The Giants’ 2017 season is now shattered beyond repair. Superstar Odell Beckham Jr. is broken. Wide receiver/kick returner Dwayne Harris is broken. Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall might be broken, too.
At the end of Sunday’s game, the Giants had wide receiver Roger Lewis Jr. and a bunch of tight ends masquerading as wide receivers as they tried to go muster a game-winning drive.
“It didn’t hit me until we were in there (the huddle on the final drive) and I was like “why are there three tight ends in?’ then I was like ‘Oh,’ ” offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. “Dwayne went down, Shep went down, Brandon went down, Odell went down. It’s crazy, I’ve never seen that.”
Beyond the broken wide receiver position upon which the Giants built their offensive foundation, the season is lost. The idea that the Giants began this season thinking they were capable of competing for a Super Bowl title seems laughable now.
“It’s only five games. We still have a lot more games to go. We are going to figure it out some way, somehow,” said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. “We got to figure it out, right? We got to figure it out. We can’t keep losing, you know what I mean?”
The problem is, they can keep losing. They have lost every game. They have lost an alarming number of top-tier players. They have a brutal schedule over the final 11 games. Things could get worse — much worse — for the Giants before they get better.
The Giants have 11 games remaining, and they likely won’t be favored to win in any of them. They have a game on the road against the Denver Broncos next week and one at home against the Seattle Seahawks before the bye. Unless something unexpected happens, they will be 0-7 at the bye. They are staring down the barrel of not only missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, but having an utterly miserable season. The Giants do face the 0-5 San Francisco 49ers in Week 10, but that game is on the road.
Coach Ben McAdoo talked bravely about players “showing a lot of fight.”
Even McAdoo, though, seemed to know the score.
“You just keep working. You look in the mirror. You learn a lot about yourself in times like these,” he said. “So, you’ve got to work for yourself, work for your teammates. We’re all pros – this is what we get paid to do. We get paid to win, not just compete. So, we’ve got to find a way to win.”
Safety Landon Collins wasn’t giving up the ship.
“Super Bowl, we are still playing for the Super Bowl. It’s 0-5, but we still have a chance, it’s not over with yet, we have division games we can still win,” Collins said after Sunday’s latest debacle. “I remember a 9-7 team winning it all, so we still have a chance.”
The Giants, though, realistically understand that — for 2017 — they are the NFL equivalent of the Titanic.
McAdoo talked last week about players not getting “numb” to losing. Maybe they weren’t numb, but the players aren’t stupid, either. They know the deal. The locker room was a morgue. Players were getting out of their as quickly as possible after the game. Those who were in there dressed quietly.
“We just lost. I’m not feeling good right now, but I’ll go flush it and get ready to go. I still have to go out and play for the guys in this locker room and we’ve gotta go make something happen,” Pugh said. “The (playoff) percentages are dropping every week. Last week there was only one team that did it, so I guess that means no team has done it at 0-5. We just have to go get one win. Right now we have to just look at one game. We can’t look big picture.”
There will be plenty of time to talk more about who is to blame, how things got this bad, and what the Giants will do in free agency or the draft to try to fix it. Here are a few other things we learned Sunday.
The Giants Will Need Receiver Reinforcements
Many Giants fans wanted undrafted rookie free agent Travis Rudolph to make the team’s original 53-man roster. If you were one of them, maybe you are lucky he didn’t — he probably would have gotten hurt Sunday. Now, best guess is that Rudolph will fill one of the two— or more — vacant roster spots with Beckham and Harris almost certainly headed to IR. Ed Eagan is another possibility to be added from the practice squad, especially since he could slot in as the primary return man. Wide receiver Marquis Bundy is also on the practice squad.
Former Giants Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle are free agents. So, is Darius Powe, who was waived/injured. Tavarres King, waived earlier in the season, is also still looking for work. Whether Powe and King are eligible to return to the Giants yet by league rules, I’m not certain. If they are, both have to be possibilities.
There is another guy looking for work, too:
Hey @Giants let me know if you need an interim wide receiver!— Terrell Owens (@terrellowens) October 8, 2017
The Giants Can Run The Ball
But, they still don’t really like to.
The Giants got career-best games from Orleans Darkwa (eight carries, 69 yards, a 23-yard touchdown) and Wayne Gallman (11 carries, 57 yards), but did little with their running game after the mid-way point of the second quarter.
Darkwa had six carries for 58 yards after one quarter, did not carry in the second quarter and got only two second-half touches. McAdoo claimed after the game that Darkwa had a “lower body” injury.
The Giants finished the game with 152 yards rushing, the first time this year they have surpassed 100 yards. They averaged 6.1 yards on 25 rushing attempts.
Right guard D.J. Fluker made a difference in the run game. Fluker entered the game for the Giants’ third offensive possession, replacing John Jerry. He had one of the critical blocks on Darkwa’s 23-yard touchdown run.
“John’s been hobbled a little bit. I thought D.J. played fairly well last week. I wanted to give him a chance in the run game,” McAdoo said.
That proved to be a good idea.
The Giants Couldn’t Handle The LA Pass Rush
All the good the Giants offensive line did in the run game, was largely undone by the inability to handle the Chargers’ pass rush. Handling defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram was a concern entering the game, and it proved valid.
The Chargers ended up with five sacks — with Bosa getting one on each of the Giants’ first two possessions.
The game turned on a fourth-quarter play where Ingram broke through the right side of the line (Fluker and right tackle Bobby Hart, I’m honestly not sure without reviewing the game where the breakdown occurred) and sacked Manning. The quarterback tumbled over him and lost the ball when he bounced over Ingram, and the defensive end recovered the ball.
One thing Giants fans don’t care about, but that I will mention anyway, is that we learned that Ingram is a pretty funny guy. Here is what he said about the fumble recovery.
“It (the ball) was looking for me. I didn’t go find it, it came and found me. It just said where you at and I said I’m right here.”
OV Is Serious About Anthem Protests
Olivier Vernon was the only Giant who knelt during the national anthem. Vernon has done so for three consecutive weeks, and was the only Giant to do so the past two weeks.
The Giants Won’t Go The Whole Season Without An Interception
Darian Thompson got the Giants’ first interception of the season. He picked off a Philip Rivers pass in the end zone to end a third-quarter drive that had seen the Chargers reach the Giants’ 14-yard line. At the time, the Giants trailed, 10-9.
When Bad Teams Play Each Other ...
You get an awful football game. That is what Sunday was.
There were 21 penalties. There was a sideline warning for the “San Diego” Chargers for their training staff not getting off the field quickly enough after a timeout. There were all those injuries. There were a couple of kicks that clanged off uprights and went through. There were four fumbles. There was Philip Rivers missing wide open receivers for touchdowns at least twice. I’m glad I didn’t pay to watch that.