Photo: Robert Sabo/New York Post
This should have been a perfect homecoming for the Giants. The type of homecoming that would make Giants fans forget everything that is wrong about their team for a day. The type of homecoming of what it used to be around here when the Giants mattered because they won.
The Giants inducted Eli Manning into the team’s Ring of Honor and retired his jersey on Sunday afternoon. The Atlanta Falcons served as the homecoming opponent as they entered the game 0-2 like the Giants. This was supposed to be a get-well game for Big Blue.
The Giants struggled offensively once again in their 17-14 loss to the Falcons at MetLife Stadium. They are now 0-3 to start the season for the third time in five years. But the story was not about their loss or their wretched start to the season or even Manning’s day. It was about Giants owner John Mara.
He received the brunt of boos at halftime when he spoke during Manning’s retirement ceremony. It was so bad that Manning told the fans to lay off on Mara when it was the quarterback’s turn to speak.
To Mara’s credit, he took it. He should because he is everything that is wrong about this once-proud football organization. The Giants are in a bad place. There’s nothing to be encouraged. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman built an awful roster with a lack of playmakers to show for it. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is the worst quarterback in the NFL.
Joe Judge showed he can’t coach a damn with an underwhelming 6-13 record as the Giants head coach of 19 games.
He did not get booed just for the Giants’ dreadful first-half performance, which the team mustered six points entering halftime. He received it from the fans for the Giants being 57-89 since Manning led the Giants to a playoff win in 2011 and 18-49 since the start of the 2017 regular season. Three coaches come and gone. One general manager lost his job, and the current general manager could be in danger of losing his job after this season. In fact, Judge may not be secure in his own job. This is a football team that basically had their season over before baseball’s regular season is over.
Everything Mara touched has turned bad. He struck out hiring Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur as head coaches. He picked Gettleman, Jones and Judge to turn the franchise around. It hasn’t worked so far, and one wonders if it ever will.
If the Giants can’t beat the Falcons, who exactly they can beat?
The schedule does not get any easier for them. They will play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at New Orleans, which the team will play its first home game in New Orleans since Hurricane Ida destroyed the Superdome. Then, they will play the Dallas Cowboys on the road, L.A. Rams and Carolina Panthers on back-to-back home games, Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead, Las Vegas Raiders at home, defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles. Can you say 0-11, Giants fans?
It may not even be crazy to think the Giants could make history by being the first 0-17 team in the NFL.
It’s easy to understand why fans booed Mara.
Mara blew it by not hiring Louis Riddick as the general manager and Eric Bieniemy or Matt Rhule as the head coach last offseason. Instead, he stuck with continuity by sticking with Gettleman as general manager despite not drafting well or not getting it right with free agents. He hired Judge because Bill Belichick told him to.
Mara’s problem is he wants to hire friends and family to run his organization. He wants guys that will never question his knowledge of the game. He wants to have a role in running this organization, which Gettleman and Judge happily obliged.
Until Mara realizes he has to butt out and let his general manager and head coach do his job, this will be more of the same.
It’s hard to trust Mara to get it right again when he hasn’t gotten it right. It could be someone from the NFL who must make the Giants general manager hire for Mara just like when Pete Rozelle told Wellington Mara to hire George Young to save this bumbling franchise at the time. The Giants won two Super Bowls and made many playoff appearances under Young.
Giants fans clearly don’t trust Mara. Why else would they boo him on a day it should have been about Eli Manning? Even if the Giants led at halftime, nothing would have changed. He would still have gotten booed.
For the Giants fans to let it all out on Mara on a day it should be about Manning, it tells you how frustrated they are with this team for the last 10 years. They have been waiting to let him have it for quite some time, and Sunday was that day.
All that was missing was some disgruntled fan riding a plane with a sign saying “WE HAD ENOUGH!”
Maybe that will come later this season when Michael Strahan’s No. 92 jersey will be retired.