Ragazzo: A Plan to Fix the Giants in 2020
Despite an eight-game losing streak, the New York Giants roster has the talent to compete, and with the right coaching and pieces next year, they are going to be in a position to do so. Here’s a look at some of the steps they might want to consider making to get themselves back on track for 2020.
New Head Coach
The Giants have the worst record in the NFL at 10-44 over the past three seasons, which includes a 7-21 record by current head coach Pat Shurmur.
As a won-loss record is the bottom line and Shurmur hasn’t been able to deliver in that area, team co-owner John Mara can start by firing Shurmur and bringing in Super Bowl champion head coach Mike McCarthy to run the show.
If Mara gives McCarthy the keys, the team will be getting the best available candidate to lead this team. McCarthy is a proven winner (125-77-2, nine playoff appearances, 10-8 postseason record, 4 NFC Championship games, and one Super Bowl championship), who can teach this young roster how to win.
On offense, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, and tight end Kaden Smith will all be returning next season.
Skill positions are not a concern for the team as any running back, or receiver will most likely be added in the draft or free agency to complement the talented corps they already have.
As they have done the past several years, the Giants must address their offensive line by bringing in a new center, left tackle, and right tackle as current starters Jon Halapio, Nate Solder, and Mike Remmers have struggled to get the job done.
Solder will count at $19.5 million against the cap next season, which makes him a candidate to be cut given his underwhelming performance this year. If the Giants cut Solder, they will save $6.5 million, which adds to their projected $63 million in space before releasing anyone.
Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo is an unrestricted free agent that the Giants might be wise to go after him if they part ways with Solder. According to Colts team web site writer Andrew Walker, Pro Football Focus named Castonzo one of the most underrated players in the NFL this season.
Castonzo likely won’t come cheap. Still, the Giants, as previously mentioned, have the financial flexibility to grab him, especially if they cut struggling veteran linebacker Alec Ogletree to recoup $8.25 million in savings.
On defense, the Giants young secondary has struggled with defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme through the first 13 weeks through the season. Also, an argument can be made that several of the young veterans like Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill haven’t taken the quantum leap forward in their second seasons.
Then there are issues with the rookies. Cornerback DeAndre Baker has, at times, looked lost out there, and these days he’s found himself sharing game reps with Sam Beal. Baker made a name for himself as the best corner in college football last year, where he excelled in press coverage, but he’s rarely been asked to do that in this scheme.
A potential return to a pure 4-3 base defense might also be worth considering. A true 4-3 could help interior defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson create pressure in the middle of the pocket and also stop the inside run.
While they certainly need to address this position in the draft or free agency, the Giants could choose to bring back one of their two current pass rushers, Markus Golden or Leonard Williams, to hold down one side of the line with youngster B.J. Hill as a rotational piece.
As of this writing, the Giants hold the number two pick in the draft, which would put them in the race for Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young.
Young is a solid pass rusher who set a single-season school record with 16.5 sacks. He has the potential to be the generational impact player on the defensive side of the ball, which is something Giants Big Blue has been missing in this current dry spell.
If the Giants select Young with the second pick, he could make up for the Giants' decision to pass on Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen last year so they could draft Daniel Jones.
Julian Love has been impressive in his last two games, picking up his first career interception and grading out above an 80 each week per Pro Football Focus.
Love led all Giants against the Packers on Sunday with a grade of 83.7. He has also shown off his versatility, playing 39 snaps in the box, 10 in the slot, three wide, nine at free safety, and has rushed the passer four times.
The Giants may have found something with their fourth-round pick out of Notre Dame, and it will be interesting to see how he progresses in the final four games.
Safety Jabrill Peppers was also having a stellar season with 76 tackles, five pass deflections, five tackles for a loss, and a pick-six before breaking a bone in his back against the Bears in week 12.
The Giants will most likely part ways with 35-year-old safety Antoine Bethea, who allowed a 37-yard touchdown on Sunday to Packers receiver Allen Lazard.
One potential target on the free-agent market this off-season for the Giants could be free safety HaHa Clinton Dix, who is having a nice season for the Bears with 60 tackles, two interceptions, and five pass deflections.
Veteran corner Janoris Jenkins is going into the final year of his contract in 2020 and is set to make $11 million. Jenkins expressed his frustration postgame on Sunday with not being able to shadow the top receiver of his opponent.
If the Giants bring in a new defensive coordinator, they should keep Jenkins, who has shown that he can still play. They also have an extremely young secondary with four other rookies.
If the Giants were to cut ties with Jenkins, this would leave Sam Beal, DeAndre Baker, Corey Ballentine, and Julian Love. It does make sense to keep Jenkins as the growing pains of young defensive backs have been on full display in 2019.
Slot corner has also been an issue this season with struggling defensive backs Grant Haley and Corey Ballentine. Ballentine’s natural position is on the outside, which makes veteran slot corner Vernon Hargreaves another potential option for the Giants to sign to fill this void.
It would not be surprising if the Giants again address the secondary in the draft and free agency while hoping their young players take significant steps forward in their respective progress.