Dave Klein was the Giants' beat
writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books
and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls.
Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.
HEADLINE AND THE DETAILS:
TURMOIL IN THE LOCKER ROOM AS THE GIANTS TRY TO
By Aaron Klein
to the second half of the lost 2017 season.
Meet the Giants, who have supposedly completed their soul searching, their tweaks
and alterations and their ability to rally around each other and their coaches
in hopes of salvaging pride and getting a few victories along the way.
Sunday, the Giants will host the Los Angeles Rams (5-2), a team that was once
struggling but now appears to have a path and some momentum. Both teams are coming
off a bye. The Giants, meanwhile, may still be floundering at 1-6, but we'll have
a better picture once this next game, their eighth, is over.
The headline as we move forward is not about resurgence, or about rebuilding as
we came to realize after the 2017 trading period expired without a single transaction.
No, the headline seems to be about the
Giants' ability to rally and to support their head coach, Ben McAdoo. In other
words, many wonder if McAdoo has lost his locker room and if we are about to witness
a full-on mutiny.
Unlikely. In fact,
it's highly doubtful that there will be mutiny across the roster, though the speculation
is not unfounded and we may never know, publicly, if there is any real truth to
such a concept.
Surely, the suspension
of cornerback Janoris Jenkins, just weeks after fellow corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
was suspended, was a bad sign. See, Jackrabbit violated team rules, apparently
failing to show up after the team's bye-week break with no excuse until it was
too late. McAdoo, as with DR-C, had no choice but to suspend him "indefinitely,"
which could be seen as a one-game suspension yet will undoubtedly be revisited
next week. That Jenkins thought he would get away with it despite seeing his teammate
suspended just weeks before is mind-boggling. Sure, he became the highest-paid
cornerback when he signed with the Giants in the 2016 off-season, but he has no
more scheduled guaranteed money coming to him, and each paycheck he loses to suspension
is worth more than $750,000.
being so erratic as to put that amount of money on the line, regardless of how
much is already in the bank.
a good move and showed at least some blatant disrespect. Worse was that there
was either too much confusion or a fabrication when McAdoo was asked to explain
what had happened. See, when he was first questioned, the head coach said that
Jenkins' absence was excused. Then, we are led to believe, once McAdoo received
more information he decided that Jenkins was actually unexcused and AWOL, therefore
earning the suspension. McAdoo, as usual, didn't really want to explain why he
was so ambiguous, choosing instead to explain that he would keep their personal
conversation private and that would be that.
It may be dangerous to read too much into things, since many of the players seem
happy with the coach and the team.
Jonathan Casillas, who was mentioned in a trade rumor (to New England) said this
week that he wants to end his career with the Giants. However, when pressed about
the Jenkins suspension, Casillas spoke out of both sides of his mouth. First,
he defended the concept of the suspension by explaining that it was earned and
that, "I want him here," he said. "[But] it's not like he didn't
do anything ..." Second, however, Casillas told the media that, "Whether
I support Ben McAdoo or not, he is the head coach and I think he is doing what
he thinks is best for the team."
Ringing endorsement? Not really, but is there anything between the lines? Maybe
not, but that Casillas even suggested that it doesn't matter if he supports the
coach is worrisome even though he obviously explained that he understands and
accepts the hierarchy and will do what he's told by his coaches.
Still, there may be something there. Stay tuned.
Among the players with whom
the Giants will have their hands full are defensive tackle Aaron Donald and left
offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. Both, at a distance, will forever been loosely
connected with the Giants ... and not for good reason. Donald is probably the
best defensive tackle in the league and it would be hard to argue for anyone else,
though the Giants' own Damon Harrison should at least be in the conversation.
Donald, you may remember, was a hot
name in the 2014 NFL Draft and many believed that the Giants would grab him up
if were available. And he was right there, but wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
was also there and the Giants went with the guy they felt would be more valuable
to their needs. Right or wrong, they passed on Donald and the Rams fell over themselves
in their rush to take him.
was a free agent in the spring and many correctly saw the aging veteran as a player
who could step in, start and lift an offensive line to a higher level. The Giants,
many assumed, were interested and would be Whitworth's next stop. However, the
team was not excited enough about Whitworth, who was 35 years old, to give up
on Ereck Flowers at left tackle, and let Whitworth sign without as much as a visit.
Again, right or wrong, the Giants made their collective bed and now try to sleep
in it as Whitworth has been excellent while the Giants' line has struggled, as
it had when the guy was available in the first place. There is always money in
The Giants have struggled with
running backs coming out of the backfield on receiving routes and the Rams have
one of the best in Todd Gurley. He already has 27 receptions for 293 yards and
three touchdowns. He will present a problem as he has become young quarterback
Jared Goff's go-to when all else fails. Gurley also has 627 yards and five touchdowns
on 145 carries.
Speaking of Goff, he's
making progress and appears to be putting the pro game together. On the season,
he has spread the ball to 11 receivers, connecting with three of the over 20 times
each, for 133 completions on 222 tries for 1,719 yards, nine touchdowns and just
The Giants are also
struggling with injuries and despite the break were still missing several key
players at Thursday's practice. Held out of action were tackle/guard Justin Pugh,
center Weston Richburg, defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Kerry Wynn, safety Nat
Berhe, linebacker B.J. Goodson. Also, Casillas, wide receiver Sterling Shepard,
defensive tackle Robert Thomas and linebacker Calvin Munson were limited.
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