The most memorable moment of the last decade for the New York Giants came on an off day for players after the 2016 regular season and before a wild-card playoff game when Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and others appeared in the infamous boat photo in Miami.
When that is the lasting image over a 10-year period that includes no postseason victories and only two winning seasons, it’s reflective of what a mess the franchise has been.
In that regard, the Giants and Chicago Bears are not dissimilar. While the Giants have a .384 winning percentage since the start of the 2012 season — the year after capturing a second Lombardi Trophy in a five-year span — the Bears aren’t much better at .440. The Bears also have only two winning seasons in the span and are winless in two playoff appearances.
The Bears’ continued demise this season only benefits the Giants , who have 2022 first- and fourth-round picks as final payment for the trade up to draft quarterback Justin Fields.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman is on the hot seat, and it has been reported that Joe Judge could survive because the Giants don’t want to clip a third straight coach after only two seasons. The Bears are likely to replace coach Matt Nagy after the season, and Chairman George McCaskey will also have to make a decision regarding GM Ryan Pace.
Both franchises are expected to be without their young quarterbacks Sunday. Daniel Jones, whom the Giants selected at No. 6 in 2019, one spot ahead of Josh Allen, is on injured reserve with a neck issue. Fields is expected to miss his second game with an ankle injury. That leaves the Giants (4-11) to play Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm, and the Bears (5-10) will go with Andy Dalton.
Each team has struggled because of ongoing quarterback issues. The Giants haven’t yet replaced Eli Manning after hanging on to him too long, and the Bears’ QB issues are well documented with the future tied to Fields. The Giants project to have two picks in the top 10, but quarterback prospects for the 2022 draft are thin.
Neither offense has been able to consistently produce explosive plays. The Giants are tied for 30th in scoring at 16.5 points per game and have 22 offensive touchdowns. The Bears are 28th at 17.7 ppg with 26 offensive touchdowns.
Since the start of the 2017 season, the Giants and Jets are tied for the worst record with only 22 wins — two fewer than the floundering Jacksonville Jaguars. When you’re that bad over a five-year span, blame spreads to every corner of the organization, and every aspect of the franchise must be examined.
The Giants and Bears both have struggled in the draft. With five top-10 picks since 2015, the Giants selected offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, cornerback Eli Apple, running back Saquon Barkley, Jones and offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. In four consecutive drafts the Bears selected Kevin White, Leonard Floyd, Mitch Trubisky and Roquan Smith with top-10 picks, only a marginally better use of resources. The Giants drafted Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney with the first-round pick they got from the Bears in April, but he has struggled to stay healthy, and it has been challenging to integrate him in the offense.
Both teams have leaned heavily on free agency. The Bears have gotten mixed results and spent a lot of money. The Giants have gotten worse results, especially with a wild spending spree in 2016 for cornerback Janoris Jenkins, pass rusher Olivier Vernon and nose tackle Damon Harrison that totaled $105 million in guaranteed money. They splurged for wide receiver Kenny Golladay in free agency this year, signing him to a four-year, $72 million contract with $40 million guaranteed. He has 34 receptions for 499 yards with no touchdowns.
When teams consistently pull out their checkbooks in free agency to make up for draft picks that haven’t met expectations, it often leads to disappointment. You end up paying top market prices — or close to it — and too often signings are compensated for past performance, not future production.
Make no mistake:, The Giants are worse off than the Bears and likely are headed nowhere unless Jones reverses course after three underwhelming seasons. But when the Bears look at themselves in the mirror, the image they see should not be attractive.
Fields’ development will be the primary storyline in 2022 after McCaskey makes whatever changes are coming to his football operation. Jones’ QBR in his rookie season was 55.7 with a passer rating of 87.7; Fields’ QBR is 25.2 and his rating is 73.2. The Bears will lean heavily on the idea new coaching — and a season with ample experience — will lead to dramatic improvement from Fields in Year 2.
Both franchises are headed for a reboot, at least to some degree, as they look to dig out of a decadelong run of struggles heading into a game that will have marginal impact on 2022 draft order.
<mark class=”hl_blue”>Xavier McKinney, Giants strong safety</mark>
Information for this report was obtained from NFL scouts.
Xavier McKinney, 6-foot, 201 pounds, is in his second season after New York drafted him out of Alabama in the second round in 2020. McKinney is tied for fourth in the league with five interceptions, one of them returned for a touchdown. He has 79 tackles (49 solos) with nine pass breakups.
McKinney played in only six games as a rookie, missing the first 10 after suffering a foot injury in training camp. He closed the season on an up note with a game-sealing interception in a victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
“I really like Xavier McKinney,” the scout said. “He’s interesting because he was a high second-round pick out of Alabama, a guy with multi-dimensional traits. Coached by Nick Saban. Really physical player who has range in the post too. Only played six games last year because of the injury and that really kind of derailed his development but you have seen throughout the course of this season why he was an early Day 2 pick. He’s a really good fit for today’s NFL. He’s got split-field range, he’s got post range, he’s got ball skills. He’s got five interceptions this year and there probably aren’t a lot of people that know that because he plays on a poor team.
“(Defensive coordinator) Patrick Graham really utilizes him in different roles. He can cover down over the slot, he can match the tight ends and backs, he will thump you in the run game and he’s got the movement ability to show low and drop high when they spin the safeties and play over the top of the defense.
“I think he’s a really good player and the arrow is pointing up for him and I think they hit it with this draft pick. There are a lot of questions and criticism about what New York has done drafting. Xavier is a really solid football player and one day he can be a Pro Bowl safety. I think he’s Adrian Amos with more range. Amos is a solid pro but McKinney has a little bit more in terms of range and traits to make plays on the ball. That’s the uptick for McKinney if he can continue to do it consistently.”