For two years New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin has watched his team fail to accomplish two things that go right to is core beliefs as a football coach, that go right to his soul. He has watched the Giants fail to run the football on offense, and even worse fail to stop the run on defense.
It's a damning statement for an NFL team, but bluntly the Giants have not been good enough -- or tough enough -- in the trenches to play consistent winning football in recent years. Largely because of that, they haven't played winning football, suffering back-to-back losing seasons.
After the first two days of the 2015 NFL Draft it is brutally obvious that the Giants' primary objective in the early part of this draft has been to correct that. Secondarily, to bring in as many players as possible who are accomplished special teamers.
What do new Giants Ereck Flowers, Landon Collins and Owamagbe Odighizuwa have in common? Intelligence and character, sure. That has become a hallmark of the Giants' early-round draft picks in recent years. Primarily, though, toughness. Physicality. The ability to impact the running game and punish opposing teams.
This is the Giants trying to get back to that "big people beat up little people" physical, win in the trenches style that has been the mark of the Giants' best teams going all the way back to the days of Bill Parcells and George Young.
"I think the biggest thing that jumped out is all three of these guys bring a physical toughness to our team. They are three different positions. A passion, a toughness, a physical-ness at their position. I think that is the common thread with the three of them," said Giants Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross.
"You always want a physical football team, so the more physical guys you can acquire, the more physical your football team is going to be," said GM Jerry Reese.
Flowers is a massive 6-foot-6, 329-pound mauler in the run game. After they made him the ninth overall pick the Giants talked about his nasty streak and his physicality. He is probably a work in progress in pass protection. In the run game, though? He should be a force from Week 1.
Collins? Yes, the big move up was made in part because of the Giants' absolute need for adding a top-tier talent at the safety position. Collins is much more an enforcer than a center fielder, he is Kam Chancellor and not Earl Thomas. He is a 6-foot, 228-pound player who can play in the box, hit people, make tackles and help the Giants dominate at the line of scrimmage. That, in turn, should help them get into situations where they can turn their pass rushers loose.
Odighizuwa has drawn some comparisons to Justin Tuck. He can play outside, He can move inside on passing downs. He can rush the passer, but his forte is run defense. Those qualities all apply to Tuck, as well. His presence not only gives the Giants more flexibility along the front line, but adds another player who can set the edge against the run -- something the Giants simply did not do well a year ago.
"You have to win the line of scrimmage with the defensive line and the offensive line," Coughlin said after the selection of Odighizuwa. "I think this guy gives us a chance to get back into that business, run or pass."
All three of these picks are aimed at helping the Giants "get back into that business." If the Giants can get back to controlling the line of scrimmage their chances of ending a three-year playoff drought are greatly improved.