The Giants deserve an “F” for the first half of the season, and if there was a grade lower than “F,” they’d deserve that too.
Everything they did in the offseason screamed “Win now!” And they weren’t shy about saying they expected to win now either.
Instead, they are 1-7 for the second consecutive season and only slightly less dysfunctional than they were last year. They are headed into an offseason where they surely will be shedding contracts and rebuilding their roster, as well as heading towards a seismic quarterback change, even though they have no idea who their replacement for Eli Manning will be.
So yes, it’s all bad. Or at least mostly. Here are some first-half grades for a few of the players, decision-makers, and decisions that put them in this unexpected and unenviable spot:
Anyone who thinks this is all his fault just isn’t paying attention, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s not playing particularly well. He does make some uncharacteristically bad decisions, or perhaps check away from his targets too quickly. He sometimes holds the ball when he should throw it away, too.
He looks a little old and definitely shellshocked – though who can blame him for that. He’s got to be better than he’s been, but he’s still (by far) the best the Giants got.
Odell Beckham Jr.
The Giants’ star receiver is on pace for a ridiculous season – 122 catches for 1,570 yards. But it doesn’t feel like a special season because he has only two touchdowns, and really hasn’t broken many big plays. He says it’s because of the smothering coverage he sees, and he’s right. He just used to break through that more regularly.
Also affecting his grade: He started the season’s biggest distraction by saying “I don’t know” when he was asked if the Giants have a quarterback problem. A receiver needs to offer his quarterback a little more support than that.
The handling of Odell Beckham
Pat Shurmur’s initiative to reach out to Beckham in the offseason is a big reason why the receiver showed up for the offseason program, didn’t hold out of training camp, and showed enough maturity to earn himself his monster, $95 million contract.
Then, when Beckham spoke out against Manning, Shurmur let him know how furious he was, fined him, and convinced him to explain himself to the team. After years of enabling his behavior, Shurmur seems to be the right guy for at least this part of the job.
The offensive line
It’s hard to imagine it could be much worse. The Giants are the 31st-ranked rushing team in the NFL, even though Saquon Barkley is pretty good (if you hadn’t noticed). And according to Pro Football Focus, Manning has been pressured on more than 30 percent of his drop backs. Also, he’s on pace to be sacked 62 times, which pretty much says it all.
He’s a dazzling talent who has been one of the best things to watch on the Giants this season, and he’s on pace for 2,000 total yards. But he’s been most effective as a receiver (58-497-5). Unfortunately, even he hasn’t been able to jumpstart the run game, in large part because he’s hit in the backfield far too often.
The result has been inconsistency – too many ineffective runs followed by one long, dazzling ones. Consistency, though, is what will move the chains.
The rest of the rookie class
The Giants look like they’ve got three player who will be real good in the future – G Will Hernandez, DL B.J. Hill, and LB Lorenzo Carter.
Hill has been the most consistently impressive. Carter has flashed a little as a pass rusher, but not enough. And Hernandez, like every offensive lineman, has had his issues. The other two players are DT R.J. McIntosh, who hasn’t played yet, and QB Kyle Lauletta, who was arrested this week.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher
It’s a good thing the offense stinks, otherwise there’d be a lot of attention on what the heck happened to what was supposed to be an incredibly aggressive defense. Sure, the injury to LB Olivier Vernon didn’t help, but 14 sacks in eight games is horrible.
In general, they’ve kept the Giants in a lot of games, only to fall apart late. But they don’t get to the quarterback much and don’t create a lot of turnovers.
He’s not the biggest problem on the offensive line, but since he just signed a four-year, $62 million contract, he’s the most significant. He was supposed to be the anchor of the rebuilding project, but he has been average at best.
Since he’s guaranteed $34.8 million and he’s 30, he’s not going anywhere. But it’s starting to look like a contract the Giants will regret.
Giants trade deadline moves
They traded CB Eli Apple and DT Damon Harrison for a fourth, fifth, and a future seventh-round pick, which isn’t bad considering neither had a future with the team and they created cap space, too. Those were smart rebuilding moves. It would’ve been nice if they had unloaded CB Janoris Jenkins, too.
As for S Landon Collins, they passed up a third-round pick for him. Whether that makes sense will depend on whether they bring him back next year, or let him walk in March.
He navigated his first offseason well, got Beckham into the fold, and earned high marks from his players at first. It’s all weighed down by 1-7, of course.
And he wasn’t just hired to be the “adult” in the room, he was hired in part because he was an offensive whiz. Granted, Sean McVay might not be able to score with the players Shurmur was left with, but some of his play calls and clock management haven’t helped.
Publicly, he’s a work in progress. He appears too sensitive to criticism at times. And lying about Lauletta being at practice on Tuesday when he was actually in jail is a really bad look.
He came in with bold promises to rebuilding the offensive line, and that was a bust, just like pretty much every offseason move he made.
The $62 million he gave Solder looks as awful as the $2.95 million he guaranteed 31-year-old running back Jonathan Stewart, and the $15 million deal he gave guard Patrick Omameh. He gave a three-year, $15 million deal to Kareem Martin, who has no sacks. He thought he could win now, so he gave up draft picks for LB Alec Ogletree.
His team has no third receiver, no return specialists, no depth, and now, he’s starting over doing the rebuilding he should’ve done last offseason. And if he can’t find a franchise quarterback quickly, the decision to stick with the 37-year-old Manning and pass on Sam Darnold in the draft will prove disastrous, even though Barkley and the rest of his first draft looks good.