Dec 102021
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (July 29, 2021)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
For fans of the New York Giants, we’ve officially entered that all-too-familiar part of the season where we are just waiting for it to end. And that’s with five games left! Unfortunately, this has become commonplace for the once-proud franchise. Fans eagerly wait six months for players to report to training camp and by mid-season, the team is out of contention.

I said to my wife yesterday, “I have no idea what to write in my game preview this week.” She responded, “Just say they suck.”

This season has been a disaster for the franchise, not just for what occurred this year, but moving forward. Let’s review:

Entering the season, most NYG fans felt good about the coaching staff with the exception of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Joe Judge obviously had or developed the same reservations about Garrett and fired him last month. However, a significant percentage of the fan base now doubts Judge and the rest of the coaching staff he has assembled. It has gotten so bad that I’ve actually seen posts from readers saying Ben McAdoo and/or Pat Shurmur were better. The person with the most to lose over the course of the last five games may be Joe Judge. It’s not inconceivable that his job may be on the line.

Since fans assumed the coaching staff was largely set, the #1 issue entering the 2021 season was Daniel Jones. After a promising rookie season and a disappointing sophomore season, 2021 was supposed to be the tiebreaker. Was Daniel Jones the future or not? The team loaded up on offensive weapons to help his cause. Many pundits claimed in the offseason that the Giants were “loaded” on the offensive side of the ball and Jones was out of excuses. Unfortunately for Jones, the team’s decision to largely stand pat on the offensive line was a disastrous mistake. Worse, all of the “weapons” have missed significant time and/or are extremely limited by injuries when they do play. While Jones has only thrown seven interceptions this year (3 in one game), he has only also inexcusably thrown 10 touchdowns. While Jones’ lost fumbles have dramatically decreased from 11 in 2019 to 6 in 2020 to 3 in 2021, his overall QB rating has plateaued at 84.8. Long story short, he has not gotten better. And while this was no sin for a 3rd-year quarterback in 1980, 1990, and 2000, it apparently is in 2021. Worse, Jones has suffered some mysterious structural neck injury that may prevent him from redeeming himself in the last few games. Jones was the #6 pick in the entire 2019 NFL Draft. Instead of being a difference-maker, he’s been a major disappointment.

Saquon Barkley was the #2 pick in the entire 2018 NFL Draft. He had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, accruing over 2,000 total yards despite a terrible supporting cast. It’s been all downhill ever since. Barkley has become an injury-prone back who, while still fast, appears to have lost his explosive lateral agility. Despite what he publicly says, his confidence has waned. Worse, he appears to fear contact, the death-knell for any football player, especially a running back. 2021 was supposed to be Barkley’s redemption tour. Instead, right now there are many fans who argue he isn’t even the best running back on the team. Taken together, the selections of Barkley and Jones, two top-6 picks in back-to-back drafts, looks like an unmitigated catastrophe.

A renewed Barkley was supposed to jump start the offense. But so were the additions of high-priced free agent Kenny Golladay and surprise 1st-round draft pick Kadarius Toney. It was hoped that injury-prone, perennial teases Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram would finally put together complete, consistent seasons. Darius Slayton was supposed to rebound from a sophomore slump. Kyle Rudolph was supposed to help in the red zone. None of these things happened. All of these guys have been in and out of the line-up with injuries. Golladay has 26 catches and, unbelievably, no touchdowns. Toney has barely made an impact, playing in less than half of all offensive snaps. He also has yet to reach the end zone. Shepard has missed half the season. Engram only has 35 catches for 334 yards; Slayton 21 catches for 280 yards. Rudolph only has 19 catches and one touchdown.

Entering 2021, reinforced by significant additions at linebacker and in the secondary, it was anticipated that the defense would pick up where it left off in 2020. That didn’t happen as the defense mightily struggled during a 1-5 start to the season. While the defense has significantly tightened up during the course of the last six games, directly responsible for an “improved” 3-3 record during this time frame, it has developed some serious physical and mental toughness issues. New York is 25th against the run, one of the main reasons why it is only 23rd overall (a drop from its 12th-place finish in 2020). But perhaps more troubling, Giants’ defenders and coaches are unable to stop opposing offenses in the last few minutes of the first half. In practically every single game this year, the Giants have surrendered a long touchdown drive right before halftime. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be comical. The team lacks both physical (run defense) and mental (belief in oneself) toughness. And it was the defense that was expected to carry the team this year while the offense came together.

Dave Gettleman’s legacy has been determined. He’s been a colossal failure as GM of the New York Football Giants. He spent a #2 overall pick on a 1-year wonder running back who is now afraid of getting hit. He spent a #6 overall pick on a “franchise” quarterback who isn’t. Perhaps almost as equally damning is that through four NFL draft classes and four NFL free agency periods, the offensive line that he vowed to fix is still a complete mess.

John Mara appears to be the new Dan Snyder of the division. Every decision he makes is wrong. He picks the wrong general managers and coaches. He spends hundreds of millions of dollars on players who aren’t very good. Offseason moves that look good on paper in March and April rapidly become a joke when the games count in September.

To sum up, nothing has gone right in 2021. Coaching, franchise quarterback, franchise running back, receiving targets, defense, management, and ownership all look like a mess. The optimists hoped and believed that the coaching staff was set, Daniel Jones would have a break out season, Saquon Barkley would regain his rookie form, Jones would have a plethora of dangerous weapons to throw to, the defense would be even better than it was in 2020, and that Dave Gettleman would ride off into retirement with the team clearly moving in the right direction. None of that happened. It appears the franchise is no further along than it was in 2014-2015 (12-20 under Tom Coughlin), 2016-2017 (14-18 under Ben McAdoo), 2018-2019 (9-23 under Pat Shurmur). The Giants are 10-18 under Joe Judge. They may not win another game this year. A decade of really, really bad football.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • QB Daniel Jones (neck – out)
  • QB Mike Glennon (concussion – probable)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (rib – questionable)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (oblique – out)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – probable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (quad – questionable)
  • NT Danny Shelton (calf- questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (quad – out)

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants are going to lose on Sunday. We all know it. Worse, the team knows it. The only question is will the Giants keep the final score respectable or not.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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