Now we know what the trouble has been this woebegone season with the New York Giants.
It was not the paper thin offensive line cobbled together by General Manager Jerry Reese. Nah.
It was not the invisible running game. Nah.
It was not the injuries that shredded the team and left many of the positions occupied by guys who looked like walk-ons from the New Jersey Turnpike. Nah.
It was not the dimwitted offensive play calling that led to run, run, screen pass, punt sequences. Nah.
The answer was right there in front of us all the time and it took coach Ben McAdoo to explain. The problem was obvious, at least to him.
Never mind a portfolio of 210 consecutive stars, two Super Bowl MVP awards and a fistful of Giants passing records that Manning owns, including over 50,000 yards, 334 touchdowns and 44 300-yard games. McAdoo knew better and casually tossed his quarterback under the bus before the Giants played Oakland in their 12th game of the season.
“Geno Smith gives us the best chance to win the game,’’ the coach said.
Well, not exactly.
When it was done, Geno Smith notwithstanding, the Giants were on the short end of a 24-17 score, their 10th loss in 12 games. Sadly, there are four more games remaining in this debacle.
Smith is one of 13 quarterbacks the New York Jets used during the stretch of 13 seasons that Eli Manning has been the constant calling signals for the Giants. That group includes immortals like Brooks Bollinger and Kellen Clemens. Quarterbacks marched in and out of the Jets backfield but for the Giants, there was always Manning.
Now there is Geno Smith, one of the refugees from the Jets quarterback parade. In his Giants debut, he was distinctly ordinary.
Smith threw a fourth quarter touchdown pass but lost a pair of fumbles, one in the red zone, and generated a meager 200 passing yards of offense, much of it too late to matter. Not exactly eye-popping.
Meanwhile, Manning stood on the sidelines, looking a little bewildered, wandering where it all went wrong for him and the Giants. It may have been when they unloaded coach Tom Coughlan and replaced him with McAdoo two years ago.
It was considered quite a coup at the time. McAdoo was being romanced by the Philadelphia Eagles , who were conducting their own coaching search, and keeping him in the Meadowlands was a major priority. Now the Eagles have one of the best records in the league and the Giants have Geno Smith at quarterback.
McAdoo was considered an offensive guru as an assistant coach in Green Bay and it took a season for him and Manning to get on the same page. Then, somebody turned the page and it all fell apart this season.
When the Giants fell out of playoff contention, McAdoo grounded Manning in a heavy-handed manner that rubbed many people the wrong way. The explanation was it was time to evaluate the roster to plan ahead for the franchise’s future.
No jobs are guaranteed in the NFL, McAdoo explained.
Least of all his.