The Giants have been an up and down team. They were a very mercurial team that barely made the playoffs last year. They got hot in the playoffs and won. This year, same thing. They are more inconsistent, and they aren’t getting the breaks.
The Giants are also a poorly-run and poorly-coached organization. Before their remarkable Super Bowl run last year, it was obvious that Tom Coughlin had lost the players and was on the verge of getting fired. This year, the Giants reverted to form, and its very clear that a lot of the players are simply phoning it in, with no accountability.
Making matters worse, Coughlin retains marginally-competent assistants like Kevin Gilbride, who is one of the least creative offensive coordinators in the NFL. Except for a couple of Super Bowls (won by teams that got hot at the right time), Gilbride should have been canned years ago.
As for talent, the Giants have never made a push for signing quality, established players through free agency. Martellus Bennett, the TE acquired from the Cowboys, is probably their best free agent acquisition. The rest of their recent signees (David Baas, Antrelle Rolle) are mediocre at best and did nothing to upgrade the talent level at their positions.
Meanwhile, the Giants spend most of their time trying to find gems like Victor Cruz through free agency out of college, or through late round draft picks, figuring they can pay them the NFL minimum before having to fork over the big bucks, or letting them sign with another team.
As for the early round draft choices—the young players who are supposed to have an immediate impact—most simply haven’t lived up to expectations. That “shut down” corner who was the #1 pick a couple of years ago has spent more time on IR than on the field. Hakeen Nicks, the big WR who was supposed to replace Plaxico Burress, has also been hurt more than he’s healthy. Many of the other draft picks either haven’t panned out, and they’re on the bench, or no longer playing in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the OL is aging rapidly; the DL has become inconsistent, and the Giants have one of thw worst linebacking groups in the NFL. Throw in a porous secondary and an inconsistent running game, and you’ve got ingredients of a Super Bowl team that has peaked and is heading downhill rapidly. I hope Eli Manning enjoyed those two Super Bowls, because he won’t be going back anytime soon with the current Giants team and the organization that put it together.
The irony, of course, is that the Giants are one of the richest franchises in pro sports, with plenty of money to spend on a competent GM, a new coach and better players. But the Giants are also notoriously cheap; the Maras and the Tisches don’t want to pay Coughlin’s buy-out, so he’ll get another year, and since GM Gary Reese has found guys like Victor Cruz in the past, he’ll get a chance to find the next future superstar who is ignored by the NFL draft.
As a life-long Giants fan, it pains me to say this, but we’re looking at a rough patch in the years ahead. Washington has found a QB to go with a proven coach and a group of exciting young players; the only thing holding the Cowboys back is Jerry Jones and the Eagles have enough talent to turn things around after they fire Andy Reid and resolve their QB issue.
Without major changes (on the field and in the front office), I can’t see the Giants finishing better than third in the NFC East next year.