ATLANTA — New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur had no regrets about his decision to go for a two-point conversion down eight points late in Monday night’s 23-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons or two straight failed quarterback sneak calls that cost them valuable seconds in the final minute.
The decision to go for two was a situation Shurmur said they discussed internally prior to the game. He went with the same approach used by Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago against the Minnesota Vikings.
“I just felt like, we’d discussed internally the math on that,” Shurmur said. “I felt like we had a good play, and I liked our two-point play selections, and we just didn’t quite get it done.”
Shurmur came into his postgame news conference ready to defend his decision. Pederson was also criticized after the Eagles lost to the Vikings but said the decision was backed by analytics.
The math backs up Pat Shurmur’s decision to go for two down eight points with less than five minutes to go. Going for it then gives Shurmur an informational advantage. If the Giants convert, then on their next touchdown they know they only need to kick a PAT to take the lead (assuming no other scores). If they fail, which they did, they have an opportunity to go for it again to tie. The long and short of it: converting once is much more likely than failing twice.
Seth Walder, ESPN Analytics5h ago
The Giants ended up failing on the first two-point conversation attempt and converting the second. It proved irrelevant because the Falcons kicked a field goal in between.
“I think it’s an aggressive approach,” Shurmur said. “I’m going to take myself back to the one game where we didn’t use timeouts before the halftime. I told you I’d never do that again and I think from a head coaching perspective I want to be aggressive for our guys.”
That’s what the players seemed to like. They had no problem with the decision.
Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dropped the difficult two-point conversion catch with 4:52 remaining.
“I like the call. I love being aggressive,” Beckham said. “I don’t know if I can be a coach because I’m going for it on fourth. We’re going for two. That’s why I’m not a coach. I like the call. I’m always going to ride with him. Wish I could’ve came up with it.”
There are analytics that backed up Shurmur’s decision.
“You increase your chances by 50 percent if you go for it and make it there, so that’s what you do,” Shurmur said. “Because then if you score a touchdown, we just kick the extra point and win. I felt good about the two-point play. You guys saw that, I think we got the ball in there, right? And we just didn’t connect on it.”
Maybe the more costly late-game decisions came with less than a minute left to play. Down 23-12, they had the ball at the Atlanta 1-yard line with 45 seconds remaining. That’s when Eli Manning ran a quarterback sneak and was stuffed on first down. Second down was a repeat as valuable time ticked off the clock.
The Giants were finally forced to throw on third down, when Manning connected with Odell Beckham for a touchdown with five seconds remaining. They converted the two-point conversion to make it 23-20, but without much time left.
“We got to get them in, right? We got to sneak it from the 1,” Shurmur said. “I don’t … again I just saw a mush pile there, so I don’t know why it didn’t work. But from the 1-yard line there, we got to get it in.”
Shurmur wouldn’t have preferred a pass in that situation to protect from getting stuffed and the clock ticking.
“No, that’s a defeatist deal,” he said. “You should be able to convert on a sneak. We’ve all seen him do that, and for whatever reasons we didn’t get it done.”
After years of not being asked to do quarterback sneaks under Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo, that has been a staple of the Giants’ offense this season. And they have been generally successful.
Manning was on board with the calls.
“We’ve been pretty good with the sneaks all year and, in that scenario just try to surprise them and just get that one yard with the sneak,” he said. “Obviously we just didn’t have success with it.”
NEW YORK — It was a Tuesday afternoon in early October and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley was sitting in the back seat of an old-school yellow taxicab stamped with logos for Campbell’s Chunky Soup and the NFL’s Play Football initiative. This was supposed to be his off day, a respite from the craziness of a promising — but often frustrating — rookie season filled with losses.
Barkley was filming a commercial, and he was set to pop out of the cab to surprise the Cardinal Hayes High School football team in the Bronx.
As the young Giants star waited, he admitted to nerves. Barkley had been in the NFL for only a short time. Maybe the rookie would be an unfamiliar face.
“You never know. That’s embarrassing if nobody notices and is like, ‘Who is this cat?’” Barkley said.
It didn’t go that way. He was met with a reaction befitting a rising star.
It’s this vulnerability — and more — that makes Barkley such a likable and impressive addition to the Giants. At 21, he’s as self-effacing as he is talented, with the world seemingly at his disposal.
As an example, Barkley works with the Covenant House of Newark, New Jersey, to get tickets for every Giants home game for three homeless children. Then he goes out of his way — win or lose — to spend 15 minutes or so with them after the games.
All that attention he’s receiving from being the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and having early success hasn’t blurred his focus.
“So far, what I’ve seen is he has handled it like a real pro,” Giants running backs coach Craig Johnson said recently.
Barkley entered Week 7 leading all NFL running backs with seven runs of 20-plus yards. He was tied for the league lead with three rushes of 40-plus yards.
To Barkley, those are just numbers. After rushing for 130 yards and adding another 99 yards receiving last Thursday night, he was hardly content. In his estimation, it meant nothing because the Giants had lost 34-13 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The jump cuts that made defenders look silly and the 50-yard touchdown weren’t any sort of consolation prize. Not for this rookie running back, who became just the second player in NFL history to top 100 total yards in each of his first six career games.
Barkley will have a chance to tie Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt’s record on Monday night (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) against the Atlanta Falcons. He has already proved capable of doing things on the football field through his first six games that leave everyone, including the opposition, in awe.
“Saquon is a beast,” Eagles running back Corey Clement said. “It’s hard not to say it. If I was saying anything otherwise, I’d be a hater.”
That’s what makes the situation in the Bronx all the more extraordinary. Barkley seems to be keeping it together despite all that has come at him over the past year — praise, fame, money, on-field success and a newborn daughter. His trademark smile, flashed for the teenagers during the commercial shoot when they trailed him with their phones, seemed sincere.
“That’s what it’s about,” Barkley said. “I was able to have genuine conversations with some kids, give them stories about how I got here, what drives me, what motivates me. That is something I want to continue to do.”
He took as much away from that moment as the young men he was there to advise.
Life was different at Penn State, where Barkley was the big fish in a small pond. He was a student tucked into a campus in central Pennsylvania, an amateur getting a taste of what was about to come.
“I was able to have genuine conversations with some kids, give them stories about how I got here, what drives me, what motivates me. That is something I want to continue to do.”
A lot has changed since. Barkley signed endorsement deals with Nike, Pepsi and Visa, among others. He’s financially set, and even bought a new home for his parents in his hometown of Whitehall, Pennsylvania, and vowed to save or invest all his paychecks, a la Marshawn Lynch and Rob Gronkowski.
Barkley quickly became part of a circle that includes Giants wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. They have become fast friends, even hanging out before the draft. He has a close-knit team that begins with his family and childhood friends.
They’re all within a reasonable car ride. New York/New Jersey is Barkley’s new home. He lives in an apartment on the Jersey side with a picturesque view of Manhattan. His girlfriend, Anna Congdon, and their 6-month-old daughter, Jada, live with him.
The days of being a faceless star are gone. Barkley notices the stares, points and pictures when he’s out and about. He oddly doesn’t view himself as famous, but more as a recognizable face or body. He knows his every move matters — on the street, at home, or on the sideline.
“It’s different than in college. More of a spotlight. National attention,” Barkley said. “It reminds you that you have to be responsible. There are people that view you in a different way, look at you in a different way and you are a role model to some kids. You have an impact on kids. Little things like what you say. Things you’re doing. And you have to be aware of that.”
It’s all still strange, in a way you would imagine when people continually ask to see your quads and calves. That happens to Barkley more than he ever expected.
He’s had people approach him in airports and say, “Hey, nice legs.” He’s almost unsure how to respond. He usually just replies with a thank you. While the exchange is odd, he figures compliments come in different forms. This is his new norm.
Barkley believes being a father helps keep him grounded.
“He’s a good dad,” Barkley’s mother, Tonya Johnson, added. “He changes diapers. So far, so good. He’s doing what he needs to do.”
No matter how disappointing a loss might be, there are always those private moments when baby Jada looks at him without any idea he’s something special. The yards and touchdowns don’t matter to her or his family.
“[Fatherhood] humbles you. Brings you back down to life,” Barkley said. “Makes you understand what really matters. The spotlight, attention, all that doesn’t really matter. You go home to your daughter, even after a loss when you’re upset and you don’t want to talk to anybody. You see her crack that smile, and it changes your day.”
Shepard, who’s also a new father, has admired his teammate’s approach.
“He’s a great father to his daughter,” Shepard said. “Very family-oriented. That is what I admire most about him, how close he is with his family. He always talks about his daughter.”
Shepard says Barkley is sneaky funny. He talks a lot. Never shuts up, really, but is always upbeat, and there is rarely a dull moment when he’s around.
This is the beauty of Barkley, capable of being as measured and reserved when needed off the field, explosive and elusive when on it. As the football legend grows (and the early returns suggest he’s destined for big things), so will the pressure, demands and fame.
“I tell him, ‘Don’t think about what other people think of you,’” his mother said. “Think about what you would want for yourself, and you also have a child. Because people are going to judge you regardless. But you have a child, be the role model you want for your child.”
Barkley said: “There will be times when I mess up. I’m human, but I want to be a role model for the good things I do and the bad things I do. And the times I do make mistakes, learn from those mistakes.”
Beckham, who is just two lockers down, is an example of how difficult stardom can be. Beckham has compared it to living life as an animal on display at the zoo.
Barkley has said since he was drafted that his approach was to be himself.
The nerves before getting out of the taxi and surprising a high school football team? It shows he’s doing pretty well so far.
When asked Wednesday if Mack is up there with Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, Belichick seemed almost offended by the question.
“Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now,” Belichick said. “I’m not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor’s class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor.”
Belichick’s affinity for Taylor, who he coached during his time as New York Giants defensive coordinator in the 1980s, is well-documented. Taylor played 13 seasons and totaled 132.5 sacks, earning nine All-Pro awards over that span. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
That’s not to say Belichck doesn’t think Mack is a top-notch player, as he is one of the Patriots’ top concerns heading into Sunday’s road game against the Bears.
Mack has 5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 1 interception returned for a touchdown for the 3-2 Bears.
“He’s big, strong and fast,” Belichick said. “He’s got a lot of power. He does a good job of power-rushing and he’s fast enough to get the edge. He has good ball awareness so he does a good job of tackling the quarterback when he has to tackle him, but if he has a chance to get the ball out he’s got good ball awareness and can strip it out.”
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — It was the “no” that turned into a “yes!” (Marv Albert voice).
After being spurned by free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins in March, the New York Jets made a quick pivot and took the road that eventually led them to Sam Darnold. Initially stung by the Cousins rejection — he seemingly used them to leverage the Minnesota Vikings — the Jets are now so over that chapter. In their minds, he’s a distant Cousins.
“I really don’t worry about the guys I don’t get,” coach Todd Bowles said Monday. “Minnesota got him, and they’re happy. We got Sam, and we’re happy.”
But what if? What if Cousins, who faces the Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, had accepted Gang Green’s green?
Make no mistake, the Jets wanted him badly — so badly that they raised their initial offer, putting a three-year, $90 million contract on the table — fully guaranteed. They saw it as a rare opportunity to acquire an established quarterback in his prime. As it turned out, their blockbuster proposal accomplished only one thing: It forced the Vikings to raise their offer from $75 million to $84 million, based on what Cousins says in an online documentary that details his decision-making process. He jumped at the Vikings’ revised offer, also fully guaranteed, not even bothering to take a visit to the Jets.
His decision forever changed the franchise.
“Cousins or Darnold? Me, personally, I’d take Darnold,” said a longtime NFL talent evaluator, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “They gave up a lot for Darnold, but you can’t minimize the money and how it impacts their cap. They got Darnold at a fraction of the price. I thought they did a good job.”
The Cousins saga dominated NFL headlines during the run-up to free agency, capturing the attention of a certain college student at USC. Darnold acknowledged that he tracked the rumor mill, knowing the outcome would directly impact his draft position.
“Yeah, everything worked out for the best, I think,” he said with a laugh.
Imagine if it had gone the other way. Let’s examine how things would be different for the Jets if Cousins had said yes:
“It doesn’t hurt at all that we now have an awful lot of money that we were thinking we might be sending out the door to one player.”
Jets CEO Christopher Johnson
Totally different vibe in 2018
Cousins’ presence would’ve changed the narrative surrounding the team. Rebuilding? No way. That perception would’ve gone out the window. A team can’t spend $90 million on a quarterback — for only three years, mind you — and sell the slow build to its fan base. No, Cousins would’ve been an accelerator, putting the Jets in win-now mode.
That, of course, would’ve raised the stakes for Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan. There would have been less patience from the fans and media — and probably ownership. When an owner writes a $90 million check — by rule, guaranteed money must be placed into escrow at the time of signing — he has the right to expect more than five or six wins.
Chances are the Jets would be better than 3-3 with Cousins, who is undoubtedly a better quarterback than Darnold right now. Some around the team believe an experienced quarterback would have pulled off the Week 3 game in Cleveland, in which Darnold struggled in the second half and the Jets lost 21-17. At 4-2, the Jets would be tied for first place in the AFC East.
Cousins would’ve been a nice fit in Jeremy Bates’ offensive scheme, which is similar to the system he ran in his early years with the Washington Redskins. But Cousins’ supporting cast would’ve been weaker than what he has in Minnesota. That, many believe, is the main reason he chose the Vikings over the Jets, who have no Pro Bowl players (past or present) on offense.
“He’s a Cadillac in Minnesota,” the talent evaluator said of Cousins, who has the 10th-ranked offense. “He wouldn’t be that with the Jets. He’d be maybe a Pinto.”
“You have to look at the big picture,” he added. “Is it better to be 9-7 with Darnold or 10-6 with Cousins? I say 9-7 with Darnold.”
Darnold has played two good games in a row, but that doesn’t mean his growing pains are in the past. There will be rough days ahead, but he’s only 21 years old, and his career arc is climbing. Cousins is 30, probably at his peak.
“Cousins is likely who he is in terms of ceiling, but at that, it’s good and productive,” a rival general manager said. “I just think when you get a chance to draft and groom your own guy to play for 10 or 12 years, it can be special.”
Two days after being blown off by Cousins, the Jets shifted to Plan B, as Bowles called it. On St. Patrick’s Day, they finalized a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, moving up three spots in the draft to put themselves in position for the best available quarterback. It was costly, as they dealt their first-round pick (sixth overall), two second-rounders and a 2019 second-rounder.
With Cousins on board, there would’ve been no trade. The Jets would’ve retained the sixth, 37th and 49th picks, giving them the chance to grab three impact players. Who? The first-round projection is hard because the Colts could have traded the third pick to another quarterback-needy team, but the most likely scenario is the Jets would’ve ended up with pass-rusher Bradley Chubb or guard Quenton Nelson. Or they would’ve been open to trading back.
Chubb wound up going fifth to the Denver Broncos, but they were known to be smitten with Darnold and would’ve pounced on him if he had fallen — which would have happened if the Colts had stayed in their original spot. Insiders believe Chubb would’ve been the Colts’ choice at No. 3. The Jets, in desperate need of an edge rush, would’ve taken him at No. 6, but without Chubb on the board, they would’ve looked to trade down, seeking to acquire extra draft capital.
At No. 37, the Jets could have addressed the offensive line (Braden Smith) or running back (Kerryon Johnson). At No. 49, they could’ve gone for a tight end (Dallas Goedert) or a tackle (Connor Williams). All four players were selected in the second round and are playing key roles on their current teams, but it doesn’t appear that the Jets missed out on any future stars. It would’ve been a quantity-over-quality situation.
They might have picked a quarterback in the late rounds, someone to groom behind Cousins. Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty were on their way out, and the Jets would have needed a developmental player to pair with a veteran backup. Josh McCown probably would have left as a free agent. It’s quite possible that Teddy Bridgewater would be the current No. 2.
Major impact on salary cap
This is big. The Jets have Darnold under contract for four years, $30 million. His cap charges over the first three years add up to $20.6 million — a $69.4 million savings on what they’d be paying Cousins over the same span. This gives them a tremendous amount of flexibility as they approach free agency in the coming years.
“It doesn’t hurt at all that we now have an awful lot of money that we were thinking we might be sending out the door to one player,” CEO Christopher Johnson said in the aftermath of the ill-fated Cousins chase. “Now we have that back with us, and we can spread that out over a lot of other players over the next few years.”
In fact, the Jets will have a league-high $96 million in cap room in 2019, according to overthecap.com. They can re-sign their own players — defensive end Leonard Williams and wide receiver Quincy Enunwa loom as the top priorities — and engage in another offseason spending spree if they choose.
With quarterback salaries skyrocketing, the Jets are in an advantageous position in that they have a promising quarterback on his rookie contract. Only 10 of the 32 teams can say that about their starters. When a team is paying megabucks to its veteran starter, it changes the entire salary-cap dynamic.
If Cousins had said yes, the Jets still would have been aggressive last offseason, but there would have been a limit to their spending. Chances are they would have passed on cornerback Trumaine Johnson ($34 million guarantee), leaving a hole in the secondary. Cornerback would have become a priority with one of those second-round picks.
Bottom line: Cousins would have made the Jets a better team in 2018, assuming he didn’t mentally implode under the big-city pressure. Beyond that, it could be a different story. The organization, which acts as if the infatuation with Cousins never existed, believes it has something special in Darnold.
“They get a player they identified, drafted high and now have a personal investment in his development,” the rival GM said. “They can mold and groom him. He’s been in the spotlight. He was handpicked, and he seems to fit well in the New York spotlight.”
While the clouds continue to hover over East Rutherford, the sun appears to have peeked through in Florham Park. The New York Giants sit at 1-5 and in last place in the NFC East while their aging quarterback struggles. The New York Jets are 3-3 and realistically thinking of the postseason with their promising rookie leading the way. These are two franchises seemingly headed in opposite directions, and their fates can be traced back to the offseason.
The decisions that will be debated for decades occurred atop this year’s NFL draft. The Giants passed on a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick and selected running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State, in part because they had Eli Manning on the roster. Barkley is proving to be a breathtaking playmaker, no doubt, but his star has been shining in defeat. The Jets happily grabbed quarterback Sam Darnold out of USC with the very next pick. He is proving to be the franchise pillar that they’ve desperately desired for decades. They’re happy with what they’ve received from him this season and even more excited about what the future might hold.
Now six weeks into the season, we’re able to see a bit more clearly where these teams stand and the long-term effect these picks will have on each franchise.
Does the development of Darnold and decline of Manning keep hammering home the mistake the Giants made in not drafting a quarterback?
Hell, yeah. The Giants made a shortsighted decision, thinking they could squeeze another productive year or two out of Manning to fulfill their win-now game plan. Now, the organization and its fan base have an up-close view of what might have been, as Darnold continues to make progress in the same city. Look, the Giants wouldn’t have been a contender this season even if they had drafted Darnold. He would be backing up Manning or experiencing on-the-job growing pains, which has been the case with the Jets. But at least they’d have a succession plan. Now, in a case of role reversal, the Giants will go into the offseason in quarterback limbo, desperate to find an answer in free agency or the draft. Desperation makes teams do dumb things. Look at the Jets; they drafted Christian Hackenberg in 2016, for crying out loud — and they were desperate last offseason too, but they aggressively traded up and benefited from a little draft-day luck to escape potential disaster. The Giants will have to do the same thing in the offseason, which means they might not be a viable contender until 2020 — if everything goes right. It’s compelling to note that Darnold passed Manning this week in ESPN’s QBR rankings, which take into account all aspects of quarterback play, not just passing. They’re ranked 25th and 27th, respectively, with Darnold at 44.7 and Manning at 41.4. Using this objective measure, Darnold already is as good as Manning, which is stunning. — Cimini
Until the Giants find a suitable replacement to build their franchise around, yes. It’s the most important position in football by a wide margin. The opportunities were there for them to find their franchise quarterback at No. 2 overall. Instead, they chose a running back. It’s not that Barkley isn’t a sensational player. He is. It’s just that he plays a position that they’re realizing isn’t nearly as vital to winning as quarterback.
Just look at Thursday night, when Barkley was the best player on the field. He had 130 yards rushing and 99 yards receiving. What kind of outcome did it have on the game? The Giants lost by 21. If a quarterback is the best player on the field, you don’t lose by 21. Darnold has shown signs of being everything the Giants need and the Jets wanted. He has the arm, the mobility, the smarts and temperament that would suggest he’s on pace to have a successful career in New York. That might leave serious envy on the other side. The Giants are stumbling badly with Manning. He’s 37 years old and eroding behind a leaky offensive line despite having perhaps the best weaponry in the NFL. It has become hard to watch. The Giants have scored fewer than 20 points in four of six games, but they are standing behind their quarterback through the struggles. “We believe in Eli,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said on Friday. The Giants wanted to desperately make one more run with Manning. It didn’t matter that the timing was perfect to take a quarterback with a new coach, a new general manager and an aging quarterback, coming off a 3-13 season and with the No. 2 overall pick in a strong QB draft. They didn’t. And now they’re paying for the mistake while simultaneously watching Darnold shine across town with the Jets. — Raanan
Which team appears to have a stronger foundation on which to build and why?
I’d give a slight edge to the Jets, but this is tricky because there’s some projection involved. Let me explain. Right now, I’d say the Giants have better talent on paper than the Jets, but Darnold’s presence tilts the scale in the Jets’ favor because we all know the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. This, of course, is based on the belief he will develop into a playoff-caliber quarterback. No one can say for sure after only six games, but he certainly seems to have the traits –- tangible and intangible –- to be that kind of player. And that gives the Jets an edge in the rebuilding process. In terms of non-quarterback talent, the Giants have more blue-chip players than the Jets — Odell Beckham Jr., Landon Collins and Barkley to name three. Jamal Adams is approaching Collins’ stature, but the Jets don’t have anyone close to Beckham and Barkley. Those are terrific building blocks for the Giants. To complete the puzzle, they need the quarterback, and that could cost them significant assets if they have to trade up in the draft.
Another reason to favor the Jets: In cap space, they have approximately $150 million more than the Giants in 2019 and 2020, according to overthecap.com. — Cimini
The Jets. The Giants have the skill position players (Barkley, Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram). The Jets have the quarterback who appears will be their centerpiece for years to come. The latter is significantly more important and harder to find. Just ask the Jets. They had trouble locating the next Joe Namath; they’ve been searching for a true franchise quarterback for almost 50 years. Maybe they finally did. The Giants passed on their first opportunity to find the next Manning. Who knows how long it will take for them to find his successor. Maybe he’s in next year’s draft or already on the roster. Or maybe he has not even been born yet. Anything is possible in the search for a QB. The Giants are in a spot that nobody in the NFL envies with uncertainty at the quarterback position. Aside from that, the Giants’ roster has the better building blocks. Beckham and Barkley are among the league’s top playmakers. Collins has proved to be a Pro Bowl player on defense. The Jets can build around safety Adams, defensive lineman Leonard Williams and linebacker Darron Lee. They need to add a difference-making playmaker (or two) to support Darnold and a dominant pass-rusher. Still, overall, they’re in better shape because they appear set at the most important position in football. —Raanan
What should/can the Giants do with Manning in the short term? It’s kind of funny when Shurmur gives a strong vote of confidence to Manning. I mean, really, what are his options? Alex Tanney? Kyle Lauletta? It’s not like he has a Josh McCown on the bench, a capable veteran who can win games.
The Giants should ride Manning until they’re mathematically eliminated. Remember, this is a new coach, trying to change the culture. Winning matters, and Manning gives them the best chance to win. When they’re eliminated, give Lauletta a shot, assuming he’s more prepared than Davis Webb was a year ago. It won’t be pleasant for Manning, a franchise icon, but the Giants must think of the future, not the past. — Cimini
It’s becoming clear that the Manning era in New York is nearing a close. If the Giants can trade him (a big if … but maybe to the Jacksonville Jaguars?), they should. If not and they continue to sputter along offensively, they need to put Manning on the bench. They have no choice. The Giants won’t be able to justify starting Manning much longer if they remain impotent offensively over the next two weeks against the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins. At least some players in the locker room already have lost confidence in their quarterback. The Giants will need to look at rookie Lauletta after the bye week for a Monday night matchup on Nov. 12 at the San Francisco 49ers. Lauletta might be able to make some plays with his legs; that could reinvigorate the offense, to some degree, for the final eight games of the season. The Giants can then give Manning one final goodbye later in the season in their final home game. The two-time Super Bowl winner deserves a better farewell than where it appears to be heading right now. One last hurrah at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 30 against the Dallas Cowboys would be a good way to say goodbye to a Giants legend. —Raanan
The New York Jets‘ battered secondary has taken another hit, as free safety Marcus Maye will be sidelined at least three weeks with a broken right thumb, a source confirmed Monday.
Maye was injured in the third quarter of Sunday’s 42-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts. It appeared to happen on a tackle of wide receiver Chester Rogers. Maye stayed in the game for another two plays, but left for good and was seen afterward with a cast on his right hand.
This means three of the Jets’ top five defensive backs are dealing with injuries. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson has missed two games with a strained quadriceps and nickel back Buster Skrine sat out Sunday with his fourth concussion since 2015.
Maye was replaced by Terrence Brooks. The only other backup safety is Doug Middleton, who started the first three games while Maye recovered from a preseason foot injury. They could get help this week, as Rontez Miles (off-season knee surgery) is eligible to start practicing on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
The injuries are taking a toll on the Jets, who have allowed a 300-yard passer in three straight games. Next up is the Minnesota Vikings and Kirk Cousins, who is fourth in passing yardage (1,921).
Maye, a second-round pick from Florida, started every game as a rookie. Since then, he has been plagued by injuries. He underwent off-season ankle surgery which caused him to miss most of the preseason. Then came the foot injury.
Eight days ago, Maye made one of the most memorable plays of the season. On the final play of the Jets’ win over the Denver Broncos, he made a 104-yard interception return, but was tackled at the 1 — the longest non-touchdown interception return in league history.
The New York Daily News and New York Post first reported Maye’s thumb injury.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants are standing behind quarterback Eli Manning despite the team’s 1-5 start and his early-season struggles.
Manning has six touchdown passes and six turnovers through six games. He struggled badly in a 34-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, when he completed 24 of 43 passes for 281 yards and an interception. The Eagles sacked him four times.
A change at quarterback is still not on the table for the Giants, who will play a week from Monday on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.
“No. We believe in Eli,” coach Pat Shurmur said Friday.
The Giants don’t have much experience behind their longtime starting quarterback. Alex Tanney has served as the backup the first six weeks, with rookie Kyle Lauletta inactive. Tanney has appeared in one career game. Lauletta is a fourth-round pick out of Richmond who has yet to suit up for a regular-season game.
Shurmur isn’t about to throw either of them into the mix this early in the season.
“Listen, we’re not talking about a quarterback change yet,” he said.
Manning’s struggles will only fuel the argument that the Giants should have drafted a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick. Instead, they selected running back Saquon Barkley, who had 130 yards rushing and 99 yards receiving against the Eagles. He has scored six of the Giants’ 11 offensive touchdowns this season, but it hasn’t led to victories or cured the Giants’ offensive woes.
The Giants haven’t flinched about their draft decision.
“The idea that Saquon Barkley was a mistake? I don’t see the logic in that, and I just told you that I believe in Eli,” Shurmur said.
Manning, 37, said he will take a few days off and return energized. He is committed to helping the Giants improve and believes there are still reasons to be optimistic despite being in last place in the NFC East and ranking 28th in the NFL with 19.5 points per game.
The two-time Super Bowl winner concedes he needs to do better and isn’t doubting himself.
“Confidence is always the same,” Manning said. “I know I can play better. I didn’t play well [Thursday] night. I have to make better decisions and just get back to doing my job, not trying to force things, find completions, move the ball and try to score more points.”
The pressure on Manning is building. His struggles were on full display Thursday night. The frustration from his wide receivers is palpable.
The veteran quarterback still insists he is not affected by the calls for his job from critics and their opinions that he is past his prime.
“It bugs me that we’re 1-5. What people say has never got to me or bothered me. But you work extremely hard and go have a big year and you’re excited about things. To be in this situation, yeah, it bothers you and it’s tough,” Manning said. “The only thing you can do is keep working, keep grinding, try to bring this team together.”
Skrine was ruled out Friday as he recovers from his fourth concussion since 2015. He likely will be replaced in his nickel role by rookie Parry Nickerson, who played extensively last week.
Johnson, listed as doubtful, is expected to miss his second straight game after injuring a quadriceps in practice. Darryl Roberts is the leading candidate to replace Johnson as a starting corner in the base defense, although Rashard Robinson could make his 2018 debut.
Robinson was inactive last week after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
The timing isn’t good for the Jets (2-3), who host the pass-happy Indianapolis Colts (1-4). Luck has attempted 245 passes, the most in league history over the first five games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“He looks like the same player,” coach Todd Bowles said of Luck, alluding to the shoulder surgery that kept him out last season. “To not play that long and to come back and play the way he’s been playing has been remarkable.”
Bowles said he will make a game-day decision on running back Isaiah Crowell (ankle), who returned to practice Friday on a limited basis. Crowell, who has never missed a game in his five-year career, is questionable, but the Jets are cautiously optimistic about his chances. He set the franchise record with 219 rushing yards in last week’s win over the Denver Broncos.
Defensive end Leonard Williams, who missed practice Thursday with a sore back, practiced fully and will start against the Colts.