For fans of the New York Mets and Giants, one door closed as another opened on Sunday into Monday. As the Giants finished out their stunning collapse of 2009, reports surfaced that newly-acquired outfielder Jason Bay has completed his physical and will be announced on Tuesday as the newest member of the New York Mets.
The power hitting outfielder will bring necessary balance to the Mets’ lineup and fill a gap in the large CitiField outfield that includes Jeff Francoeur and Carlos Beltran. Many doubters have expressed their opinion that the large outfield will be too difficult for Bay to handle, but they clearly did not look at the fact that he has spent the majority of his career playing in a fairly large park in Pittsburgh.
As we shift from Queens to East Rutherford, the Giants will be cleaning out the lockers for the final time at Giants Stadium. Big Blue will be scratching their head for awhile following the late-season collapse, and even quarterback Eli Manning is wondering what just hit him. Just two weeks ago, the Giants scored over 40 points as they tore apart the Washington Redskins and remained in the thick of the NFC playoff race at 8-6. Two weeks later, they found themselves sitting at 8-8 after two excruciating losses in a row.
A Giants defense that was ranked number 1 in the NFL in the first half of the season, that gave up an average of 14 points per game, completely collapsed in the second half after the loss of their defensive leader Antonio Pierce. It’s hard to believe the team fell as fast as it did, but the powerful offense was unable to overcome the suddenly disastrous defense. A career year by Eli Manning was gone to waste, and the first 100-reception season by a Giants wide receiver in Steve Smith was ended on a sour note.
The team missed the playoffs, but don’t think they’ll be going anywhere. Each team will miss the playoffs at some point or another, and the fact that the Giants went to the playoffs four years in a row was a great accomplishment in itself. The Eagles are known for missing the playoffs but bouncing right back the following season. Same goes for the Patriots, who missed the playoffs after a Super Bowl win early in the 2000’s as well as in 2008. They still came back and won the division this year. Giants fans should be confident in head coach Tom Coughlin, the guy has won two division titles and a Super Bowl in the last five years. He clearly knows how to win and should be able to bounce back.
The real questions will lay in the hands of general manager Jerry Reese, who will have many decisions to make on the defensive side of the ball. New defensive backs and a revamped linebacker group will put this defense back on the same feet that went 12-4 a year ago and won a Super Bowl two years ago. Offensively, there may be some free-agent action with the offensive line but I don’t see it moving around much. The wide receivers are set and could probably break out to be one of the best and most in-depth in the NFL for 2010. As long as Brandon Jacobs is able to successfully recover from his surgery, the running game should have no problem returning to form after an injury-plagued season.
Fixing these problems should vastly improve this already-talented team. 8-8 is only a game or two away from a playoff spot, and a few moves here and there would patch up all problems. I know Reese is not a fan of acquiring free-agents, but it is about time that he acquired a high-end player in a situation other than the draft. Darren Sharper will be a free-agent this off-season and it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to sign him considering he has talent, leadership skills, and is also one less Eli Manning killer to worry about.
The NY Daily News is reporting that Giants defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan is on his last leg and is expected to be fired. However, nothing has been announced by the Giants and it is too complex of a situation to dissect considering the action happens behind closed doors. I’m assuming Sheridan will be sitting down with the front office and will be evaluated before a decision is final.