Giants may have bought new coach Ben McAdoo a playoff team
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) After missing the playoffs the past four years and then saying goodbye to Tom Coughlin, the New York Giants opened their wallets and seemingly bought new coach Ben McAdoo a shot at the postseason.
The price tag: $40 million, at least for this season.
That was the cost to re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul and lure fellow defensive end Olivier Vernon, defensive tackle Damon ''Snacks'' Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and linebacker Kennan Robinson to the team that hasn't done much since beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl in February 2012.
With Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. leading the offense, it just might be enough to make the Giants relevant in the weak NFC East after two straight 6-10 seasons.
While they didn't have a very talented roster last season, the Giants weren't that far off. They lost six games either late in the fourth quarter or in overtime. A defensive play here or there and those might have been Ws.
Now defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has some talent, especially on the defensive line with JPP, Vernon, Harrison and fellow tackle Johnathan Hankins.
''We're going to be better because of players,'' Spagnuolo said. ''We are going to be better because of better coaching, less mistakes. We are going to be better because it's the second year in the system. That's what we fully expect to do, everything that has and what we went through last year is over and done, we are moving on.''
A lot of the focus this season will be on the 39-year-old McAdoo. He installed the West Coast offense and revived Manning's career two seasons ago. Now he will be getting his first chance to run a team.
He has preached evolution and not revolution since taking over.
''We started to establish our identity- without pads- but sound, smart and tough, committed to discipline and poise,'' McAdoo said after a mandatory minicamp last month. ''We know what it looks like now.''
Whether it translates to the regular season will depend on some things:
MONEY WELL SPENT: Will the investment in the defense pay off? The line should be very good against the run, especially with Harrison anchoring the middle. The pass rush will be the key. Vernon was one of the best in the game in Miami and that should not change. The question is whether JPP produces in his first full season since mangling his right hand in a fireworks accident almost 13 months ago.
OPPOSITE BECKHAM: Manning and Beckham were limited last season because there really wasn't a second receiver. Victor Cruz didn't play in a game because of injury. He has been limited to six over the last two seasons and how much he will contribute this year is uncertain. It is more likely that second-round draft pick Sterling Shepard will emerge as the No. 2 guy. He looked good in the OTAs and minicamps, but that's not close to the real thing. Second-year pro Geremy Davis and Dwayne Harris also will get a shot at being the other guy.
THE O-LINE: After releasing Will Beatty and Geoff Schwartz in the offseason, the Giants seemingly are going with the same offensive line led by Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh on the left side. It needs to produce a running game and McAdoo must also find a No. 1 back. After using four backs last season, Rashad Jennings emerged as the No. 1 guy. The depth chart has five backs this year with rookie Paul Perkins, the fifth-round choice, now in the mix.
SAFETY: This is the second year the safety position has a help-wanted sign. Landon Collins, the second-round draft in 2015, had an outstanding rookie season and has one job nailed down. Brandon Meriweather was not re-signed so there is inexperience on the other side. Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson and Bennett Jackson all missed last season with injuries. Rookie Darian Thompson, a third-round pick from Boise State, was given a lot of responsibility in the minicamps and OTAs and might be the starter.
BIG BEN: Replacing a coach who led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles in his 12 seasons is not going to be easy. Rookies make mistakes; it does not matter whether you are a player or a coach at his first rodeo as the No. 1 rider, that will happen. One of the first things to watch is whether McAdoo continues calling the offensive plays or lets Mike Sullivan, his replacement as coordinator, do it. Having Spagnuolo to run the defense will ease some of his overall burden. Working two years under Coughlin should help McAdoo make the transition.
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