The Giants aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after only six games, but the probability they’ll be in contention in the closing month of the season is near zero. They are 1-5, tied for the worst record in the NFL with four other teams.
Furthermore, an empirical assessment of the Giants after an embarrassing and listless 34-13 loss at home to the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday concludes they might be even worse than their record reflects. A lack of talent doesn’t seem to explain why the Giants have been a major disappointment after being a Super Bowl pick by some reasonable pundits before the season began and they became subsequently swallowed by a sinkhole.
Losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars (20-15) in Week 1, the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 (20-13) and Carolina Panthers (33-31) in Week 5 were games the Giants could have and arguably should have won. Victories in two out of the three and the conversations regarding where the team is headed and the immediate future of quarterback Eli Manning would be entirely different.
Instead, with 10 games remaining, the Giants will be in Atlanta this Sunday to face the Falcons, unable to salvage their record or the emotional fracture created by chatter from within the team. The Giants aren’t a group divided, just a collective without a positive identity or stabilizing presence, someone who presents commanding reassurance that they will somehow right the sinking ship.
These optics were created in part by wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s ill-considered and unnecessary comments minimizing the abilities of the 37-year-old Manning in an interview with Josina Anderson of ESPN two weeks ago. Despite his subpar play, Manning has remained a respected voice. But Beckham’s criticism further forwarded the narrative that Manning can no longer capably run the Giants’ offense, although he is playing behind a horrific offensive line and has done so for the better part of the past four seasons.
The fallout has led Giants owner John Mara to emphatically suggest Beckham be more circumspect. “I wish he would create the headlines by his play on the field as opposed to what he says and what he does off the field,” said Mara at the NFL owners’ meetings here in New York Tuesday. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”
As for Manning, Mara said he shouldn’t bear the brunt of the Giants problems. “We still believe in him, but everybody needs to do their jobs in order for us to be successful, and right now that’s not happening. I know he’s the punching bag right now, but a lot of guys need to play better when you’re 1-5.”
Mara continued, “I’m still embarrassed being 1-5. I can’t stand up here and make any excuses about that…I’m suffering just as much as our fans are, probably more.”
And the pain will seemingly persist for weeks to come.