One word that no athletes or coaches want associated with their name or team is quit. But in many circles, it was a characterization oft-referenced to describe the Giants’ embarrassingly noncompetitive performance against the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium this past Sunday.
Coming off their bye-week, the Giants were trounced 51-17 by the 6-2 NFC West leading Rams to drop to 1-7 on the season. A notable absence from the game was Giants starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was suspended for reporting late back to the team from the bye-week.
“No, the team didn’t quit today,” said Giants head coach Ben McAdoo after the loss Sunday. “They were playing hard.” A day later, he reiterated his position during a conference call. “I watched the film. I saw no sign of quit…Our guys played hard. They fought until the end.”
Despite McAdoo’s assertions, the Giants didn’t appear to be playing with the speed, focus or intensity expected of a team coming off a bye-week and desperate for a win. They looked at times disinterested and unprepared, blowing several assignments on defense and executing poorly on the offensive side of the ball.
Quarterback Eli Manning, who was 20-36 with two touchdowns and an interception, threw behind, ahead and over open targets in what might be his final season as the Giants’ starter after being under center every game for the franchise since he took over the position during his rookie season in 2004.
“We’re just going to keep grinding, keep fighting” said Manning. “We got eight games left, we got a lot of football. We can only get better. We can only go up.”
Although the latter part of Manning’s statement may seem to be the most factual, the Giants’ situation could get worse if they incur a loss to the equally floundering 0-9 San Francisco 49ers this Sunday (4:25 p.m.). Especially if the optics are similar to the defeat by the Rams.
Ownership may compel McAdoo to make a change at quarterback and insert rookie second-round pick Davis Webb to determine if he’ll be Manning’s successor or if they’ll use their first-round pick this April to draft the 36-year-old Manning’s future replacement.
Furthermore, an ugly, uninspired loss to the 49ers could mean the end of McAdoo’s tenure before he completes his second full season as head coach. It is nearly unfathomable that a team with justifiable designs of making it to the Super Bowl when the season began has sunk so low heading into Week 10.