Ben McAdoo stood behind a lectern Sunday evening, as overmatched in front of a gaggle of New York reporters as his football team is on the field on a weekly basis. He talked a lot about watching the tape, and players being honest with each other, and a lot of other things nobody had any interest in hearing. He was asked, at one point, whether he’d have to address his situation with players.
“What situation?” McAdoo snapped. “We have to go correct the tape, all right? We have to go correct the tape. We get to go play one of the best teams in football next week. There’s no situation.”
Well, Coach, there is a situation: Your team, the New York Giants, has experienced a season constructed solely of nadirs, and you should probably find a decent real estate agent. Last Sunday, the Giants lost, 51-17, at home, coming off a bye week. Somehow, things got worse. The Giants this week lost to a previously winless team, with much of the fourth quarter a largely noncompetitive exercise.
“It got away from us today,” McAdoo said. “We got to take a long, hard look at the tape.”
The Giants’ 31-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers would look like a horror movie. Against a team that had scored 10 points three straight weeks, led by a third-round rookie quarterback, the Giants yielded 31 points. The damage included an 83-yard bomb to Marquise Goodwin and a 47-yard touchdown reception by Garrett Celek, who rumbled into the end zone past Janoris Jenkins, who on the play resembled a conscientious objector more than a tackler.
Jenkins’s questionable effort added to the reel of evidence against McAdoo. This week, he called reports that he’d lost the team “fake news.” But the signs that he had were present again. The Giants quite obviously do not play for him. Last week, they surrendered a 48-yard touchdown on third and 33. This week, the Giants led, 13-10, with two minutes left in the first half. Then came Jenkins’s whiff of a tackle attempt, and the 49ers scored 21 straight points as the Giants wilted.
The idea of McAdoo returning next year is out of the question, not that it was much of a debate before Sunday. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s fired before next week, or even before he has a chance to sit down in front of the projector.
The question for the Giants now is what they can get out of this season. The first thing they can do is gather information on how to proceed at quarterback. Eli Manning is 36 and looks it. He threw another two interceptions Sunday. His 208 consecutive starts are worthy of celebration. But that streak has to end some time, and Manning’s performance this season has lost him the benefit of the doubt.
The Giants need to find out whether Davis Webb, a third-round draft pick this year, might be a valid option as a future starter. The Giants likely will have a top-three pick, which will put them in position to pick one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the draft.
McAdoo will not be around when the Giants’ next quarterback takes over, but he claimed ignorance Sunday. “We got seven games left,” McAdoo said. “We got a lot of football left to play.” All that means, for these Giants, is that another new low is likely on the way.
>>> Teddy Bridgewater didn’t play, but he was still one of the best stories of Sunday, as Dan Steinberg writes. The Vikings have a fascinating circumstance at quarterback, with Case Keenum leading a 7-2 team and their once and presumably future franchise quarterback back in the fold. Coach Mike Zimmer was coy, saying he has a plan, but plans can change.
>>> Jerry Jones got the cold shoulder from Arthur Blank as the Falcons smoked the Cowboys, Kent Babb reports. Jones is threatening to sue NFL owners over Roger Goodell’s contract extension, and it’s so miffed Blank, who runs the compensation committee, that Blank wouldn’t visit with Jones before the game. During it, the Falcons drilled the Cowboys, 24-7, as defensive end Adrian Clayborn beat Dallas tackle Chaz Green for six — six! — sacks. Coach Jason Garrett did a horrible job not getting Green more help blocking Clayborn.
>>> The Saints are Super Bowl-worthy after trouncing the Bills for their seventh straight win, Mark Maske writes. It’s remarkable how much different these Saints play than their recent predecessors. Drew Brees didn’t throw a touchdown pass, and they still scored 47 points. Maybe even more surprising, based on past years, they allowed 10 points. The Saints actually have a team made for January.
>>> One of the most remarkable and overlooked moments of Sunday belonged to Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver tandem of Jaydon Mickens and Allen Hurns, who showed a combination of guts, smarts and poise in a clutch moment.
Near the end of regulation, the Jaguars trailed the Chargers, 17-14. Hurns caught a pass on second and 10 with 50 seconds left and, trying to scamper out of bounds, was tackled low, injuring one of his knees. Hurns crawled off the field, dragging himself on one knee, keeping his head despite the pain — if Hurns hadn’t gotten off the field, the Jags would’ve had to take a ruinous 10-second runoff.
When Hurns reached the sideline, Mickens, a rookie out of Washington, charged on to take his position in the slot for third and four. Mickens ran a drag route, came open, grabbed a pass and alertly sprinted out of bounds to stop the clock with 29 seconds left, giving the Jaguars a first down with an 11-yard gain.
Mickens, the reigning AFC special teams player of the week, had only recently come off the practice squad and remained deep down the depth chart. His poise belied his experience — it was the first catch of his NFL career. And Mickens only had the chance because Hurns shook off an injury and gutted his way to the sideline.
Four plays later, Josh Lambo kicked the game-tying field goal, and after an A.J. Bouye interception, the Jaguars won in overtime. The Jaguars moved to 6-3, already their most victories since 2010. They couldn’t have done without Mickens and Hurns.
>>> Days after the Seahawks possibly violated the NFL’s concussion protocol with Russell Wilson, the Colts might be in similar trouble with their quarterback. Jacoby Brissett didn’t go through a long enough protocol after taking a scary shot to the head. The NFL has to do better, as evidenced by the video.
>> The Rams had another impressive offensive showing, hitting their average with 33 points as Robert Woods caught two touchdowns, including a 94-yarder in the third quarter. But the Rams’ victory over the Texans really showed off the way their defense continues to improve. The Rams forced four turnovers, and they have allowed only six touchdowns in their past seven games. The Rams have beaten beat-up and bad teams the past three weeks, but they’ve outscored the Cardinals, Giants and Texans, 117-24. Their defense, gaining familiarity with first-year coordinator Wade Phillips, could make them really scary.
>> John Fox could be in trouble in Chicago. The Bears were woeful in a 23-16 loss at home to the Packers, coming off a bye. Fox made one of the most disastrous challenges imaginable. Running back Benny Cunningham dived for the right pylon, but officials ruled him short of the goal line. Fox challenged, hoping for a touchdown. Officials ruled Cunningham had actually lost the ball, so instead of first and goal, the Bears lost the ball to the Packers in a touchback. It will be talked about long after Fox is fired, as Rich Campbell writes. And that could be soon, as David Haugh says.
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