By Jason Keidel
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Most NFL teams gaze amorously upon their bye week, like an oasis, or an injection of essential midseason medicine. Depending upon the team’s status or place in the standings, it’s a chance to rest, recharge or reload.
In the Giants’ case, it was time for a reboot.
Yet it will take a lot more than a weekend off to fix the maladies that plague Big Blue. As the trade deadline came and went Tuesday, the Giants can’t do the one thing that will fix them — travel back two months in time and start the season over.
At 1-6, the Giants aren’t going to make or approach the playoffs. And for a team known for late-season surges under former coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning, this iteration is dissolving.
Pick a problem. They can’t run the ball or protect the quarterback. They at least had a potent passing attack, but in one game they lost their two top receivers (Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall) for the season, with their third-best receiver (Sterling Shepard) still barely healthy enough to play the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday.
Some disgruntled or disgusted fans suggest the G-Men should have traded Manning. Yes, the answer is always to boot the most successful player in franchise history, who shows up every week, every game and every play, who’s taken a biblical pounding over 14 years, who never misses a snap and has won two Super Bowl MVP awards. Chalk it up to childish emotion.
Now the Giants welcome the resurgent Rams — suddenly a scoring machine — without their top cornerback. If the injury bug doesn’t bite the Giants, then indifference does. The suspension saga of Dominique Rogers-Cromartie has now been followed by the soap opera of Janoris Jenkins, who was also suspended for a violation of team rules — missing Monday’s practice without talking to the organization until the following day.
Not what you want to see against the newly potent Rams. Led by wunderkind head coach Sean McVay, they have done a total remake of quarterback Jared Goff and a fine refueling of Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley while tweaking an offense that now scores points in bunches. Already offensive on offense, the Giants could at least rely on a robust defense to keep them in the game — that is, when they can keep their players on the field.
The Giants are in full collapse, and it has rendered players mutinous and general manager Jerry Reese eulogizing the team before its eighth game. Reese asserted that the team was guilty of buying and reveling in the preseason hype that had them at least repeating their 11-5 campaign in 2016, if not more. Valid or not, Reese’s dour musings have the media and masses wondering if coach Ben McAdoo gets a mulligan for this lost season or if he’s squirming on the vocational hot seat.
A team that veers vaguely off course doesn’t often get a coach fired. But the kind of collapse we’re seeing inside MetLife Stadium, where we find an amalgam of injury, apathy and incompetence, is the kind of thing that tends to prompt sweeping regime changes. The Mara family has shown glacial patience with personnel, particularly in management. It’s not their style to whack head coaches after two seasons. Still, you wonder how they metabolize a 3-13 record, if that’s how 2017 unfolds.
Maybe McAdoo doesn’t deserve to get canned. If he’s to blame for this eyesore of a season, then doesn’t he get credit for last season? There are so many holes in this club and this season, it’s almost impossible to pin it on one person.
But there’s something toxic about this team, that either Reese or McAdoo must find and remove.
Or perhaps one, or both, will be gone next season.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel