Hard to read too much into throwaway games, but for two teams with interesting young talents on both sides of the ball there is some tea leaf reading to be had.
To get a sense of what the Giants might bring to the table, I linked up with Ed Valentine from Big Blue View, SB Nation's community for fans of the G-Men.
So, we're both in the same boat. 2014's over and there are questions to be answered. Let's start with the biggest one. Are Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning the head coach and starting quarterback for the Giants in 2015? What other major changes need to take place?
Yes, Coughlin and Manning are back next season. Manning without a doubt. Increasingly, signs are that Coughlin will be back as well. That makes sense, despite the struggles of the past two seasons. He has one year left on his contract, the Giants did a major re-structuring of the offense this season, they seem to think OC Ben McAdoo might grow into their head coach of the future, the team plays hard and can you fire a guy who has lost 22 players to season-ending injuries?
The Giants need to make a change at defensive coordinator, where Perry Fewell's group is bafflingly inconsistent and undisciplined. They need to add a pass-rusher and a linebacker (maybe they get both in one guy). They need to continue to rebuild their offensive line.
A bit of retrospective...back in early October, you guys were riding a 3-game winning streak to a 3-2 record and hitting the road for a back-to-back series in Philly and Dallas setting the tone for the NFC East. You guys lost those two, hit the bye and lost your next five games. What happened? Did the NFC East losses unsettle something fundamental in the team? Did the bye just upset the timing and the opportunity to right the ship?
It's simple. The Giants are a mediocre team capable of beating sub-.500 teams, not capable of beating winning ones. They are 0-8 this season against teams .500 or better. In the seven-game losing streak, the first six of those games were against winning teams. The Jacksonville game? I can't explain that.
Offensively, are things in decent shape going into 2015? Obviously, Odell Beckham's prospects have to put the offense on an upward trajectory. Is there enough talent at the other skill position spots and on the offensive line to compete in 2015?
Yes, with good health. Many of the players on IR are key guys, like Victor Cruz, Geoff Schwartz, Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond, Jon Beason, etc. They need to continue to add to their offensive line, and could use another play-maker or two on defense.
What's going on with the rushing defense? Is it weighing down the pass defense in that it's requiring additional assets to load the box that would otherwise provide stronger pass defense help?
The run defense? Well, the defensive tackles haven't been very good. Before rookie Devon Kennard was inserted into the lineup, the linebackers weren't very good, either. The play that kills the Giants is the zone read. They just don't have the discipline or intelligence to set the edge.
What would you say are the Giants biggest positional needs going into the offseason? Any big cuts or other moves you think the Giants might make between now and the draft that could change things across the NFC landscape?
Lots of interesting free-agent decisions coming, most notably Antrel Rolle and Jason Pierre-Paul. As I've said, I think the biggest areas of need for the Giants are to continue building their offensive line and continue to add pieces to their defensive front seven.
Thanks to Ed for the time.