|T.C. (Courtesy Thesportsquotient.com)|
Yes, it is "win or else" for the oldest coach in the league, but we are talking about a brilliant coach with incredible will and spirit, not to mention two Super Bowl victories in the past 8 campaigns. You can dive into every nuance of his personality, changes in coaching philosophy, and so on and so on, but you have to readily acknowledge that this coach is not looking to go out on a down note. TC will also be the beneficiary of a changing of the guard at Defensive Coordinator. Perry Fewell (who was awful) is out and Steve Spagnuolo is back. In 07' and 08' with Spags at the helm the G-Men won Super Bowl XLII and followed that with a 12-4 season. Granted, our personnel is very different this time around, but the defense is going to have to get creative and Spags has far more promise that Fewell ever did.
Eli enters year two of the Bob McAdoo's West Coast offense. People seem to easily forget that in Year One of this new offense Manning ended up with one of his best years- 30 Td's (a career high) vs 14 INTs, 4410 yards, and a career high 63.1% pass completion percentage. This year he comes in with a strong comfort level and additional weapons, namely scat back Shane Vereen, and a relatively healthy Victor Cruz. And of course, let's not forget Odell Beckham Jr and Ruben Randle. Taken together, the NY Giants have the potential to have the league's most feared receiving corps. This naturally leads us to the question....can the O-Line hold up?
The O Line
The question marks are clearly here. The O line was challenged last year and did a far greater job pass blocking than run blocking. While stalwart Will Beatty is out the first 6 weeks, and despite a weak link at RT in Newhouse, the O-Line this year is stronger than last year. The difference? First round pick Erick Flowers, for one. If early indications prove true, the 6'6", 330 pounder is a beast. Sure, he is learning LT, but so far, so good. You also have a healthy Schwartz (this week at least), a steadily improving Justin Pugh, and Weston Richburg actually playing at his natural position, Center. Overall, looks like the Giants have improved the line vs last year.
When you have lost 3 safeties in one preseason, you know the roster has to be pretty slim. However, if you are looking at the top four guys starting in the secondary they are not looking bad at all. At Corners, you have Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Any complaints there? Not-so-much! At Strong Safety you have newcomer and first round draft pick Landon Collins. This kid has speed and has shown that he covers the field extremely well. The Giants hope he can step in and start effectively. All indications point to him being the real deal. For the Giants sake, let's hope so! Finally you have Free Safety position that looks to be Cooper Taylor with a variety of back-ups including 2 time pro bowler Brandon Meriweather. While the Giants depth is certainly a concern, our current starting line-up is stronger than last year.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the year that the Giants Special Teams, under perennial failure, Tom Quinn, do not stink. Gone is fading (yet revered) Punter Steve Weatherford, in is big leg Brad Wing. Gone is the ineffective return team by committee, in is big money and explosive return man Dwayne Harris. Coughlin, it is clear with his roster cuts, now favors youth in addition to ability to play special teams. Nikita Whitlock, the 5'10", 250lb FB is a great example- part fire hydrant, part spark plug, 100% hustle. One thing is for sure, it is hard not to improve over the past few years.
There are some impact players to watch, that at the least will make games interesting this year. There are the aforementioned Collins and Flowers, but we also have a slew of young studs developing like Devon Kennard, who will get the starting nod at Strong Side LB. The second year player out of USC flashed last year and is widely regarded as one of the steals of the draft in the 5th round, 175th overall. While even whispering "LT" in the same sentence with any Giant linebacker prospect is a no-no, let's just say Kennard has "LT-like" instincts to the ball. He will be fun to watch!Another 2nd year player that could flourish is Jay Bromley, a back-up DT out of Syracuse (3rd round, 74th overall). Scouting Bromley at the Timex Center this summer, all I can tell you is that the man was throwing linemen all over the field like they were children. With other intriguing back-ups on the D Line like freakish, yet still unbridaled talent Damontre Moore and rookie camp sensation Owa Odighizuwa working for playing time at DE, our D line has promise regardless of the status or JPP.
There are plenty of wildcards yet to come. Does JPP come back and can he be effective? Are there further roster moves that will be made to shore up weaknesses at RT, the D-line, or Secondary? Is Will Beatty going to make an impact after 6 weeks on the IR? Will it even matter at that point? While these are all valid considerations, it looks like Eli should have plenty to work with and has the potential to put up career numbers. The Giants D, under Spags, has nothing but upside vs. expectations, and even the special teams are improved. Will Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants make the Super Bowl a quadrennial thing? Well, that seems like a stretch, but a 5-11 team the 2015 New York Giants are not. Do not underestimate Tom Coughlin, he's not going out like that. Given the relatively soft schedule, the Giants should be in the mix for a playoff spot, and as TC has proven anything can happen from there.