In a game that could’ve propelled the Giants right back into the midst of the NFL playoff conversation, Big Blue fell flat in the most embarrassing way, despite fighting back from a huge hole.
By Jeff Weisinger
The script was there.
History was on their side; and with a chance to take down the big cats of the NFL, the New York Giants not only fell flat on their face for four quarters, they saw their star receiver completely lose composure and focus.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) December 20, 2015
The Giants 38-35 loss to the still-undefeated Carolina Panthers on Sunday will mostly focus on the “valiant” comeback by the Giants in the fourth quarter and the ridiculous antics of Odell Beckham Jr., who is luckier than anyone that he wasn’t ejected for half of his actions on Sunday.
But let’s begin with the positives from Sunday’s loss: if we can even call it that. The Giants proved that they don’t quit all too easily. Carolina took their foot off of the gas pedal after going up 35-7 and the Giants responded, making play after play on both sides of the ball to spark a rally. At least they were willing to go down fighting.
That’s enough positives for one column, now let’s get down to business.
It should be a shock to anyone if Head Coach Tom Coughlin continues to lead the Giants in 2016. With his team set to miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, it seems to be about time for a refreshing change in East Rutherford. Including this season, the Giants are just 28-34 since their 2011 Super Bowl run, which was also their last appearance. They’ve recorded just one winning record during the span, going 9-7 in 2012 and have since been mediocre at best, on pace to record their third-straight losing season.
This season the Giants have been horrible defensively, more specifically in the final minute of games with the Giants either tied or even leading by 10. It’s safe to say that in the final minute, Big Blue has the softest two-minute defense in the league and Sunday’s loss against the perfect Panthers was just the latest example.
Offensively they haven’t gotten it done as well as everyone thought they would have. Poor play-calling, horrible execution, the lack of a solid and healthy offensive line, and terrible clock management in the first few weeks of the season cost the Giants a winning record; and while that part falls on quarterback Eli Manning, it also has to fall as much, if not more, on Coughlin and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who’s west coast offense may not be the best thing for the east coast Giants.
Overall, they continue to give opponents the advantage, while continuously missing out on their own. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie dropped what would’ve been a huge pick-six, Rashad Jennings fumbled the ball inside the Giants side of the 50, leading to a go-ahead Carolina score early on and the Giants offense couldn’t get a thing going in their two-minute offense in the first half, sparking Carolina’s run to a 21-7 halftime lead.
Let’s not forget about Beckham’s drop in the opening drive. That was a complete game-changer.
— NFL (@NFL) December 20, 2015
In short, Sunday was the latest example of the typical Giants. And that’s something that has to be considered for change; and that change starts with the head coach.
Coughlin’s evolution from tough, disciplinarian coach to a softer, players-coach has changed the atmosphere around the Giants organization. While he needed to soften up a bit early on in his career, now would’ve been the time for him to drift back into his old ways. The fact that he let Beckham continue to play despite his antics in the game, proving that he doesn’t really have any control of this team. The old Tom Coughlin would’ve sent Beckham home as proof that no one player is bigger than the team, and the fact that Beckham was allowed to continue, despite catching the game-tying touchdown, shows the complete opposite.
“He’s got the maturity of a little kid,” Panthers cornerback Josh Norman said of Beckham afterwards.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 20, 2015
“He did lose his composure,” Coughlin added on Beckham. “I think throughout the course of the game he regained it. I won’t try to speak for him.”
Beckham, for what it’s worth, defended his actions.
“You are a competitor. I’m a competitor. We are always going to go at it,” he explained. “Anybody who has played sports – you are competitive and you are going to go as hard as you can.”
He was held without a catch until midway through the third quarter, had a huge drop on the Giants opening drive, which would’ve went for a touchdown, followed by another drop later on
Beckham’s immature approach to Sunday’s game was a similar approach the Giants took – just more of the extreme. Like Beckham read and saw all week about his matchup with Norman, the Giants read and saw about their runs, particularly defeating undefeated teams late in the season. Carolina gave them chances to win, or at least stay in it throughout, and when the lights shined brightest, they came out flat and threw a tantrum while doing so.
The Giants loss, their fourth in the last five games, puts them a game behind in the NFC East race with two games left to play. Big Blue isn’t guaranteed a playoff spot if they win-out, putting them face-to-face with another year missing the playoffs in another year where they “should’ve been” a Super Bowl contender.
So much for stepping up to the occasion as, you know, history was supposed to have it.