Behind Enemy Lines- Giants

In our never ending search for more information, we went behind enemy lines to find out more about the Jaguars opponent on Sunday, the New York Giants. David Aitken from The Giants Beat was kind enough to answer some in-depth questions about the team he covers.

Charlie Bernstein: We know about the obvious equity that a pair of Super Bowls buys you. With that said, how secure do you think Tom Coughlin's job is after another non-playoff season?

David Aitken:This is definitely the hot button topic for the Giants right now, however there really is no indication either way at this point. Here is what we can say for sure: he is the oldest coach in the NFL at 68 years old, and regardless of on-the-field results this was a conversation that people were going to be having. In terms of what the Giants may have already been planning, I’ll bring the focus back to this past offseason. The Giants made a surprising move bringing in former Green Bay quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo to be the offensive coordinator, signaling a change in offensive scheme for the first time in Manning’s career and an overhaul that seemed strange for a head coach to undertake given how much longer he’ll likely be coaching. I would not be surprised if this was done to groom McAdoo as an eventual replacement for Coughlin, with Coughlin comfortably stepping down when ready to keep continuity within the organization. Would the poor results this season, a certain third-straight without postseason play, expedite the process? I’m not so sure, but I do know that making a major overhaul and a splash (say, pursuing Jim Harbaugh if available) would be unlike the Giants.

If the Giants do make one change though, I think this could be the final season for Perry Fewell as defensive coordinator. He’s been under a lot of scrutiny and it’s been for good reason.

CB: Which position do you feel is the Giants' greatest need in the offseason?

DA: The Giants could address a lot of areas: the offensive line, the front seven, safety. The team’s inability to get push in the run game, stop the run or create consistent pressure all stick out like a sore thumb. The hallmarks of the team’s two Super Bowl wins were strong offensive line play and a top-notch pass rush, and both areas look like shells of the great units the team previously had. If it comes down to one position to get the Giants a difference maker though, it would be at defensive end. The lack of playing time Robert Ayers has been getting remains one of the great mysteries for the Giants, but even if that changes he isn’t a player the Giants can build around. Mathias Kiwanuka is on the decline, and the Giants have a major decision to make with Jason Pierre-Paul I’ll cover in greater detail in the question below.

CB: Odell Beckham has been amazing in his brief time on the field. How potent of an offense can this be next year when Victor Cruz returns?

DA: If there is one thing Giants fans can look forward to after this season, it is this. The Giants have spent most of the season after Cruz’s injury treating Rueben Randle like the number one receiver in terms of targets, a role he is grossly under-qualified to fill. Players like Randle and tight end Larry Donnell have proven to be players that can make things happen when attention is elsewhere, but have struggled in feature roles. With Beckham and Cruz both opening up space for each other in addition to everyone else, Eli Manning will have plenty of places to go with the football and two receivers who can make big plays happen on their own.

CB: How much of a priority will Jason Pierre-Paul be to re-sign in the offseason?

DA: This is one of several big questions the Giants will need to answer. Pierre-Paul has legitimately been very good versus the run, and has had a few positive moments in terms of pass rushing, but it’s been a disappointing season overall. His health provided an excuse for his lack of pass rush productivity the past two seasons, but with no excuses this season that 16.5 sack 2011 season looks more and more like a fluke as time passes. He provided some hope with a 2 sack performance in Dallas against one of the league’s premier tackles Tyron Smith, but Smith won the battle the second time around this past week when the Giants needed Pierre-Paul the most. The free agent market and the draft both appear to have some worthy pass rushers, and the Giants need to overhaul. When push comes to shove, the Giants simply can’t afford to commit big money to Pierre-Paul. Unless Pierre-Paul takes a discount, I expect he will be playing elsewhere in 2015.

CB:The Giants have lost six games by double-digits. Although the have skill position stars they seem to be quite a bit away from returning to contention. How far away are they in your opinion?

DA: As bad as this year has been, it isn't outlandish to think the Giants can get back on track sooner rather than later. Things can change in the NFL quickly, and the one positive the Giants have in terms of a turnaround is that unlike other struggling teams the Giants don’t have a quarterback issue. Eli Manning’s first season in Ben McAdoo’s West Coast Offense has actually been one of the positives. The Giants have suffered a lot of key injuries this season, but when the team was mostly healthy they had a decent team. The Giants were winners of three straight games at one point early on, and really could have started 4-1 if not for a meltdown versus Arizona in Week 2. The Giants lacked the depth to make up for these injuries, but there are some positives to look forward to long term. Players like Odell Beckham and Jonathan Hankins are top young talents to build around. What it will come down to is how much improvement the Giants can make along both lines. There are already some talents to develop: offensive linemen like 2014 2nd rounder Weston Richburg and 2013 1st rounder Justin Pugh, as well as defensive linemen like 2014 3rd rounder Jay Bromley and 2013 3rd rounder Damontre Moore. New blood is still needed though, as well as saying goodbye to some old faces.

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