Over the last four games, the New York Giants have shown who they are and why this is a team that is not primed to duplicate their 2011 run through the playoffs and to the Super Bowl.
In wins the past month over the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions, the Giants beat two teams likely headed to the playoffs and in the case of the Cowboys, swept the season series against the best tem in the NFC. But in losses at a very good Pittsburgh Steelers team and on Thursday night to a rebuilding Philadelphia Eagles franchise, the Giants showed that they are far from a complete team.
Now 10-5, the Giants will almost certainly get into the playoffs one way or another, whether by winning next Sunday at the Washington Redskins or backing in via some help this weekend. What they aren’t though is a complete team as Thursday night should have been a win, a game that was theirs for the taking, especially in the second half. It was a bad team with nothing to play for and the Giants stooped down to the level of their opponent.
The assessment of head coach Ben McAdoo after the loss isn’t a ringing endorsement of a team poised to win a couple of games in the playoffs where the teams will be substantially better than the hapless Eagles.
“We spotted them 14 points. We didn’t score touchdowns. We kicked field goals. We turned it over three times,” McAdoo said. “We didn’t handle the ball well enough. They won the penalty battle and we didn’t tackle well enough. I give Philly credit, they played winning football today.”
It comes down to an incomplete team with a porous offensive line and very little depth on defense. It is a top-heavy team, the effects of three straight poor drafts prior to this season beginning to show on the two-deep.
Where the Giants are now and likely for the rest of the season is a team dependent on a rebuilt defense to carry offense that moved the ball well against the Eagles but struggled with turnovers. It isn’t Eli Manning’s team, not this year and maybe not anymore.
What they are is decidedly mediocre, a double-digit win season built on beating up some of the league’s worst teams with a schedule that Alabama might be able to squeak out a win or two against.
But this is an inconstant team, shocking given the $200 million overhaul of the defense in free agency this offseason and the name players this offense boasts. The Giants still control their own destiny heading into next Sunday at Washington and should make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
But it isn’t a team that looks ready to add a fifth trophy to their case.
“That’s the most important thing; it’s in our hands. We know we had a couple of opportunities in the end to make some plays and we just didn’t come up with it,” wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. “It’s not the end of the season; we still have another game left to play. We just have to wait and see how things play out this weekend and go take care of business next weekend.”