By: Rajan Nanavati
There’s a telling quote that someone needs to communicate to New York Giants’ owner John Mara: “you can’t build a future with someone who’s holding on to the past.”
There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it: the New York Giants are a terrible football team. They are one of the three worst teams in the NFL in 2018, and one of three teams with only one win to date.
You could very easily argue that they’re the worst team in the league, this side of the Oakland Raiders. They can’t score (fourth-lowest point total in the NFC this year), and they can’t stop anyone from scoring (fourth-most points allowed in the NFC). If you stripped this team apart, there are maybe four or five players, at most, who would start for more than half of the teams in the NFL.
But like so many things in the NFL, the Giants’ success – or complete lack thereof – is, in large part, because of the horrendous play of quarterback Eli Manning.
There are few things more depressing in professional sports than a team trotting out a has-been player out of a sense of obligation for what that player has accomplished in the past, while said player goes out there and remains oblivious to the fact that he’s holding his team back.
Nothing could better summarize the state of the 2018 New York Giants, and what they’re doing with Manning.
We saw Manning’s ability to play quarterback fell off a cliff since the start of the 2017 season, but we gave him a pass because of McAdoo’s raging incompetence and Odell Beckham Jr.’s season-ending injury. We gave him said pass even though he looked a step slow, his passes had a lot less velocity, and a lot of his longer throws either fell short or hung in the air like wounded ducks.
In fairness, Mara did recognize this last year, and issued the order for Manning to be benched in favor of Geno Smith; things have to be unbelievably bleak if you’re at a point where you convince yourself it’s a good idea to start Geno Smith. But Mara’s decision to bench Manning went over about as well as inviting the Boston Red Sox to host a championship parade down 5th Avenue. Amidst the colossal PR backlash of the move, Mara not only relented and ordered Manning back into the lineup, but made McAdoo the fall guy for the decision.
Instead of ripping the proverbial band-aid off in the offseason, Mara instead doubled-down on the Manning era, hiring General Manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur with one condition in mind: Manning would be the team’s quarterback in 2018. That’s why the team was constructed with a goal of winning now, and that’s why the team passed on one of four blue-chip quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft, and instead selected a running back higher up than one had been taken in the past decade.
Sure, Manning supporters will tell you that it’s not his fault that the Giants have the worst pair of offensive tackles in the NFL (they do), or that Manning can’t trust some of his top receivers (Evan Engram had a couple of back-breaking drops in New York’s loss to Washington on Sunday).
Regardless, nobody can – or should – deny the fact that this team is in dire straights, and a big part of it comes from the fact that Manning looks more and more washed up every week, while the Giants’ management refuses to acknowledge it.
Mara made his bed by looking only at the past, and now he’s going to have to lie in it while the Giants have a murky future.