New York Giants
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2015 Opponents: Home: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, New York Jets. Away: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins.
Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was added to the Pro Bowl roster after Lions receiver Calvin Johnson announced he was dropping out due to injury. Beckham is the first Giants rookie to make the Pro Bowl since Jeremy Shockey in 2002 and the first Giants receiver to represent the Giants in the league's annual all-star game since Victor Cruz in 2012
Eli Manning's new position coach is his former position coach.
The New York Giants announced Wednesday that Mike Sullivan has been hired as the quarterbacks coach, a position he held in 2010 and 2011.
Sullivan, a member of coach Tom Coughlin's original Giants staff, was the wide receivers coach from 2004 to 2009.
Sullivan was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive coordinator in 2012-13. After leaving the Bucs, he stayed in Tampa and worked this year as a consultant.
"It's great to be back," Sullivan said. "I can't wait to get started."
Sullivan replaces Danny Langsdorf, who left the Giants after one season to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Nebraska. Coughlin contacted Sullivan after Langsdorf's departure.
"Mike Sullivan is a quality football coach and is an outstanding positional coach and did a great job for us as a receiver coach and as a quarterbacks coach," Coughlin said. "He was the first thought that I had and we were fortunate in that the timing was right to get him back here. We're very pleased to be able to bring him back home."
After speaking with Coughlin, Sullivan had a lengthy phone conversation with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, with whom he has never worked.
"I know of Ben and I know a lot of folks that speak highly of him, including some other people that I've worked with," Sullivan said. "I'm just really excited to get back in the fold there and work with Eli (Manning)."
In the two seasons during Sullivan's first tenure as quarterbacks coach, Manning completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 8,935 yards, 60 touchdowns, 41 interceptions and a passer rating of 89.2. He had career-high totals of 31 touchdown passes in 2010 and 4,933 yards the following season, when the Giants won their second Super Bowl with Manning as quarterback.
"Mike worked very well with Eli when he was the quarterbacks coach," Coughlin said. "We all wished him well when he went off to be an offensive coordinator, but we were sorry to see him go."
Manning said, "I have a great working relationship with coach Sullivan. It will be good to have him back on the staff and back in the quarterback room. When he was here, we did a great job getting the game plan together and communicating. We did good work in the offseason, so it will be good to have him back and get back to work."
Although Giants' co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch are disappointed with the outcome of the Giants' 2014 season, both have agreed to let head coach Tom Coughlin continue to lead the team in 2015.
"Steve and I still feel very strongly about Tom Coughlin as our head coach," Mara said. "That is why we have asked him back for next season."
Mara, who acknowledged Coughlin's record of success as being a factor in the decision, also confirmed a reporter's take about next season being a "win-or-else" proposition for Coughlin, the coaching staff and front office.
"We still believe in him," Mara said. "I believe the players still feel very strongly about him and the one thing that struck me during the season, even as bad as things got during that seven-game losing streak, they still played hard for him."
While giving Coughlin a vote of confidence, Mara, whose policy has been not to let a head coach enter the final year of his contract, declined to say if that practice would continue given that next year is the last on Coughlin's current deal.
"I am not so sure that will be the situation anymore," Mara said about letting a head coach be a lame duck. "I need to talk to him about that first."
Coughlin, who joked that he would love to have a 10-year extension, said he would be fine if he doesn't get any kind of extension.
Regardless of how much longer Coughlin may want to coach, if he and the Giants have another poor season in 2015, it really won't matter as Mara agreed with a reporter's classification of next season being a "make-or-break proposition."
Coughlin is on board with the "win-or-else" threat as well.
"Every year is. Why would you do it for any other reason? You're supposed to win, so win," he said.
Although the Giants finished one game worse than they did in 2013, don't expect the team to go on a wild spending spree in free agency such as what they did during last year's $116 million roster renovation.
"We're not going to go out and spend a huge amount like we did this past offseason," Reese said. "I think it's going to be a good core of guys coming back.
"There will be some changes, like always. There are always changes every year and there will be some this time. But we definitely want to keep a good core of players because you can't turn the roster over every single year. You have to keep up a core of guys you can build around."
Reese, like co-owner John Mara and coach Tom Coughlin, acknowledged that injuries to the roster prevented them from fully gauging the return on many of the team's investments.
That list includes offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, linebacker Jon Beason, and cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride, all of whom signed new contracts in the offseason but who were unable to finish the season because of injuries.
In addition, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and RB Rashad Jennings, two other big-ticket free agents, dealt with injuries that slowed their performances down, all of which contributed to the Giants' struggles in 2014.
"If we can get back half of the UFAs who got hurt this year and have them make it through the season I think we have something to build on," Mara said. "If we get all of them back, then we really have something to build on."
Although the Giants don't plan on spending wildly during free agency, there are some big-money decisions to make.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul and S Antrel Rolle will both be unrestricted free agents, and are both players that general manager Jerry Reese said the team would like back "at the right price."
Of the two, Mara said he would be "very surprised" if Pierre-Paul isn't back with the Giants in 2015. New York can slap the franchise tag on Pierre-Paul, who is coming off his first double-digit sack season since 2011 and who is only 26 years old.
"I think at the beginning of the season he wasn't playing like he played at the end of the season," Reese said, noting that he hasn't yet opened a dialogue with Pierre-Paul's agent.
"The second half of the season, he came on really strong and played like we thought he should play. The guy has some ability to be a game changer. We didn't see enough of that in the first half of the season."
Reese acknowledged that Pierre-Paul had some injury issues, but that when he has been healthy, he has been dynamic.
"He still is a young player. We know that ability is there. What we have to do is sit down and have a conversation with his agent. It has to make sense for us, it has to make sense for him, like any free agent," Reese said.
While the Giants remain optimistic that they will have WR Victor Cruz, who sustained a torn patellar tendon in early October, back at full strength, general manager Jerry Reese isn't leaving anything to chance.
"You never know," Reese said, who described Cruz's injury as "significant."
Last year, Reese expressed a similar concern/optimism mix about RB David Wilson, who was coming off spinal fusion surgery at the time.
Wilson tried to come back, but after suffering a burner early in training camp, he was shut down for good.
To protect themselves while they waited on Wilson, the Giants signed Rashad Jennings in free agency and drafted Andre Williams.
Based on how Wilson's situation worked out and the possibilities surrounding Cruz's recovery, it sounds like Reese is planning to take similar action.
"You have to prepare as if maybe what if Victor doesn't come back," Reese said. "That's always in the back of your head. What if this guy doesn't come back and be the player that we think he is?"
The Giants don't want to have to find out.
Giants quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf will return to the college coaching ranks after one year with the NFL.
The 42-year-old Langsdorf will become the offensive coordinator at Nebraska, where he will be reunited with new head coach Mike Riley, with whom he worked at Oregon State from 2005-2013.
"You don't expect someone to be here for a year, but that's his decision," coach Tom Coughlin said, adding that he wished Langsdorf well in his new job.
Langsdorf's departure means the Giants will be looking for their third quarterbacks coach in as many seasons.
Langsdorf had replaced Sean Ryan, who was reassigned to receivers in last year's shake-up of the offensive coaching staff that resulted in the departures of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, tight ends coach Mike Pope and running backs coach Jerald Ingram.
Coughlin said he has not ruled out having Ryan return to his previous post as quarterbacks coach.