The End Isn't Near For The Giants, It's Already Here
I wanted to start this off a lot differently. My hope was that the Giants would get back on track on Sunday, put together as close to a complete performance as this team is capable of, and take care of a mediocre Eagles team on their home field. I'd point out how the Giants were only one game out of first place in the NFC East after Dallas lost to Denver and that maybe there was a shot at a season after all.
Unfortunately, that's not the case. Instead, the Giants blew a rare second-half lead, Eli Manning came about as close to having a meltdown as he's come since the 2007 season, and instead of spending their short week preparing for the Chicago Bears and trying to get their season back on track, they've mostly spent it pointing fingers and passing the blame around the locker room — the actions of a team on the brink of total collapse.
This Giants team is a team that looks defeated before they even step on the field. Past Giants teams were able to overcome adversity in remarkable ways — this team has been crushed by adversity and beaten down into a fine pulp. In what resembles the NFL's best attempt at a Freaky Friday scenario, the Jets — a team that many people predicted wouldn't win more than three games all year — are now 3-2 and one of the league's biggest surprises. The Giants, meanwhile, are 0-5 and sinking like a stone to the bottom of almost every statistical category.
Before the season began, who would have imagined that Rex Ryan might be the one New York coach left standing when all is said and done? The Giants' laundry list of problems cannot be solved overnight. They're the kind of systemic problems that must be addressed on an organizational level. The complete breakdown in all aspects of the game is a clear sign that the Giants need to clean house, and they need to do so whenever they finish trudging their way through whatever mess remains of this disastrous season.
If that means that Tom Coughlin and the rest of his coaching staff needs to go, then that's what should happen. Coughlin has given the Giants and their fans a solid decade of great coaching, two Super Bowl titles and countless memories. I'm sure it will be hard for him to go out like this, with his team in utter disarray, but the Coughlin era had reached its point of terminal velocity in February of 2012, and now it appears that the tank is almost empty.
The inevitable blame game will only get worse as the season goes on. After Sunday's loss, Coughlin called Manning's play "demoralizing" and he was right. Demoralizing is the perfect way to describe three fourth-quarter interceptions and three completely baffling intentional grounding penalties. Three intentional grounding penalties in a season is rare, but in one game, it's almost unheard of.
Manning didn't quite see it that way, though. "I don't think I'm playing lousy," he remarked in his interview with WFAN on Monday. Apparently, Manning missed the part where he leads the league in interceptions with 12 and is ranked 32nd in the league in quarterback rating. There are only two quarterbacks below him on that list — one of them was cut by his team last week, and the other plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
No matter how you look at it, Manning's play this season has been the definition of lousy, and it's gotten progressively worse. Manning, a quarterback who has built his reputation around being calm and collected under pressure and never letting anyone see him sweat, is crumbling right before our very eyes, under the massive pressure that builds with every loss. It's clear that he's pressing now, trying much too hard to force big plays. On Sunday, he tried to connect on a deep ball at least once every possession, sometimes trying to force those throws to receivers who were double- and triple-teamed.
The Giants are in a bad way right now, and things will most likely only get worse before they can get any better. The injury list continues to grow longer by the week, with Aaron Ross and Chris Snee being placed on injured reserve. There are no reinforcements to call in; no one to come in and fix this mess. The Giants are a sinking ship, and they are sinking fast. If you're expecting any revelations or a sudden reversal of fortune to come on Thursday night in Chicago, you probably shouldn't hold your breath.