Bad football teams find unique and awful ways to lose football games. Football games that their opponent is, in fact, begging them to win.
The New York Giants are a bad football team.
The Chicago Bears, who are really only a Khalil Mack better than the Giants, tried ... and tried ... and tried to end the Giants’ six-game losing streak. The Giants, now 2-9 and not-so-proud owners of a seven-game losing streak, rejected the Bears’ generosity.
This would be comical, if it wasn’t so sad.
Inept special teams play. Non-existent offense for much of the game. Lackluster pass coverage. Coaches caught off guard.
The Giants are inexperienced, yes. They shouldn’t, however, be as bad as they are. And anyone who watched Sunday’s game knows they shouldn’t have lost it.
Yet, they did. Just like they lost games earlier this season they should have won against the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets. And like they let a winnable game against the Detroit Lions get away from them.
This ridiculous Pop Warner-esque field goal snap from Zak DeOssie perhaps sums up the Giants’ season:
How not to snap a football: pic.twitter.com/xu6j3Jw4nd— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) November 24, 2019
It never got off the ground.
Three times in the first half the Giants took over the ball in Chicago territory. Once, on the game’s opening possession, they started at their own 40-yard line after Bears’ placekicker Eddy Piniero started Sunday’s travesty of a game by knocking the kickoff out of bounds.
Out of all of that glorious opportunity, the Giants mustered seven points.
A wide open Saquon Barkley killed one drive by dropping a swing pass that coulda/shoulda/woulda gone for a long gain. Golden Tate killed another by failing to haul in an off-target but catchable Daniel Jones pass on another third down.
The Giants put left tackle Nate Solder on an island against Mack, the all-world pass rusher, all day. Solder did an admirable job, but there was never any doubt Mack would eventually make at least one play. He did, strip-sacking Jones in the third quarter to give Chicago the ball at the Giants’ 3-yard line and set up the eventual winning touchdown.
The Giants’ inability to kick field goals was embarrassing. DeOssie’s rolling snap to Riley Dixon was perhaps the worst of his career and caused Aldrick Rosas to miss from 42 yards. His snap a few plays later, when Rosas yanked a 43-yard kick wide left, wasn’t very good, either.
Those plays cost the Giants six points in a game they lost by five. They also caused a flustered Rosas to knock the opening kickoff the second half out of bounds, setting up Chicago’s go-ahead drive.
Giants’ special teams were also involved in a play that left the Giants’ coaching staff looking either unaware or ill-prepared.
With fourth-and-2 at their own 33-yard line and 3:48 to play the Bears left their offense on the field. That caused the Giants to leave their defense in the game. The Bears, having accomplished that, quickly ran their punt team on.
With Jabrill Peppers (hip) sidelined, the defense was left with no punt returner in the game. Rather than run the punt team on as Chicago ran its punt team on, the Giants failed to substitute. Janoris Jenkins couldn’t field the punt, it ended up going 61 yards and being downed at the 2-yard line.
Don’t you have to at least run Golden Tate on the field as a returner, if not the entire return team? Simply to make sure that the punt gets caught?
“We could of (substituted),” Shurmur said. “We went safe punt there, that’s all. Just to make sure we didn’t have a substitution issue. We practice that and that’s what we intended to do.”
Shurmur said the Giants “contemplated” putting an experienced return man back but left Jenkins there because he had practiced catching punts.
With no timeouts remaining, it was a mistake that left the Giants in an impossible situation.
Howard Cross on the Giants’ post-game show:
“I have no idea why Giants didn’t substitute on that punt, the refs give you an opportunity to sub.”
Defensively, the Giants allowed Chicago 335 total yards. Not terrible, until you realize it marks only the second time in 11 games the Bears have gained 300 or more yards.
On Chicago’s first drive of the second half veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson victimized Giants’ rookie cornerback Corey Ballentine for 55 yards on two catches, including a 32-yard touchdown.
With the Giants failing to make any adjustment, Chicago picked on Ballentine for 84 yards on three targets on its next drive as they went 88 yards for a field goal.
Where do the Giants go from here?
They finish out the season. They play the games because they have to. After a first half that at least saw offensive play-calling that seemed more creative, the Giants pretty much wiped away the idea that they can show any appreciable progress the remainder of the season.
I have no idea if Pat Shurmur can do enough to save his job at this point. I just know that Sunday once again left you wondering if Shurmur, a veteran coach in his second stint as a head coach, has what it takes to coach winning football.
The inexplicable decision not to get the punt team on the field was one snafu Sunday. Not getting into hurry-up mode earlier was another. And designing a pass play for a throw short of the first-down marker on a failed fourth-and-4 at the start of the fourth quarter was yet another.
I don’t know if Jason Garrett could do better with this group. Or Matt Rhule of Baylor. Or David Shaw of Stanford. Or Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Or anyone else.
I just know the Giants, after watching another winnable game turn into a loss, are left continuing to wonder when or how this is going to get better.