Straight Talk: Giant Plan of Action

Now that the season is finished, take us through the position groups and give us an evaluation as well as a "shopping list" of needs. Everyone was bitterly disappointed in the team's final game, an embarrassing playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers. Before we get into the position groups, we feel compelled to comment on the game and the way the season ended. The post-game comments and actions of Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey were particularly disturbing.

The acrimony apparently started after the loss to the Redskins in D.C. and it festered and continued through the loss to the Panthers. If left unresolved or unchecked it could tear at the fabric of this team and destroy the club before it can realize its goal of becoming a champion. Say what you want about team chemistry, but we believe it is important and coach Coughlin has some fences to mend.

Barber needs to be less selfish and Burress and Shockey need to grow up and stop acting like immature babies when things don't go their way. There were problems last year. Remember when several players thought they were being worked too hard in the offseason? There was also the great outcry about team rules they judged to be unfair and unnecessary.

This year things were going well while they were winning, but the moment they hit some adversity they reverted to their old ways. Something is not right in that clubhouse. They deserve another chance to turn things around, but collectively they should be on a short leash and that includes the stars of this team.

Now let's look at the position groups:

Quarterback – UFA – Tim Hasselbeck. The only roster decisions here are whether to re-sign Hasselbeck and if they need to get a better third QB than Jared Lorenzen. Hasselbeck will not break the bank so it makes sense to keep him. He knows the system and he appears to get along well with Manning. Normal camp competition will decide whether Lorenzen stays or goes. The bulk of the work will revolve around Manning. They need to spend time working on his mechanics. He needs to spend time working with his receivers. The more they work together, the more they will improve. We are rapidly approaching a time where we can no longer write off Manning's deficiencies to inexperience. He needs to make major strides this offseason and we believe he will. He definitely needs to regain the confidence of his teammates. They need to believe in him. More than anything, we believe he hit a wall at the end of the season. Hopefully he will come back stronger and smarter next season.

To do list: Re-sign Hasselbeck. They don't need to spend time bringing a new backup QB up to speed. Their coaching efforts should be focused on improving Manning.

Running Backs – UFAs – Mike Cloud, Chad Morton. Cloud most likely won't be re-signed. Morton should be. He is still an effective punt and kick returner. Barber seems to be getting better with age and we expect another strong season from him. Derrick Ward looks effective as a backup to Barber and Brandon Jacobs should improve if he can correct his running style to include more lean and a lower pad level.

To do list: Re-sign Morton. They have other areas of concern where they will need to spend money.

Wide Receivers – UFA – Tim Carter. RFA – David Tyree and Willie Ponder. Carter should be gone. When he plays, which isn't often enough, he makes big mistakes. He's had enough chances; it's time to move on. Ponder lost his kickoff return job to Morton when he started being hesitant and began to fumble. He doesn't return punts and he doesn't factor in the passing game. Since the only thing he contributes is kickoff returns, we wouldn't waste a roster spot on him. Re-sign Tyree. The best special teams player on the planet needs to return. We saw what happened to the special teams unit when he didn't play against the Vikings. They were awful. Ideally Tyree would be the fourth receiver. They don't really need Jamaar Taylor either. There has been some post-season talk that Toomer might not return. We would hope that is not the case and that he does return. He can still add value to the receiving corps. He probably has the best hands of any receiver they have.

To do list: Re-sign Tyree. Get rid of Carter, Ponder and Taylor. Draft a WR perhaps as high as the second round. Two receivers we would consider are Cory Rodgers from TCU and Maurice Stovall from Notre Dame. We would also look to add a wide receiver in free agency. We have three recommendations for free agent receivers who would help them. Brian Finneran from Atlanta, Reggie Givens from New England or Joe Jurevicius from Seattle. While speed is important at WR, this teams needs guys who can catch the ball. Sign one of these guys. They also need to make sure that Burress, especially, and Toomer spend a lot of quality time with Manning during the offseason.

Tight Ends – RFA – Visanthe Shiancoe. We would give Shiancoe one more chance, but we sure would not give him a long-term contract. It he insists on a long-term contract then let him go. So far all he has shown is that he can be a decent blocker. When he got a chance to start when Shockey was injured he came up short. Shockey needs to continue to grow up. It looked like he was doing well for a while but he suffered a relapse meltdown at the end of the season. Particularly annoying are his on-field antics when he doesn't get the ball. He has to realize it's a two-way street. We don't see other players making gestures toward him when he drops a pass. Sean Berton and Matt Kranchick will battle for the third TE spot.

To do list: If they can't sign Shiancoe to a one-year deal then let him go and draft a TE on the second day of the draft. We would recommend Tim Day from Oregon or a second-day sleeper pick like Jeff King from Virginia Tech. We would also hope Shockey spends a lot of offseason time working with Manning.

Offensive Line – UFAs – Bob Whitfield and Lewis Kelly. Perhaps they can squeeze one more year out of Whitfield. When pressed into service, he did a reasonably good job, but that's what you expect from all your backup players. So, if they can get a one-year deal at or close to the veteran minimum then they should bring him back. Kelly does provide some guard/tackle versatility, but again if he comes back it would be as a reserve. The starting offensive line should remain intact. There is something to be said for continuity on the line. The more they play together, the better they should become. Rich Seubert and Jason Whittle are competent guard/center reserves. There is some offseason work to be done however. The line needs a shot of discipline. There were far too many penalties from the line, especially false starts, with Luke Petitgout being the uncontested King of False Starts.

To do list: They should look to draft a tackle, preferably a left tackle, near the top of the draft. There are no free agent left tackles we would consider. The good ones are tied up already and they don't need to spend valuable cap money here, so the draft is the way to go. There are several we would consider in the third or fourth round like: Jonathan Scott from Texas, Eric Winston from Miami, Zach Strief from Northwestern or Quinn O'Jinnaka from Syracuse. We would love to see someone come in and eventually press Petitgout for a job.

Defensive Line – UFA – Kendrick Clancy. RFA – Kenderick Allen. We believe they should re-sign both Clancy and Allen. Both contributed to the strength of the defensive line, especially Clancy, who is our pick for unsung hero. This has become a very good unit and it could get even better. The DEs – Strahan, Umenyiora and Tuck –will be as good as it gets when Tuck gets a little more experience. The DTs have the right mix especially when William Joseph is healthy. Joseph and Clancy are two-way performers; both can rush and play the run. Fred Robbins can provide an inside rush and Allen and Damane Duckett provide solid depth.

To do list: Not a whole lot of attention is needed on the D-Line. All that is necessary is to re-sign Clancy, most importantly, and also Allen.

Linebackers – UFAs – Nick Greisen, Kevin Lewis, Roman Phifer, Jay Foreman. What happened to the LBs this season was a very unique situation. We cannot remember a position group being so totally incapacitated by injuries as this one was. While we don't expect this to happen again, it does indicate this is a position of need. We believe Greisen has made enough progress to warrant being re-signed. He was the only LB that remained relatively healthy all season. Kevin Lewis proved that he could be a valuable reserve with good versatility. We just would not want him to be the starter again. Phifer and Foreman will be gone. The key here is getting a healthy Antonio Pierce back on the field. The run defense struggled mightily without him. They need to make a decision on Carlos Emmons, who will be 33 at the start of the season. The same is true with Barrett Green, whose Giants career has been somewhat star-crossed. Reggie Torbor needs to continue to make progress. Chase Blackburn acquitted himself well in his rookie season.

To do list: Re-sign Greisen. Make decisions on Emmons and Green. Add more quality depth, especially at OLB. Pierce and Blackburn should be sufficient in the middle. An LB in the draft would be a good idea. A mid-round pick like Robbie Carpenter from Ohio State would be a nice addition. He plays tough just like his Pop, Rob Carpenter the former Giants RB. We would also consider adding a lower level free agent LB or two. There are several in this category. Ben Leber from San Diego, Keith Adams from Philadelphia, Scott Fujita from Dallas and Raonall Smith from Minnesota are just a few who would fit nicely.

Defensive Backs – UFAs – Will Allen, Shaun Williams, Terrell Buckley. They will face a tough decision with Will Allen. He was their best player at a very weak position group. Cutting him loose at this point may not be the wisest idea, but we can understand it if they do. He simply doesn't make enough plays. His poor hands have been well documented. Guess how many interceptions the Giants corners had this past season? Exactly two. One by Curtis Deloatch and one by Frank Walker. That is horrible. This is their biggest draft and free agency need. We haven't given up on Corey Webster, but he has to pick it up. Perhaps he will make strides in the offseason. Deloatch gained valuable experience and he should be brought back to compete for the nickel role. Who knows if Will Peterson will ever play again? The safety situation is not quite as bad. We believe that eventually Gibril Wilson and James Butler will be the starters with Brent Alexander squeezing one more year out as a reserve. Shaun Williams in all likelihood will not be back.

To do list: Let Will Allen go and use his money to restock the secondary. Draft a corner in the first round. We have our eye on Tye Hill from Clemson or perhaps Demario Minter from Georgia. We could also see multiple corner picks later in the draft. As far as free agents go, if they want to make a big splash, then Nate Clements from Buffalo is the guy. He's tough and he's experienced. Another corner we like very much is Brain Williams from Minnesota.

In summary we recommend the following free agent signings:

WR Joe Jurevicius from Seattle

LB Ben Leber from San Diego

CB Brian Williams from Minnesota

The early draft for the Giants could look like this:

Round One – CB Tye Hill from Clemson

Round Two – LB Robbie Carpenter from Ohio State

Round Three – WR Cory Rodgers from TCU

Round Four – OT Jonathan Scott from Texas

The Giants should re-sign the following free agents:

QB Tim Hasselbeck

WR David Tyree

RB Chad Morton

DT Kendrick Clancy

DT Kenderick Allen

LB Nick Greisen

The Giants should re-sign the following players only at the right price and length of contract:

TE Visanthe Shiancoe

OT Bob Whitfield

LB Kevin Lewis

OL Lewis Kelly

The Giants should not re-sign the following free agents:

CB Will Allen

WR Tim Carter

RB Mike Cloud

LB Jay Foreman

LB Roman Phifer

S Shaun Williams

CB Terrell Buckley

WR Willie Ponder

The following players are potential cap casualties:

WR Amani Toomer

LB Carlos Emmons

LB Barrett Green

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