2017 was a year the New York Giants would rather soon forget.
The year began well enough. Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, the Giants knocked the division rival Washington Redskins out of the postseason picture. The Giants were coming off an 11-5 season and made their first playoff appearance since winning Super Bowl XLVI.
Unfortunately, the team found themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The Giants’ receiving corps took an ill-advised trip to Miami on their off-day. Pictures of their excursion were all over the news and social media. When the Giants were throttled by the Green Bay Packers in the final game of Wild Card Weekend, the receiving corps’ Florida field trip was cited as a reason for the loss.
In spite of the playoff loss, the Giants were positioned to take the next step in the 2017 season…or so they thought.
The Giants were doomed before training camp even began. They failed to address their greatest weakness, the offensive line, in any meaningful way. Once Odell Beckham Jr. injured his ankle during a preseason game and tried to return too soon, the Giants were officially on the clock for a high pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Giants began the 2017 regular season with five consecutive losses, none more stinging than the 27-24 Week 3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. A 24-point Giants fourth quarter rally was eliminated by a game winning 61-yard field goal from Eagles rookie Jake Elliott. The Giants never got over that loss psychologically.
Two weeks later, in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Giants’ top four receivers were all injured in the same game. Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris were all lost for the season. By season’s end, the Giants would have a league-high 22 players on injured reserve.
The Giants had to contend with player suspensions. Cornerbacks Eli Apple, Janoris Jenkins, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all missed time at various points in the season for their behavior. The team also bungled the benching of Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback who owned the second-longest consecutive start streak by a quarterback in NFL history.
These matters, along with the lack of production on the field, led to the in-season firings of head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. The Giants hadn’t fired a coach in the middle of the season in more than 40 years. McAdoo was replaced on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Spagnuolo fared no better, only winning one of his four games as interim head coach. The Giants hired Dave Gettleman to succeed Reese. He immediately began placing his stamp on the team by terminating a long-time Giants executive and benching two players who haven’t earned their keep.
The Giants ended 2017 the same way they began it by beating Washington. They finished with a 3-13 record, setting a franchise record for most losses in a season. Their mark of futility means they own the second overall pick in April’s draft. The last time the Giants had the second overall pick they selected Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1981.
The Giants have plenty of decisions to make in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
They still have to find a head coach. They also need to make a decision on Manning, who turns 37 on Wednesday. No. 10 has two years remaining on his deal and a no-trade clause. They will more than likely select Manning’s successor in the draft. The Giants also have to decide whether to give Beckham the huge payday he wants or trade him for a king’s ransom of draft picks, a la what the Dallas Cowboys did with Herschel Walker nearly thirty years ago.
The Giants’ 2017 season was the worst in franchise history in every way conceivable. They couldn’t score (ranked 31st in total offense) and couldn’t stop anyone from scoring (ranked 32nd in total defense). Their special teams was especially awful as well. They literally cannot get any worse than they were this past season.
Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, the Giants were a playoff team. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for them to get back to the postseason in 2018.