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Posted 31 August 2018 - 06:15 PM

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 11:24 AM

Giants waive QB Davis Webb in shocking move; breaking down who Big Blue claimed

Sep 02, 2018 | 8:40 PM

Dave Gettleman: Dragon slayer.

The Giants GM on Sunday stunningly waived second-year quarterback Davis Webb, nicknamed “Dragon” as a rookie by Eli Manning. And in doing so, Gettleman revealed the succession plan for his 37-year-old quarterback to be as mythological, fantastical and non-existent as the creature inspiring Webb’s namesake.


Gettleman, it is now even harder to believe in hindsight, drafted Saquon Barkley instead of a quarterback with the No. 2 pick in April’s draft, despite Manning’s age and declining performance — and without confidence in the only other QB on the roster at the time of the draft, Webb, Jerry Reese’s third-round 2017 pick out of Cal.

The Jets, meanwhile, happily at No. 3 plucked Sam Darnold, who so far has demonstrated plenty of the qualities necessary to be a potential franchise-changing quarterback — enough to warrant a top-10 selection, for sure.



And yet here was Gettleman on Saturday, gauging the trade market for Webb and eventually releasing him Sunday without ever having seen Webb play a regular season NFL game, leaving just rookie fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta, 22, out of Richmond and veteran journeyman Alex Tanney, 30, as backup QBs on this roster.

Webb, 23, is no stranger to adversity, having battled both Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes for playing time at Texas Tech before transferring and thriving for a final year at Cal. Webb did, however, have his legs pulled out from under him by the Giants late last season.

Ben McAdoo was planning on playing Webb in the final four regular season games, but once McAdoo was fired, the Giants abandoned the plan under interim coach Steve Spagnuolo, leaving new coach Pat Shurmur to evaluate Webb with no game tape to his name.


Webb outperformed Lauletta this preseason, but it makes you wonder how long ago Gettleman and Shurmur actually decided to move on from Webb if he was taking second team snaps all training camp and preseason — and started with the ones and played well in the second game in Detroit — but still was released.

And so it is that after the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles laid out the modern blueprint for contending — a cheap starting QB (Carson Wentz) on a rookie contract that opens team cap space, and a solid experienced backup (Nick Foles) just in case — the Giants in 2018 will start Manning and his $22.2 million cap hit and back him up with one career NFL regular season appearance (Tanney, 2015, Tennessee Titans).

And this in a win-now year. But so be it: this is officially now Gettleman’s team.

Think about how odd this is: Reese was general manager from 2007 through 2017, and there are now no QBs on the roster from his regime.

The Giants’ 53-man roster after Sunday’s action includes 29 players acquired or drafted by Gettleman, 23 players brought here by Reese, and one courtesy of Ernie Accorsi from that franchise-changing 2004 draft.


Only 10 Reese draft picks remain on the roster: Zak DeOssie (2007), Odell Beckham Jr. (2014), Ereck Flowers (2015), Landon Collins (2015), Eli Apple (2016), Sterling Shepard (2016), B.J. Goodson (2016), Evan Engram (2017), Dalvin Tomlinson (2017) and Wayne Gallman (2017).

The Giants are in especially high turnover after Sunday, when Gettleman claimed six players off waivers — castoffs from other rosters — and released six of his own players, including Webb, to make room.

Along with Webb, other Giants who made the initial 53-man roster on Saturday but got cut Sunday were guard John Jerry, wide receiver Hunter Sharp, tight end Jerell Adams, defensive tackle Josh Banks and corner William Gay.

As replacements, the Giants claimed off waivers defensive lineman Mario Edwards (Raiders), center Spencer Pulley (Chargers), wideout Kaelin Clay (Bills) and three corners: Michael Jordan (Browns), Kamrin Moore (Saints) and Antonio Hamilton (Raiders).

The Giants also signed eight players to their practice squad, all of whom they had released Sunday: DE Avery Moss, LB Calvin Munson, DB Grant Haley, WRs Alonzo Russell and Jawill Davis, TE Garrett Dickerson, RB Jhurell Pressley and OT Victor Salako.

Here are some notes on the newest Giants:


DL Mario Edwards (Raiders) — 6-3, 280 pounds

Edwards, 24, a 2015 Oakland second-round pick out of Florida State, has 71 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 30 games (24 starters). It’s unclear where exactly he will fit in the scheme. Could hold a place for suspended Josh Mauro.

C Spencer Pulley (Chargers) — 6-4, 308 pounds

Pulley, 25, a former teammate of Pat Shurmur’s son, quarterback Kyle, at Vanderbilt in 2015, started all 16 games for the Chargers last season after appearing in 16 his rookie year of 2016. Replaces traded Brett Jones.

CB Michael Jordan (Browns) — 6-1 200 pounds

Jordan, 25, a former undrafted free agent out of Missouri Western State, has 40 tackles and five passes defended in 20 games (three starts) with the Rams (2016) and Browns (2017). Giants corner depth needs help.

WR Kaelin Clay (Bills) — 5-10, 195 pounds

Clay, 26, is a player Gettleman also had signed in April 2017 in Carolina. The 2015 Tampa Bay sixth-round pick out of Utah has just six career catches for 85 yards but has 42 punt returns for 393 yards and two TDs in two seasons with three different teams (Ravens 2015; Bills and Panthers 2017). He also returned 14 kickoffs for Baltimore. This cost Sharp his roster spot.

CB Kamrin Moore (Saints) — 5-11, 203 pounds

Moore, 21, New Orleans’ sixth-round pick this past April out of Boston College, is a rookie looking for a second chance after being waived by the Saints.

CB Antonio Hamilton (Raiders) — 6-0, 190 pounds

Hamilton, 25, a former undrafted free agent out of South Carolina State, has 15 tackles and zero passes defended in 12 career games (no starts) these last two seasons with Oakland.

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 02:21 PM

Leonard: Pat Shurmur fails to clarify what the Giants’ plan is after waiving Davis Webb; plus notes on Saquon Barkley and Olivier Vernon

Saquon Barkley is all systems go for Sunday’s Week 1 opener against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars. The left hamstring strain that sidelined the rookie No. 2 overall pick the second half of the preseason will not limit him.

“I definitely think I’m ready for a full (work)load the way I’ve been preparing, the way I’ve been practicing,” Barkley said Monday during the Giants’ first open locker room of 2018. “I’m excited for the game, excited to get the season started.”


And so Barkley begins his journey to justify the Giants’ selection of him instead of a quarterback, a decision that proved increasingly risky and perplexing with Sunday’s release of second-year QB Davis Webb.

Confusion and concern linger about the team’s backup and succession plans for quarterback Eli Manning, 37, and while head coach Pat Shurmur was receptive to being second-guessed on Monday, he did not do much to clarify those questions.


Shurmur insisted the Giants “do” have a plan for life after Manning, “it’s just not what everybody outside our building had predicted the plan was.”

Still, it’s not clear what exactly that plan is, other than placing full confidence in Manning playing higher quality football than he has been for many years to come.

Shurmur does see positive qualities in rookie fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta: “I like the fact that he’ll decide what he’s looking at, see it and pull the trigger. He’s very decisive in what he does. He’s a gamer of sorts.”

Pat Shurmur failed to clarify the Giants plan post-Eli Manning. (Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images)


Still, this felt like more of decision against Webb than for Lauletta. In their actions and words Sunday and Monday, the Giants vocalized essentially that they don’t think Webb is very good.

Shurmur, asked point blank if he felt Lauletta and journeyman veteran Alex Tanney had outplayed Webb this preseason, said: “We feel like they are better choices for us now, yes.”

Webb took second-string QB reps all summer and even performed well in the second preseason game in Detroit starting with the ones.

“People started to assume because he’s taking the second-string reps that he’s the second-string quarterback,” Shurmur said.

The coach declined to say when he had arrived at the conclusion to move on from a 2017 third-round quarterback who had never appeared in an NFL regular season game: “There’s no reason for me to talk about when.

“Keep in mind, in practices, we had a lot of opportunity to watch all the players compete,” Shurmur said. “It’d be just like me talking in detail about why we didn’t keep the other 39 guys or whatnot. So it is what it is. There are so many things about (Webb) that are good: he’s an outstanding worker, cares about the game a great deal, and hopefully he’s gonna get another opportunity.”

That is where Shurmur is wrong, though. Cutting Webb is not the same as waiving any of the other players. This is all tied in to the organization’s decision to pass on a quarterback with the second overall pick without any other plan. The goal of winning again now is a good one, but it’s dangerous to do it at the potential expense of the future.

“It’s just not what everybody outside our building had predicted the plan was.”

Share quote & link 

Shurmur wouldn’t even name his No. 2 quarterback Monday.

It sounded like it could be Tanney, despite his one career NFL regular season appearance in 2015 with the Tennessee Titans, because the coach said: “Here’s the thing with a veteran backup quarterback: they can go in and function with very few reps. And I think that’s an attribute that I look for in a guy who could potentially be a backup to a guy like Eli. Because they don’t get very many reps during the training sessions.”

Shurmur simultaneously said he would be “very comfortable” with putting in Lauletta, as well, but that doesn’t seem to be the plan. On Tuesday, in fact, the Giants are bringing in veteran QB Matt McGloin for a workout, per NFL Network.

McGloin, 28, at least has appeared in 13 career games with one start in 2016 for the Oakland Raiders. And he was recently released by the Chiefs and Kansas City coach Andy Reid, who gave Shurmur his first NFL coaching job in 1999 with the Eagles. Shurmur was on Reid’s staff through 2008.


Stud defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle) is in jeopardy of missing the Giants’ opener against Jacksonville. Vernon was not on the sidelines for the first practice of the week and was not seen in the locker room. If Vernon sits, third-round rookie Lorenzo Carter out of Georgia could be featured even more than already anticipated.

“He was in the training room getting treatment,” Shurmur said of Vernon. “We’re hopeful, but we’ll just have to see. But the fact that he was inside today tells you that -- you know -- he wasn’t out here.”

Tight end Evan Engram, meanwhile, remains in the concussion protocol but was doing normal work early in practice wearing a regular jersey, which is encouraging that he’s progressing well toward Sunday.

Linebacker Tae Davis worked on the side at the start of practice.

“Evan was out here working, as you saw,” Shurmur said. “He’s still in the protocol, but we’re hopeful.”


In addition to McGloin, the Giants on Tuesday are bringing in undrafted rookie KR/WR Quadree Henderson (Pitt) for a workout, according to a source, as well as DE Daeshon Hall (one game with Panthers last year) and KR/WR JoJo Natson (seven games for Jets in 2017), per The Athletic. Henderson also worked out for the Giants prior to the draft. He was released recently by the Steelers.

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 03:54 PM

Davis Webb goes unclaimed, to now sign with Jets practice squad

ByDAN SCHNEIER  87 minutes ago

Davis Webb will look to continue his NFL journey with the crosstown rivals of the New York Giants who share a stadium -- the New York Jets.

After going unclaimed by all 32 teams on waivers, in spite of a cheap rookie contract with salary cap hits under $400,000 for the next two seasons, Webb has reportedly signed with the Jets' practice squad, according to beat reporter Brian Costello. Players on the practice squad may be signed by another NFL franchise at any point. It is quite the fall for Webb who went from 2017 third-round draft choice to a member of another team's practice squad in just about 16 months.

It has also certainly been a hectic few days for Webb who went from taking every single rep behind Eli Manning as what appeared to be the clear-cut No. 2 quarterback and possibly the future starter of the Giants to released, unclaimed, and searching for another opportunity. 


On Monday after Giants practice, head coach Pat Shurmur defended the team's decision to release Webb in favor of rookie Kyle Lauletta and journeyman Alex Tanney as the two quarterbacks behind Manning.

"There was no reason for me to talk about when, but while he was taking the second-team reps, I mentioned a long time ago there was no depth chart behind Eli," Shurmur told Giants reporters after Monday's practice. "We were trying to figure out who the guys playing quarterback behind Eli were going to be. He got a lot of reps and that's why people assumed he was going to be the second-string quarterback, but it didn't play out that way."

When pressed about how Webb could get released after earning Shurmur's praise following his preseason start against the Detroit Lions first-team defense, the head coach hinted that game tape from the week of joint practices that included scrimmages may have played a factor.


"No, I thought he played better than he did in the week previous," Shurmur said of Webb's performance against the Lions. "Keep in mind Detroit practices, our practices here, we had a lot of opportunity to watch all the players compete. It would be just like me talking in detail about why we didn’t keep the other 39 guys or what not. It is the way it is. There are so many things about him that are good, he’s an outstanding worker, he cares about the game a great deal, and I’m hopeful he’s going to get another opportunity."



Shurmur also made it clear that where a player was drafted will not play a role in how the roster is constructed.

"Really, at some point, regardless of where you’re drafted, once you’re settled in as a player on the team, that kind of goes away," Shurmur said. "We’re all out here trying to earn a spot every day, players and coaches. So, at some point, whether you’re drafted in the third round or the fifth round, that sort of goes away at some point and you play it out.  

"Let’s forget for a minute he was a third-round pick. He was on our team as a Giant and we watched him go through what we do in training camp and what we do in practice and we made a decision to move on and go with the other guys. Let’s forget for a minute that he was a third-round pick. I really do mean that. At some point, that all goes away."

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 01:05 PM

Leonard: Eli Manning's and Giants' offensive futility is unacceptable now after all the moves they've made

Sep 16, 2018 | 11:25 PM

ARLINGTON, Tex. — Unacceptable.

The Giants are not allowed to put a product this poor on the field anymore. This 20-13 loss to the Cowboys was too much.

Not after a 3-13 season in 2017. Not after blowing up their front office and coaching staff and retooling the roster around Eli Manning to make a playoff run now. Not after drafting Saquon Barkley No. 2 overall to jumpstart the offense. Not with Odell Beckham Jr. healthy and capable of taking over games.


How then, could this happen on Sunday night, on national television against an unimposing Cowboys team? How could GM Dave Gettleman overhaul this roster in his preferred image and rid the locker room of last year’s bad influences, and assemble a team so similarly lifeless and hopeless on offense and prone to huge mistakes?

Not only does this type of performance not suffice for a team with playoff aspirations. It doesn’t even suffice for an NFL team with aspirations of simply winning a game. Naturally, plenty Giants players were ticked off.

“Just not good enough,” Manning said. “Obviously guys are disappointed, some guys are getting frustrated — as we should. But we can’t let that affect our preparation or our practices. We’ve got to bounce back. … Nothing is going to get fixed by complaining. We just need to step it up, make a difference and fix some things.”


The futility of Pat Shurmur’s offense is most jarring, of course, with Manning checking down all of his passes even when he has time, and the offensive line proving ill-equipped to handle even the simplest pass rush ploys, surrendering six sacks.

“We didn’t do anything well enough on offense to win this game,” Shurmur said.

Rookie guard Will Hernandez added: “It’s just unacceptable. We have to get better, and we have to win.”

Janoris Jenkins and the Giants defense did set the night’s ugly tone by giving up a 64-yard Dak Prescott touchdown pass to Tavon Austin on the Cowboys’ third play from scrimmage. Jenkins said he slipped.

James Bettcher’s D, despite settling in through the middle of the game, also did not force a turnover and then allowed Prescott to engineer a 14-play, 82-yard fourth-quarter drive to eat up 8:23 of clock for an Ezekiel Elliott touchdown at 5:51 to shut the door on the game at 20-3.

The offense’s ineptitude, though, was this game’s story and especially striking coming off of Ben McAdoo’s offense’s embarrassing performance last season. Except on Sunday night the Giants had a healthy Beckham and their prized new back in Barkley and still were easily bottled up.

“Obviously guys are disappointed, some guys are getting frustrated — as we should."Eli Manning


Manning’s drought to open the season without a touchdown pass dragged to 118 minutes and 28 seconds until he hit Evan Engram for an 18-yard TD to draw within 20-10 with 1:32 to play.

And the Giants’ offensive players and Shurmur acknowledged that the Cowboys simply sat back with two deep safeties and forced the Giants to throw underneath. And save for a 37-yard completion to Cody Latimer (his first target of the season) in the third quarter, the Giants couldn’t push the ball down the field.

Sterling Shepard didn’t have a single target until two minutes remained in the first half.

“You’ve just got to get it to your playmakers and you’ve got to make a play. That’s the bottom line,” Shepard said when asked how to combat the Cowboys’ defense. “I couldn’t give it to you schematically on how to do that, but when I look at it, that’s what I see: just get it to your playmakers and let ’em go make plays.”

After Ben McAdoo’s 2017 Giants lost 19-3 here in Week 1, Sunday’s lack of production felt especially nauseating because the Giants paid Beckham all that money on his contract extension but weren’t able to free him or target him frequently enough to take advantage of the talent that erupted for 11 catches and 111 yards in the Week 1 20-15 home loss to the Jaguars.

“Whatever it is we need to do, we need to find it soon,” Beckham said. “They just outplayed us, plain and simple.”

It began with Manning frequently checking the ball down early, often to Barkley, even when he had good protection from his line. But that protection would not last. Manning eventually took hits and sacks from all sides, sacked four times in the first half alone.

Nate Solder, Hernandez, Patrick Omameh and Ereck Flowers all were victimized by DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton and the Cowboys’ front. Hernandez’s mistake led to a Manning third-quarter fumble. Fullback Shane Smith also was responsible for two sacks surrendered in one drive alone late in the first half.

Center Jon Halapio was seemingly the only lineman not directly victimized on a pass rush, but when he badly injured his right leg and was carted off in the third quarter, it took backup center John Greco only two plays to get beaten on the rush. Lawrence flushed Manning from the pocket, and Manning took a major hit from LB Jaylon Smith.


Linemen like Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg were bid good riddance essentially when the Giants let them walk in free agency in the offseason, but those were two good players and the line that remains so far has been worse.

The Giants’ offense gained only 79 yards in the first half on 32 plays, good for 2.5 yards per play. They went 2-for-9 on third downs in the half, largely because either Manning consistently threw the ball below the first-down marker or because the Cowboys disrupted with pressure up front.

Barkley tied a rookie record with 14 receptions but it amounted to only 80 yards, mostly on short checkdowns. He broke seven tackles, Beckham broke three and Wayne Gallman broke one, but it wasn’t enough.


“Every time you lose it sucks,” Barkley said.

Until Barkley’s 10-yard run on their final drive of the first half, in fact, Manning was the team’s leading rusher with two carries for three yards — both on fourth downs. Confusingly, Shurmur punted on 4th-and-1 down 7-0 in the first quarter from the Giants’ 48-yard line but a couple drives later went for it on both 4th-and-1 from the Giants’ 35 and 46 yard lines, getting both.

Why draft a running back No. 2 overall and not be confident in gaining that first down on the 48? Or better question: why draft a running back over a QB of the future if your team isn’t close to ready to winning now?

Shurmur’s team, unlike McAdoo’s last year, at least showed it wouldn’t quit when Michael Thomas recovered an onside kick fumbled by the Cowboys’ Blake Jarwin and the offense put up 10 late points. But the outlook is bleak.

Since 1990, only 28 of the 231 teams (12 percent) that started an NFL season 0-2 have made the playoffs in the current playoff format, per Elias Sports Bureau. In that time, the Giants have started 0-2 in eight different seasons and made the playoffs only once, in their 2007 Super Bowl winning season with Tom Coughlin as coach.

NBC also showed a stat that teams who start 1-1 have a 41% chance of making the playoffs since 2002, while teams that fall to 0-2 have only an 11% chance of making the postseason in that time span.

The Giants can’t be thinking about the playoffs, though, and they probably won’t have to at all this season. They should be thinking about putting a competent product on a football field and winning a game.

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Posted 23 September 2018 - 10:25 AM

Raissman: Giants coach Pat Shurmur better learn to dish up some real talk or he'll wind up another McAdoo

Sep 22, 2018 | 11:05 PM

Pat Shurmur would have been better off feeding media whale Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa a few spontaneous, substantive answers rather than sticking to coach-speak script during his recent weekly WFAN interview.

The spot was similar to the sessions Shurmur holds with boss scribes who cover the Giants. During his press conferences, seen on MSG, Shurmur does not present a tough guy façade behind the microphone. He does project a likeable, grounded presence.

Yet the coach has willfully chosen to put reporters on a starvation diet. They ask the same questions in different ways and get mostly nothing out of him. Once in a while he’ll react by rolling his eyes or asking a reporter what he or she is trying to get at.

Shurmur knows better. He definitely knows the difference between direct, meaningful answers and the crap he’s been serving up.

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At one point during his spot with the pontiff, (he also asked the same question multiple times in different ways and couldn’t get one straight answer) Shurmur said: “I apologize. This probably doesn’t make for a very good interview. I get it.”

Think about that. Shurmur is getting paid to do these FAN interviews with Francesa and admits his answers are not very good. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. In an interview last January with veteran NFL writer and former Daily News NFL columnist Gary Myers, Mike Holmgren who hired Shurmur to coach Cleveland, said the coach let the Cleveland media bug him.

“He read everything. He knew everything that was said,” Holmgren told Myers. “I told him, ‘You can’t let it get to you. Don’t create an adversarial situation.’ I tried to counsel him that way.”

“If he couldn’t handle the Cleveland media, what’s gonna happen in New York?” Myers wrote.

The answer to that question will come even more into focus should the 0-2 Giants fall to 0-3 by losing to the winless Texans on Sunday. After a week of the media playing the blame game (Is it Eli or the offensive line?), would a loss force Shurmur to be candid when it comes to dissecting another debacle? Or would he circle the Big Blue wagons and be even more evasive and scripted?

Up to this point, Shurmur has done nothing to cultivate any media allies. Should the Giants continue to lose, when expectations were once so high, he’s going to need some. Recent history shows this. When his world was tumbling down, no one in the media had Ben McAdoo’s back. He had not created any relationships or media allies. McAdoo had done nothing to keep anyone from piling on or being a conduit for his side of the story.

If Shurmur doesn’t alter his media style, he could find himself alone on the same island.


It’s not only Shurmur who is getting paid by local radio suits in return for delivering nothing.

Todd Bowles (ESPN-98.7) fits into that category. So does Eli Manning. When it comes to radio interviews, the Giants QB is the highest paid. Radio moles say Manning gets between $180,000 and $225,000 for appearing a few minutes each week with Francesa during the football season.

That’s more dough than most of the on-air personalities make in a year.

Bowles and Shurmur ain’t making that kind of moo-la-dee. Their radio earnings are likely part of their overall coaching contracts with the Jets and the Giants. The brass at 98.7 and FAN believe these Giants and Jets paid interviews attract added listenership.

Over many moons no one has ever proven to us that this premise is true.

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Posted 02 October 2018 - 01:42 PM

Leonard: 5 takeaways from the Giants loss to the Saints, including analysis on Pat Shurmur and the struggling offense
OCT 01, 2018 | 12:25 PM

The morning after, here are five takeaways from the Giants’ disappointing 33-18 home loss to the New Orleans Saints.



The Giants have failed to score 20 points in three of their four games. They have failed to gain 100 yards and score more than seven points in three of their first halves. They are averaging only 18.2 points per game, with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. and a new backfield weapon in Saquon Barkley, after averaging just 15.4 per game last year with Beckham out for most of the season and Barkley still playing on Saturdays. Beckham’s two catches for -4 yards, and one rush for 10 yards, in the first half of Sunday’s games is one of the most unacceptable and inexplicable stat lines I’ve seen. Barkley’s 10 carries (for 44 yards) weren’t enough touches. Not even close. 



Pat Shurmur knew he screwed up. The Saints had the ball in the final two minutes of the first half. Shurmur had all three of the Giants’ timeouts. And twice, after a completion to Michael Thomas starting with 1:51 to play and an Alvin Kamara run with 1:05 to play, Shurmur let the clock run. The Saints eventually kicked a field goal with 15 seconds remaining and the Giants received the kickoff and knelt on first down and went into halftime without having used any of their first-half timeouts. After the game Shurmur said: “In hindsight I felt like they were working their way down, in hindsight you know maybe I could have done it. We didn’t.” Shurmur’s special teams unit also got caught badly on a fake punt on the Saints’ second possession that kept New Orleans driving for its first points on a Will Lutz field goal.




The Giants defense eventually broke and Kamara ran wild, scoring three touchdowns, but it’s incredible that James Bettcher’s unit held Drew Brees to just 217 passing yards and no TD passes and the Giants still lost by 15 points. The Giants D is far from perfect, to be sure. There isn’t enough of a pass rush (outside of a B.J. Hill sack). LB Ray-Ray Armstrong and FS Curtis Riley struggle. But considering how well Janoris Jenkins and the secondary covered for a lot of the game — and how Landon Collins did his best to take over the game, especially late — it’s remarkable this was the result anyway.





The Saints were allowing more than 34 points per game to opponents coming in. The Giants scored just seven first-half points and 18 for the game, meaning they have failed to score 30 points as a franchise in 37 straight games, including their 2016 Wild-Card playoff game, a streak of futility that dates back to Week 17 of the 2015 season when Tom Coughlin was still coach. It is the longest drought in the league now after Cleveland scored 42 points in Sunday’s loss in Oakland.





The Giants must now go to Carolina to take on a Panthers team coming off a bye week, followed by hosting the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on a short week on Thursday Night Football. Digging out of this hole won’t be easy. The Giants have lost their first two games at home, by the way, for the second straight season.

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 02:27 PM

Leonard: Pat Shurmur's response to Odell Beckham calling out Giants for lack of heart and energy speaks volumes about state of team
OCT 05, 2018 | 3:50 PM

The Giants now are officially Odell Beckham Jr.’s team, not Eli Manning’s.

And while that already was true the second Beckham signed his five-year, $90 million extension on Aug. 27, coach Pat Shurmur’s refusal on Friday to reprimand Beckham for comments critical of the team and quarterback sealed it.


Because when Beckham said in an ESPN interview released Friday that the Giants lack “heart” and “energy” and took his clearest shot yet at Manning’s poor play, Shurmur had his first opportunity to reinforce the new regime’s supposed harder line and lower tolerance for divisiveness and distractions.

And instead, Shurmur publicly passed the buck when asked if he would discipline Beckham.


And so you need to understand something here. Read this however many times you need:

One major and legitimate reason Shurmur is not coming down hard on Beckham for his criticisms of the quarterback has to be that Shurmur knows OBJ is right. He will not say it, but I believe the coach is just as impatient and frustrated with Manning as Beckham is. That, to me, is why Manning was giving off such a defensive vibe on Monday.

OShurmur knows Beckham is aware that the coach is trying to get him the ball and is not being critical of the play-calling. And they both know the reason the ball isn’t getting to him. That’s why I’ve agreed with Beckham every step of the way when he’s vented frustration or hinted at his dismay with Manning. Because he’s 100 percent correct.

My issue is that Shurmur is not coming down on Beckham for questioning the team’s “heart” and for making his criticism of the quarterback so public. Because regardless of what Shurmur agrees or disagrees with, he and GM Dave Gettleman were supposed to avoid repeating the mistakes of predecessors Jerry Reese, Ben McAdoo and even Tom Coughlin.

And one of the trio’s greatest errors was often enabling players, Beckham especially, rather than disciplining them whenever their behavior was destructive rather than constructive. This was part of the reason the culture deteriorated: unclear standards and expectations, inconsistent enforcement and special treatment.


Shurmur, though, is faced with the harsh reality that his team has a 1-3 record and desperately needs to win Sunday at Carolina, and suspending or disciplining Beckham would not help their goal to do so.

I do like that Shurmur said he and Beckham “actually already addressed it” on Friday morning. He went right to the player to get Beckham’s side of the story. Players respect and remember that.

Still, I expected this coach to do more than he did at his Friday afternoon press meeting, which was to deflect and spin like a top. At first I thought maybe Shurmur actually had told Beckham that, in lieu of a punishment, he must explain himself publicly to squash the drama. Because Shurmur said three different times to ask OBJ to explain himself.


“I guess you’d have to clarify — that’s probably a better question for him what he meant by it,” Shurmur said, adding later, “I’m not sure he was unhappy. I don’t know. Again, if you have a question regarding what he said or what he meant, I would just ask you to spin back and ask him,” and, “You just need to clarify (from) him what he meant.”

But Beckham was not available in the locker room afterward, so it was tough to see how Shurmur resolved this at all.

Beckham posted on Instagram a few times Friday, saying “perfection is the goal, n I’m headin to the pylon;” “Love me…or hate me. I am who I am…” and issuing a heartfelt reflection on a trying past 365 days recovering from his broken left ankle. He concluded with: “Last year and the past is now officially behind me n I ain’t loookin back, on GOD. Let the games begin #JokerSzn #ImBack.”


The meat of Beckham’s controversial comments to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, though, was that the Giants’ poor start “has to do with the energy that we don’t have, that we don’t bring every single day. And you know me. I’m a passionate, energetic person. I always have to have that. If I don’t, it’s gonna be a problem for me. And just playing with some heart. We just need to play with some heart.”

Beckham then alluded to frustrations with Manning’s inability and reluctance to throw the ball downfield.

“How come we can’t throw the ball for more than 20 yards?” Beckham asked rhetorically. “How come we don’t attempt or try to throw the ball for more than 20 yards? Those are questions that we have to figure out. But for now I would say it’s our heart, it’s our energy. It’s what we bring when we line up before the game, all of that. It counts.”

If Beckham’s comments ruffled any teammates’ feathers, they weren’t showing it. But many of them also were coached up to answer that execution was the issue, not energy and heart, which is the same line Shurmur used.

Most meaningful in support of Beckham was special teams captain Michael Thomas saying: “I have no issue with someone trying to hold guys accountable.” And fellow wideout Sterling Shepard provided the most insightful clarification of what Beckham meant by his remarks on a lack of energy.

“I think what he’s talking about is just before the game, some guys are different,” Shepard said. “Some guys want to sit in the locker and look over plays. Some guys want to get rowdy. That’s what kind of personality he has, so that’s what he likes to see. But some guys are different. But yeah, I feel like it all comes down to just execution and everybody being assignment sound.”

So no, Beckham is not wrong to be frustrated with Manning. And he is not being selfish; he is tired of losing. If he went a career-high fifth straight game without a touchdown on Sunday but the Giants won, he’d be happy.

Still, when Shurmur was hired and Gettleman constantly said “he’s an adult,” the message was that this new regime would not tolerate distractions and nonsense and would enforce those expectations to correct the culture accordingly.

I know Beckham is the franchise’s best player and $90 million man and that he makes some good points, but frankly I am surprised — even in the Giants’ desperate situation — at Shurmur’s refusal to act.

The coach’s message is clear, though: the team needs to win, and it’s not Beckham who needs to be sent a message; it’s Manning.




Olivier Vernon (high left ankle sprain) is a surprise scratch for a fifth straight game to start the season despite Shurmur, Vernon and defensive coordinator James Bettcher being “optimistic” early this week. Vernon joins tight end Evan Engram (right knee MCL sprain) on Sunday’s list of injured players out.

“O.V. had a really good week, he was close but not quite close enough,” Shurmur said. “So then we just backed off a little bit today to give him some rest.”

The good news is that the Giants will get back CB Eli Apple (groin), WR Cody Latimer (knee) and CB Antonio Hamilton (groin). And LB Connor Barwin (knee), Shepard (back) and DL Damon Harrison (knee) all are good to go.

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Posted 13 October 2018 - 02:33 PM

Leonard: 5 takeaways from Giants' latest disaster
OCT 12, 2018 | 11:20 AM

The Giants defense didn’t have any takeaways in Thursday night’s unacceptable 34-13 beatdown to the Eagles. But we have 5 from the disappointing defeat.


Defensive captain Alec Ogletree bristled when I asked him if there was a problem with effort: “I don’t question any man’s effort out here,” but he’s a diplomatic leader, and in another way Ogletree essentially challenged his teammates to give more and fight to save the season.

“We’ve got a little break here, so I hope everybody goes and reflects on what we wanna come back and be,” said the veteran linebacker (eight tackles, one for loss, one QB hurry). “(It will take) every man just looking in the mirror and doing the things they say they want to do. We’ve got to come together as a team and play as one. We can’t have mistakes all over the field, because it hurts us.


Saquon Barkley had several runs Thursday night that left the entire nation breathless, making comparisons to Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, and yet when he looked up after his 50-yard TD run in the third quarter, the score still was 31-13 Eagles. I asked Barkley how strange it was to dominate individually but still see his team down by so many points.

“You really don’t even know that you’re dominating in a game when you’re down two touchdowns, three touchdowns,” Barkley said. “Only thing in your mind is no matter what, if you’re down by 40, if you’re down by 50, 60 or whatever, you just continue to play your heart out for this team and for your brothers on the sideline. So you’re not even focusing on that. I guess that’s why you don’t even notice it because that’s just the mindset that I have.”

I also asked Barkley if he was trying to “carry” the team to a win. He basically said he doesn’t want to characterize it that way but, hey, if we want to, he can understand why we would.

“I wouldn’t say that I was trying to carry the team. That’s not my mindset really ever,” Barkley said. “My mindset is to go out there and play my butt off, lead on the sideline, push myself, push my teammates and do whatever it takes to help the team win or help put us in a better position to win. It’s never really the mindset of carrying the team on my back. If that’s how people take it or see it, then I guess you could say that. But my mindset is just go out there fighting, fighting my butt off and try to break tackles and make plays for my teammates.”


While Pat Shurmur flies to Nashville to see his son, Kyle, lead Vanderbilt against Florida in a noon start, GM Dave Gettleman should flip on his TV at 3:30 p.m. and watch No. 17 Oregon and quarterback Justin Herbert take on No. 7 Washington. If the Giants are going to have a top three pick again, and they’re well on their way, they need to evaluate the emerging top QB in the 2019 draft class. The Giants, by the way, as of Friday morning are dead last, 32nd of 32 teams, in the NFL standings. Same record after six games that they had last season. They also have lost four straight head-to-head vs. the Eagles, and Philly coach Doug Pederson is 4-1 in two-plus years so far against the Giants.


Now it’s not just Odell Beckham Jr. venting openly on the field and sidelines. Shurmur could be seen on the FOX broadcast appearing to say “throw the ball” in frustration after one Eli Manning decision. “I don’t recall that,” he said after the game. And Manning uncharacteristically and clearly blamed RB Wayne Gallman for running the wrong route on a third down incompletion in the second quarter. Gallman had dropped a pass on second down, and Manning and the running back weren’t on the same page on third down, so the pass fell incomplete. Manning made sure everyone in the building knew it was Gallman’s fault. The QB is feeling the heat. He should be.


Since the infamous Boat Trip, the Giants have a 4-19 record in their last 23 games.

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 02:22 PM

Leonard: Odell Beckham's dad rips John Mara and the star WR doesn't like water ... just another day with Pat Shurmur's Giant circus





OCT 20, 2018 | 1:15 AM


Odell Beckham Jr. avoided challenging John Mara’s shut up-and-play edict on Friday, saying “I respect and value his opinion,” only to be dragged right back into a dramatic face-off with the Giants’ co-owner by Beckham’s own father.

Odell Beckham Sr. blasted Mara on his verified Instagram account over a seemingly years-old video posted this week by Twitter user @MayweatherSZN of Mara throwing a chair in the press box.


And while OBJ himself did not write the words, his father’s vitriol reflects on Beckham and has the appearance of someone close to him vocalizing how the star wide receiver really feels.

“Is that owner Mara picking up a chair and throwing it!!” Beckham Sr. wrote in a two days old post that ProFootballTalk sent viral on Friday. “Oh my my the tree is acting like the Apple!!! Yet the commentator is talking about Odell.. Wow!! Listen this is not the White House, we have comprehending cellular activity don’t even try it! He’s mad at how Odell is acting sooo HE DOES THE SAME??! You couldn’t make this up if you tried.”

The Instagram post was liked by Giants wide receiver Cody Latimer, and Giants wideout Russell Shepard also posted an emoji of a face laughing.

This non-stop drama is exactly why head coach Pat Shurmur’s face noticeably changed on Friday afternoon when he realized that the first several questions, on a day he finally might have the chance to talk only football, would be about Beckham instead.


Odell Beckham talks Giants owner John Mara's criticism and his hydration habits during another bizarre day in Big Blue world. (Tom Canavan / AP)

Odell Beckham Sr.’s video would not go viral until hours later, so Shurmur wasn’t asked about it. But he was nevertheless incredulous about being asked multiple questions about Beckham’s Friday assertion that “I really don’t like water.”

Shurmur light-heartedly played along at first, saying: “Yeah? Well we gotta work with that. Certainly that’s your main way to hydrate. Yeah, I like water. I’m a big fan of water actually.”

But gradually he lost patience with the line of questioning: “That’s news to me, yeah. I mean listen: Odell and I and the players talk about a lot of things. We don’t talk about our like and dislike for water.” And then under his breath, Shurmur muttered: “What a business.”


Pat Shurmur mutters 'What a business' after having to answer about Odell Beckham's water drinking habits. (Bill Kostroun / AP)

Wow. And it’s only Week 7.

In Shurmur’s defense, Arthur Fonzarelli himself could not have jumped the shark more than the Giants’ 2018 narrative did on Friday. That’s right: Big Blue has its own Watergate.

But it’s important to remember, too: Beckham only was asked about his hydration habits because Shurmur and the Giants have blamed dehydration for OBJ’s premature, pre-halftime trips to the locker room in Weeks 1 and 6 against the Jaguars and Eagles.

Beckham’s sideline history and his frustration in each of those games make it easy to question whether Beckham was really going in to get an I.V. or whether he was sent in to cool down.

Regardless, if given the choice now, Shurmur certainly would prefer this silly water narrative be the headline over his best player’s father ripping one of the franchise’s two owners publicly.

It’s out of the Giants’ control now, though, all of it.

Beckham mostly played nice on Friday, too. He said he has to play better, and he said he tells Eli Manning in every huddle “take me home, 10,” offering a sliver of optimism for the quarterback he’s criticized.

OBJ, however, also said “(I) never have regrets” about anything he’s done lately, a subtle reminder that while he’s behaving right now, he meant everything that he has said recently — even if he knows it was counterproductive to say it.

And as Shurmur accurately summarized: “The ESPN interview’s gonna be part of our DNA, but we’ve moved on, and I think that’s important for everybody to understand.

“But it’s not (over) when everybody keeps asking him about it, right?” the coach added. “And if he tells you the same answer all the time, then that’s that.”

If only that were that. Now Odell Beckham Sr. is involved, blasting Mara on social media.

No matter what the Giants (1-5) do, they can’t stop taking on water.


WR/KR Jawill Davis was an unexpected addition to Friday’s injury report with a concussion and did not practice. This could mean a call-up for practice squad return man Quadree Henderson, an undrafted free agent out of Pitt, for Monday night’s game in Atlanta.

WR Russell Shepard (neck) and OT Nate Solder (neck) remained limited. OLB Olivier Vernon (ribs) was upgraded to a full participant alongside TEs Rhett Ellison (foot) and Evan Engram (knee).

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