By Steve Silverman
The New York Giants have gone through a miserable half-season of football and their bye week. The question is, what can be done from this point to gain anything from the 2018 season?
Let the record show that an 8-0 second half would result in a 9-7 record that could lead to a playoff position. However, that is not happening with this team and everyone involved with the organization knows it.
The Giants have the most basic problem a team can have in the current era of NFL football. You can’t win without an effective quarterback, and there is little doubt about Eli Manning at this point. He has had a sensational career that includes two Super Bowl victories against the Patriots, which could lead to some interesting Hall of Fame discussions down the road.
But, whether Eli belongs in the Hall of Fame or not has nothing to do with the way he has played in the last two seasons.
The problem is not with his arm or his head – it is just a matter of getting older and slower. Eli cannot set up or move quickly enough to get away from the majority of the game’s pass rushers at this point. Giants fans had to know this last year when Ben McAdoo had the temerity to replace Eli, but it was unacceptable that an unproven head coach who was not very good at his job could make such a move.
It was the right move, but McAdoo was the wrong man to make it. That’s why he got fired.
That is often how life works. When the wrong guy in the office makes a suggestion that impacts others with higher pay grades, it doesn’t matter that the suggestion was a good one. The higher-ups don’t like it.
It’s even worse when the guy making the suggestions has been sloppy at his own job and made mistakes in other areas. That set of circumstances gives the higher-ups the chance to fire someone almost immediately. Being right or wrong has almost nothing to do with it. Everyone has to know the politics of their home office situation and since McAdoo didn’t, he got fired.
Pat Shurmur doesn’t have that problem right now, at least as far as the quarterback position is concerned. However, he can’t blindly go along, waving his arms in the air while saying “what can I do”.
He has to fix what he can and make changes in the game plan with other personnel to give the Giants a fighting chance to improve in the second half of the season.
It won’t be easy, but another 1-7 half will not necessarily buy Shurmur another year as head coach. He has two excellent weapons in Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr., and he must depend on them.
That’s the easy part, because it’s obvious how much talent both men have. The hard part is figuring out how to deploy them. Every opponent left on the Giants schedule will make stopping Barkley and the ground game the No. 1 priority. It’s going to be very difficult to overcome that issue.
But that’s what good coaches do.
Bill Belichick did not have rookie running back Sony Michel in the lineup either of the last two weeks. The New England ground options were limited, so Belichick took the unprecedented step of using speedy wideout Cordarrelle Patterson as a running back even though Patterson had never been a running back before. The decision worked with Patterson tallying 61 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
It is clearly a lot easier to look for alternatives when Tom Brady is your quarterback, but it can be done. If it requires out of the box thinking, so be it.
Shurmur does not have a free pass merely because his quarterback can’t get the job done any more. He doesn’t have to turn the Giants into champions in the second half, but they do have to improve and show that they are not the Oakland Raiders.
If he can’t get them on track and play some semblance of professional football in the final eight games, he does not deserve to be back.