Every week this season we’ve taken a look at how the Eagles NFC East rivals have been doing… and for the most part, it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, like listening to a great love song or eating a box of Cheez-Its. Alas, like that box of delicious cheesy crackers, our time enjoying the demise of the Giants, Cowboys, and Washington has come to an end. At least for this season.
Without further ado, here’s a look back at what happened, and what’ll be happening, in the NFC East. Up first, the G-Men.
New York Giants (3-13)
2017 Headline: “Welp, That Was Unexpected”
What Happened: Y’know how in a cheeky comedy movie when everything seems to be going wrong, one of the characters will throw up their hands and yells “WELP, IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE!,” which promptly triggers a thunderstorm or a vehicle malfunction or a flock of pigeons delivering digestional deposits everywhere? That was essentially the 2017 New York Giants, with each calamity seemingly one-upping the next for eighteen consecutive weeks.
After an off-season that was inexplicably filled with Super Bowl expectations, the Giants dropped their first two games by a combined score of 43 to 13. Both the teams they lost to would end up missing the playoffs, and that was pretty much the high-water mark on the year, all things considered.
The Giants then went into Philly and ended up losing on a 61-yard field goal by Jake Elliott, a guy who at the time at the time might as well have been a Temple undergrad. The G-Men ended up losing their first five games, and it was that fifth defeat that saw Odell Beckham Jr. carted off with a leg injury that would end his (and essentially, the Giants) season.
That’s when the fun really started.
Following a Week 12 loss to NFC East rival Washington that dropped the deflated GMen to 2-9, then-Head Coach Ben McAdoo announced he would be benching longtime-mediocrity Eli Manning, ending his consecutive start streak at 210 games. McAdoo, presumably in an effort to save his own job, turned to Geno Smith, which was about as thought-out as Daniel Hillard thinking that cross-dressing and pretending to be a British nanny was the best way to win his family’s trust back.
John Mara (who lets not forget, wouldn’t even cut suspended domestic-abusing kicker Josh Brown until there was massive fan backlash) fired McAdoo the week after in the wake of massive fan backlash. That was the second-least surprising moment of the season, the first being the whole Geno-Couldn’t-Save-His-Coaches-Job thing. Interim Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo promptly put the 37-year-old Eli (it’s actually his birthday today!) back in the starting line-up, and the Giants would go on to lose three of their remaining four. #TrustTheProcess.
Through it all, the New York locker-room had more palace intrigue than the Trump White House, as seemingly every member of the Giants secondary got suspended at one point or another. The teams 2015 second-round pick Landon Collins even called 2016 first-round pick Eli Apple a cancer, then backtracked a few days later, which presumably makes everything hunky-dory. This is fine.
After a short search, the Giants hired former Giants employee Dave Gettleman to be the next General Manager of the Giants, a team he worked for for over fifteen years but never got a chance to run previously. Gettleman has already come out and said he expects Eli to be with the team in 2018, and he plans to pair the 37-year-old ManBoy with some head coaching re-tread like Jim Schwartz or Pat Shurmur. CONSPIRACY THEORY ALERT: Gettleman is only interviewing Schwartz this week to take his time away from game-planning for the Birds playoff game. FIRE SCHWARTZ, HE’S A DOUBLE AGENT!!!
One last quick note on Eli’s streak; it was the second-longest streak in NFL history, to Brett Favre’s of 297. Favre’s Packers, meanwhile, went 4-12 in 2005, a season just as miserable as this last one for Big Blue. They also went 6-10 in 2008. At no point did they even think of benching the Wrangler Jean Man, and they had Aaron Rodgers waiting in the wings both those seasons. Ritchie Kotite couldn’t have bungled this thing as badly as McAdoo did, even if rain had gotten on the play chart.
Eli (who lets never forgot, pouted his way to New York when the Chargers drafted him in 2004) may have the charisma of a dried-up starfish and be more overrated than the the new Star Wars movie (91% on Rotten Tomatoes!?), but the way his streak ended was about as poetic as that screaming goat in the Taylor Swift video…. just ten times funnier.
Positive Spin: It’s hard to imagine many Giants fans were clamoring for change before the season started, considering half of Jersey was booking flights to Minnesota before Week 1. However any Giants fan who can be honest with themselves will admit this team has been heading in a bad direction for awhile.
Remember when Ruben Amaro Jr. hired Ryne Sandberg to hang-out-with-but-eventually replace Charlie Manuel, and it was super-awkward and resulted in a situation as uncomfortable as a wet sock? That’s essentially what GM Jerry Reese tried to do with Ben McAdoo and Tom Coughlin, and unfortunately for Reese, the NFL doesn’t have an equivalent of the First Base Coach job for him to fall back on. The results, perhaps predictably, haven’t panned out, with the biggest bummer being we didn’t get any photos of Coughlin taking his hoagie and going home.
I wrote last week about the compiling mistakes under Reese’s leadership, the example given being a first-round pick being spent on Apple because previous first-round pick Prince Amukamara hadn’t worked out (and as a result, over $25 million being invested in veterans Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins). Reese has also spent heavily in free agency with mixed results (Jenkins and Olivier Vernon weren’t so hot in year two, and Brandon Marshall was a complete waste), and the complete neglect of the offensive line would make Chip Kelly blush. Despite two Super Bowl wins that almost seem accidental in hindsight and a QB he could consistently trot out for the past 14-years, Reese never built a roster that was truly feared throughout the NFL. Not once.
The Reese Era is over now, and even though Gettleman comes from the same tree, he’s a leaf of his own. Expect the Giants to head in a different direction in 2018, even if the new boss is saying publicly he intends to take the same route as the old boss.
Negative Spin: Here’s my take on the team two weeks ago:
“This team has no head coach, no general manager, no long-term answer at quarterback, no offensive line, no healthy wide receivers, no running backs, and no one outside of Landon Collins that’s young and exciting on defense. The only good thing that came out of this season is tight end Evan Engram and the exodus of Jerry Reese and the coach he hired. Odell Beckham’s return next year alone should put them over two wins, but they still have a huge number of over-priced veterans on defense who are about as interested in being a part of a rebuild as I am in an all-male reboot of HBO’s “‘Girls.’”
The only thing that’s changed is now they have a general manager. Oh, and both Collins and Engram got hurt.
What’s Next: Unless Gettleman is full of it, it’ll be up to Eli to decide whether he wants to come back or not in 2018. Remember, it was Peyton who asked out of Indy, and seeing Eli do the same (which seemed a foregone conclusion just a few weeks ago) is almost guaranteed if the GMen use the second overall draft pick on a QB.
However the bigger story in 2018 will be Odell Beckham, coming off a major injury but playing on the final year of his deal. Couple that with the fact that Dallas may be looking to part ways with Dez Bryant (and potentially sign a big-money upgrade to pair with Dak and Zeke), and there could be some very intense inter-division tampering over the next calendar year.
Check back tomorrow for Washington and Friday for Dallas.