Now that we have had a few days to decompress and relax a little after the blowout loss in the playoffs, it is time to give some quick thoughts about the season and how the Giants move on from here.
First off, this season is a success. Yes it could have had a better ending, this Defense can win a Super Bowl, but either way the Giants and Giant fans need to see this year as a big success. After 3 straight losing seasons and 4 straight years of no playoffs, the New York Football Giants went 11-5 (tied for 2nd best in NFC and 3rd in NFL)! That is a major success and if not for the Cowboys it the GMEN could have had a bye in the playoffs. It was a light schedule of opponents but good teams need to win those game and the Giants did that. No shame in losing to Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau with a rookie head coach but this team could of done more. Now it’s time to build on this success.
The $200M defense worked out better than anyone could of expected in year 1. Jackrabbit/Snacks/Vernon did their job and we need them to do it again next year. Staying on that side of the ball Landon Collins is an absolute monster, he should win Most Improved Player and should get some votes for Defensive Player of the Year. Unreal year to year jump from him, the future is bright for the defense. For the Offense, this team is too talented to not score more points. Odell Beckham Jr. had another unreal season filled of highlight plays on the field and off the field, unfortunately. The media over blows everything with him so he just needs to learn from that and grow up a little bit. I am not concerned about him at all, he has the talent to become one of the best receivers in NFL history so if he gets mad after losing a game or take some boat trips with other famous people, fine by me. Be there on Sundays and catch the ball is all I ask. That ball will still be throw by Eli Manning for the next few years. Eli had a down year which has fans thinking it’s time to start looking at a post Eli team. This is too early of course but Eli looked older this year and looked scared in the pocket often. He still threw some dimes on the field and played very well in the playoff game, not worried about good ole Elijah.
Here are the biggest internal offseason story lines and how I would handle it. A to-do list you might say, but this one will have actual thoughts on the moves that could be made by the Giants unlike some other “to-do” lists.
What to do with the Offensive line
This is first and foremost the biggest need for the Giants and most importantly they need to decide on Ereck Flowers. Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are locks in the line and they are two of the better lineman in football, the best thing you want form you lineman is for them to not be in the news, that means you are protecting your QB. The same can’t be said with Flowers, he is killed every game in the papers and twitter absolutely hates him. I am the odd one here but I don’t hate Flowers, he is a massive 22yr that shows bad technique and sometimes gets his QB killed. You can fix technique (hopefully) you cant fix size. Getting Eli killed is not good thing but I think the Giants have a lot invested in Flowers and they will leave him at tackle. He is a great run blocker and that should continue to improve. I am not saying they must leave him at LT, they need to be open to finding a veteran free agent for this line. Last year they said no to any LT in FA this year, they need to be open to all positions and if that means Flowers moves to RT then so be it. My guess is Flowers will still be the starting LT for the Giants week 1 next year. I think the Giants go O-Line in the draft Round 1 too, if any of these 3,Bama’s Robinson, Wisco’s Ramczyk, or Utah’s Bolles, are available I expect them to be the pick. Personally I would go with two other Bama products if given the choice, TE OJ Howard or LB Reuben Foster, both fill another big need this offseason but Reese needs to help the OLine and you build the OLine in the draft just ask Jerry Jones and the Cowgirls.
Find ways to score
Sticking with the offense, this is second biggest thing for the Giants. The Giants didn’t score more then 20 since mid November, not acceptable for a playoff team. Hopefully fixing the O Line will have a butterfly effect on the scoring and the Giants will score 40 pts a game, great! My solution here is to give the play calling to Mike Sullivan. Ben McAdoo has been a fantastic OC the past few years but I feel like he was too much of a Head Coach vs a OC this year. He knew his roster and skill set but I still think he played it too safe all year. He was thinking like a HC, an OC in today’s NFL needs to think like he’s playing madden and needs 50 points to embarrass his buddy. Don’t worry about the Defense at all and expand the play book and get creative. Paul Perkins will be the starting running back next year, between his ability to make linebackers miss and OBD being OBD, the Giants should have one of the most creative playbooks in the NFL for the next 5 years. Benny with the Good Hair time to give up the Diner size menu and let you OC score the points.
Defense gets younger
The defense was amazing this year but there are still holes that need filling. The Giants haven’t cared too much about the linebacker position for the last decade but they are improving. The next step in that is the have BJ Goodson become the starting MLB. He spent the season on Special Teams learning the NFL playbook but it is time to see what we got. He was 4th round pick that some considered to be a big steal for the future, this is a easy move for the Giants to get younger and ideally get better. Big name to watch going into next year for me.
The second move might give the Giants the best safety tandem in football. We have seen what Collins can do but his partners in crime didn’t match his performance and got picked on often. Darian Thompson, 3rd rounder, easily won the free safety starting job out of training camp but a foot injury limited him to 2 games, getting hurt in week 2. This was a massive loss of the Gmen and they need him to be healthy. I know that is asking a lot and putting a lot of pressure on a mid round draft pick from Boise St. but this kid can ball. Him and Landon together and healthy will be a nightmare for QBs /WRs for a long time. Hopefully the off season goes according to plan and Thompson is ready to roll went OTAs come around.
After spending 200M last year to improve the team, the Giants don’t really have that much money to give out this year so that leads to some awkward talks with key players, we will go one by one to guess what happens with each
Jason Peirre Paul– the biggest name and for the right reasons, he has proved to be dominating force again after last year’s accident. He will want the big big bucks and honestly he as earned it. He won’t top Vernon money but he will ask the Giants for it. He is 29 years old and has a bad injury history but I think he get paid and will stay in NY, 4 years 60 million 37M guaranteed. I don’t want to give him 5 years but he ill ask for it.
Jonathan Hankins– He goes unnoticed all the time outside of NY and it’s a shame, Hank is really good and has been for several years now. The problem is paying too much for a second DT. If the Giants sign JPP then Hankins takes the biggest $$ and moves on from NY. Similar to Linvel Joseph years ago I don’t see him back in Big Blue. Reese likes to think they will have the money but there are other bigger needs to the Giants, sad to see big Hank leave but thanks for the years for service. Maybe reuniting with Tommy Coughlin in Jacksonville??
Dominque Rodgers Cromartie – this is the toughest one of the group. DRC had a GREAT year, he was demoted early on in favor of giving the rookie Eli Apple the starting spot. Despite playing slot corner most the year and only being on the field for 65% of the plays, DRC lead the league in INTS with 6. He is a veteran leader that understood his role and played it great. Look how the D feel apart vs Rodgers last week when DRC got hurt. It was the most important play of the whole game when he went down. He is owed $7M next year which is probably more than double what a slot corner should be getting paid. Cutting him is the most logical thing and would free up money that is needed. But Im not doing that, I need one for year of DRC. Lets take the risk and give him the dollars, he earned it for one more year. The Giants have one of the best D’s in all of football and if we want to maximize the Super Bowl window with Eli Manning then lets keeping paying DRC. (NFL trades are slim but I would throw some feelers out there, selling high right now isn’t a bad idea…)
Victor Cruz – Cruzzzz got in the endzone week 1 and everyone got real real excited! The salsa was back! Man it is hard not to love Victor, he has really been an amazing story but his injury really ended the Cruz we feel in love with. That doesn’t mean there is no need for Cruz on this team but this will be another long hard talk. He will definitely need to re-structure this contract and take a very low salary to be back. I think there is a great value in a veteran presence who knows how to handle the NY media and lifestyle but him being on the football field really isn’t needed. He is too small for the outside for a full game and he just isn’t the same player on the inside. He might be a WR4/5 at this point on this team, which is left for special teams players and he doenst do that. I think King get a shot at WR2 next year and OBD/Shepard play WR1/Slot. That is the starting offense next year, Cruz did make some big catches this year and we know the heart is there. He loves NYC and if he is ok with 25/30 catches a year then he will be back. I am guessing a 2 year deal $5M with $1M guaranteed and the rest roster bonus’ / incentives. Nothing fires up a MetLife crowd like a good CRUZZZZZZZ.
Overall 11-5 is a great year but there is plenty to improve on and lots of work to do. Making the playoffs was a goal for 2016, now winning a playoffs game is a goal for next year and you know what happens when the Eli wins a playoff game…
Also published on Medium.