We are all familiar with the key additions and the subtractions to the Cowboys roster, the last few months have been devoted to discussing each move in minute detail. There of differing views on how effective the front office was during the period, but 99% of the faithful would agree that the 2015 version of America's Team is stronger than the 12-4 unit that came to within a blown call (no matter what some may say) of the NFC Championship Game. The big question remaining to be discussed is how the rest of the NFC East fared during the offseason. Let's kick off with our foes from the Big Apple.
- The 2014 New York defense was atrocious, it seems that they were what the Dallas Cowboys were projected to be, and a serious effort was undertaken to regain the form that allowed the Giants defense to propel Eli Manning to a pair of Super Bowl rings. To get things started the team bid farewell to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Former Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo rejoined the club to take over the reigns of Tom Coughlin's defense. The head coach believes that this will provide a needed lift for the Big Blue defense.
"The energy, enthusiasm and strong personality that we saw before in Steve Spagnuolo, all of that was very evident again, His desire to be a Giant again was very, very obvious." Tom Coughlin
- It will take more than just a change in the coaching staff to get the Giants back in defensive form. The on-the-field personnel needed an overhaul as well and that is what the front office tried to do. They double dipped at defensive back during the most recent draft, selecting Alabama safety Landon Collins in the second round and Texas DB Mykkele Thompson in the fifth stanza. Safety is an area where the Giants are in need of help since Antrel Rolle departed via free agency. There is a chance that the two draft picks couple become the starting pair of safeties sometime this season. Collins is more of a in the box guy while his counterpart is more of a centerfielder.
- The Giants are known for their ability to get heat on the opposing passer. That was the one highlight of last season's defense; the Giants finished third in the league in sacks with 47, Owamagbe Odighizuwa was brought in to help the team maintain their strength up front. The Giants third-round selection will fill the versatile role that Giants look for in defensive lineman. He is both strong and quick, look for New York to move him around quite frequently. The biggest question surrounding Odighizuwa is going to be his health. He missed the 2013 season at UCLA due to hip surgeries and he will have to prove that he can stand up to the grueling schedule in professional football. Coughlin is high on the rookie lineman who some see as the second coming of Justin Tuck
"He brings a lot to the table. His testing, his gym numbers out at the combine are out of sight. 11 [inch] hands. Strong, very, very strong. We think he can rush from the inside or the outside. We think he can play certainly a 9[-technique] and a 6-I on first and second down. I am not sure he will be a five-technique. He is a strong player. Gives great effort. He is fast and can play on special teams. He will be a contributor that way. He gives us that force that could be a left end. I am not going to nail that down just yet. He certainly can play on that side. We are excited to have him."
- On offense the Giants need help up front and they addressed that concern by drafting Ereck Flowers, the tackle out of Miami (Fl). Just how well they addressed the need remains to be seen. Dane Brugler gives us this breakdown of some of the issues that Flowers will face as he transitions to the professional level.
Leaner than ideal lower body...lumbering lateral moves with choppy footwork and frame tightness, especially when redirecting his momentum - allows quick-footed rushers to cross his face...undisciplined technique and forgets his body fundamentals at times - needs to keep his butt low and elbows in mid-shuffle...needs to relax, collect himself and stay patient in space, getting excited and overextended due to anxious tendencies.
Wild upper body mechanics and late hands, letting defenders attack his body...numerous false start penalties on his resume...medical records need examined after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee (Oct. 2014), missing one game during his junior season. - Dane Brugler
- The success or failure of the Giants offensive line will determine in large art how effective Eli Manning will be. The coaching staff has its work cut out for them to find a cohesive unit that will gel together, and they will be trying some different combinations during training camp.
"Our plans are to continue to try to figure out how this line is going to fall out, who is going to be where, and we're going to try some different combinations to get there." Tom Coughlin
- In some ways 2014 was a solid year for Eli Manning. There was plenty of Bad Eli for Cowboys fans to mock, but a lot of the blame for New York's lack of success lies elsewhere. Ben McAdoo's offense seemed to suit him rather well, at least once everyone adapted to the changes. It certainly helps when you give the quarterback a tool like Odell Beckham, Jr, to help make him look good, but there is more to the new Giants offense than just OBJ. The New York front office went out and added former New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen who is a QB friendly receiver out of the backfield to add to Manning's arsenal. Look for a better performance from Eli in 2015, assuming the Giants can protect him up front.
To sum things up, it looks like 2015 is shaping up to be an improvement for the Giants. It is going to have to be for Tom Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese to keep their jobs. The front office almost decided to blow everything up and start over after a 6-10 finish, but John Mara decided to give his two key subordinates one more season to get things right.
My feeling is that things will solidify in front of Manning and that the defense will come around as the season wears on. Look for the Giants to have a winning season and secure second place in the division.