How Bad Can This Get?

The Giants have never lost more than 12 games in a season, but a quick look at the schedule suggests that “achievement”could be surpassed this year. They have eight games left, and after this Sunday against the winless 49’ers, every opponent, save the Raiders, is .500 or better, and the Raiders are a decent team that isn’t playing like one right now.

Lets say they win this week. Not a great bet, but this is the one game they clearly should win. Where does their next win come from?  At home against KC the following week?  I doubt it. On the road in Washington Thanksgiving night?  Almost certainly not. On the road in Oakland? I don’t think so. At home against Dallas and Philly?  No and no. On the road in Arizona Christmas Eve? Again, not likely. At home against Washington in the season finale?  Yeah, I could see that. Add it up and I have them finishing 3-13.

The real question is what would happen then?  The Giants almost never fire people, but a franchise record for losses would have to end in firings, right?  What I suspect is that Jerry Reese is already a goner and Ben McAdoo has the remaining games to save his job. The bar isn’t high. Finish the year with 3 more wins and I bet he comes back under a new GM. He would have two seasons left on his contract and with a major rebuild commencing, he would face a make or break 2018.

 

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Now What?

A few weeks ago I speculated that the Giants should get Davis Webb going if they’re entered the bye at 0-7. They managed to make it 1-6, but injuries have made the idea of using Webb a bad one. You can’t properly evaluate a quarterback if he doesn’t have any NFL-caliber receivers to throw to and that is pretty much what the Giants are looking at.

On Sunday, the Giants used Lewis, King, Rudolph, and Egan at wide receiver. This group came into the game with less than 25 catches combined for their careers. Not surprisingly, it didn’t go well. Eli found Engram at tight end a few times before Seattle realized he was the only receiving threat out there and double-teamed him. We know that Sterling Shepard should come back, which will help, but barring another wide receiver coming in, would you want a rookie trying to make this work?

I don’t think so as it would most likely destroy his confidence and tell you nothing.  If I were the Giants, I would listen if a team like Jacksonville wanted to trade for Eli.  If that happened, put Gene Smith in and see if the rookie receivers can develop into somewhat competent players.  Then put Webb in and see what he’s about.  The year is lost and the team is hurt.  That’s a deadly combination.

 

 

This Could Be Ugly

I am going to say that Carmelo scores more than 30 points tonight. It’s a conservative guess because most people think he might get 50, but he is going against Porzingas, which is not a great matchup for him on either end of the floor. One thing is for sure, Carmelo will be motivated to get revenge on the Knicks.

Beyond tonight, this is going to be a painful season as there are really very few reasons for optimism. But, you can also make the case that winning is the last thing the Knicks should be concerned with. They need to get another high draft pick and hope they can find the right guy. The NBA changed the lottery rules, so finishing last isn’t the priority, but finishing in the bottom three should be. (The new rules give the bottom three teams, the same chance to get the top pick- 14%)  A good draft pick is about all we have to look forward too. On the plus side, we at least have our draft picks, a big change from recent years.

That’s the sad reality of the Knicks these days. We are rooting for draft picks.

A Bit of Pride

That’s a nice win on national TV that is absolutely meaningless unless they win at home next Sunday. Let’s talk then.

A Disgrace

The U.S. did not qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. That in itself is a major headline, but the way they failed is absolutely breathtaking. Trinidad and Tobago has a population about 1/6th that of New York City and was the worst team in the hexagonal qualifying format that decides the 3 or 4 teams to qualify from CONCACAF for the World Cup.  How bad was this loss?  This article makes a compelling case that it was the worst ever by the U.S.

What happens now is the big question?  What makes this so frustrating is that youth soccer participation has almost tripled since the last time we missed the World Cup to over 3-million  To put that into perspective, that’s over twice the population of Trinidad and Tobago.  US Soccer needs to figure out why that isn’t translating into sustained excellence and who can put things back together.  This loss will sting for a long time, but even longer if the flaws it exposed aren’t corrected quickly.

 

The End of Eli?

Let me make clear from the outset that Eli Manning is not the guy responsible for this disaster. While his play has not been elite, it has certainly been good enough to compete if the team around him was better. But, that doesn’t mean a change isn’t the right thing to do. If the Giants fall to 0-7 over the next two weeks (@Denver, Seattle) not a far-fetched idea, they would be irresponsible if they didn’t use that bye week to start grooming Davis Webb to play in actual games. Remember Eli took over at QB when the Giants were 5-4 in 2004. They still had a shot at competing but recognized that the future lay with Eli and they needed to let him play.

Davis Webb is not Eli Manning, but the Giants liked him enough to spend a third-round pick on him. Considering the fact that the Giants are probably picking in the top-five of the draft this spring, they need to know what they have in Webb.  If their judgement was right, and the only way to tell that is to play him, they can use that pick on someone to help rebuild this team at a position other than quarterback. But if their judgement was wrong, and that is how they got to this point, they probably need to draft their QB of the future and go from there.

That is the grim reality facing this team and if you don’t believe me, ask yourself this. Can you see the Giants contending for a Super Bowl next year? If you are being honest, the answer is of course not. Eli will be 37 in January. He is not going to be around for the next Super Bowl. It’s going to take some serious rebuilding to right this ship and it starts with evaluating the young talent they have. It’s not quite the time, but two more games and two more losses and they have to look to Davis Webb.

How Low Can You Go?

It was just four years ago that the Giants opened the season 0-6.  That team went 7-3 over their final ten games and actually could have made the playoffs, so it is silly to bury this team now. But, 0-4 feels like a deep hole that they will never escape from. Losing back-to-back games on last-second field goals makes things look much worse, but the Giants do have some pretty large problems.

First, the offensive line is the train wreck we thought it would be. The only reason Ereck Flowers is still starting is because the guy who drafted him didn’t think it was a good idea to admit his mistake. Bobby Hart has been hurt, forcing the Giants to move Pugh to right tackle, the position they originally moved him from because he wasn’t good enough to play it. Weston Richburg is regressing, and John Jerry might be their best lineman right now. They can’t run the ball because there is usually a defender in the backfield.

Second, the defense has really regressed. They can’t stop the run, can’t prevent the big play, and Vernon and JPP are doing nothing for a pass rush.

Lastly, they have a punting problem as Brad Wing appears to have a case of the yips. He shanked the big punt in Philly and shanked two more yesterday. Both of those punts led to scores.

The schedule gives them a good chance to break into the win column this week with the 0-4 Chargers coming to town, but after that they travel to Denver and play host to Seattle. Unless they figure out a way to fix some of the problems I mentioned above, a 1-6 record heading into their bye week seems very likely.

 

This Could Get Ugly

College recruiting is an ugly process and this morning there was evidence of how ugly it really is. Coaches at four schools, Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State, USC, and an executive at Addidas, were arrested.  It was part of a three-year investigation and the documents add that Louisville and Miami are also being investigated.

The feds caught everyone, including the NCAA, by surprise and the fallout from the could be massive  it’s naive to think that only six schools are involved and impossible to guess where this will all end.  What we do know is that two premier college programs are charged with bribery and wire fraud among other things. This won’t end well.

 

Melo is Traded

The Knicks have finally traded Carmelo Anthony!  He is headed to Oklahoma City for the equivalent of nothing- Kanter, McDermott, and a 2nd rounder. Kanter is actually a decent rotation player, but you get the point.

This really wasn’t about what they got back, it was about burying a mistake and moving on. Melo didn’t work out. Jackson compounded that mistake with a max contract and a no-trade clause. Revisiting it all again is pointless.

And now the Knicks launch their latest rebuilding attempt in earnest. It won’t be pretty and it won’t happen fast. But, they have Porzingas and Willy and that’s a start. If they drafted the right guy in Ntilikina, they will have a strong nucleus and if they are smart, they will lose a lot this year to get another lottery pick.

Playoffs?

A lot of smart football minds think the Giants will ride a suffocating defense deep into the postseason this year. I’m not convinced.

I’m fully on board with the idea of a dominating defense and I also know what that means historically for this franchise. But I think that ignores two vital facts about this Giants squad.

First, Eli isn’t s kid anymore. He is on the downslope of his career. That’s not a knock, but it gets a lot harder to win the older you get.  And what makes me worry about his age is the second thing, the offensive line, specifically at left tackle.

Erick Flowers has been a disaster in his first two years and in the preseason he didn’t show that he was any better. Add in the questions at right guard and right tackle, and Eli could be running for his life. And don’t forget, the Giants were terrible at running the ball last year. Previous great Giant teams could always run the ball no matter what.

I never thought the 2015 Giants were as bad as their record showed and I don’t think the 2016 Giants were as good as their record showed  I expect this team to finish 8-8.  That could be a playoff squad and if they got on a roll, anything is possible.  But don’t expect a 12-4 campaign and a walk to the playoffs.