The typically insular Giants made a splash in the offseason by hiring offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, a mind so coveted that he interviewed for a head coaching position in 2013. The team also doled out more than $100 million in new contracts via free agency. That enabled everyone to buy one more year to show improvement and keep the plan on track.
Now, though, the Giants are staring down a conundrum. Eli Manning, McAdoo and Tom Coughlin each have one year left on their contracts. The offense shows promise but doesn't have the full complement of players to function properly. The coach has won two Super Bowls in seven years but has missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons.
Coughlin "absolutely" wants to continue coaching. McAdoo won't abandon his track to becoming a head coach. Manning wants to set himself up for a career-ending deal. So... where do the Giants go from here?
- Go with the nuclear option: Ownership will likely balk at this. John Mara could theoretically clean house from top to bottom, showing the fan base that he will not tolerate losing of any kind. This, of course, would require him to get rid of one of the league's most productive general managers, Jerry Reese, and a system that has produced some great small-school talent. Mara, in a recent interview, said that hiring Reese was one of the best football decisions he's ever made. It's unlikely that he takes it back after a season in which Reese's draft pick, Odell Beckham Jr., was the lone bright spot.
- Tinker with a few smaller roles: The Giants could replace their defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, and make a minor but symbolic change in their scouting department that would give them one more bridge year for Coughlin, Manning and McAdoo to prove themselves. This is a version of what the team did last year. It would show the fan base that the team acknowledges some draft mishaps over the years but still firmly believe Coughlin and Manning can earn significant extensions.
- Make a splash at the draft: When Ernie Accorsi was general manager, his philosophy was not to plan on having a top-10 pick ever again. But when he did, he wanted to get the best player within his radius. That last happened when he traded up for Eli Manning back in 2004. The Giants will be within arm's length of some solid quarterbacks this year, though it's far from the biggest need the team has.
- Keep the front office intact and allow Reese the opportunity to assemble his own coaching staff: This is an option that few would want. Coughlin, at 68, puts more into his job than many coaches half his age. He watches as much film as his scouts during draft time and compiles laughably thick reports on rookies he's interested in. He has become the face of their organization and still has another year left on his deal. There are enough people that don't think he's the problem.
Either way, the familiar Giants that we've all grown accustomed to will never look the same again. How long they decide to delay the inevitable overhaul is up to them.