I am a New York Giants fan, and it’s been a painful season so far to say the very least. New York is 0-5, one of only three teams left that are winless. The other two teams are the Browns and 49ers, teams with practically no offseason expectations except “win a few more games this year” and “have young players show some growth”. The Giants were expecting a run at the Super Bowl. As coach Ben McAdoo said when he got hired “Our goal is to put a 5th Lombardi in the case”. Well, he is currently one of many issues with this team that finds themselves in a completely miserable situation. McAdoo, along with 6 other things are to blame for the Giants 0-5 start. To me, these are the 7 biggest reasons why the Giants are where they are now.
1.) GM Jerry Reese (Get ready for a long rant!)
I want this man fired with a capital F, as every Giants fan should. The two Super Bowl rings he won were basically from Ernie Accorsi-assembled teams. Good teams build through the draft, and Jerry Reese has mostly missed badly in the draft. Sure, he drafted Odell Beckham, Landon Collins, and JPP. A broken clock is right twice a day (or in this case three times, whatever). If he didn’t draft one of these three, I can guarantee you he is not the New York Giants GM right now. He is famous (infamous?) for that 2016 offseason spending spree, where he opened up the checkbook in order to spend $200 million on a defense that badly needed rebuilding. It just so happened that in 2016 all the pieces came together for an 11-5 season and a #2 ranked scoring defense. It made Reese look like a genius to the Giants’ ownership, and it saved his job. However, there is a YouTuber (and Giants fan) named MrBaddog7676, and he repeatedly makes a very accurate point about Jerry Reese. He says that it doesn’t take talent to pay a bunch of money for players that have already proven themselves in the NFL. It DOES take talent to draft players and analyze how they will transition from college to the NFL. Granted, it does take some luck as well (we’ll get to that later). Here’s an eye-popping statistic I saw in an ESPN article: Reese drafted four players from 2009 to 2013 that took a snap with the 2016 Giants. That can’t just be bad luck, right? After all, the Packers had 13 such players do that in 2016. You wonder why teams like the Packers are so consistent. Good teams build through the draft. And that’s why I’m worried the Giants could be bad for a while.
2.) Coach Ben McAdoo
Reese to me is the #1 guy to blame for where the Giants are at right now. McAdoo is right behind him in the blame game. With all the wrong answers he gives in post-game press conferences (he wasn’t surprised when they were 0-4), we can tell that McAdoof isn’t exactly an intelligent man. His play-calling has earned boos from fans on numerous occasions. One of his classics is the “run the ball up the middle on 3rd and 20-something”. They might as well be punting. He’s gone for a fourth-down conversion way too early in the game a few times, and it’s paid off neither time. He’s said his predictable play-calling is a “non-issue”. Ben, it’s an issue! He’s going to be losing this locker room soon (if he hasn’t already), as there’s no way the Giants can trust this man as their leader. It’s going to be hard tolerating him standing on the sideline much longer.
Image Credit: Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports. On the far left is GM Jerry Reese, and in the middle is head coach Ben McAdoo.
3.) A defense that didn’t live up to expectations at ALL
Yes, losing Olivier Vernon the past few weeks has hurt. But did we honestly expect this Giants’ run defense to turn from one of the league’s best to one of the league’s worst? The D seemed to be reliable as usual in the first 2 weeks, but over the past 3 weeks they’ve given up 27 points twice, and 25 points against the Bucs (it would’ve been a lot more if Tampa had a competent kicker). Missed tackles and blown coverages have cost this team badly, as even stars like the aforementioned Landon Collins appear to be regressing. Eli Apple has committed multiple pass interferences after having a relatively promising rookie season. They didn’t sack Phillip Rivers once in the last game, and the linebackers just plain stink. The Giants had a championship defense last year. Has that already disappeared?
4.) The offensive line
You can refer back to the #1 issue if you wish. They gave up 5 sacks against Eli last week, showing their true colors as one of the leagues worst units. Guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg are the only two competent players on the line. D.J. Fluker was signed to compete at guard, but I doubt he’s the answer there. After all, Reese has a man-crush on John Jerry, who is consistently graded as one of the worst guards in football. But the largest issues on this o-line are clearly the tackles. A.K.A., the two most important positions on the offensive line. We can blame Jerry Reese all we want for Ereck Flowers, but there is a certain amount of pressure with being a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft. And Flowers clearly wasn’t ready for that, and it seems he has cemented his legacy in New York as a bust. At right tackle is Bobby Hart, a seventh-round pick who was thrust into a starting role last season. He’s ranked as the 61st tackle by Pro Football Focus this season. That’s pretty bad.
Image Credit: John Munson/NJ.com. Ereck Flowers has been quite a headache for the NY Giants.
5.) Losing Close Games
Here’s another interesting thing I found in that ESPN article, the Giants were 8-3 in games decided by 7 points or fewer last year. Often times those games come down to luck (once again, we’ll get to that later). The 2017 Giants have gone 0-3 so far in games decided by 7 points or less, matching their total from last year on October 8th. In fact, they matched their total amount of losses from last year. But teams that win close games just have a certain winning DNA in them. The Giants had a stretch last year where they won 8 out of 9 games, simply because they knew how to win. This 2017 team doesn’t.
6.) QB Eli Manning
Some branches of the Giants’ fanbase absolutely love Eli, and think it would be blasphemy to criticize him as one of the team’s problems. Others think he’s one of the team’s biggest reasons they are losing. I’m somewhere in the middle. On one hand, he’s 8th in the league in passing yards and has completed two-thirds of his passes. On the other hand, he’s still prone to the typical Eli interception bug. He threw 2 interceptions in the Philly game, which is ultimately one of the biggest reasons New York lost that game. He coughed up the ball in the game against the Chargers, which once again, was a big reason the Giants lost the game. I personally think Eli still has 2 or 3 years left. But maybe it’s time to start thinking about nabbing a QB in the 2018 draft, and developing him as the future of the franchise.
7.) Bad Luck (Injuries and a 61-yard field goal)
From 2013-15, the Giants were 19-29. What can this porous record be attributed to? Well, partially Reese’s disastrous drafting, but also due to an IR list that piled up like few other teams in the league. Reese’s 2012 first-round pick David Wilson was a promising young player who led the NFL in kick return yards during his rookie season. However, he had career-ending injuries the next season. That’s bad luck, plain and simple. And of course, the Giants somehow managed to lose four wide receivers in a slew of injuries against the Chargers yesterday. This includes what is likely a season-ending injury for Odell Beckham, which officially signals that the season is over. Signing T.O. or Chad Johnson won’t help, as both are older than Eli, A.K.A. too old to be a receiver in the NFL. Perhaps they could sign Victor Cruz though, as I feel like it would be cool to see him back in New York. They’ve had other injuries so far too, but they’ve obviously been overshadowed by losing their entire starting receiving corps. Compare this to the 2016 Giants, who had a relatively clean bill of health. The injury bug has appeared to strike New York again, and that’s a shame. It’s bad enough to be a team that stinks. But a team that stinks and is injury-prone? Can 2018 just get here already?
Image Credit: Bill Koustron/AP
References/Further Reading: http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/page/Barnwellx171009/lessons-winless-2017-new-york-giants-collapse-next-how-got-here-why-trouble-nfl