By Andrew Najjar
Despite their much-improved 2016-17 performance, the New York Giants did not stand tall in their latest season. The Giants finished the 2016-17 season with an overall record of 11-5 and they managed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The team chemistry was amazing all around, enabling the team’s success. Ben Mcadoo, the team’s new head coach, had a season to remember. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was one of the top defensive coordinators in the NFL. The Giants’ defense was the bedrock of the team, ranked one of the best in the NFL in the 2016-17 season–not to mention the achievements of the two defensive pro-bowlers, safety Landon Collins and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The Defense was nicknamed “NYPD” for New York Pass Defense. The Giants’ defensive line were impenetrable which made it nearly impossible for opposing teams to run the ball. As for the offense, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and future hall of fame quarterback Eli Manning were a lethal duo. Even rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard had a great starting season. All was going well until the breakdown of the offensive line, which began the fall of the Big Blue.
Ranked one of the worst in the league, the Giants’ offensive line received criticism throughout the season. The offensive line squad did not have good chemistry and frustrations among team members grew. Second year Left Tackle Ereck Flowers was atrocious: in the 2016-17 season, he was responsible for 7 of the 21 sacks, which resulted in a total loss of 56 yards. Ereck Flowers was the biggest issue of the offensive line, adding twelve penalties to his name and accruing a loss of 102 yards. The Giants could also never run the ball efficiently. Finishing with one of the worst ranks in the NFL, quarterback Eli Manning had roughly 1.5-2 seconds in the pocket, which was the league average in 3. Eli Manning would get sacked about once every game and it destroyed his ability to deliver for his team. While, the Giants still had an exceptional 2016-17 season, the poor offensive line remained an enormous problem as the team moved through the 2017 off-season and into the 2017-18 season.
As the Giants wrapped up the 2016-17 season with a 38-13 playoff loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, the number one question going into the off-season was how to improve the offensive line. Soon, the Giants picked up some free agents. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Geno Smith were signed from the Jets. As the NFL draft came along, the Giants still did not sign any good offensive line men–only washed-up, old players. The Giants ended up taking tight end Evan Engram from Ole Miss. A tight end was much needed for the team. Evan Engram was extremely versatile and had great hands. In the third round, the team drafted quarterback Davis Webb out of Cal and for unknown reasons, he did not set foot on the field for the entire year. On the sixth and final round of drafting, the Giants picked Adam Bisnowaty out of Pittsburgh, who turned out to be far from a show-stopper.
With the off season winding down, pre-season was right around the corner. Fans had high expectations for the new season after finishing 11-5 the season before, hoping to see the explosive Brandon Marshall make an immediate impact. However, the Giants’ offensive line remained the same.
Concluding, in 2-2 pre-season, the offensive line still seemed unprepared for what was to come. Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had an ankle injury and was forced to miss the first two games of the regular season. As the Giants moved into the regular season with their heads in the clouds, they had to square off against their division rival, the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants managed to put up only 3 points as they took a tragic loss to Dallas with a final score of 19-3. The defense looked solid but again, did not hold up. The Giants’ offensive line gave Eli Manning no time and the offense was nowhere to be found on the field. Unfortunately, the pain did not stop there. The Giants went on to lose the following four games. Despite having Odell Beckham Jr. back, they still had huge struggles. The whole NFL was shocked by one of the worst starts in franchise history with a record of 0-5. On top of the 0-5 start, during week 4 against the L.A Chargers, Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a broken ankle. Newly-signed Brandon Marshall also went down with an ankle injury. Both injuries ended the seasons for the top two wide receivers for the Giants. Meanwhile, receiver Sterling Shepard was battling injuries all season long.
Eli Manning, facing pressure, hit all too quickly; he had no time to throw the ball and no one solid to throw it too. However, the Giants finally picked up a win against the Denver Broncos to improve to a 1-5 record. Finishing with an overall record of 3-13, the team had the second worst record in the 2017-18 season. The Giants finished the regular season with 5,208 total yards and averaged about 15 points a game, ranking second to last in the NFL. The Giants offensive rank was 28th in the league. Eli Manning once again had roughly 1.5 seconds to throw the ball. Overall, he was sacked 34 times in the 2017 season.
Throughout the Giants’ horrendous season, the locker room chemistry was lacking. As week 11 rolled around, the Giants were only 2-9 and head coach Ben Mcadoo believed a change was needed. Quarterback Eli Manning had started 210 consecutive games, the second most amount of all time. However, coach Mcadoo ended up benching Eli and ending the streak, leaving Geno Smith to step in. The Giants went on to lose the game; fans were shocked. No one, including other NFL players, could believe that Eli Manning was not starting. After two Super Bowls and quality time on the field, he had been benched. L.A Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers stated, “Benching Eli was pathetic.” In truth, Eli Manning’s absence from the field was not the real problem for the Giants. The team was dismantled and lacked motivation to play. Coach Mcadoo and general manager Jerry Reese both ended up getting fired not only for what they did to Eli but for failing to energize the team.
As the Giants move into the off season, they must make several changes to improve their performance. The Giants must fix the defensive line and improve the offense, building a healthy and collaborative team. Hopefully, the Giants will prevail and come out ready to rock next season.