The Giants (1–8) lost to the previously winless 49ers on Sunday, marking the second time in the last month that they’ve been a team’s first win of the season (they fell to the 0–5 Chargers back on Oct. 8). After a week where head coach Ben McAdoo battled anonymous quotes suggesting he’s lost the locker room, the team’s defense was again perforated by deep passing plays (Marquise Goodwin scored in the second quarter on an 83-yard deep ball). The offense was punchless, making it 13 straight games that they have failed to score 24 or more points—the longest streak in the NFL right now.
While the Giants' pragmatic ownership group would almost certainly not fire a coach mid-season—one person familiar with the team’s plans strongly refuted an errant, unconfirmed report about McAdoo losing his job last week—that doesn’t mean they do not experience those feelings. Co-owner John Mara, three years ago, said that he considered firing “everybody” on the team’s plane after a Tom Coughlin-led unit lost to the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
It’s likely he felt that way again on his way home from California on Sunday night. It's likely Mara remains in the shadows until the end of the season, but from where we’re sitting, there are only a few options left.
Here are the three directions the Giants can go in now:
1.Come out and confront the situation head on this week, announce McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese will survive and use injuries as an excuse. They can utilize the additional time remaining as both a live case-study in how the breakdowns are happening and a moment of levity with a frustrated fan base. Instruct both the general manager and head coach to give a mid-season mea culpa and prepare them for a public relations spin cycle like the world has never seen. This would be an unsavory option for just about everyone, and it would take a miraculous series of public performances to pacify a fan base that has gone hoarse complaining about McAdoo and Reese on local talk radio.
2. Change head coaches now, and see if that’s the problem. One thing Giants ownership has going for them? A sea of loyal coaches working underneath McAdoo that they could trust to operate the ship for seven games. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was with the Giants from 2004-11, and returned in ’15. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was the team’s defensive coordinator in 2007 and ’08, and returned in ’15. Kevin Gilbride, who was with the Giants from 2004 to ’13, has a son, Kevin Jr., on the staff. Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn has been with the franchise since 2006. This would be a shocking option, but has grown less so over the last few weeks. Three years ago, it would have been stunning to fathom the league’s most family-oriented team shifting coaches around Thanksgiving. But now? The Giants are 1–8 and staring down a remaining schedule that includes the 8–1 Eagles, the Cowboys, the Chiefs and Washington twice. Could they stomach the sight of an empty MetLife Stadium on New Years Eve?
3. Stick to the protocol and batten down the hatches. The Giants have always preferred to conduct a thorough evaluation of the season AFTER the season ends. They take their time, dissect every game, roster spot and coach, and emerge with sweeping decisions. If this is their charted course, it may be the ultimate test of Mara’s resolve. This team, despite suggestions from the coaching staff, appears to have given up. Nearly every club remaining on their schedule is in the playoff hunt and they were not effective enough to contain 49ers rookie third-round pick C.J. Beathard on Sunday.