The New York Giants have done their history. They know full well that, when they start 0-2 and have devastating injuries before the season even begins, they can make a Super Bowl run, as they did six years ago.
Which makes what happened Sunday all the more shocking. The Giants went to Carolina and remained among the ranks of the winless, losing 38-0 to the Panthers. Eli Manning spent much of the game on his backside, sacked seven times (and on four of the Giants’ first 10 snaps). The offense managed all of three yards in the first quarter and finished with 150 for the game.
It was the kind of wake-up call Robert Griffin III talked about after Washington fell to 0-3 in the dismal NFC East. And the kind of loss that doesn’t bode well for the Giants’ chances of becoming only the fourth team since 1990 make the playoffs after an 0-3 start.
“I think each and every man on this roster needs to go home and look in the mirror and understand what we need to do better to help this team,” Antrel Rolle said (via the New York Daily News). “Because right now, we don’t look so much like a team. . . . We’re not playing football. We’re participating in games instead of going out there and taking over games.”
It was particularly surprising to see the Giants play without heart after the tragedy that struck their coach’s family, Gary Myers of the Daily News writes.
All last week, the Giants spoke about winning one for Coughlin, whose 63-year-old younger brother John died last Monday from a fall. Coughlin gutted his way through the work week and then his players let him down. They didn’t have his back. As much as they wanted to provide him three hours of distraction from his grief, they gave him three hours of torture.
“Overall, ‘disappointing’ is not a strong enough word,” Coughlin said. “I expected more. We built towards more. . . . It just was not the competitive game that I thought it would be.”
This looks headed, ESPN’s Dan Graziano writes, toward “an offseason of overhaul” because there’s rot at the team’s foundation. From Graziano:
Two-time Super Bowl champions will start to feel as though they’re on a farewell tour. Coughlin himself isn’t going anywhere — he’ll coach the team as long as he wants to coach it. But this is starting to set up as the kind of year that makes you wonder how much longer he’ll want to. These Giants, because of the deterioration they’ve allowed to happen on their offensive line and in their defensive front seven, are on the cusp of a rebuilding project. There’s no other way to view what they’ve put on tape for the past calendar year.
The only bright spot is that the NFC East is wide open, but the Giants are realistic about their identity after the worst loss in Coughlin’s tenure and the Giants’ first 0-3 loss since 1996. That year, they finished 6-10.
“I don’t want to sit up there and say we’re better than the 0-3 team that we are [because] the facts are the facts,” Justin Tuck said. “We’re 0-3, and got a huge hill to climb.”
In their division, it’s not impossible.