What are the Giants greatest offseason needs?

<b>Paul Schwartz:</b> Since space is limited and Kenny tells me that Double Coverage cannot be expanded to an eight-page special edition, we'll have to be succinct when analyzing what the Giants need most of all to get better in a hurry in 2005.

Prioritizing is in order and if I had one move to make it would be to fortify the offensive line. To do so, move Luke Petitgout over to right tackle, where he's had more success in the past, and bring in a quality left tackle to protect Eli Manning's blind side. Yes, we know it's easier said than done and it's going to cost money. Some things are worth the investment and we've seen, with painful results, what happens when the Giants try to piece together their line. How in the world are you going to refute that point?

Ken Palmer: Honestly, I can't. However, if the Giants had anyone that could run at all and get open in the secondary, the lousy line might not look so bad. This isn't to say that Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard are shot – although you could argue that point – but the Giants need a healthy Tim Carter (yeah, right!) or a reasonable facsimile if they ever expect their offense to shift into high gear. Just watching the Ravens and Steelers receivers in the last couple weeks makes it even more obvious that New York's biggest hole is at speed receiver, where they have nothing of the sort. A tackle would be great; a speed demon to tear apart the opposing secondary is a must. If Ernie's going to break the offseason bank, it had better be for Plaxico Burress.

PS: No doubt a speed receiver would be a welcome addition but between Tim Carter and Jamaar Taylor, the Giants might already have one. If you'd study the roster, Kenny, you may see that. What you'll also see is that there's no impact linebacker on the scene. They tried to overhaul the position last year by bringing in Carlos Emmons and Barrett Green and taking a chance they could piecemeal the middle linebacker spot with Kevin Lewis or Nick Greisen. It didn't work. Emmons is a keeper but Green may have spent too much time in Tom Coughlin's doghouse to ever escape. A team cannot have a dominating defense without a big-time 'backer either in the middle or on the weak side. The Giants had neither this season.

KP: Tim Carter and Jamaar Taylor might be the answer? Exactly. There's no guarantee. That's why Accorsi needs to go out and get a proven veteran receiver. He also needs without a shadow of a doubt an impact corner. The Wills have basically played well this season, but the Giants need someone who can make the plays – and make them consistently. When an interception presents itself, the players need to capitalize. The Giants as currently situated have only one player in the defensive backfield that fits that description, and he's a rookie that hasn't played since midseason – Gibril Wilson. As much as New York needs another backer, Paul, they so obviously need a playmaker in the secondary much more.

PS: Any team with Eli Manning probably has 45 million reasons why it doesn't need to look for a starting quarterback. But since it's doubtful Manning is indestructible, the Giants need to find a reliable, experienced, high-character backup quarterback. Kurt Warner fits that description but it's doubtful he wants to come back as Manning's caddy. Young Eli needs someone who's supportive and smart and can offer advice and guidance, sort of a better Jason Garrett. And the Giants need someone who can step onto the field if Manning goes down and play at a high level the way Billy Volek did for the Titans. Anyone who signs will know that Manning's The Man but, as the old cliché goes, that someone will also know that he's one play away from assuming The Man's role.

KP: The Giants would be wise to do all they can to keep Kurt Warner around – he fills that role just perfectly. But they sure could really use a kicker that can kick off consistently. Granted, Steve Christie recovered nicely from the mess he made in Green Bay, but if the Giants are going to continue to struggle on offense, which they are, they need to tilt the field position in their favor as much as possible. They've been searching for someone that can boot the ball deep for years, and the search must continue. Certainly many kickers exist that have more leg strength than the 37-year-old Christie, who's a free agent at season's end. It's up to the Giants to find that man, while also losing nothing in the field goal department.

PS: Look Kenny, now that you're a big-time New York Post columnist you think you know it all, but you don't. I don't either, but at least I don't go around thinking I do. What I do know is that the Giants need a better play-caller than John Hufnagel, the offensive coordinator who has not exactly distinguished himself in his first full year calling plays in the NFL. Don't read this as me calling for Hufnagel to be fired; he just has to grow in the job. Why did it take so long to simplify the offense for Manning, who after four miserable starts finally was asked to provide a list of plays he prefers to run? There needs to be more creativity, less predictability. Perhaps as Manning gains experience and flourishes, Hufnagel will do the same.

KP: But will Tom Coughlin? That's the key question. To think the Giants are going to cut bait with Coughlin after one season is practically unthinkable. But realizing how little most of the players like playing for this guy is at least noteworthy. When guys are using the words "quit" and "hate," as so many already have, the idea that Coughlin wasn't the correct man for the job has to at least be discussed. Any chance the Giants have of attracting free agents is severely limited by Coughlin's presence. Maybe, just maybe, it's time for the Giants to go looking for a new man at the top. The notion that Coughlin was going to whip these Giants into shape looks like an absurdity these days, kind of like Paul's claim that he doesn't walk around like Mr. Know-It-All.


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