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Leonard: Giants season is over. Time to get head-start on life post-Eli Manning following awful loss to Eagles

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 10/12/2018 Pat Leonard

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Pull the plug. The season is over.

Time to focus on the future instead of winning this season, which means getting Kyle Lauletta ready to play quarterback to see what the fourth-round rookie out of Richmond has.

Pat Shurmur is not going to win with Eli Manning or the defense that showed up Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, where the team was serenaded into halftime with boos by a home crowd tired and frustrated with years of losing.

The Giants’ depressing 34-13 home loss to the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles not only confirmed that Lil Wayne’s favorite quarterback doesn’t have it anymore. It also brought troublesome lack of effort — or as Odell Beckham Jr. would call it, “heart” and “energy” — from a defense that didn’t always give its all last season before Ben McAdoo was fired.

“They beat us on every play, and we beat ourselves,” said Beckham (six catches, 44 yards), who had little impact on the game.

And Beckham’s troublesome off-field saga continued, with the star receiver walking off the field to the locker room before halftime, early enough that the offense had to run the final play of the second quarter without him, going in down 24-6.

This happened despite news that the Giants had fined Beckham for last week’s ESPN interview on top of chewing him out and forcing him to apologize to his teammates. Beckham didn’t even emerge from the locker room until after the third quarter’s opening kickoff.

Shurmur and Beckham said for the second time this season that he had gone in early for an I.V. because he was dehydrated. “I was cramping,” Beckham said.

But the postgame locker room was tense. Co-owner John Mara could be seen hovering just outside the locker room, observing from across the room as Beckham talked to the media. It feels like Beckham is on notice.

The Giants (1-5) in the process wasted an incredible individual performance by No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley, who came one yard short of becoming the first Giants player ever to rush for 100 yards and reach 100 yards receiving in the same game.

CAPTION: EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants scrambles before fumbling the ball from a hit by Michael Bennett #77 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 11, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Nate Solder #76 of the New York Giants recovered the fumble on the 1 yard line. © (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) CAPTION: EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants scrambles before fumbling the ball from a hit by Michael Bennett #77 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 11, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Nate Solder #76 of the New York Giants recovered the fumble on the 1 yard line.

Barkley finished with 229 yards from scrimmage and a 50-yard touchdown run: 13 rushes for 130 yards and nine catches for 99 yards, including a 55-yard screen pass.

To illustrate how little help he had, though, when Barkley took it to the house with 6:10 to play in the third quarter, he had accounted for 204 of the offense’s 297 yards.

“We’re 1-5. It’s not acceptable at all,” Barkley said. “But we’ve got to stick together as a team. We can’t come apart."

Beckham, meanwhile, was seen headbutting the large cooling fan on the Giants’ sidelines with his helmet on. “I was just trying to get myself going,” OBJ said.

“I didn’t see that. He can’t do that, shouldn’t do that,” Shurmur said.

And corner Eli Apple had to be held back by teammates and coaches from the officials when a Wendell Smallwood fumble call was reversed in the third quarter. Apple then declined to answer questions from the Daily News postgame.

Most damning, however, was the unacceptable consistent effort displayed by especially by certain members of the Giants defense and chronicled by the FOX broadcast.

Hall of Famer Troy Aikman called the Giants “a lifeless group.” He said on many plays for the Giants defense, “as far as effort (there’s) not a lot goin’ on.” And play-by-play man Joe Buck said the Giants are “very much alive in the division but not playing like they are.”

Shurmur contended “everybody fought” and there was “nothing wrong with the effort.” Then he grew testy when asked about effort again, which is understandable, because he has been defined all his athletic life as tough and lack of effort is the last quality he will tolerate in a team.

“I just said I’m not worried about their effort,” Shurmur said. “Listen, didn’t (another reporter) ask me about effort? And then I said I wasn’t concerned about their effort, right? Here we go again. I wasn’t concerned about their effort. I was concerned about how they executed, and how we didn’t get in the end zone and how we let them in the end zone.”

Defensive captain Alec Ogletree said: “I don’t question any man’s effort out here. I’m proud of the guys that stayed and fought the whole way through to the end.” But even with Olivier Vernon adding a sack and two QB hurries to help the pass rush in his season debut returning from a broken ankle, Thursday’s team performance was far from acceptable.

“It felt great to get back. I just got to get my legs back,” Vernon said. “But I was expecting to win.”

Now they are firmly in the NFC basement, and Dave Gettleman and Shurmur must understand that the long-term is all that matters now. This season is over.

Related slideshow: Best of the NFL season (provided by photo services)

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