ORLANDO, Fla. - Tom Coughlin is entering his 11th year as head coach of the Giants, but this offseason has seen the biggest transition he's experienced in that tenure. Between changes to the roster and coaching staff, hardly an element of the old Giants infrastructure has been untouched.
"Necessary," Coughlin said, describing the changes. "Obviously."
It's not just the disappointment of the 7-9 season that sparked those changes.
"Just look at our team and the nature of our team and the number of people who were free agents," he said at the NFC coaches' breakfast at the NFL owners' meetings Wednesday morning. "And then the obvious, when you evaluate a team you have needs so you have to go out and try to do something in whatever way is possible, first free agency, to try to solve some of your issues. We've done that."
It did come as a bit of a surprise that the bulk of the personnel additions came on defense. While the offense floundered in 2013, the defense finished ranked eighth in the NFL. But as Coughlin pointed out, many of the players on that defense left.
"That team is not the team," he said. "Look at the guys who went out the door. Linval [Joseph], Justin [Tuck], Keith Rivers just to name a few and you can keep naming them."
The Giants haven't replaced Tuck or Joseph. They did add Jameel McClain and re-signed Jon Beason at linebacker, though, and seemed to pay particular interest to their secondary where they added Walter Thurmond and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and re-signed Stevie Brown.
"We've always been a team that has relied heavily on our defense," Coughlin said. "That's not going to change. In our division and the teams that we play in the NFC, you'd better be playing good defense."
Despite that obvious emphasis on the back end, Coughlin said the Giants are still going to be a defense that rushes the quarterback up front and doesn't just sit back and defend receivers. They are not, in other words, despite appearances, copying the Seahawks.
"You need quality in that secondary to be able to put it all together," he said. "The philosophy doesn't change. We're still about trying to be as good and as strong as we possibly can with our fronts. That's just the nature of the game for the Giants."
These days, that term -- the Giants -- seems to have a new feel. Only four players remain from the Super Bowl XLII team, which doesn't seem all that long ago.
"It's change, it's part of the game," Coughlin said of the roster overhaul. "The challenge is, can you get back as fast as you can to the team that you want to be?"