Behind Enemy Lines: New York Giants head to the desert
If you thought the Arizona Cardinals have had a trying season, take a look at what the New York Giants have gone through.
The Giants have placed 18 players on injured reserve this year, including All-World wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. They fired their head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. This came one week after the organization made the curious decision to bench quarterback Eli Manning — who had led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins and had started 210 straight games — in favor of Geno Smith.
That didn’t work out well. In fact, nothing has for the 2-12 Giants, who head to University of Phoenix Stadium since 2011, when they beat the Cardinals 31-27 behind two touchdown passes by Manning in the final 3:37 of the game. In fact, the Giants are unbeaten in Glendale — 3-0 overall — including a historic 17-14 win over the unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
All week, we’ll give you an update on what’s going on with the Giants as they prepare for their Week 16 matchup against the Cardinals on Christmas Eve.
It’s Behind Enemy Lines.
Sunday, December 24
• Landon Collins brushes off Pro Bowl criticism (New York Post)
Based on the standard he set last year, Landon Collins has not come close to duplicating that performance this season. He was a legitimate 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate. This year, he was voted into a second consecutive Pro Bowl and heard on social media that he did not deserve the honor.
• Giants-Cardinals: What you need to know on game day (NorthJersey.com)
Catch up on all the matchups, story lines and stats before the Giants take on the Cardinals.
• The writing was on the wall from beginning for this Giants disaster (New York Post)
What Giants fans endured this season was an organizational meltdown the likes of which only Browns fans can comprehend.
Only old-timers who witnessed The Fumble back on Nov. 19, 1978, can recall such a soul-crushing crumbling of Giants Pride that has left a gaping hole in all Big Blue hearts.
• Star college QB trying to force his way to Giants (New York Post)
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, one of the projected top picks in next year’s draft, prefers the Giants to the Browns and may stay in college another year if it becomes clear Cleveland would take him No. 1, according to an ESPN report.
• Sources: Giants GM search likely to extend past first round of interviews (ESPN NFL Nation)
The first round of interviews for New York Giantsgeneral manager is complete. The candidates had their time to blow away ownership.
The next step appears to be another round of options. Multiple sources in and around the Giants’ search told ESPN the process is expected to continue, likely into the new year.
Saturday, December 23
• Family problems are impacting Giants’ pariah Eli Apple (New York Post)
He’s been benched, made inactive, embarrassed in a team film session and sparred with a teammate through the media. Through all of it, there was one obvious issue in his personal life that Apple has been dealing with: His mom, Annie Apple, recently underwent brain surgery.
• Giants’ desert trip can prove last week wasn’t a mirage (New York Post)
Ho, ho, ho, will daddy bring home from the desert a victory? Does it matter? As luck would have it, the Giants are on the road — far out on the road — for Sunday’s Christmas Eve game against the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
• One Giant has proven he’s a big part of the future (New York Post)
Amid the wreckage of this 2-12 campaign, however, is one distinct bright spot: the continued emergence of wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
Despite everything that has happened — all the losing, the injuries to top receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, the multiple quarterback changes — Shepard has had a strong second season, further cementing his status as a future organizational linchpin.
New York’s next general manager is likely to select a running back at some point during the 2018 NFL Draft. Whether that’s in the first-round or seventh-round is unknown, but that shouldn’t stop Giants fans from taking a closer look at some of the top running back prospects in this year’s class.
Friday, December 22
• Giants’ busy week complete as Kevin Abrams interviews for GM job (ESPN NFL Nation)
A week of interviews concluded Friday with interim general manager Kevin Abrams meeting with the New York Giants for the full-time job. ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, former Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and current vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross also interviewed for the job earlier this week.
• Davis Webb to be inactive versus Cardinals; Landon Collins, JPP could play (ESPN NFL Nation)
Safety Landon Collins and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul barely practiced this week, while rookie quarterback Davis Webb received some first-team reps in drills. That isn’t exactly indicative of what will likely happen this Sunday when the New York Giants play the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
• Season always about more than trophy for Jason Pierre-Paul (New York Post)
The season is more enjoyable when you’re in contention for the playoffs. But it can’t be all about the trophy.
“Sometimes you just play for pride, Giants pride,” he said. “It’s really not about us. It’s about what has come through here. This might be one of the worst seasons ever in Giants history, but we’ve got to look past it and get ready for Sunday and then next year.”
• Kevin Abrams makes pitch for interim Giants GM job to be permanent (New York Post)
Kevin Abrams, the only candidate who has publicly expressed his desire for the Giants’ general manager job, got his chance Friday to convince the team hierarchy the interim role he currently holds should be turned into a permanent position. He is the fourth candidate to interview this week, following Marc Ross, Dave Gettleman and Louis Riddick.
Thursday, December 21
• Giants interview Dave Gettleman for GM job; Louis Riddick up next, source says (ESPN NFL Nation)
Former Carolina Panthers executive Dave Gettleman was the second candidate to interview for the vacant New York Giants general manager job. Gettleman has ties to the Giants, where he spent 15 years in their personnel department before joining the Panthers as general manager.
Webb remains the team’s third-string passer behind Manning and Geno Smith, but his work with the first-team signals that he could be active for the first time in his career Sunday versus the Arizona Cardinals.
• The unlikely centerpiece of the Giants’ offensive line: Brett Jones (NorthJersey.com)
Fast forward to today, and Jones is not just the starting center for the Giants, having assumed the role when Weston Richburg went out with a concussion in the Oct. 4 loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In a lost season during which so much has been made about what the Giants can do to fix their line going forward, Jones has emerged as the unlikeliest of centerpieces.
• Giants rookies cook up nice gifts for veterans (New York Post)
Sitting in front of every defensive lineman’s locker was one large box containing a Big Green Egg grill, described as “the ultimate cooking experience,’’ with a slew of accessories, including a large bag of 100 percent natural Oak and Hickory Lump Charcoal.
Wednesday, December 20
• Why Sam Darnold would thrive with Giants: ex-USC teammate (New York Post)
A California quarterback coming cross-country to become the new face of the franchise — can you see it?
• Landon Collins is the only Giants player to make the Pro Bowl (New York Post)
Collins’ play was not nearly as spectacular in 2017, but he was the only Giants player selected Tuesday to the Pro Bowl, named the NFC’s starting strong safety. His team is 2-12, and that sours some of the sweetness of the personal achievement.
• Giants bring back young pass-rusher for a two-game look (New York Post)
Perhaps Romeo Okwara in the final two games can salvage something from a lost 2017 season.
Okwara on Tuesday was activated from the reserve/injured; designated for return list. He has not played since the fifth game of the season, placed on IR with a knee injury.
• Compiling Giants’ long Christmas wish list: Next franchise QB, new offensive line, and more (New York Daily News)
With all that has gone wrong, the Giants are going to be asking for a lot this holiday season as they try to restore stability and a winning culture back within the organization.
If they have a Christmas wish list, it probably looks like this:
• Giants’ Eli Manning nominated for FedEx Air Player of the Week award (New York Daily News)
Manning was nominated on Tuesday as a finalist for the FedEx Air Player of the Week after completing 37 of 54 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-29 loss to the Eagles.
With two games remaining, this 2017 squad faces the very real possibility of becoming the first Giants team to lose more than 12 games in a season. They’ve already tied the franchise record for most losses in a season with 12, matching the depths plumbed in 1966 (1-12-1), 1974 (2-12), 1980 (4-12), 1983 (3-12-1) and 2003 (4-12).
• Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. have to be discussed in Giants GM interviews (ESPN NFL Nation)
The candidates’ backgrounds, plans to turn around the franchise, general philosophies and major changes they will make if handed the job will undoubtedly be discussed during the interview process. So will a variety of other topics, the most pressing of which are the futures of the team’s two most popular players.
• Why New York Giants should shut down Landon Collins (G-men HQ)
“I have no regrets about having him play. He doesn’t either. He tweaked it again and he just wasn’t able to go. He’s going to go if he can go. He’s a warrior. Love that man. But, he just wasn’t able to go at a certain point.”
Tuesday, December 19
• This is the Giants’ quick-fix plan (New York Post)
This has been one of the most miserable, trying, ripping seasons of John Mara’s football life.
It must seem as if all the king’s horses and all the king’s men have to put his Giants back together again.
• Eli Manning just gave Giants definitive statement on his future (New York Post)
If this is truly Eli Manning’s Last Stand with the New York Football Giants, there is no doubt that the Eagles and their fans will be happy to see him go.
• Eli Manning loves the NFL rule that everyone hates (New York Post)
“I was watching the game live, you see it, and it doesn’t look like an incompletion at all,’’ Manning said. “Once they slow it down and see him going to the ground and the ball hitting the ground, incompletion.’’
• The Giants GM search begins in-house (New York Post)
The Giants began their interview process for general manager, keeping things in house by speaking Monday with Marc Ross, their vice president of player evaluation.
But unquestionably the primary topic coming off of this game will be Eli Manning, who complicated the plans for whoever becomes the next GM and coach of the Giants for how to proceed at quarterback by throwing for more than 400 yards for the first time without Odell Beckham Jr.’s help since Sept. 8, 2013.
Landon Collins gave a one-word update on his sprained ankle as he walked through the Giants’ locker room on Monday.
“Sore,” he said.
• Giants safety Landon Collins: Eli Apple has to grow up (ESPN NFL Nation)
Apple, 22, has already been benched. He’s been fined and reprimanded. He’s rubbed coaches, teammates and management the wrong way since the start of the season.
• All eyes on Tom Quinn and the Giants’ special teams after latest loss (ESPN NFL Nation)
Where do you even start? Quinn is the Giants special teams coordinator and just about every part of his group was a mess. They looked woefully unprepared as they had a field goal, extra point and punt blocked. Quite the trifecta.
• Fixing New York Giants Offensive Line in 1 Offseason (Bleacher Report)
If getting the right general manager and coaching staff are priorities No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, for the New York Giants, fixing their offensive line is a close third on the top offseason list.