The New York Giants’ season is officially on life support. Wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is likely done for the year. Quarterback Eli Manning looks lost without him. Nearly every other available wideout was knocked out of the lineup in yesterday’s 27-22 loss to the previously-winless Los Angeles Chargers. And up next is a date with the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, with their league-best secondary, the No Fly Zone, salivating at this matchup.
The carnage was so bad, yesterday, that following Beckham’s gruesome injury, the Giants (0-5) fielded three tight ends on the field, posing as wide receivers. Trailing by five points with 2:53 remaining in the game, left guard Justin Pugh said he noticed something odd in the huddle.
“It didn’t hit me and then I was like, ‘Wait, why do we have three tight ends out here?’” Pugh remembers thinking to himself.
The anomaly was because Big Blue had previously lost its three starting wideouts and their top reserve at the position. Beckham suffered a season-ending fractured ankle. Fellow starters Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard each had ankle injuries. And Dwayne Harris suffered a season-ending broken foot. Marshall and Shepard left the game with their injuries in a span of 1:17 in the second quarter.
Disasters are everywhere for the Giants, as they’re 0-5 for just the fourth time in their 93-year history. And it came at the expense of a Chargers’ squad that entered the game in a franchise tailspin of their own with the botched and much-criticized move to San Diego, playing home games in a miniature soccer stadium, and entering the game with a nine-game losing streak.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Big Blue gave away a fourth-quarter lead for the third consecutive week. The microcosm of this appalling season came in a sequence that didn’t even last one minute of game action. Beckham endured a painful and tearful carting off, Manning lost a fumble on the very next play, and three plays after that – on third-and-nine – Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers threw the deciding 10-yard touchdown pass to running back Melvin Gordon.
Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo is already reportedly on the hot seat in just his second year at the helm. Gone are those good feelings of an 11-5 record and playoff berth in his maiden season, and it’s now been replaced with contempt and grumblings.
Nevertheless, the coach said no one is going to feel sorry for the Giants and his team simply must regroup and soldier onward.
“You learn a lot about yourself in times like these,” McAdoo said. “So you’ve got to work for yourself, work for your teammates. We’re all pros. This is what we get paid to do. We get paid to win, not just compete. So we’ve got to find a way to win.”
Manning echoed those sentiments.
“Obviously, it’s tough to have close games, and have leads, and not be able to make completions, and make mistakes that hurt the team,” Manning said. “It’s tough to swallow, but you keep fighting back.”
The Giants’ locker room is full of professionals with character and there are plenty of fighters on the team, but without Beckham and the unknown statuses of Marshall and Shepard going forward, this season will remain a lopsided fight. Roger Lewis, Jr. is the only healthy wideout on the active roster, although the Giants are reportedly expected to re-sign September castoff Tavarres King this week. Big Blue can’t afford to regularly trot out a bunch of tight ends as wideouts anymore, as they did when Jerell Adams, Rhett Ellison, and rookie Evan Engram came in following the Beckham injury, so hopefully at least Marshall and Shepard can return this week to take on the Broncos.
Ellison said he knows what people were thinking and saying when they saw three tight ends on the field as a part of the Giants’ base formation, but he noted the trio can be productive because they all know their own assignments as well as the wideouts’ responsibilities.
“As a tight end, you have to know the [wide receiver] position. I have to know those reps whether I practice them or not,” said Ellison.
Engram said he’ll be ready to contribute more as a wide receiver if called upon.
“It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We have packages where I’m split out wide … I’m kind of familiar with the offense enough to know what’s going on up there,” Engram said. “It wasn’t that much of a difficult adjustment. I felt comfortable out there. The next guy has to step up.”
Guys will indeed have to step up and get the Giants back on track. And if not, an already lost season will fall further into the abyss.