The New York Giants are a dysfunctional mess. Thursday night in a rain-drenched, dismal, disheartened, half-empty MetLife Stadium another winter came early to Giants football. In embarrassing fashion.
In a game where they could have saved their season, the Giants instead humiliated themselves, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, 34-13.
“We didn’t do anything well enough to win tonight”
That was coach Pat Shurmur after the game. And, he’s right. The Giants, despite the brilliance of Saquon Barkley and the impact play of Olivier Vernon [see today’s complete ‘Kudos & Wet Willies], played like a team that simply wasn’t in the same universe as the defending Super Bowl champions.
Awful blocking. Poor quarterback play. Predictable, passive play-calling. Sideline drama. Bad defense. Disgusted fans booing the Giants and heading for the exits long before the third quarter was over. An unhappy John Mara shuffling out of his press box suite before the final whistle. Players trying to put up a brave front in a somber post-game locker room.
We have seen this movie before. When it comes to the product the Giants have put on the field for most of the last seven years, it’s a re-make, of a re-make, of a re-make. Call it “Bad Giants ... what 6, 7.”
Whatever. The coaches have changed. The GM has changed. The players have changed. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the quarterback.
So, let’s talk about Eli Manning
Anyone who has been around this website for a while knows my stance on Manning. I strongly believe that over the past seven years the organization has let the best quarterback in franchise history down far more than he has let his team down.
I still believe Manning has had moments this season, like 25-of-29 against the Houston Texans and last week’s comeback vs. the Carolina Panthers, where he shows you that there is life in his arm and moxie in his heart.
Still, I’m not blind. I see the bad. I see that Manning’s mobility is an issue, that he can’t make plays “off schedule,” to use a Shurmur phrase. I see the lack of aggression, something he wasn’t guilty of early in his career. I see the questionable decisions and off-target throws. Those have been present throughout his career, but earlier in his career there was often enough brilliance to overcome, or look past, those things.
Now, the brilliance doesn’t seem to show up as often.
Blame Manning. Don’t blame Manning. Whatever. He deserves some of the heat for this 1-5 mess, and some of the blame for the largely unacceptable offensive product the Giants have put on the field for the past three seasons. Not, however, all of it.
Still, here’s the thing. And it is the sad, stark truth. It’s also something Beckham hinted at in his ESPN interview, something he shouldn’t have said to a national audience but something that wasn’t necessarily wrong.
This just isn’t going to work with Manning at quarterback.
Mara wanted it to. Shurmur wanted it to. GM Dave Gettleman wanted it to. They all thought Manning had enough in the tank that they could make it work. Manning is not, in my view, completely bankrupt of ability. It’s not going to work, though, no matter what Manning’s actual ability level is at this point.
I said this months ago, before the Giants had jettisoned 2017 third-round pick and expected backup quarterback Davis Webb, and I have to stick by it. If the Giants don’t make the playoffs, and especially if the season implodes and they suffer through another four- or five-win season, there is no point in going forward beyond this season with Manning as the quarterback.
I really hate coming to that conclusion. It is, however, hard not to look at this any other way.
The Giants have to start over
They have tried the Band-Aid approach for years. When Tom Coughlin was head coach they stripped him of his coordinators. That didn’t help. They made the mistake in 2015 of letting Coughlin go and keeping Jerry Reese. That, I still believe, would have been the perfect time to start over. If you’re removing the coach, remove the GM. Remove the quarterback. Start over. The Giants didn’t, and things didn’t get better.
Ousting Reese and Ben McAdoo and bringing in Gettleman and Shurmur was as close as the Giants have come to a total reboot. More than half the players on the roster weren’t Giants a year ago. Still, though, the new regime chose the path of Manning and clean slates for many of Reese’s holdover pieces. Some of that has worked. Some hasn’t.
The product on the field is still not good enough. Not close to good enough.
It’s time for the Giants to stop kidding themselves and do what should have been done year ago. Stop hanging onto the past. Stop throwing money at their problems. Tear it down. Start over.
Let’s talk about Beckham
You hoped it wouldn’t be this way. You hoped that what Beckham showed the Giants through the spring and summer, a guy who kept his head down, did what he was asked, did perhaps more on the field than he had to, and didn’t say or do anything inflammatory, was the sign of a new, mature Beckham. You hoped he was growing, maturing and becoming both the person and the leader the Giants have wanted him to be.
The Giants handed him a $95 million contract ($65 million guaranteed) because they not only understand the incredible talent, but they thought they saw that maturity they hoped for.
There is a segment of Giants fans who will destroy me for this, but after what we’ve seen recently the view here is that Beckham hasn’t changed. The ESPN interview. Thursday’s sideline histrionics. I wanted to believe those days were gone, but there will always be drama with Beckham. And he will always be polarizing. Somehow, some way, Beckham always manages to make it about him.
I wish it was just about football with Beckham. I’m not sure, though, that it ever will be.
Let’s talk about Shurmur and Gettleman
Props to Shurmur fining Beckham for his comments to ESPN. Whatever you think of Beckham’s interview, it’s the first time in five years anyone in the organization has really stood up to the wide receiver and held him accountable.
What the heck is going on, though, with Shurmur and the offense? We’re hearing and seeing the same stuff we witnessed the past few years. Not getting the ball down the field. Not having answers for soft zones or double teams of Beckham.
The coach has to take some of the blame.
Gettleman also has to take some of the heat. His offensive line rebuild is not going well. The defense clearly doesn’t have enough impact players. The roster, overall, clearly isn’t good enough.
I have liked how Shurmur and Gettleman have approached their jobs. I have like much of what they have done to this point, though it’s obvious neither has been perfect. I still have faith that they can get this right.
It just isn’t going to happen this year. And, no matter what side of the fence you are on about him, probably not with this quarterback.