When the Giants took Saquon Barkley instead of a new franchise quarterback with the second pick in this year's draft, they pledged fealty to 37-year-old franchise icon Eli Manning. When the Giants signed Odell Beckham to a monster contract extension over the summer, it appeared as if both sides were happy to move forward together as they tried to build a better future.
It took four games for both of those decisions to be called into question by no one other than Odell Beckham.
On Sunday, ESPN aired an interview that Josina Anderson conducted with Beckham (and Lil Wayne) earlier this week. During that interview, Beckham didn't exactly defend Manning's quality of play, and then he indicated that he's not entirely happy in New York.
We'll start with his comments on Manning.
"I don't know," Beckham said when he was asked if there was an issue at quarterback. "Like I said, I feel like he's not going to get out the pocket. He's not -- we know Eli's not running it. But is it a matter of time issue? Can he still throw it, yeah, but it's been pretty safe and it's been, you know ... cool catching shallow [routes] and trying to take it to the house. But I'm, you know, I want to go over the top of somebody."
Manning, like he was a year ago, has been subpar. In 2017, he completed 61.6 percent of his passes, averaged only 6.1 yards per attempt, threw 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, and accumulated a 80.4 passer rating. He wasn't entirely to blame for the Giants' three-win season, during which Geno Smith, but he certainly contributed to their demise. Even still, despite his age and receding quality of play, the Giants drafted Barkley when guys like Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen were still on the board. It was a decision that , but .for
It hasn't worked out. During the first four weeks, Manning completed a high percentage of his pass attempts (74.2) and posted a solid passer rating (99.1), but he averaged only 7.0 yards per attempt and threw four touchdowns. The Giants' offense, as a whole, is scoring only 18.3 points per game -- only three teams have been worse. The Giants are 1-3 entering Sunday's game against the Panthers.
Again, that's not entirely Manning's fault. The offensive line remains a disaster and the defense hasn't rebounded. But that's what makes the Giants' decision to pass on a quarterback so mystifying. This was never a team that was a running back away from competing for a playoff spot. This is a team in need of a rebuild, starting with their quarterback and offensive line, both of which are preventing Beckham from reaching the heights he's capable of hitting.
It sounds like Beckham is jealous of watching other top receivers get "easy touchdowns" when he's being asked to turn seven-yard slants into huge touchdowns.
"I feel like in the past five years, they found a way to run a Cover 2, keep everything in front, and that's how they played me," Beckham said. "And there's no way to -- how do we beat this? I feel like I'm being outschemed, and then I also don't have a chance to, like, do something where I've got to take a slant and go 60. And not to say that's not fun, but it's like I want some easy touchdowns too. I watch everybody across the league. All the top receivers get the ball the way that they, you know, should. And if they don't, they say something about it."
Alarmingly, Beckham sounds like he's already sick of New York,.
"It's a tough question," Beckham said when he was asked if he's truly happy in New York. "Obviously, I love seeing the sunshine all the time. I love, you know, I love being in L.A. I just like that atmosphere, but this is where I'm at. I remember before games, I used to get that. I used to get butterflies, like good butterflies. I was anxious. And now when I step on the field, it's something completely different. It's not butterflies.
"It's like I want to be here, like I've been waiting to get here this whole time. I feel like a caged animal who gets this -- it's my 60 minutes of playtime. You know, I can play with other people. We can play nice, or we don't have to play nice. But I get to play, and I get to do all this. This is my time to be out of the cage. You know, if somebody's messing with me during my time to be out of the cage, like, it's going to be a problem."
Beckham went on to say that he's "heated" when he watches teams like the Los Angeles Rams enjoy so much success on offense.
"You know, because I know what I'm capable of," he said. "I know what I feel like I bring to the table each and every day. And that's all I want to do. That's literally all I want to do. I -- I've given up -- personally sacrificed a lot of things recently. Just giving it up, just because this is all I want to do. ... We going to get it right, as long as I'm here, like I just -- I don't see myself losing, and I hate losing. I don't want to be the one at the end of the career who, 'Oh, he had a great career, and all this, no -- no rings, no none of that.' Like, that's not my -- that's not why I came here to play. That's not my M.O."
It should as no surprise that Giants coach Pat Shurmur wasn't happy with Beckham's comments. According to Fox's Jay Glazer, Shurmur was "absolutely livid" and Beckham apologized to the team.
The problem is, the Giants are unlikely to improve in the near term. The Panthers are favored on Sunday. In Weeks 6-8, the Giants face the Eagles, Falcons, and Redskins. It'll be difficult for them to emerge with more than a win during that stretch of games. If the Giants continue to get blasted and Beckham continues to be relatively ineffective -- he's caught 31 passes for 331 yards and no touchdowns so far -- it's not difficult to imagine the situation and comments worsening. Consider it a situation worth monitoring.
In the long term, another losing season might not be the worst outcome for the Giants. If they're situated near the top of the draft order again, they should be able to draft Manning's successor assuming, of course, they're not drafting a receiver to replace Beckham.
Give the Giants credit. Even when they're bad, they're still explosive.