Who is to blame for the mess the New York Giants are in? Is it time to draft a new franchise quarterback? Those are only a couple of the topics broached in this week's 'Five Things I Think I Think' about the Giants.
I think Jerry Reese deserves more blame than Tom Coughlin
I was asked on Twitter Monday to put a percentage on who is to blame for the Giants' plight. I can't really do that, but I will say this -- GM Jerry Reese is more to blame than head coach Tom Coughlin. Not only for this season, but for the fact that the Giants will miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. It isn't Coughlin's fault that the roster is littered with bad players -- and players Coughlin doesn't want but the GM insists on keeping around. Injuries are partially to blame for the season the Giants are having, sure. But, it's the GM's fault the Giants don't have depth on the offensive line. It's the GM's fault Eli Manning doesn't have enough quality receivers. It's the GM's fault the Giants don't have enough talent in the front seven of their defense.
I have said before that Coughlin is not blameless. I am, however, coming around more and more to a viewpoint expressed by Gary Myers of the Daily News:
The problem is personnel. The Giants' roster is lacking in talent. That is why I no longer think this should be Coughlin's final season, especially in a year without superstar candidates.
I am not advocating the firing of Reese. What I am advocating first is that the Giants need to take a long, hard look at their personnel department, headed by Marc Ross. The long-term evidence is pretty clear that the Giants haven't done a good enough job identifying talent, and bringing in the kinds of players that fit what their coaching staff wants. I am also advocating that Reese take a loooong look in the mirror. If you are going to insist that players stay on the roster when you know the coaching staff would rather move on you hamstring the coaching staff and create a culture where some players are simply not accountable.
There was a time when Reese seemed to have a magic touch. That was a long time ago. The Giants have drafted better the past couple of years, but Reese needs to find that magic again to get the Giants out of this malaise.
I think we can't forget how well Eli Manning played before Sunday
Sunday's five-interception fiasco was one of the worst performances of Eli Manning's career -- maybe the absolute worst of his career. It was so awful that it has some people wondering if it's time for the Giants to move on from the 33-year-old Manning as their franchise quarterback.
I think you need to pull back on the reigns for just a minute. Manning, learning an entirely new system, new set of fundamentals and surrounded by a limited cast of characters devoid of enough play-makers and with an untrustworthy offensive line, had played very well this season before Sunday.
Everyone is tired of watching Manning have games like he did Sunday, throwing balls he shouldn't throw and being woefully inaccurate at other times. He proved Sunday the 'Bad Eli' certainly remains capable of rearing its ugly head at any time.
I don't believe, however, that one horrific game means it's time for the Giants to mortgage a bunch of high draft picks to go select Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston and start over. Manning has done too much good this season. I continue to believe that if the Giants can simply fix the offensive line in front of him that he can still play winning football.
I think Geoff Schwartz should play right guard
Geoff Schwartz, the free-agent signee who was supposed to be the center piece of a rebuilt offensive line, will finally be available to the Giants Sunday when they face the Dallas Cowboys. Coughlin was non-committal Monday when asked what position Schwartz should play.
I think there is an obvious answer to that question. Schwartz should play right guard. In 61 NFL games Schwartz has played every position except center. The one he has played most -- and best -- is right guard. The Giants shouldn't look at Schwartz as a short-term replacement for Justin Pugh at right tackle if Pugh can't play Sunday. They shouldn't put him on the left side and bench rookie Weston Richburg. Put Schwartz at right guard where he is best-suited and go from there in whatever other re-construction of the line is necessary.
I think I wonder what Sunday's linebacker play says about Jacquian Williams
The Giants' linebackers had their best game of the season on Sunday -- without leading tackler Jacquian Williams. Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard and Mark Herzlich all played well. Spencer Paysinger contributed in nickel situations. They played with aggression -- and discipline.
I don't believe Herzlich is a long-term answer, though in his opportunities this year he has shown that he is better on the outside than the middle, and that he can play the run. And I still don't understand why Paysinger is always the last guy to get an opportunity.
Williams' athleticism is obvious. His instincts and his ability to remain disciplined and do what he is supposed to do? Those are the questions. We saw Sunday the difference it can make when linebackers simply do what they are expected to do. What did Sunday say about Williams?
I think Tiki Barber has zero credibility talking about Tom Coughlin
Maybe Tom Coughlin gets fired at the end of the season. Maybe he walks away on his own. Maybe Coughlin and the Giants mutually agree it's time for a new voice. Maybe Coughlin coaches the Giants until he's 100 years old. Right now, nobody knows what will happen.
One thing I do know is that when it comes to Coughlin, ex-Giant Tiki Barber should keep his mouth shut. Coughlin rescued Barber's career, and yet all Barber has done for years is rip the man. I don't know Barber personally, but I have little doubt he is enjoying watching Coughlin suffer right now.
Via the Daily News, this is what Barber wrote about Coughlin in a 2007 book:
"If Tom Coughlin had not remained as head coach of the Giants, I might still be in a Giants uniform.
"(He) robbed me of what had been one of the most important things I had in my life, which was the joy I felt playing football. I had lost that. He had taken it away."
The best thing anyone could do is simply stop asking Barber about Coughlin. No one should care what Barber has to say about his former coach.