Embarrassed by a 2-10 record, New York Giants owner John Mara felt wholesale changes needed to be made throughout the organization.
So the Giants fired general manager Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo with four games left on the season. It’s the first time since 1976 season that the Giants haven’t started and ended with the same head coach.
It’s similar to when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made a similar decision halfway through the 2010 season. Jason Garrett replaced Wade Phillips, marking the first time the Cowboys had a coaching change during the season, and the Cowboys responded by going 5-3.
Garrett’s first game? A 33-20 victory over a favored Giants team.
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Giants interim coach Steve Spagnuolo, of course, will be in a similar position making his debut against the Cowboys on Sunday.
Garrett downplayed the similarities on Monday.
“You try not to compare situations,” Garrett said. “That was a particular situation we had a few years ago and we tried to handle it.
“The biggest thing we tried to preach to our guys is just to prepare for the opportunity that we have on Sunday. It's the same thing we're preaching right now to our team, to get ready for this opportunity that we have.'”
Here are five things to know about the Giants:
Steve Spagnuolo is no stranger to leading a team. He was the then-St. Louis Rams head coach for three seasons in 2009-11, going a combined 10-38. But Spagnuolo is known for his defensive chops and has given the Cowboys headaches since serving as the defensive coordinator with the Giants since 2015. The Cowboys had lost three consecutive games to the Giants until winning this year’s season opener.
Veteran quarterback Eli Manning didn’t spend long on the bench. McAdoo decided to go in another quarterback direction before last week’s game at Oakland, meaning Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive starts came to an end. But Manning is about to start a new streak as he’s expected to return to the starting role this week against the Cowboys. In 26 career games against the Cowboys, Manning is 13-13.
The Giants have a bad offense. They rank 28th in the league in total offense, averaging just 293.3 yards a game. More important, they’ve struggled to put points on the board. Only the winless Cleveland Browns (14.7) average fewer points a game than the Giants (15.8). The Giants have struggled replacing their biggest home-run threat, receiver Odell Beckham (ankle), and still have offensive line issues.
For as bad as the offense has been, the Giants’ defense has been even worse. They rank last in the league in total defense, allowing an average of 390.8 yards a game. The Giants have allowed 400 or more yards in six of their past nine games, and have held just one team all season to less than 100 rushing yards (Week 6 at Denver).
The Giants are on pace to not have a 1,000-yard rusher or receiver for the first time since 2013. Tight end Evan Engram is the leading receiver with 569 yards, and Orleans Darkwa leads the team in rushing with 551 yards. Defensively, cornerback Janoris Jenkins (who leads the team with three interceptions) is out for the season with an ankle injury. But the defense still has a few bright spots in safety Landon Collins, who has produced big games, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has flashed big-play talent at times.