The Giants are 3-5 and fighting Washington for last place in the NFC East. But with some slight twists in fortune, the G-Men could emerge from this week’s game against the Seahawks with some drastically improved prospects in the NFC East, where the division’s top two teams, Dallas and Philadelphia, are currently being quarterbacked by a castoff from the Browns (Brandon Weeden) and a butt fumble from the Jets (Mark Sanchez).
Say what you will about Eli Manning, but he has the longest current starting streak among NFL quarterbacks. Like Keith Richards, he can’t be killed by conventional weapons.
For the Giants to win in Seattle on Sunday, people on both teams are going to have to Step Up and Step Down. Here’s a sampling:
Step Up: Larry Donnell.
We give Donnell a lot of grief in these parts because we see the flame of talent burning deep in his core and we want to give it oxygen. After his 3-touchdown game against Washington in Week 4, when Larry looked like the second coming of Antonio Gates, some fans on Reddit decided that Donnell needed a nickname. The consensus was that he should be called “The Don,” apparently because Donnell is Italian and really enjoys “The Godfather.”
A lame nickname? You bet. Lamer still? Donnell went on Instagram and gave his blessing to the handle. No, no, no. A nickname needs to be given to you, without your consent or participation. It’s not something you try on like a hat, because if you do that your head is probably too big for the hat.
It’s time to step up, Larry, before the nickname fans now have for you, “The Fumbler,” sticks for good.
Step Down: The 12th man.
Know how you take the crowd out of a game? Embarrass their best, brashest player on the first play.
The Giants need to run a play-action pass that goes down the field at Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman right out of the gate, to staunch the effect of Seattle’s infamously raucous crowd. If Odell Beckham Jr. decides he’d like to use that moment to show the NFL his patented one-handed windmill catching style, well, all the better.
Step Up: Eli Manning.
The wide receivers -- especially Preston Parker and Rueben Randle -- shouldered a lot of the blame for the Giants’ inept performance against the Colts last Monday night, but Eli was short of spectacular. He overthrew receivers in several key spots, should have run for the first down on the team’s opening drive but instead disconnected with Randle after scrambling out of the pocket, and agreed to hand the ball off to Andre Williams on first down late in the third quarter with the team down by 27 points!
Seriously, I can’t get over that. Can you see Peyton Manning agreeing to run that play? We’re not talking about fooling the defense by running a draw play to a speedburner in an obvious passing situation. We’re talking about a handoff to Andre Williams, who is big and mean and runs the 40 in 40 seconds flat.
Ben McAdoo calls for that play? Fine. Tell him thanks, and then promptly audible the hell out of it.
Step Down: Marshawn Lynch.
There’s an outside chance that Seattle’s No. 1 wide receiver Doug Baldwin will not play in this game because he’s suffering from a groin injury. The Seahawks’ offense is largely built on establishing the run with Marshawn Lynch, but if Baldwin can’t play then the Giants can feel more comfortable with loading the box to quell “Beast Mode,” a nickname that is awesome, apt and bequeathed. (Take notes, “The Don.”)