The sixth 0-2 start in the last seven years for the New York Giants has proven again how quickly narratives change in pro football.
In the NFL, and more so in the state of New York, comfortable narratives are for the foolish. As Alec Baldwin said at the beginning of his narration for the 1990 New York Giants‘ America’s Game documentary, “In a New York minute, everything can change.”
Narratives alter in the blink of an eye in both New York and in pro football. One story will dominate a week, and one loss the following Sunday could change it all. That’s exactly what’s happened with the Giants once again this season.
This is becoming somewhat of a tradition for the Giants.
Remember heading into the 2017 regular season? The Giants were ranked No. 3 in the Bleacher Report power rankings. I’m not kidding. If you don’t recall, they were a playoff team the year prior with an 11-5 record and a dominating Landon Collins-led defense. It ended with a loss in Green Bay that had fingers pointing to a boat trip, but we won’t get into that.
All of sudden, to start 2017, there were losses to Dallas and Detroit. Then a 61-yard field goal from Jake Elliott of the Eagles to put the Giants at 0-3. Then Odell Beckham Jr.‘s season-ending injury. A few weeks after that, a horrid loss to the LA Rams in which Big Blue allowed 51 points. In the midst of all this, the team suspended Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
All of that turmoil in 13 weeks. The overall narrative of how successful the Giants were changed completely in that amount of time.
Fast forward to 2018. A new head coach in Pat Shurmur and a new general manager in Dave Gettleman. Not to mention, Saquon Barkley was now a Giant and OBJ was back, healthy, and signed to a new five-year extension. There was newfound confidence for this team after a horrible 3-13 finish in 2017.
By the time their bye week rolled around, that confidence had disappeared.
A 1-7 start. A “house cleaning” that included trades of Eli Apple and defensive lineman Damon Harrison. It also wouldn’t be a recent Giants season without conversations of when they’re parting ways with Manning at the helm.
And now, in 2019, it’s happening again.
Many fans went into this season with some positives. That’s not to say there weren’t some negative feelings about the team. However, there were reasons to believe this year would be better than the last two.
An improved offensive line was one reason to feel this team would improve. The trade for guard Kevin Zeitler, the re-signing of center Jon Halapio, and the free-agent signing of tackle Mike Remmers. Now they could actually have blockers for Barkley, who’s coming off a sensational rookie campaign.
The Giants improved their pass-rush during the offseason as well. That was another reason to believe in this team. Lorenzo Carter is a second-year player with potential. Markus Golden had 12.5 sacks for Arizona just a few years ago. Oshane Ximines is a rookie edge rusher who showed a good amount of potential in the preseason.
Then, there was a young group of defensive backs that could have the potential to bloom together in this league. This group consists of young talent like Jabrill Peppers, DeAndre Baker, Corey Ballentine, and Julian Love.
Oh, and finally, the Giants have a new quarterback (Daniel Jones) that some were hoping wouldn’t see the field until the future. The rookie from Duke riding the pine would mean Big Blue was actually winning games.
All of these reasons were proof that there was at least some belief in this organization for this season.
Now, after two weeks, that’s all over. Once again, the narrative has changed. It’s gone from “better offensive line for a great running back” to “why aren’t we running the ball more?”
It’s gone from a “young, promising group of defensive backs” and “potentially dominant pass rushers” to “oh look, they’re No. 30 in the league in pass defense” and “why is Janoris Jenkins already playing the blame game with the pass rush?”
Lastly, it’s gone from “let’s groom our rookie quarterback for the future” to “okay enough with Eli let’s see what this Jones kid can do in a starting role.” This one could become a reality sooner than we think, especially with what Shurmur mentioned in his press conference on Monday.
And if the Giants keep losing, the narratives will continue to change even more. There will be even more concerning topics of conversation. Some topics they won’t even want to discuss but will have to.
The questions could very well turn into “are Shurmur and Gettleman both on the hot seat?” Give it a few more losses and that could become a huge topic of conversation.
As I’ve mentioned, NFL narratives change quickly when a team is struggling. The Giants are evidential proof of that.