Sunday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings was rendered meaningless to the New York Giants after the Washington Redskins topped the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East on Saturday night.
With a flimsy, uncoordinated effort, the Giants reminded us of that fact in front of a national audience, losing 49-17 and looking like a team that badly needs to set the restart button.
Playing without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was suspended one game by the league for his inexplicable tantrum during last week's game against Carolina, the offense showed how reiliant it has become on its young superstar.
Quarterback Eli Manning (15 for 29, 234 yards, one TD and three INTs) seemingly tried every receiver on the roster at least once but could not find any consistency. He was picked three times and could not solve the Vikings' defensive schemes. He finished the game with a 50.7 quarterback rating.
The Giants were as unclutch as ever, going 1 for 11 on third downs and failing to convert on both fourth-down tries. They only got into the red zone once, punted eight times and held the ball for just 25 minutes.
The defense played hard, but could not sustain their early momentum. They recorded three sacks and seven quarterback hits on the Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater, but when it cam to making key stops, the Giants caved again.
The loss had the feel of a team that was either rebuilding or crumbling. The Giants are in the process of both, it seems. What is apparent is they cannot come back with Tom Coughlin at the helm. As much as his players loves him, the results are undeniable.
After the game, Coughlin said things like, "I didn't see this coming," and when asked about his job security he said, "It will take care of itself."
Those are defeatest statements. He is unsure of his future and we are unsure of the Giants' future. Their roster is a mess. NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth said during the game the Giants were unsettled at about "6-7" positions.
He was being kind. He forgot to say, "just on defense." The offense, which clicks when Beckham is around to bail the Giants out, needs players, too. Their problems won't be solved by simply firing Coughlin. He might be the reason the team has stayed on the cusp of competitiveness the past few seasons instead of completely collapsing.
Last year, CEO John Mara said it wasn't time to "blow things up," but he may have no choice this offseason. Unless they can solve their injury epidemic, which is now a league-wide problem, there is no one solution that will save this franchise outside of a restart.
And even that isn't guaranteed to work.