Time Running Out For Tom Coughlin And The Giants
The New York Giants that we've come to know over the last six or seven years would have normally thrived under the circumstances presented to them on Sunday in Kansas City. With their backs to the wall and facing an 0-4 start, Tom Coughlin's Giants of old would have suddenly sprung into action, Eli Manning would have engineered a picture-perfect late-game drive to give the Giants the lead, and they would walk out of Arrowhead with their heads held high, having knocked the upstart 3-0 Chiefs and their new head coach back down to Earth.
We expected it to happen all week leading up to the game, even if we didn't think it would. And even with the Giants trailing 10-7 in the third quarter, the defense dragging the offense's lifeless body along with it, we thought that it was only a matter of time before the dam broke and things began falling into place.
Except that moment never came.
The 10-7 deficit became 17-7, and 17-7 became 24-7 and then before we knew it, last week's debacle in Carolina was happening all over again. That's exactly what Coughlin called it in his post-game presser: a debacle. He was right, for the most part. And his analogy about the play-calling being like someone throwing a dart at a board isn't too far off either. The fact of the matter is this Giants team is not like the Giants teams that we've come to rely on in the past to always save the day when it seemed like all was lost. We know it, and Coughlin knows it, too.
This Giants team seems to be lacking a lot of what made past teams successful. Aside from the obvious things like the lack of a pass-rush, running game or competent offensive line, there's also a lack of fire, intensity and urgency — all of the things that allow a team to defy expectations and to win when their backs are against the wall. One could argue that the Giants have none of these things right now.
And now, they're running out of time.
If the Giants are to avoid their first losing season since 2004, which is looking more and more improbable with each passing week, they'd better start finding some of those things. At this point, they'd have to go 9-3 in their remaining 12 games just to finish 9-7. The way they're playing right now, such a feat not only seems improbable, it seems like straight-up science fiction.
Antrel Rolle seems to think otherwise. In fact, he thinks the Giants will go 12-0 from this point forward. "I know the talent of this team," said Rolle. "I know the mindset of this team, we just have to go out there and put it all together." While I applaud him for his boundless optimism, I would have to ask where this "mindset" that he refers to has been for the first four weeks of the season.
The NFL season is only 16 games long, meaning that every mistake, every slip-up, every loss is amplified and expounded upon. The margin for error is slight — much slighter than in any other major professional sport. The Giants have now played winless football for 25 percent of their season. There was not a single positive thing to take from any of their first four games, and certainly nothing to look forward to for their last 12 — especially with games against Chicago, Green Bay, Seattle and Detroit still on the schedule.
When the Giants were winning football games and winning Super Bowls, they did two things better than almost anyone else in the league: they rushed the opposing team's quarterback relentlessly and they protected their own just as well. So far this season, they have done neither of those two things to any degree of success. Jason Pierre-Paul, clearly still not 100 percent, is a shell of the player he was two years ago, and the defense has not been able to put any pressure on opposing quarterbacks, allowing them all the freedom in the world to sit in the pocket and pick their weak secondary apart. On the other side of the football, Manning has been harassed and hurried with every snap he takes, and as a result, the offense has never been able to find any semblance of a rhythm.
Despite problems in just about every aspect of the game, including special teams, these are the Giants' two biggest problems right now, and they're problems that can only be remedied through either a massive rebuilding via free agency and the draft or through a complete change in personnel. Depending on where the season goes from here, it seems likely that one or both of those things will occur at the end of this year.
There's no hiding the fact that Perry Fewell's defense has gotten progressively worse each year, and the team has already allowed a staggering 36.5 points a game over the first four weeks — good for last in the league. And despite all of their offensive weapons, Kevin Gilbride's offense has managed just 325 yards a game thus far, including two straight weeks now where they've failed to gain 300 yards of total offense. If things continue this way, it could be time to bid farewell to a coaching staff that may be running out of steam.