Right now, with less than a week to go before the New York Giants begin training camp for the 2015 season, there is reason for optimism. A guy from Harvard has made the Giants the favorites to win the NFC East. Sal Paolantonio is on the bandwagon. Paul Dottino is fired up and believes the Giants could be a playoff team.
It is, of course, the time of year when every fan base should be optimistic about its team. If practice for the upcoming season has not yet begun and you are already resigned to your team being a loser, that's a sad state of affairs. The Giants, and their fans, are not in that boat.
What, though, if 2015 goes south? What if the Giants miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year, which would also be the sixth time in seven seasons? What if the year ends in a third straight losing season? What then for Big Blue?
Well, if that happens there are likely to be a myriad of changes in the land of the Giants. When we preview the team's 2016 training camp the landscape might look something like this.
- The Giants are in the midst of planning and promoting a Sunday Night Football ceremony to enter retired head coach Tom Coughlin into the team's Ring of Honor. Coughlin announced his retirement in January amidst tears from players and coaches, as well as profuse 'thank you for your great service to the franchise' remarks from ownership. But, he was pushed into a retirement he didn't want nonetheless, and now the organization is trying to make nice.
- Head coach Steve Spagnuolo is talking incessantly about the tradition of the Giants, about returning the Gians to their winning ways, about not straying far from the values Coughlin instilled for more than a decade. And he is growing annoyed by questions about why his tenure as Giants head coach will be better than his failed tenure as head honcho of the St. Louis Rams.
- Jilted former offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, heir apparent to Coughlin until the beloved Spagnuolo returned, is getting ready to run his first training camp as head coach of the Washington Redskins. McAdoo is explaining how he believes his system will help Robert Griffin III become a top-flight quarterback again. After all, if it worked for interception machine Eli Manning it has to work for RGIII. Right? By the way, don't read this as me saying Spagnuolo and not McAdoo would likely succeed Coughlin. I'm just tossing out 'what-if' scenarios here.
- Giants general manager Jerry Reese still has his job. After all, the Giants don't fire general managers. Reese, though, won't go anywhere without a flame retardant pillow his seat is so hot. Which it should be after his 2015 first-round pick, Ereck Flowers, gave up 10 sacks in four games and caused Eli Manning and his new four-year, $80 million contract to land on IR for the first time in his career with a broken leg.
- Jason Pierre-Paul is an ex-Giant, bid good riddance after finally signing his franchise tag tender in Week 4, showing up out of shape, playing for three weeks, hurting a shoulder and landing on IR. JPP, of course, is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
- Middle linebacker Jon Beason is retired after making it only halfway through the 2015 season before breaking his foot -- again -- and landing on IR. Beason has opened a body-building center.
- Geoff Schwartz, Rashad Jennings, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Robert Ayers -- big names signed to rich free-agent deals before the 2014 season -- are all gone. So is Will Beatty.
- Punter/strength and conditioning coach Steve Weatherford has transformed the Quest Diagnostics Training Center weight room into some sort of futuristic CrossFit/MMA/Yoga facility complete with its own Cryotherapy chamber.
Some of these bullet points are a bit extreme, if not outright ridiculous. Point is, though, if things don't go well for the Giants in 2015 we could be looking at -- and talking about -- a much different team a year from now. Co-owner John Mara is a patient man, but his patience can't last forever. Results in 2015 are critical for the Giants, otherwise some form of major change seems inevitable.