put Sintim there. If he fails, then put Tracy there. If he can't handle it, then put Dillard there. It's time for the Giants to stop playing it safe. They need to know what they have in these LBs and they won't find that out by watching them on the sideline.
If Smith goes on the PUP list, then I want to see Ramses Barden, Victor Cruz, and Jerrel Jernigan given a legitimate shot to win the #3 WR job. Don't just give it to Domenik Hixon or Derek Hagan because he's a veteran. We already know what those two can do and there's no upside there. Dangle a carrot in front of the young guys and see who goes and get it.
Lastly, I've been a big proponent of firing Tom Coughlin. It's not that I think he can no longer coach. I just don't think he makes changes until it's usually too late. Don't tell me after the season that Jacobs should have gotten more carries. I don't want to see Bradshaw struggling through 25 carries in a blowout win while Jacobs gets eight carries and Ware gets two. Coughlin is too stubborn to make necessary adjustments on his own. He makes them only if he has no other choice. Once in a while, I'd like him to be proactive. If he's willing to be a little more flexible - God forbid - the Giants won't just make the playoffs but will do some damage once they get there.