New York Giants: 2013 Week 5 PHI at NYG

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It remains to be seen, since the New York Giants have only three days to prepare for their next game, whether running back David Wilson will be ready to play Thursday night in Chicago. Wilson left Sunday's loss to the Eagles at the end of the first quarter with a neck injury and did not return, but he seems to think he'll be fine. He tweeted shortly after the game:

Wilson hasn't had the season he expected to have, but he looked good and was featured prominently in the offense in the first quarter Sunday, scoring the game's first touchdown. The Giants' offense will function better when and if it can make him a consistently important part of it.

Not too much injury news out of this game otherwise for the Giants. Defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck all left the game briefly in the first half for some reason or another, but all three returned before halftime. Long-snapper Zak DeOssie and safety Cooper Taylor went for X-rays after the game, but there was no word on what those injuries were or how serious they might be. Cornerback Corey Webster was inactive, missing his third straight game with a groin injury. Wide receiver Louis Murphy was inactive due to an ankle injury.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Reality checks do not come easy in the NFL. It takes an incredible amount of effort and focus and intensity to prepare oneself to play one of these games. So when it ends, and you look up at the scoreboard and you have been crushed again, and your record is 0-5, that is a hard thing to confront.

"I don't know," New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said when asked how he was coping with that exact situation in the wake of Sunday's 36-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. "I've never been 0-5 before."

Very few, if any, of these Giants have. Many of them were not even born the last time the Giants started 0-5, in the replacement-player season of 1987. This is uncharted territory, so if the appropriate perspective eludes them and their fans, allow me to assist:

The 2013 New York Giants are a horrible football team -- worse than they or their fans even realize, without any question one of the two worst teams in the NFL. The only thing keeping them out of the bottom spot is an historically bad Jacksonville Jaguars team, and truth be told the separation between the Jags and the Giants is not that great.

The Giants have been outscored by 100 points in their five games, the Jaguars by 112. The Giants have scored 31 more points than the Jags have, but they've also allowed 19 more.

ESPN Stats & Information tells us the Giants are the third team in NFL history to allow 30 or more points in each of its first five games, and the second (joining the storied 1954 Chicago Cardinals) to also turn the ball over at least three times in each of the first five. Their 182 points allowed are the fifth-most in league history through the first five games of a season and the most since 1967. The four teams in front of them on that list finished the seasons in question with a combined record of 10-40.

"We're going to keep trying," a stunned Giants general manager Jerry Reese told's Ian O'Connor after Sunday's game. "That's all we can do, keep trying and just find a way to win a football game. We're just trying to win a game right now. That's our focus. Just win a game and go from there. There's no need to talk about anything else."

No time, either, since the Giants' next game is coming right up on Thursday night in Chicago. And no point, since there is no fixing this. The problems with this Giants team are so complete, so system-wide, that the only thing to do is limp through the rest of this season with as much pride as they can muster and then start from scratch in the offseason. The number of different ways in which they have lost games is so dizzying that it is hard to believe they have only lost the five.

There was the six-turnover opener in Dallas, the Peyton Manning buzzsaw here in Week 2, the seven-sack fiasco in Carolina and the lethargic mess they left stinking on the field in Kansas City last week, when they took a grand total of eight snaps in their opponent's territory all day.

Sunday's loss to the Eagles might have been the worst one yet, because the Giants teased themselves. The third quarter made them feel as though things were possible again. The defense held. Eli Manning led a couple of touchdown drives. They took the lead. The crowd got fired up.

"That was reminiscent of better times here," Tuck said. "And I think that's why you see guys a little bit more down."

[+] EnlargeNew York Giants fan
Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesIs it really that bad? Yes, yes it is.
Shockingly, it was Manning, their longtime rock, who did them in this time, throwing three interceptions in a span of nine throws. Add those to his three intentional-grounding penalties -- more in this one game than any other quarterback in the league had, total, in the entire month of September -- and you can put the blame for this game squarely on Manning. It was as though whoever's in charge of such things looked at the list of ways the Giants had not yet lost a game and picked "complete quarterback meltdown" off the shelf.

"I was very excited and confident that we were in a position to win the game," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who has never before been 0-5 as an NFL head coach -- not even with the expansion Jaguars of 1995. "Then we started giving them the ball in way-deep territory."

These Giants are in way-deep something, that is for sure, and there is no sign that they or you or Coughlin or Manning should expect it to get any better any time soon. Look down the schedule at games against sub-.500 teams like the Vikings and the Raiders and the Redskins, and imagine them as winnable if you like. But realize those teams are looking at those same dates -- at their games against the Giants -- as their best chances to win too. This here, Sunday at home against the reeling Eagles, was supposed to be the get-right game. They lost it by 15 points.

"We just need to pick it up," a defiant Antrel Rolle said. "That's the reality of it. We're 0-5 and we're losing games right here and this is not Giants football that we're playing."

The reality of it, though, is that it is. This is 2013 Giants football, shrouded in misery and replete with ample evidence that the Giants are one of the absolute worst teams in the league. If you need a while yet to let that reality sink in, take your time. Just do not look for things to get any better any time soon.

Wideouts a bright spot in loss to Eagles

October, 6, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's tough to talk about positives when a team is 0-5. But the New York Giants' wide receiver corps had a pretty good day in the team's 36-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hakeem Nicks had a season-high nine receptions for 142 yards, after collecting just 116 yards in the Giants' previous three games combined. Rueben Randle had six catches for 96 yards and a pair of touchdown grabs.

Victor Cruz was held in check, with just five catches for 48 yards. But Eli Manning still threw for 334 yards in total.

Unfortunately, he also threw three interceptions -- all in the fourth quarter, on three consecutive possessions.

[+] EnlargeRueben Randle
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsRueben Randle had a breakout game, making six catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
"We had some good drives and I thought we had a good plan of what they were doing," Manning said. "We just left some plays out there -- some deep plays down the field and some third-down conversions. Then, obviously through the third quarter we had some good drives and take the lead, but then the fourth quarter we just didn’t play well."

"Offensively, we just have to take care of the ball better," Cruz said. "It's as simple as that. We make plays when we have the ball in our hands and we are pitching and catching, moving the ball up the field and when we turn the ball over that's when things go awry."

Cruz was Manning's intended target on the second of his three picks. Trailing 29-21, the Giants faced a 3rd-and-10 from their own 20-yard line. Manning dropped back, and fired deep over the middle to Cruz. But Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin was there and snatched the ball away from Cruz.

"I was open. It was just [Eli] was getting dragged down on one side when he tried to throw the ball so it came out a little fluttery as he was trying to release the ball and that gave the defender a chance to put a hand on it and make a play on it," Cruz said. "So, even me, I’ve got to do a better job of trying to rip it out. If I'm not going to get it, no one else gets it."

"I guess if I had it again I probably wouldn’t make the throw," Manning said. "I knew it was going to be tight. I knew it was man coverage. I saw [Victor] get a step and knew a guy was on me and probably couldn’t get everything on the ball that I’d like to get and step into the throw. ... Unfortunately, I made the wrong decision there."

Collecting passing yards hasn't been a problem for the Giants this season. Manning entered the day ninth in the NFL, with 1,148.

But he also led the league with nine interceptions, and now has an even dozen.

There's only so much the wide receivers can do about that.

Shaky day for Giants coach Coughlin

October, 6, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin has never before been 0-5 as an NFL head coach. Even his expansion 1995 Jacksonville Jaguars won their fifth game after starting 0-4. After the Giants' 36-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Coughlin worked hard to try to convey leadership and accountability.

"It's no fun, but I'm not concerned about me," Coughlin said. "I'm concerned about those players in the locker room. Whatever I can do, I'll defer whatever to myself. I lose the games and they win 'em."

Truth is, there's ample blame to go around, and Coughlin made a couple of questionable decisions in Sunday's loss. He explained them after the game.

Situation No. 1: In the first quarter, with the Giants up 7-0, the Eagles picked up five yards on a third-and-nine play that moved the ball to the Giants' 47. Eagles center Jason Kelce was called for holding, and had Coughlin declined the penalty, the Eagles would have had fourth-and-four at the 47. Instead, he accepted it, and they had third-and-20 from their own 37. Michael Vick ran 34 yards for the first down. Coughlin said he accepted the penalty because he believed Chip Kelly would have gone for it on fourth-and-four, and to be fair there is ample evidence to support that belief.

The explanation: "There was no question in our minds that the would go for it," Coughlin said. "So the consensus on the sideline was to take them back. We were doing a pretty good job with Vick at that time. Then, of course, the next play he runs for what would've been that first down and a first down from wherever the ball was."

My take: Even if you thought the Eagles would go for it on fourth down, I make them make that decision. Coughlin's right -- the Giants were doing a decent job on Vick at that point. The Eagles had 12 yards of total offense on nine plays so far, and there was no reason yet for the Giants to believe they couldn't stop them from gaining four yards. Crowd and defense would have been fired up. Instead, everyone was confused.

Situation No. 2: With 12:40 left in the third quarter and the Giants trailing 19-7, the Eagles converted a third-and-10 with an 11-yard Nick Foles pass to LeSean McCoy. There was some dispute, among the Giants on the field, as to whether McCoy had control of the ball when he fell out of bounds and whether he had sufficient yardage for a first down. Coughlin called timeout to settle things down, then got word from his coaches in the booth that it was worth challenging the play. So he challenged the play and lost the challenge, leaving the Giants with only one more timeout for the final 27:40 of the game.

The explanation: "When I saw the players on the field, they were trying to get my attention to go ahead and challenge," Coughlin said. "The clock was way down, so I just instinctively called a timeout to settle everybody down. Obviously if I'd known in advance from upstairs what exactly I was going to do, I would have challenged first. Then I asked for the timeout back if they did reverse it. That wasn't going to be the case either. But I was very surprised, as was our sideline and upstairs, when they did not reverse it."

My take: At the time, with the game in reach and the Giants behind, it seemed like a bad move. Especially bad when they burned that final timeout with 4:48 still left in the third quarter. But this was desperation time for an 0-4 Giants team that had no reason to believe, based on its first four games, that it would be within striking distance late in the fourth quarter when those timeouts might matter. And as it turns out, they weren't.

Tuck doesn't blame offense for defeat

October, 6, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- While Eli Manning threw away Sunday's game with three interceptions in the fourth quarter, Justin Tuck defended the offense afterward.

"I’ve been around here long enough to understand, they go through their ups and downs, we go through our ups and downs," the veteran defensive end said, following the New York Giants' 36-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. "That offense has gotten us out of a lot of jams that the defense has put us in. Right now it’s time for our defense to get them out of a jam, because they’re not playing well right now, and obviously we’re not either.

"I have all the confidence in the world that they’re gonna figure it out."

The defense definitely has some things to figure out, too. The Giants are only the third team in history to give up 30-plus points in each of their first five games, joining the 1954 Chicago Cardinals and last year's Tennessee Titans (credit Elias Sports Bureau).

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick left the game late in the first half with a hamstring injury, but the Giants were diced up by backup Nick Foles, who completed 16 of 25 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns.

"We hadn’t practiced for Foles, so you don’t necessarily know what type of offense they're gonna try to run with him," said Tuck.

The Giants' defense did have a moment in this game. After Manning connected with Rueben Randle for a 26-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter, cutting the Eagles' lead to 19-14, the defense took the field during a TV commercial break, while the Eagles' offense remained on the sideline. With loud music blasting through the stadium loudspeaks, the 11 defensive players huddled up and soon whipped themselves into a dancing frenzy, to the delight of the fans.

The Giants then forced the Eagles into a three-and-out, and less than two minutes later Manning connected with Randle in the end zone again, putting the Giants in front. But it obviously did not last.

"That was reminiscent of better times here," Tuck said. "And I think that’s why you see guys a little bit more down than normal. Because we haven’t played four quarters yet. We’ve been in football games. It’s tough. I think I’d rather get blown out than to think I have a chance of winning and then losing at the end."

Tuck and his defensive linemates once again failed to get to the quarterback. The Giants had just one sack, shared between Cullen Jenkins and Mathias Kiwanuka. The Giants have just five sacks in five games.

The fans booed the team off the field at halftime. They weren't as loud at the end of the game -- most fans had already escaped before the clock struck 0:00.

"We deserve to get booed," Tuck said. "They come here to see a good product, and right now we’re not a good product."

The Giants are searching for answers after dropping to 0-5 for the first time since 1987.

"I wish I could stand up here and tell you that we haven’t been working hard. But guys are busting their tails to figure this out," Tuck said. "I’ve seen more people in meeting rooms, I’ve seen more people watching film, I’ve seen more people working out after practice, I've seen more people running after practice. I wish I had answers for you. But right now it’s just not paying off for us."

Now they have just three days to prepare before taking on the 3-2 Bears in Chicago on Thursday night.

"There’s only two ways to finish this season," Tuck said. "That’s either figuring out some kind of way to right this ship and get some positive momentum going here, or you can sulk and feel sorry for yourself and have the worst season ever in Giants history."

Locker Room Buzz: New York Giants

October, 6, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed in the locker room after the New York Giants' 36-21 loss to Philadelphia Eagles:

Laying blame: Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn't shy away from blaming the loss on the three interceptions Eli Manning threw in the fourth quarter. Coughlin said he believed Manning was trying too hard to win games by himself and that he pulled him aside and spoke to him in the locker room after the game. "He's way too good a player to have these kinds of things happen."

Holding together: Defensive end Justin Tuck refused to blame the offense, saying, "That offense has gotten us out of a lot of jams that our defense has put us in." Tuck also said the third-quarter comeback was "reminiscent of better times here, and I think that's why you see guys a little bit more down."

Injury updates: Long-snapper Zak DeOssie and safety Cooper Taylor both went in for X-rays, though no word was given on either player's injury status. Indications were that running back David Wilson, who left the game after the first quarter with a neck injury, was not seriously injured and was held out of the final three quarters as a precaution.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

October, 6, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 36-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

What it means: If you were holding out any hope that the Giants could save their season (and goodness knows, I was trying to tell you otherwise), you may now give it up. The Giants are 0-5 and quite clearly one of the worst teams in the NFL. They came to life in the third quarter and looked good on both sides of the ball, but the other three quarters were a mess of penalties, bad and/or dumb plays and, yes, three more Eli Manning interceptions. This was to have been the Giants' get-right game, at home against a team that appeared to have had as many problems as they do. And while they'll say they were in it late, again, they ended up getting crushed, again. No team has ever started 0-5 and made the playoffs.

Stock Watch: Rising -- Rueben Randle and Jason Pierre-Paul. Manning has struggled throwing the ball to Randle this year, but he found a rhythm with him in this game to the tune of six catches for 96 yards and the two touchdowns that brought the Giants from behind to take their third-quarter lead. And Pierre-Paul looked explosive and disruptive for the first time all year. Falling -- star-crossed running back David Wilson, who started out great by scoring the game's first touchdown but left at the end of the first quarter with a neck injury.

Rough game for the coach: Tom Coughlin raised eyebrows by accepting a holding penalty in the first quarter and putting the Eagles in third-and-20 instead of fourth-and-4 at midfield. The Eagles converted the third down with a 34-yard Michael Vick run, and ended up kicking a field goal. Later in the game, with 12:40 left in the third quarter, Coughlin burned two timeouts on one failed replay challenge (one to get the time to challenge, the other when it didn't go his way).

What's next: Quick turnaround for the Giants, who play at 8:25 p.m. ET on Thursday in Chicago against the Bears, who have lost two in a row following their 3-0 start.