With Tom Coughlin now the former head coach and the NFL Playoffs about to commence, we preview the New York Giants offseason.
By Skylar Darel
It was another disappointing season for the New York Giants. Back-to-back 6-10 seasons, and a fourth straight campaign without a playoff berth proved to be the end of the line for head coach Tom Coughlin.
Now the Giants head into the offseason without a head coach for the first time in 12 years.
Finding a new head coach isn’t the only area of need for Big Blue. They still have to sort out a broken defense, work out issues with expiring contracts, and improve a less than mediocre roster in general. In this article, we’ll highlight who and what the Giants need to do to improve as a team and have a successful offseason. This includes targets for head coach, free agency, and the draft.
We’ll begin with the most important and pressing issue facing this team: the head coach.
In the NFL, the head coach has a considerable influence on how the team performs, and performances by the head coach are, for the most part, highly scrutinized. The Giants just parted ways with one of the most beloved, well respected, and successful coaches in the NFL — replacing Tom Coughlin is no easy task.
Who are the candidates for the job?
Firstly, the Giants have started to look at in-house options. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has undeniably had a huge impact on Eli Manning, who has posted back to back very prolific seasons under the new coordinators offense. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is also a candidate. Both of these men have their downfalls — McAddo has never been a head coach in the NFL. His position as offensive coordinator is the most responsibility he’s ever had coaching, following stints as an offensive line coach in San Fransisco and a quarterback and tight end coach in Green Bay. Spagnuolo was very successful as defensive coordinator when the Giants won Super Bowl 42, but his experience as head coach in St. Louis was a collosal failure, and his defense this year stunk as well. Many believe that the reason he was so successful eight years ago was personnell (Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Antonio Pierce, Osi Umenyora, as opposed to actual schema.
— New York Giants (@Giants) January 7, 2016
Hiring a head coach in-house is never a sexy proposition. The 49ers hire of Jim Tomsula last winter was met with harsh criticism, which followed the head coach to being fired after a 5-11 campaign with an admittedly poor football team. The Giants will likely look for other options.
A primary target was Saints coach Sean Payton, but that prospect evaporated when Payton announced he wasn’t leaving New Orleans.
This means the frontline candidates to replace Coughlin are Adam Gase, Doug Marrone, and Sean McDermott. Gase is the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, and is currently the hottest head coaching candidate on the market. He will hope to follow the footsteps of Bruce Arians as successful offensive coordinator turned head coach. Marrone coached the Buffalo Bills for two seasons, before joining the Jaguars as an assistant coach. He brought back the Syracuse football program from the dead, which is a huge accomplishment. McDermott is the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, in charge of a unit that has finished in the top ten of the NFL for the past four seasons.
Giants interview update… Bears OC Adam Gase will meet with team brass on Friday. @NFLonFOX
— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) January 6, 2016
Other candidates gaining less press are Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, recently fired Bucs head coach Lovie Smith, and Teryl Austin, the Lions defensive coordinator.
The Giants, because of their fair front office, their star quarterback, and superstar wide receiver, as well as their big city market, are the most attractive destination for prospective head coaches. Thus, it would make sense that the premier guys on the market would seek the Giants out. From an organizational standpoint, it makes sense to go with a defensive guy, like McDermott or Austin– why break up a McAddo offense that has worked so well?
However, the Giants want to make a big splash. If they trust Spags to run the defense with better personell, they’ll go for the biggest name out there, which right now, is Adam Gase.
If the Giants don’t hire McAdoo to be their next head coach, my money would be on Adam Gase, just over Sean McDermott.
Moving on from the coaching carousel, the Giants have to do good business in free agency, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, Rueben Randle is probably going to leave the team, which means they may be in the market for a wide receiver. Signing Bears wideout Alshon Jeffrey will cost a ton of money, but he’s a star in the making and could pair up nicely with Odell Beckham Jr. and Dwyane Harris.
If the Giants want to roll the dice and keep Victor Cruz around, they could go for a less expensive option. Some potential targets are Jermaine Kearse, Marvin Jones, Kamar Aiken, and Travis Benjamin, all of which could compliment Beckham and give Eli a reliable target in the passing game.
On the offensive line, Will Beatty failed to play a snap this season, thrusting Ereck Flowers into the fire at left tackle. While Flowers peformed admirably, he still isn’t quite ready to be considered an elite left tackle. Signing Cordy Glenn or Russell Okung would be a huge boost, and would allow Flowers to ease into the league at right tackle.
On defense, the holes are everywhere. In the secondary, the Giants need a new corner. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is getting old, Prince Amukamara is a free agent and has struggled with injury, and the depth behind them is paper thin. They’ll also need a free safety to pair with Landon Collins, who was very good as a rookie. Chargers defensive back Eric Weddle would be absolutely ideal, but he’ll cost a ton of money to acquire. At corner, Janoris Jenkins might be a good pick, and he won’t cost as much as Josh Norman, the big name on the corner market.
The Giants also need a strong three-down linebacker. Devon Kennard is passable, but the rest of the linebacking corps has been in dissaray ever since Antonio Pierce retired. Danny Travathan of the Broncos would be a perfect fit, and would bring stability to the linebacking corps.
At defensive end, the Giants may want to look to the draft to address this position. Robert Ayers was good enough, leading the team in sacks. Jason Pierre-Paul, if kept, will have a whole training camp to ajdust to playing with a club on his hand. At defensive tackle, Jonathan Hankins was solid before getting hurt, but the team may want to get younger at the position in the draft, with the aging Cullen Jenkins occupying the other starting spot.
The Giants have around $50 million in cap room to spend. Look for them to target a wide receiver, Travethan, Glenn, Weddle, and a corner. If they can bring in two-five of those guys, then their defense and offense will become a lot better.
In the draft, the Giants have the tenth overall pick. They will likely address the defense with this pick, as well as with middle round picks. DeForest Buckner, a defensive end/tackle out of Oregon, would fill two needs. Shaq Lawson of Clemson also is a plausible option.
— Big Blue View (@bigblueview) January 4, 2016
The Giants, in order to have a successful offseason, will need to first find a head coach they can commit to. Then, they’ll need to break the bank and sign two-three high quality players to bolster the receiving corps, the defense, and the offensive line. Then, they’ll need to have a good draft to solidify the rest of the roster.
The Giants are a great organization, with a solid nucleus of talent. Their problem has been, for quite some time, not having enough talent up and down the roster. General manager Jerry Reese is under scrutiny, and this offseason could be his last chance to put a winning product on the field. We’ll see the moves he makes between now and the draft in May.