Where to begin? So much to talk about with the struggling New York Giants. Let's see how much I can cover in this week's edition of 'Valentine's Views: Five Things I Think I Think' about the Giants.
I think it's important to keep some perspective. When you step back and think about it, have we really seen anything from the Giants during the four-game losing streak that we haven't seen before? That we couldn't have predicted? That should really be all that shocking? Not really. Especially with the mounting injuries. The Giants haven't beaten a winning team with its starting quarterback since the middle of the 2012 season, so four straight losses to four such teams is hardly a shock. Admittedly, some of what we have seen -- especially defensively -- has been uglier than we could have imagined but the current predicament is maybe not all that unexpected. Tom Coughlin consistently referred to the Giants during the preseason as a "work in progress." Granted, we haven't seen the progress we all wanted to see -- wins against good teams and a run to the playoffs -- but we shouldn't be shocked. The roster isn't whole, and I think it's debatable whether there was enough talent even before all the injuries. You don't make as many changes as the Giants made in the off-season -- a re-structuring I have said before started a year too late -- and have things magically fall into place. I still believe the Giants could be a much better football team in 2015 than they are right now.
I think the Giants' defense is broken, and I don't think Perry Fewell can fix it. The Giants won't fire Fewell -- or special teams coordinator Tom Quinn, or anyone else -- during the season. They don't do things that way. I do believe, however, that even if Coughlin is back next year, or no matter who the coach is, Perry Fewell cannot be the defensive coordinator. Yes, the secondary is depleted by injuries. Yes, middle linebacker Jon Beason is gone. But, there is no defending the defenseless-ness of the Giants that we have seen the past four weeks. Four straight games of giving up 423 yards or more. Six games this season giving up more than 400 yards. Statistically, the worst defense in the league in terms of yardage allowed. Players who can't, or won't, tackle. Players making the same undisciplined mistakes -- not following their assignments, not holding contain, not playing the proper technique, not filling the right gap -- and making the same excuses about "it's fixable if everybody just plays their assignments." Well, guys aren't doing it and haven't done it consistently for years. For me, that is partially on players for being unwilling or unable to learn. It also, however, has to fall on the defensive coordinator. Carl Banks has often disagreed with me on this point, but what this mess falls at Fewell's feet. It says to me that Fewell is either ineffective in teaching his defense, in delivering his message or that players aren't buying what Fewell is selling and are doing what they want rather than what they are "assigned." I think we've seen enough to know that this broken defense is not going to get fixed until someone else is in charge of the repairs.
I think the rest of the season is pointless if the kids don't play. The Giants are 3-6 and not going to the playoffs. It will be extremely tempting for Tom Coughlin, who has to know the Giants may usher him out the door at the end of the season if he doesn't step aside on his own, to rely on veterans rather than worry about a future he may not be a part of. To be honest, you couldn't really blame the guy. That approach, though, would be a mistake. The rest of the season is really about 2015. There is no point in guys like Mathias Kiwanuka, Mike Patterson and Markus Kuhn getting snaps instead of Damontre Moore and Jay Bromley. Those veterans are not part of the long-term solution. Moore and Bromley might be. Devon Kennard and Nat Berhe might be. Let them play. Offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz could be back this week, and there might be a temptation to plug him in at left guard in place of struggling rookie Weston Richburg. Mistake. Put Schwartz at right guard in place of John Jerry, or get on with the future by letting Richburg play center and putting Schwartz to his left.
I think if TC's seat is hot, Jerry Reese's should at least be warm. We know Coughlin's seat is hot. In an ideal world, the Giants would love to allow the coach to get through this season and next and then make an orderly transition to offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Life is messy, though, and the Giants might not get there. Thing is, not only has Coughlin been coach of a team about to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. Jerry Reese has been GM of that same team that, bluntly, hasn't had enough talent for many of those years and has made too many mistakes in personnel decisions. Over the years I think there have been too many players brought in who don't fit what Coughlin wants -- like Travis Beckum, Brandon Myers, Marvin Austin and David Wilson -- and too many useless players kept on the roster only because Reese drafted them and he won't let them go. Currently, guys who fit that mold are James Brewer, Adrien Robinson and Jayron Hosley. Part of me also believes that Jacquian Williams, an athletic but undisciplined linebacker, plays while fundamentally sound Spencer Paysinger sits simply because Reese drafted JWill while Paysinger was undrafted. Sooner or later, you have to hold Reese's feet to the fire, too.
Odell Beckham and Richard Sherman exchange jerseys after Sunday's game. [Richard Bisig -- USA Today Sports]
I think Odell Beckham has a chance to become the best wide receiver in franchise history. Watch how he turned Richard Sherman inside out on Sunday, how he blew past him to make big plays, how he wasn't afraid to be physical with the bigger Sherman or to get in Sherman's face and talk a little and tell me you didn't love it. Victor Cruz can't do the things that Beckham did to Sherman. If this young man stays healthy, he is going to re-write the record books when it comes to Giants wide receivers.