As teams get mathematically eliminated from the NFL playoffs, we’ll give you a jump on their offseason by examining what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to change before next season.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The New York Giants came into the season with high expectations, and started 0-5. And it got even worse from there. It’s hard to imagine any team being more disappointing this season than the Giants, who have been a never-ending source of drama during a lost season.
What went right: Ummm, huh. Well … I guess rookie tight end Evan Engram showed some good things? Jason Pierre-Paul is having another fine season. There was the win over the Kansas City Chiefs, which has to be the most random result of this season. But if you’re looking for positive words about the 2017 Giants, you’ll have to find them elsewhere.
What went wrong: They lost their first five games. The coach looked overmatched. Odell Beckham and seemingly every other receiver they had got hurt. The offensive line was terrible. They had no run game. The defense, with many high-priced players, has given up the second-most yards in the NFL. Then there were multiple player suspensions as Ben McAdoo tried to get control of the locker room. And if all of that wasn’t enough, the Giants benched Eli Manning, one of the most beloved and respected figures in franchise history, for Geno Smith. That enough for you?
Will the coach be back?: Oh my goodness, no. No, no, no, no. Giants fans might lift MetLife Stadium up and dump it in the Hackensack River if Ben McAdoo is brought back.
Do they have a quarterback?: Isn’t that an interesting question. As I wrote about when I discussed Eli Manning’s possible landing places in 2018, it’s hard to definitively say Manning’s time as a Giant is over, because the people who will make that decision probably haven’t been hired by the team yet. Ben McAdoo has to be gone and general manager Jerry Reese probably should be too. I could see Manning being brought back by a brand new regime who doesn’t want to begin with a rookie quarterback. I could also see the Giants using that early pick on a quarterback and Manning is with the Jacksonville Jaguars or whoever next season. It’s one of the most fascinating questions of the offseason.
Quick free agent fix: As we stand, the Giants are among the 12 teams with the least projected cap room in 2018. Not only are the Giants bad, they’re expensive. There’s still enough space to do something, but the biggest move has to be locking up receiver Odell Beckham long term. Beckham’s injury complicates it. But the Giants are a sinking ship and Beckham is by far the best thing about the franchise. You can’t mess that up.
Quick draft fix: The Giants have the third pick all to themselves right now, and they don’t want to screw that up (if you want to guess that the Geno Smith move was done to ensure they don’t win any more games and blow that top-three pick, it’s not the craziest theory I’ve heard). The top priority with a pick that high has to be a new quarterback. But finally landing a competent running back in the later rounds would be nice as well.
Give it to me straight, can my team make the playoffs in 2018?: Let’s get crazy for a second. If we assume Ben McAdoo is a horrible head coach, a solid Giants organization could get a huge upgrade there (see: 2017 Los Angeles Rams). This is a team that was 11-5 just a year ago. There are still talented players on defense, who seem utterly disinterested in playing up to that talent this season. With a new coach, some offseason improvements, a healthy Odell Beckham and a good answer at quarterback (maybe Eli Manning again), it’s not that crazy for the Giants to get back in playoff contention. I won’t be predicting it, but weirder things have happened.
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