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Fixing the New York Giants, Part II: Tearing the team down

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This is the second of a four-part series in which Invictus XI tries his hand at fixing the Giants. In this part, we examine the team from within, aging veterans and decide who to keep and who might get cut. We'll also examine the front office and head coach as well.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the second part of our four-part series in which I, Invictus, take you through a "mock" offseason and we try and fix the Giants all at once. An impossible task? Probably, but why not give it a shot. In today's section, we look at and examine why I believe Jerry Reese was retained and Tom Coughlin was not. Also, we look at veterans who might just be on the chopping block.

Let's jump right in and before we get to the players, let's get the big stuff out of the way. Let's be clear: I hate the blame game. Jerry Reese vs. Tom Coughlin. Blame goes to everybody. Traditionally, people will consider me pro-Reese, anti-Coughlin. That may have been true in prior years. However, at this point, screw it. I'm just pro-Giants. I probably make the same decision as John Mara did with regards to both and I explain my reasoning why as well as why I personally believe Mara made the same decisions.

The Front Office

For those of you that have been around when I was a writer here, you know that I have been probably a bigger fan of Reese than most. That doesn't mean I'm going to absolve him of blame for the pathetic display that our team has become over the past few years. Reese and his minions have created a roster that has been razor thin on depth, has ignored several positions for long periods of time, and has done an adequate job at best at gathering top line talent. If I am John Mara, do I fire him, Marc Ross, and the rest of the staff? Clearly he didn't, so my decision is moot.

I give it a long, hard thought as to why John Mara might think to do so. Ultimately, I think the problems with the roster stem from injuries (and yes, you can blame some, not all, of that on Reese for drafting a few injury prone players) and from a significant disconnect between what the coaching staff wants and what the front office wants, even though they both said that the decisions on personnel are made jointly. One side probably needed to go, and I'm assuming Tom Coughlin's age probably also played a factor here. The blame seems to be 50-50 in my eyes.

Therefore, while I think the results warrant at least consideration for Reese losing his job, for the 2012 draft, or from the day 3 draft choices that have never panned out, I think that keeping him and allowing him to find his own coach can likely form in a quicker turnaround and allow for more cohesiveness with the roster than starting anew with a completely different staff. That can fail quite spectacularly as seen by the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars.

On top of that, I'd like to believe that in recent years, Reese has turned in his three best drafts to date. He's got one megastar in Odell Beckham Jr., one All-Pro level player in Weston Richburg, a couple Pro-Bowl caliber players in Justin Pugh and Johnathan Hankins, and a handful of players that we've got high hopes for in Landon Collins, Ereck Flowers, Bobby Hart, Devon Kennard, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Will Tye, Kerry Wynn and Nat Berhe/Bennett Jackson.

Is it good enough? I don't think so, and I think this is the reason why our depth is being tested, but he's certainly improved. That's a start. We're paying for his poor drafts from 2010-2012, but hopefully, the payment is fulfilled soon enough. That's really all I got as to why Mara might be keeping him around.

Coaching Staff

This is where it gets difficult to swallow. As you may also know about me, I've placed quite a bit of blame on Tom Coughlin. That honestly has not changed. I think Coughlin and his coaching staff is just as culpable as the front office in terms of putting talent on the field.

A big issue is not only talent acquisition but talent development. I point the finger squarely at Robert Nunn as a prime example. After replacing Mike Wauffle in 2010, which defensive lineman outside of Johnathan Hankins has developed appropriately under his tutelage?

Take a look at Linval Joseph. A good but not great player with the Giants goes to Minnesota under Mike Zimmer and is now playing at a ridiculous level. You look at Jason Pierre-Paul, who never developed any pass rush move outside of the bull-rush when playing here, and who looks noticeably more disruptive this season when he spent most of his time with another defensive line coach. You look at Marvin Austin, who never panned out. Neither did Damontre Moore. Markus Kuhn? That story is a joke that writes itself. Jay Bromley had 10 sacks in his final year of college and he was asked to put on more weight and take on blockers in a 2-gap scheme.

That's one such example, and again, I'm sure some blame does go on the front office for the deficit in talent, but it is a two- way street. The other issue with the coaching staff is just mismanagement. The running back by committee approach this season was, quite frankly, a joke. It took until Week 7 or 8 to discover that Orleans Darkwa could run before burying him in the depth chart again, and it took until Week 15 to discover that Rashad Jennings actually might be alright when he gets consecutive carries to get in a proper game-flow. The handling of Shane Vereen has been decent at best, and sometimes it feels like he's just ignored.

Then come the countless games of heartache this season. I'm not going to recount those losses. Too painful.

As for the rest of his staff? I thought long and hard about letting Ben McAdoo go, as he certainly has made several of the foolish decisions in some of our close losses. However, Eli Manning is the one person that saves him. Eli has had his best seasons of his career under McAdoo and really has embraced the West Coast Offense. I'd try and tone down the power McAdoo has over play-calling, but I have zero issue with his play design, especially those plays involving Odell Beckham Jr.

As for Steve Spagnuolo, I don't think a one-and-done year is appropriate. He has blitzed more and he has been aggressive, all that I've asked for him. I'd keep him and try and upgrade along the defense this year to allow his scheme to grow. Several coaches, Robert Nunn and Jim Herrmann in particular I haven't been fond of, but I'd like to keep guys like Mike Sullivan, Pat Flaherty, and David Merritt along for the ride.

The Veterans

First, let's take a look at the cap space that the Giants have for the upcoming year. Assuming $152,000,000 cap (a moderate estimate), the Giants have (including carry-over) $50,140,000 in cap space. That's a lot of dough. Now let's take a look at the veterans that the Giants need to make decisions on:

Will Beatty

Cap Number

Cap Space Created

$9,175,000

$4,175,000

Beatty will be 31 years old when the season starts. He has had ample time to recover from a torn pectoral muscle and should be back physically 100 percent. The question is, do we want him back? According to Pro Football Focus, he hovers around the top 10 in terms of left tackles in the league. He's certainly not a bad option as a starter. With Ereck Flowers likely not giving up the left tackle spot, Beatty would be quite an expensive right tackle with a cap number of $9,175,000. He would have about $5,000,000 in dead money, however, so the savings would be only $4,175,000.

I'm not going to get rid of a starter level player for that much money. I think he could absolutely help stabilize the line as well. He shouldn't get too comfortable, though, I don't foresee him lasting much longer than next year.

Decision: Retain

Victor Cruz

Cap Number

Cap Space Created

$9,900,000

$6,100,000

Victor Cruz. What a rise and what a fall. From coming up as a UDFA to owning the Giants' single season yard mark, torching defenses and coming up with an iconic end zone celebration to now. Here we are, two years later and he hasn't played since that ill-fated Philadelphia Eagles game in 2014. He's had a torn patellar tendon and a multitude of setbacks and calf injuries that have had him on ice. Just how much juice does he really have left?

Cruz, believe it or not, will turn 30 next November. With the cap number as above and the huge risk he presents, I can't justify keeping him.

Decision: Cut

Jon Beason

Cap Number

Cap Space Created

$6,566,668

$5,100,000

This one is pretty easy. Huge cap savings for a player that can no longer reliably play anymore.

Decision: Cut

Geoff Schwartz

Cap Number

Cap Space Created

$4,908,303

$2,991,606

This was actually a bit difficult, but I think I'm going to retain Schwartz. He doesn't cost much, and even though he appears to be chronically injured, he's been a quality player when he has been out there. I think there's enough depth for the Giants on the offensive line to retain him to come back and play right guard.

Decision: Retain

Rashad Jennings

Cap Number

Cap Space Created

$2,812,500

$1,687,500

While not a great player by any stretch of the word, Jennings has proven that he has a place on this team. He shows fight and hustle for every yard, has probably the best vision of any running back we have, and once he gets enough carries to warm up, can tote the rock at a decent clip. At only a ~$1.7 million savings if we cut him, I think it's appropriate to keep him.

Decision: Retain

Marshall Newhouse

Cap Number

Cap Space Created

$1,700,000

$1,300,000

Newhouse's deal was structured for minimal dead money in year 2 so that he would be easy to cut. He is a backup quality player that was thrust into a starting job. I'm not sure a backup should be making almost $2 million/year when a young draft pick or another player can probably do it better for cheaper.

Decision: Cut

The Verdict

We made a lot of changes. Tom Coughlin is out. So is perennially injured warrior Jon Beason and salsa dancing icon Victor Cruz. Major changes are coming.

Some underachievers, like Geoff Schwartz and Jerry Reese (and staff), are given another chance. I don't think we can completely gut the team entirely and expect a quicker turnaround during Eli Manning's championship window.

With the cuts being made, the final total that we have to play around with in free agency is staggering:

Cap Space

$62,640,000

That's a lot of money. Big things are coming.

Next time: In part three of our series, we are going to explore coaching options and look to see who the best fit is with McAdoo and Spagnuolo. We'll also use the enormous amount of money we've got at our disposal to add some much-needed firepower to the team.