EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The playoffs are out of the question after a 1-6 start, especially with all the injuries the Giants are enduring. And with the trade deadline gone, the Giants blew their chance to turn a few excess veterans into extra draft picks. So that pretty much takes all the drama and excitement out of the final nine games of the year.
So, as the Giants return from their bye week to face the resurgent Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, what is left to watch in this miserable season? More than you'd think, even if it's not what anyone hoped would be at stake down the stretch this year...
Will an unexpected star of the future emerge?
There is one benefit to all the suspensions and injuries: Opportunities for other players. Maybe the conditions aren't ideal, but otherwise unheralded players will have a chance to see significant action and stake out their place in the Giants' future. The most obvious candidate is running back Orleans Darkwa, who has been somewhat impressive and could play himself into a job next season. How about a receiver like Roger Lewis or a defensive end like Avery Moss? An offensive lineman would be a nice bonus.
Will the Giants take a look at Davis Webb, their possible quarterback of the future?
McAdoo gave a pretty hard "No" answer to this. Jerry Reese gave a softer "Maybe." It would be quite a slap in the face to Eli Manning to outright bench him and stop his precious consecutive games streak just to get a look at his successor, so barring injury it's a good bet Manning starts all 16 games. But in late-December, the Giants could take a look at Webb in the second half of a game or two. It's not a lock, though, because there are two big issues: 1. If the team is a real mess he won't have much of a chance to succeed, and 2. If the Giants do it in a competitive game it would be a sign of surrender that wouldn't sit well with some of the veterans, which would create the mess they'd want him to avoid. It all probably depends on how much the Giants want to see Webb in action before they decide whether to draft a quarterback next year.
Will anyone show up for the final five home games?
The Giants may get saved by three division games -- which are always big draws -- in December, and what should be a slew of unflexed, 1 p.m. starts. Otherwise there aren't a lot of reasons for fans to show up to see what they thought would be a Super Bowl contender meander through the final two months of the season. And ownership will be watching. Empty seats and angry crowds get their attention more than anything else. The more of a ghost town MetLife Stadium looks like after Thanksgiving, the more likely it is there'll be new people in charge next year.
Will there be a New Year's Day purge and how big will it be?
The season ends on New Year's Eve against Washington, and it's not out of the question that the Giants ring in 2018 by firing McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese. That would be an unprecedented act for a team that hasn't fired a GM since 1979 and has had seven head coaches in that 38-year span. Whether it happens depends on how bad things get. It also depends on how much of a stomach John Mara has for addressing the media after what likely will be a fourth losing season in five years and a fifth playoff-less season in six, saying "Yes, I'm bringing everybody back."