New York Giants: Awkward

New York Giants
Last year: 6-10
3rd in NFC East

Awkward.

There were quite a few awkward moments for the New York Giants last year, I would list them but I cant be arsed to refer to every single Alan Partridge-esque occurence because that would be petty. But over the course of the next 1,500 plus words I will give you a guided tour of the more excruciating “highlights”.

Awkward – last years repeated failure to run the ball led me to comment that I wasnt sure wether their rushing “attack” was anything more than a rumour. It was such an uninspiring unit that when I would watch Giants games it would barely register. As a result Ben Mcadoo’s offense looked so one dimensional that games often resembled elongated passing drills.

Awkward – Was the hilarious game and clock management decisions early in the season which cost them two close games due to some ridiculous brain-fart moments. When you finish that close to .500 those things really resonate with fans.

Awkward – Was Jason Pierre Paul having perhaps the most unlucky and gruesome injury of the season. Leaving the Giants with almost no pass-rush down the stretch.

Awkward – Was Odell Beckham JR behaving like a petulant child and embarrassing himself vs Josh Norman and being off his game enough to cost the Giants what at one point looked like being one of the biggest potential upsets in recent NFL history and taking the shine off of an Eli Manning performance that bordered on magical. More awkward still? That Coughlin didnt pull Beckham from the game when it became obvious that Norman had got in his head so completely. Most awkard? that the officials didnt eject both players in the first place.

Awkward – That in a 90+ point shootout vs the Saints that New Orleans’s bottom ranked defense managed to be the one that stepped up and got the stop at the end to give their QB a victory. That the Giants defense was so poor that even the Saints secondary¬† bested them. And that yet another Hall of fame worthy Eli Manning performance was rendered meaningless.

Awkward: That the loss of Victor Cruz highlighted how painfully talent- thin at receiver they really were besides OBJ.

Awkward – That in a year where the Eagles seemed to implode, the Cowboys lost Romo and Dez and the Skins appeared to be the only legitimate competition, that the Giants seemed to blow games they could or should have won and failed to seize their oppurtunity to snatch the division.

And finally, the most awkward moment of all awkward moments in the NFL in the last year,…. Tom Coughlin allegedly publicly snubbing Jon Mara after his resignation speech. A move that, I assume was everything to do with Coughlin’s frustration at a lack of support and tools to get the job done. Although awkwardly he later denied it, which means he simply “forgot” to shake his former boss’s hand after his resignation speech. But it wouldnt be long before Coughlin would be awkwardly returning to the facility semi regularly to work out, get some laundry done and get an awkward massage.

Anyway…

Behind this slightly cynical comedic take on the Giants 2015 is some real frustration at the way they seemed to handle last year in general. As the off season began, it became painfully obvious that a repeat of last year would be utterly unpalatable. The fans deserved a reboot, not a re-hash.

Hey Big spender……

Since March there has been one more man-made construction that has become visible from space. It is The pile of Cash that the Giants paid out in free-agency. A sum that if converted into pound coins and stacked vertically would easily reach Mars.

Shortly before this massive bender they culled about $30 million worth of players from the roster – including every receiver that wasn’t called Cruz or Beckham, and a laundry list of players that were now considered luxuries they would no longer pay for.

It was then that Jerry Reese decided he was gonna go out and buy himself a Championship. By the end of his spending spree he had ended up signing DT’s Olivier Vernon, and Damon Harrison and Cornerback Janoris Jenkins. And resigned JPP and picked up LB Keenan Robinson. All, on paper, dramatic upgrades for that defense, and whilst there is no doubt that Jerry Reese has gone and found pieces particularly on defense, what is startling is the money that he has spent on good, but certainly not elite talent. The concern that this raises is that Olivier Vernon has 14 sacks in 2 years but is starting year one of his contract on Von Miller 2016 money. Similarly all of these contracts eventually balloon to a point where a few years down the road (two, to be exact) , their cap number becomes unmanageable to a point where they maybe cant pay OBJ’s 2nd contract or Eli’s next extension? In any event, even if this roster lifts a Lombardi come February there is still a hefty mortgage attached to any future beyond that.

Its fair to wonder if the risk and reward evaluation here was entirely sound. I wonder if it wasnt the last desperate heave of a GM whose days are numbered? I also wonder if Reese hasn’t signed his own death warrant already? Certainly he appears to have looked at what Chip Kelly did last offseason and thought “oooh that looks like a good idea”. Chip is in Santa Clara now, judging a QB competition between Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. If he is as wrong as Chip was then maybe a similarly dismal fate awaits Jerry?

Draft time

Surely the Draft would offer hope and redemption for Jerry? Well No, and Yes, and then No again.

In round one, the Giants had a bit of a wobble, they watched Jack Conklin and a few other players on their draft boards come off earlier than expected. It then appears that they panicked, and picked Eli Apple at pick 10. Apple was a slightly controversial selection, particularly as the Giants have a strong Corner group already, and also considering that Vernon Hargreaves ( A far higher ranked CB prospect )was still available. At pick 10 they took a raw, but physically talented guy butI cant help thinking if it was a bit of a “Quick, do something!” pick.

Luckily in Round 2 they selected my favourite receiver in the whole draft in Sterling Shepard. They also seemed to partially address safety and Linebacker depth in later rounds, nonetheless that Giants defense still has as nondescript a Linebacker group as you can get, go on, name one, I dare you!. The fact that they drafted Apple puzzles me when it would have been so much more sensible to address Linebacker or Running Back in rounds 1 or Two.

So, is it all doom and gloom?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the Giants and I think that all being well that they have a greatly improved roster with real potential to challenge for the Division. Especially exciting is their offense with the group of receivers they have amassed for Eli surely they will be vastly inproved as a force in the NFC East. My only hope is that there is a coherence to the team that was sorely lacking last year. This team needs stability and nurturing while the new pieces gel.

If so, all being well maybe  Giants fans get the team they deserve, after all I am on record as being a great fan of Eli Manning, he is, in my opinion a true great and a hall of fame calibre QB. But the window with Eli is only going to be there for so long, the excuses for not giving Eli what he needs to get that third ring are wearing very thin. He has a stable of versatile receivers, and a developing offensive line that should improve blocking in the run game.

I am convinced they will be better I am certain of this, particularly defensively. I only hope Reese’s offseason moves bear fruit or the consequences could hamstring this franchise for years to come.

Prediction for 2016

9-7. But with Dallas back to full strength, Philly under new direction, and Washington still a strong team. Is that good enough for playoffs? This could be the closest division in football.
But anything less than .500 and Jerry Reese is suddenly sat on a very hot seat.