New York Giants: What Happened? What’s Next?


The New York Giants 2015 season has come to a dreary conclusion as the Washington Redskins took down the Philadelphia Eagles 38-24 to clinch the division and officially eliminate New York from postseason contention for the fourth season in a row.

This season wasn’t like 2014, when the Giants started 3-9. New York earned that 3-9 after a 35-14 defeat in Detroit, a 27-0 embarrassment against the Eagles, a 40-24 beat down by the Colts and a 38-17 loss to the Seahawks.

Back in 2013, the season started with a lousy team that played lousy football en route to a 0-6 start. This season featured a 38-0 slaughtering by the Panthers, a 41-23 shoot down by the Broncos, a 31-7 smacking by the Chiefs and a 37-14 loss to the Chargers.

Both teams were extreme disappointments and 2015 was even more of a punch to the gut. This year started with Big Blue trying to run the clock out and come out with what would’ve been a terrific win. Instead they failed miserably at time management and allowed enough time for Tony Romo and the Cowboys to break their hearts, 27-26.

A week later, New York held a 20-10 fourth quarter lead against the Atlanta Falcons before blowing the game 24-20 and starting the season 0-2. A couple weeks after that, the Giants defense was exposed beyond belief in a 52-49 shootout in New Orleans. And then a 27-26 loss to the then undefeated Patriots in which they held another fourth-quarter lead, but fell after a dropped interception. Then there was the Jets game, and the Panthers game, that really doesn’t have to be revisited.

If the Giants win all of these close games that could have easily be sitting atop the division, sitting at a comfortable 11-2. Instead, they are 6-8 and out of the postseason. I’m not saying Big Blue would win all of these close games, but by winning just four of those six games (10-4) would have the Giants in as the NFC East champs.

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Or better yet, winning half of them (9-5) would mean the Giants would go into Minnesota needing one win to clinch the division. Or even two games (8-6) allows Tom Coughlin and his team to control their own destiny instead of relying on others to help them clinch a playoff spot. Or just winning ONE OF THE SIX GAMES would keep the Giants relevant in the NFC East hunt.

Instead, this is the year of “coulda, shoulda, woulda” and leaves a bunch of question marks throughout the organization. First question is the toughest:

Will Tom Coughlin be the Giants’ Head Coach in 2016?

Tom Coughlin’s departure could just send New York down a dark path. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Coughlin doesn’t want to leave, he has two Super Bowl rings with this team, and to an extent doesn’t deserve blame because of the current state of the roster. But Big Blue parted with their offensive coordinator two years ago and the defensive coordinator last year, which means ownership is running out of people to blame. But ownership has to avoid “head coach hell.”

“Head coach hell” (a term created by Kellan Keesler) is described as a revolving door of coaches. If the Giants part ways with Coughlin, they passed up on a more than capable head coach and will settle for someone that could send the team into dark times. Coughlin’s replacement might not be able to fix the problem and just keep New York on an endless search for a successful coach they already had.

In addition to that, if they let Coughlin go it will be interesting to see which direction they go in terms of game planning. A head coach change could mean a second change of offenses for Eli Manning in three years. If they hold on to the soon to be 70-year-old coach, it’ll be fascinating to see how they continue to sell the status quo to their fan base. I think it’s clear that the roster is currently in rebuild mode, but with Manning playing as well as he ever has this late in his career, it would be easy to understand impatience.

So is the Giants team, which is obviously in a transition, potentially be on the rise after all those narrow defeats? Or are they a team that with better time management from the coach and his staff could have turned a handful of those crushing losses into wins and be in control in an embarrassing NFC East?

There are enough positive aspects about this team, despite the disturbing amount of close losses, to maintain stability and allow Coughlin to stay on the job. If he can get some roster help in the offseason, when salary-cap constraints will be gone and give the Giants decent flexibility to add pieces on defense, there is no reason to think the Giants can’t be a playoff team. Especially with Manning’s continued improvement in the West Coast offense.

You wonder what kind of season Coughlin might have put together with a more talented defense. General manager Jerry Reese’s roster has been crippled by injuries to key defenders such as Jon Beason and Johnathan Hankins, but there is little depth, especially on the defensive line.

The decision, whatever it may be, will come with risk. If owner John Mara fires Coughlin or recommends that the coach retire, the move will be popular among a large portion of Giants fans who believe Coughlin’s time has come. He hasn’t led the G-Men to the playoffs since 2011 and there certainly is interest in the idea of a fresh start. But change alone does not guarantee success, and there are few available coaches with the resume like Coughlin’s.

Coughlin is passionate about coaching and his players remain loyal and play hard for him. Many people point to the collapses and call for Coughlin’s head, yet there aren’t any real signs to point towards a head coach change.

I criticize Coughlin for doing an awful job in preventing wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s meltdown last week against the Panthers, as he should have briefly from the game. But Coughlin has presided over Beckham’s quick emergence as one of the league’s best playmakers, so one speedbump shouldn’t cloud the coach’s overall handling of the star receiver.

I just don’t see the Giants benefiting from letting their two time Super Bowl winning head coach walk. There’s a lot of blame to go around, but if Coughlin had more depth, and a more talented defense, this team wins the division without a doubt.

What happens to Jason Pierre-Paul and Prince Amukamara?

The 2010 and 2011 first round picks were both struggling with injuries this season and it’s tough to say whether or not they’ll return to New York. Jason Pierre-Paul has played hard and was effective since his return, but his physically deficiency with his damaged hand is obvious and if he wants to cash in and get as big deal, the Giants won’t be his team in 2016.

Prince Amukamara has struggled in recent weeks and the market for cornerbacks have increased incredibly in recent years. So, he’ll be looking for a contract similar to what they are paying Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, which I just don’t see the Giants doing.

What additions need to be made?

The Giants are likely heading into the offseason with approximately $50 million in cap space, so there’s a huge opportunity to build this roster for Tom Coughlin to lead his team into the playoffs yet again. New York is in dire need of a free safety, a middle linebacker, and at least one pass-rusher. With Victor Cruz hopefully returning next season along with Larry Donnell, the offense will still be in great shape. There’s a lot to do to make this roster a contender again, no matter who’s coaching it.

Will Odell Beckham learn from his mistake?

Another red flag for the Giants will be to replace your head coach on your developing superstar. It’ll be interesting to see how he will comeback in Week 17. Beckham’s ability to continue to be the brilliant player he’s been so far in his young career could depend on the extent to which he can control himself on the field when provoked the way he was Sunday.

It’s doubtful the Beckham question can be answered in what remains of this season, but it’s a question that will carry into the offseason and be tied into whatever decision they make about the coaching staff. A coaching change would kill Beckham’s progress. Coughlin said himself that this is a learning moment and Beckham will overcome this suspension, will a new coach think the same way?

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It’s hard to tell what direction the Giants will head into next season. John Mara has to make the tough choice on whether to make Coughlin walk or not. Regardless of that decision, general manager Jerry Reese has a ton of work to do.

Upgrades are clearly needed on defense and there could be some internal changes in the scouting department, and an offseason with plenty of salary-cap space could give Reese the ability to retool on defense the way Jets’ GM Mike Maccagnan did before this season. We just have to wait and see.