So far, the Giants have had a bad season. A really really bad season. However, even though they have performed horribly, the Giants have the pieces to become contenders in the near future. All that they have to do is draft properly, fire most of their management, and get the best defense in the league. That isn’t too much to ask for, right?
Fire Pat Shurmur and Hire an Innovative Head Coach:
I have tried to be patient, but enough is enough. Shurmur needs to go. He is the most to blame for this unsuccessful season. Due to his consistency in making lackluster choices while on the field, the Giants are 2-8. What I find to be most disappointing about this, is that he will start off almost every press-conference (presumably after a loss, which is pretty much every game) by saying something along the lines of “We had a good game, certain players played well, but at the end of the day we didn’t make enough plays to win.” No, Pat, maybe you didn’t call good enough plays for you to win, and instead you set up your players—who by the way are young and don’t read the play as well as a guy like Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner— for failure. Shurmur is liked by many people as a person, including by the team he coaches, but he doesn’t have the ability to coach this team to success. He should be gone by the end of the year or as soon as it’s over.
Head Coach targets:
Personally, I think the top target for the coaching job should be Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He has lots of experience in a top tier system and could be available if the Patriots fall anywhere short of another Super Bowl appearance. Everyone on the Giants can tell that talent-wise, they are only a couple of players away from being a good team, they just need the right guy to lead them there, one that can out-scheme opposing coaches. Other options for the job would likely come from college football, or perhaps the Giants could look into the defensive coordinator of the 49ers, Robert Saleh, who reportedly would be open to a head coaching job.
Switch to a 4-3 Defense or a More Effective 3-4:
There is no need to circle around the main problem with the Giants this season: their defense has been horrendous. There are a couple of ways to go about fixing this. The Giants could blame this on the lack of talent on the side of the ball, but on the line and in the secondary there are players who have had success in the NFL and/or displayed talent at their positions. So I, like many others, am going to blame the system, which has only proven to be successful with elite edge-rushers or an elite cornerback, which Bettcher had both in Arizona and has neither in New York. The skill-set of the talented Giants like Jabrill Peppers, Janoris Jenkins, and Markus Golden are being wasted by this soft-coverage heavy-blitz scheme, which needs to be changed. The goal of playing like this is to stop the run and take advantage of offensive mistakes, but the Giants haven’t stopped the run and the system is completely corrupted by players with bad coverage such as Alec Ogletree and Grant Haley. The way to solve this problem is to either swap to a 4-3 alignment or to a more aggressive 3-4. With a 4-3, we would be able to utilize the 4 D-linemen we know can play (Lawrence, Tomlinson, Williams and Hill) and allow them to generate their own pressure instead of keeping one off the field. With this alignment, the Giants would also be able to show many looks and blitz in different ways with their flexible players like Ogletree and Peppers. Thus, the Giants would not have to rush five or six players every time to get pressure, which right now they sometimes do and are still unsuccessful. The other option is to switch to a more aggressive 3-4 and allow guys like Golden to generate their own pressure instead of using the best defenders as decoys for guys like Grant Haley to come and try to sack the quarterback. The Giants have the chance to play some weaker offenses in the Dolphins, Redskins, and Bears in the upcoming weeks, so now they should try and find the right scheme for their players, whether that means holding onto Bettcher or not.
Rotate Sam Beal and Deandre Baker at Cornerback:
One player who has been criticized to no end has been Deandre Baker. Baker is clearly not set to play in a Bettcher defense, at least not yet. His aggressive play style would usually work to counter his lack of elite speed or elite footwork. Furthermore, Baker was pushed into a starting job week one after missing most of the preseason due to injury. Meanwhile, Sam Beal has been waiting on the sidelines and is finally healthy, so I believe working Beal into the defense and giving Baker some snaps off would be a perfect solution. Another positive of Beal being swapped in is that Baker would be able to stand on the sidelines and see someone else play his position, which would be highly beneficial to him considering he doesn’t play it correctly. Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the Giants only play one more elite receiver (Davante Adams) and have pretty much nothing else to lose, so why not take time to try and help their 1st round pick be closer to worth his value.
Work on Daniel Jones Ball Security Even if it Means Taking More Sacks:
Everybody knows that the Giants offensive line is bad, and a good few of Jones fumbles have not been his fault. But 13 fumbles and nine losses speaks for itself, and is the main thing holding people back from declaring Jones’ status as “not a bust”. The solution for this is simple, and it makes me mad that Shurmur does not enforce it. Shurmur loves Jones’ ability to escape the pocket, run, and keep plays alive, often called the ‘X Factor’. But part of being a professional QB is knowing when to cut your losses, by either throwing the ball away or taking a sack, and his pocket presence is the main part of the game Jones needs to work on. So going forward, starting in the upcoming week against Khalil Mack and the Bears, Shurmur should tell Jones to keep an eye on the stability of the pocket, especially on the right side with Mack, so when he beats an O-lineman and gets around to try and strip Jones, Shurmur can make sure Jones tucks the ball in and either escapes as a runner or takes the sack.
Figure Out Who is Important on Both Sides of the Ball:
The Giants cannot justify returning in 2020 with a lineup similar to the one they have right now. The way I see it, these are the players who have solidified their starting spot for next season:
Offense: Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Kevin Zeitler, Wil Hernandez, Evan Engram, Golden Tate
Defense: Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, Leonard Williams (if he re-signs), Markus Golden (if he re-signs), Ryan Connelly, Janoris Jenkins, Jabrill Peppers
In total, 13 players have shown that they deserve to be played every down, which is only half of the players on the team. Hopefully, this number will increase as the season goes on.
It’s obvious that this season hasn’t gone the way the Giants wanted it to, but it’s up to them to either turn it around, or use these next games to work on their skills and prepare for next season.