What a waste of a season.
The uncertainty that loomed over the New York Giants early in the season still plagues them as 2018 winds down. And worse, the organization seems to have little answers to assuage concerns over its direction.
The Giants were supposed to be good. They were supposed to be contenders. But save for Saquon Barkley, no one in this organization has lived up to the hype.
Not the quarterback.
Not the $95 million receiver.
Not the revamped defense.
Not the general manager.
And certainly not the first-year head coach, whose sarcastic retorts to the media possess more bite than his play-calling.
Recent victories over the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins were nice, but they obscured the flaws that still plague these Giants. Flaws that were on full display against the Tennessee Titans Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
When there’s no running game, there’s no offense.
When there is no threat of Odell Beckham Jr. on the field, there is no receiver capable of consistently filling the void.
When the protection breaks down, Eli Manning keys in on the oncoming pressure and looks to get rid of the ball too quickly.
Just hours after an NFL Network report surfaced that Manning “is playing his way onto the roster for 2019,” the quarterback’s decision-making and poor ball security were major culprits in the Giants’ 17-0 loss to the Titans.
Case in point: The Giants were within field-goal range when Manning overthrew Russell Shepard and was intercepted by safety Kevin Byard. On the next series, with the Giants still trailing by seven, Manning fumbled on a third-down sack.
The final score was about more than just Manning. It was about the lack of running lanes for Barkley. It was about the multitude of missed tackles on defense. The penalties. The dropped passes. The lack of attention to detail.
It was about Derrick Henry’s 170 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the 8-6 Titans. It was about the Giants’ inability to flummox Tennessee’s young and mobile quarterback, Marcus Mariota.
Every game this season has been a referendum on Manning’s capabilities. But truth be told, this roster wasn’t constructed with enough talent or depth with Manning in mind. Clearly, it couldn’t have been.
Almost a full season has gone by and the Giants are no closer to plotting their future course than they were before general manager Dave Gettleman was hired to find that direction.
Granted, the necessary rebuild will take more than one season. But the organization wasted this season making one more run with Manning, and not taking steps to build that future.
When they took the field to face the Titans, reaching the postseason was still technically possible. After four quarters of listless football, the Giants found themselves shut out on the scoreboard and shut out of playoff contention for the sixth time in seven seasons.
But worse than their abysmal record is the fact that their unsettled quarterback situation doesn’t – and shouldn’t – sit well with fans. Their in-state and in-stadium rival, the New York Jets, have a worse record (4-10) but there’s an enormous amount of hope for the future because of rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, whom they drafted one spot after the Giants selected Barkley.
So far, the Giants have produced five wins – ensuring a good, but not great pick considering the talent-needy teams currently ahead of them in the draft order. Rather than assuming they could squeeze one more good year out of a 37-year-old quarterback behind an average offensive line, the Giants should have been focused on the future.
There is no heir apparent on the roster. That was clear before their fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta went 0-for-5 with an interception in garbage time last week against Washington. But it was made abundantly clear when journeyman Alex Tanney was named the No. 2 quarterback behind Manning against Tennessee.
The answers to the Giants’ quarterback questions won’t come until the offseason. Whether they ride with Manning for one more year or acquire a bridge quarterback, it won’t change the fact this was a lost season with nothing but Barkley to show for it.
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