EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - John Mara is going to have to do something after this season is over, assuming it keeps heading in its current direction. But if he doesn't want to fire Pat Shurmur - and so far all indications are that's not a move he wants to make - an easy scapegoat is emerging.
So defensive coordinator James Bettcher shouldn't feel too comfortable right now.
His defense is atrocious and it wasn't all that better last year, and it was bad again on Sunday in the Giants' 31-13 loss to the Packers. The coach with the supposedly aggressive scheme can't seem to find a pass rush, and his secondary has become a mess of blown coverages. The defense is far from the sole reason why the Giants are 2-10 and riding a miserable streak of eight straight losses.
But if Mara wants someone other than the head coach to blame, it will be easy to point the finger at him.
The game against the Packers was the same old, same old. The Giants didn't come close to touching Rodgers much of the game. Yes, the field was covered in snow, so the footing was bad. But couldn't the Giants have taken advantage of that by making one of the Packers' linemen miss, just once?
And when Rodgers had time to throw - which he always did - he constantly had wide open receivers to throw to. He finished 21 of 33 for 243 yards and four touchdowns. And all four of those touchdown passes were to receivers who didn't seem to be covered at all.
Now, to be fair, they were missing safety Jabrill Peppers, who was out with a hip injury. And rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker continued to struggle, and second-year pro Sam Beal had his bad moments too. The defense is young and suffering some expected growing pains, so maybe it's not fair to roll Bettcher under the bus.
Then again, some of it could be his scheme. Or if not, it's certainly the players' (lack of) understanding of that scheme. Like on the 37-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Allen Lazard in the first half. He was wide open because safety Antoine Bethea got turned around in coverage. But was a 35-year-old safety really supposed to be one-on-one with Lazard there? Because he was. Either that was a terrible design, or someone really blew an assignment.
In the end, it may not matter. This season seems to be on the fast track to 2-14, and the Giants right now are 7-21 in the Shurmur era. Shurmur might get fired if things continue to get worse, but the usually patient Giants ownership might not want to fire a coach for the third time in five seasons. If they don't, firing Bettcher could be an easy solution to that dilemma. Because they certainly can't sell their fans in 2020 on the status quo.
Here are a few more takeaways from the Giants' eighth straight loss ...
The book is definitely out on Daniel Jones and how he struggles the most against zone defenses, which are easier for defensive coordinators to disguise coverages. That bit him again in the first quarter when he just stared at receiver Darius Slayton who had one defender in front of him and another behind him. In this case, the defender in front - CB Kevin King - didn't even have to move. Jones threw it right to him. Hard to know what he was looking at there.
The Giants' eight-game losing streak is the second-longest in team history (matching eight-game streaks in 1980, 2003 and 2004). The franchise record is nine straight losses back in 1976. That could fall next Monday night in Philadelphia.
Things that will really make John Mara mad: The sparse crowd at the Meadowlands was comprised mostly of Packers fans. It was easy to tell because of the loud "Go, Pack! Go!" chants throughout the game. Also, the silence whenever the scoreboard implored fans to "Get loud!" That's embarrassing.
Jones had a few good throws in less-than-ideal conditions, but mostly he executed a conservative game plan and didn't make much happen. The two interceptions made everything look worse, but he's at the point of his rookie year now where he needs to get this offense moving. He was able to do that much better earlier in the season. Now the offense looks like it did when Eli Manning was under center - and that's not good.
With the snow blanketing the field early, this probably wasn't going to be the game where Saquon Barkley finally broke out. But he did look a little more like himself at times, with some shifty moves that made defenders miss (possibly with the help of the slick turf). He finished with a respectable 83 yards on 19 carries, plus three catches for 32 yards (although 27 of that came on a fourth-quarter catch with the game out of reach).
At the end of the first half, Pat Shurmur wisely used his timeouts during the Packers' last drive so the Giants could get the ball back with 40 seconds left (at their own 11). But then he called two running plays and a short pass to the sidelines. Not one shot down field? Not even a desperation heave to try and draw a pass interference flag? Why use the timeouts at all if you're not going to take one shot when you get the ball back? What a waste.
It didn't count because of offsetting penalties, but rookie Darius Slayton made a tremendous catch in the third quarter running down the sidelines. He had to stretch his hands way out to grab it just as he was about to get hammered by the defensive back. But he held on for what would've been a 29-yard gain. Slayton continues to impress and to be one of Jones' most reliable receivers. In this game he caught six of the nine passes thrown his way for 44 yards
The Giants worked out a bunch of kickers this week to put pressure on their struggling Pro Bowl kicker, Aldrick Rosas. Apparently it worked. The 24-year- old nailed his two field goal attempts, from 27 and 45 yards - no easy task ona snow-covered field. It's worth noting that he was working with a new long-snapper, Colin Holba, after veteran Zak DeOssie was placed on injured reserve. It's a good bet that Rosas' struggles could be traced to DeOssie's struggles with long snaps this year.