By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
For all of Ben McAdoo’s talk of brutal honesty during Wednesday’s team meeting, one wonders if any of it will impact what happens out there Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
After all, the Giants couldn’t muster up consistent effort against one of the NFL’s worst teams. Now, facing one of the NFL’s best, it’s anybody’s guess whether that way-too-late, group-shame has lit even a spark of a fire under the posteriors of McAdoo’s players.
Chances are, it hasn’t. And a third successive meltdown, this time against truly outstanding talents like Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, not to mention reborn thrower Alex Smith, will be directly attributed to the lack of high-character players on a team that has always prided itself on finding those never-say-die guys.
If it was McAdoo’s intention to embarrass his team into quality play, it was a dubious goal at best. How does one shame a Janoris Jenkins, who has yet to stand up and be counted publicly after the quitter’s effort he laid out there in Santa Clara last week? The cornerback, still due the remainder of a guaranteed $29 million for the first two years of his five-year, $62 million contract, avoided postgame questioning before offering up a rather weak response on Wednesday.
This, remember, comes on top of the one-game suspension he failed to alert his coaches about a tardy return from the bye week.
Eli Apple’s effort hasn’t looked anywhere near worthy of a first-round talent. And that dates back to last season as a rookie. But he actually hit bottom two games ago on Robert Woods’ roadrunner act on a third-and-33 screen. The only thing Apple didn’t do was wave farewell as Woods sped past him on the final leg of his 52-yard touchdown sprint.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, whose age and injuries have finally caught up with him, hasn’t done much of anything positive since his Week 6 suspension for throwing his equipment following an in-game argument with McAdoo over his usage against the Chargers.
Going slightly further into the past, there was Odell Beckham, Jr. in the Philly end zone doing Downward Peeing Dog. Or rookie Evan Engram grabbing himself in a spot that should never be touched in front of 80,000 people.
At least Beckham is no longer a part of this mess. And Engram seems to have learned his rookie lesson in comportment and has continued to play hard.
The others can’t say the same.
One question is whether McAdoo’s little session can change enough attitudes to at least put up a fight against the AFC West leader as it tries to catch the Steelers or Patriots for a potential bye and to avoid Wildcard Weekend.
Another involves McAdoo’s own credibility. Where was all this weeks ago as his team started its plunge? All his talk about running to adversity and the great personal opportunity that 1-8 presents tends to have a hollow ring coming from a coach who has shown as much emotion on the sidelines as in the interview room.
Which is to say, none.
This, after all, is a man whose trouble starts with vocabulary problems. His refusal to characterize the 51-17 loss to the Rams as embarrassing was glaring.
One can only hope he was more forthcoming than “disappointed” with his team as the film revealed the efforts, or lack thereof, of the past two games. After all, disappointed is when your kid fails a test. Embarrassed is when that kid throws down his pen and walks out halfway through his midterm.
Then again, with too many players showing their too-faded colors in this time of adversity, McAdoo’s team may be beyond phraseology. The Giants’ problems are not language-based.
They are heart-based.
And no amount of shaming will pull pride out of a player who has just plain quit.
Please follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino