Giants - Dolphins Preview: Can We Just Fast Forward to the End?

Bob Folger

With three games left in this catastrophe of a season, the ragtag Giants have the look of a team “tanking it” for a high draft pick.

It’s a serious accusation and they have denied that is the case, claiming that they seek to win every game. But looks can be deceiving given how week after week after week, it's the same mistakes being made, the same ineptness being show and the same results being recorded int he team's record books.  

This week, the Giants will face another team accused of “tanking it,” though to be fair, the Dolphins issues came early from off-the-field decisions (plus the Dolphins have been a team that has actually started to show more signs of progress than the Giants, even as they try to beat the Giants for a higher draft pick in next spring's annual player selection meeting). 

The Giants’ tanking is more of an on-field thing. Between the lines, they have the look of a gang that can’t shoot straight.

The Dolphins rebuilding strategy was to stockpile draft picks and cap space by ridding themselves of name players with big contracts, as well as jettisoning some legit young talent, leaving their roster (apparently) gutted.

From the start they were non-competitive through seven games … then something happened. They became something of a competitive team, rallying to their current 3-10 record.

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What changed?

Coaching has been a big part of it. So has been the play at the quarterback position.

The Dolphins’ only two significant off-season acquisitions were at quarterback. After Josh Rosen struggled early, journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took over and instantly made this team competitive.

Now the gun-slinging Fitzpatrick will be facing the worst Giants pass defense in memory. And it’s Fitzpatrick’s presence that tells us the Giants have a slim to none chance of winning this game.

Look for Fitzpatrick to come out throwing the ball on every down, as that’s how you beat these Giants, who by the way look as thhough they're going to be without cornerback Janoris Jenkins this weekend.

Everybody knows this is the way to beat the Giants, and Dolphins head Coach Brian Flores is no fool. He also has his team playing hard and headed in the right direction.

The Giants can only wish they had someone like him. Instead, head coach Pat Shurmur is on the hot seat, and for good reason. He hasn’t shown any of the leadership, game-planning or game-management skills that Flores has been displaying week in and week out.

As for “tanking it,” last week’s second-half performance by the Giants felt like just that.

If it wasn’t Eli Manning’s game falling off the cliff after a scintillating first half, it was Alec Ogletree once again freelancing and miscommunicating all over the place. That’s two team captains coming up very small when it counted. It felt like the call had come down from up high on Mount Olympus to allow the Eagles back in the game.

You can almost live with the rookie mistakes, such as Sam Beal's two costly penalties on the Eagles' game-tying drive--except it just seems like the mistakes keep happening over and over and over with no end in sight.

The ultimate blame for that second-half collapse ultimately falls on the head coach and his coordinators. Their responses to second-half Eagles adjustments were as small as their immediate futures.

As for the players, Manning’s first half was impressive by any standard. He showed his age in the second half, but like his electric running back Saquon Barkley, he got little help from his coaches.

Barkley looked closer to his old self and should have been used more. It’s a tired refrain of this lost season. This coaching staff simply cannot find a way to utilize their best talent.

As for Ogletree and his lack of smarts in coverage, it’s as plain as the nose on your face. Ogletree is leading no one out there with his play and it's hard to envision a scenario where he's back in 2020.

Where do the young players on this team go for leadership? Make no mistake, there’s young talent on this team. How do the kids learn how to win when the leaders can’t show them the way?

This team lacks leadership at every level. There's no other way to put it.  So what's left to do? We hate to say it but they need to start over, and that includes ensuring they have the highest possible draft pick in the spring.  

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