You shrug when you look at the NFL standings after Week 5 and see that the Cleveland Browns are winless. What else is new? The Browns have been winless after five games in three of their last six seasons and it’s nothing for them to lose five in a row or more at some point in any season. They’ve done that every year for the last seven years and 13 times in 19 years since rejoining the league in 1999.
For the record, the Eagles have endured losing streaks of five games or longer only six times since 1980, including twice when Rich Kotite was the coach. We understand that “at least we’re not the Browns” is not a battle cry any fan base would choose to embrace.
It is also not earth-shattering to see that the San Francisco 49ers have opened the season 0-5. They were 2-14 last year under our old friend Chip Kelly, so first-year coach Kyle Shanahan knew he was taking on a major rebuilding project. The 49ers have at least been competitive, losing their last four games by three points or fewer after an opening-day beatdown from the Carolina Panthers.
The 0-5 that has stunned us all is the one attached to the New York Giants, a proud franchise that came into the year with Super Bowl aspirations. Now, after being ravaged by injuries, they can think only about what must be done to help them get better next year.
This is only the fourth time in their history that the Giants have opened a season 0-5. It had not happened since 1987, the year after they won their first Super Bowl. That team recovered to win six of its final 10 games. This Giants team will not recover.
We saw in a Week 1 loss at Dallas how miserable the Giants offense is without star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and now they will be without him for the remainder of the season after he suffered a fractured left ankle last week against San Diego. The news, of course, was far worse than that for the Giants, who endured an epidemic of wide receiver injuries. They also lost primary free-agent addition Brandon Marshall for the season to an ankle injury, and Sterling Shepard, the team’s second-round pick last year, is expected to miss at least two weeks after also suffering an ankle injury. Returner Dwayne Harris, who also is a wide receiver, was lost for the season to a foot injury.
Six players are considered questionable for the Giants’ Week 6 game at Denver, including center Weston Richburg and defensive starters Landon Collins, Jonathan Casillas, and Olivier Vernon. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended indefinitely by coach Ben McAdoo after leaving the team Wednesday when he found out he would not dress for the game in Denver.
When asked last season about the difficulties of being a rookie coach, McAdoo confessed it was difficult to constantly be dealing with “dumpster fires.” That was a reference to the domestic abuse controversy that got kicker Josh Brown booted from the team. Now McAdoo is dealing with a seven-alarm inferno. He’s going to need a much bigger fire extinguisher.
Quarterback Eli Manning has a sore neck to go along with his receiver-less offense and the league’s 30th-ranked rushing attack. It could be argued that the Giants would be doing Manning and themselves a huge favor by sitting their quarterback for the rest of the season.
Manning, 36, has started every game for the Giants since replacing Kurt Warner in late November 2004. His streak of 216 straight starts, including 12 in the postseason, is the longest among active players and the third longest among all quarterbacks in league history. Only Brett Favre and Eli’s brother Peyton have started more consecutive games.
But what’s the point of Manning’s remaining on the field for the rest of this season? Nothing good can come of it. Yes he would pass Peyton for consecutive starts with five more, but who cares? If I’m Giants general manager Jerry Reese, I want Manning to rest up for next season, when the games will mean something again. It would be good for his body after all those starts and it would be good for the Giants, too. They could spend the rest of this season getting a feel for what they have in rookie quarterback Davis Webb, their third-round pick out of the University of California.
If they like Webb enough, maybe they can trade Manning in the offseason. If they don’t like Webb, they will have a very high pick in the 2018 draft to select a future quarterback. The Giants know the time has come to look for Manning’s replacement. Regardless of what happens, Manning’s legacy in New York will never be tarnished. He has two Super Bowl rings and the respect that comes with always being ready to play. But now it’s time for him to sit and rest. This season is over for the New York Giants.
Seattle has a lot of offensive questions, but it’s impossible to count out a team has some of the most dominating defensive secondary players in NFL history. Safety Earl Thomas was named the NFC defensive player of the week after forcing a fumble and coming up with an interception in the Seahawks’ 16-10 win over the previously high-flying Los Angeles Rams. Thomas became the eighth member of Seattle’s Legion of Boom secondary to be named the NFC defensive player of the week since 2012.
One week Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is kneeling with his players before the national anthem in a show of solidarity after President Trump suggested players who kneel or sit during the national anthem should be fired. Ten days later, Jones met with his players to explain why they will be benched if they take a knee or raise a fist during the national anthem. It’s a sore subject the Cowboys players declined to address with the media Wednesday and it’s the kind of thing that can tear a team at a crossroads apart.
This week’s best
New England at N.Y. Jets
Raise your hand if you thought this Week 6 matchup would be a battle for first place in the AFC East. Kudos to Jets coach Todd Bowles for leading a team that looked dead on arrival this season to three wins in its first five games. Make it four out of six against the Patriots and the football world will be stunned beyond belief. The Jets are 2-10 in their last 12 against the Pats. Tom Brady is expected to play with a sprained AC joint in his non-throwing shoulder.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City
Ben Roethlisberger’s five interceptions in the Steelers’ lopsided home loss to Jacksonville were a career high and his 37.8 passer rating was tied for the fifth lowest mark in 190 career games. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell wondered why he carried the ball only 15 times against a Jacksonville defense that was ranked last against the run. The unbeaten Chiefs have lost five of their last six against Pittsburgh, including an 18-16 decision in last year’s playoffs.
N.Y. Giants at Denver
A trip to Denver is difficult regardless of the circumstances and this excursion out west could not come at a worse time for the beleaguered Giants. Add in the fact that the Broncos have the league’s top-ranked defense and are coming off a bye and this figures to be a good Sunday night for baseball’s postseason TV ratings. Game 2 of the NLCS between the Dodgers and Cubs will air that night, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to bed by 2 a.m.
Indianapolis at Tennessee
The 2-3 Colts have to be thrilled that they are still in the hunt for the AFC South title even though they will play for a sixth straight week without starting quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts have been helped by being in a weak division. The Titans are also 2-3, but there’s a good chance that quarterback Marcus Mariota returns after missing last week’s loss at Miami.