PHILADELPHIA — If losing is all they know, why should they expect anything other than what their lives have been like as members of the Giants?
There are 24 players on the current roster or injured reserve who have played for the Giants and no one else in the NFL. Guys who have been around one, two, three, four, five or six years. Guys drafted high, low and everywhere in between. Others signed as street free agents. One of them, receiver Sterling Shepard (done for the rest of the season with a torn Achilles tendon), has appeared in one playoff game with the Giants.
All the rest of them donned a Giants uniform and started losing. The losing never stopped. This time of year — Christmas rolling in, followed by New Year’s — is a time of possibility for so many teams around the NFL but never for 23 of these Giants. Oh, there was last year’s semi-serious playoff “race” (stumble is more like it) as the 2020 Giants lost three straight games in December and, at 5-10 going into the season finale, actually had a chance to win the NFC East. The Giants beat the Cowboys, but were denied a division title when the Eagles tanked against Washington. So be it. It was hardly a crushing postseason elimination scenario.
The problem with all this losing is that this is all so many young, impressionable players know about their time with the Giants. There was a Christmas afternoon bus ride Saturday for Sunday’s game with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles (7-7) are squarely in the NFC wild-card picture. The Giants (4-10) are not, with playoff elimination merely a formality waiting to happen. If they lose this game, they’re out. If they win and either the Saints, Vikings, Falcons or Washington win, the Giants are out. In reality, they were never in anything; they’ve been out all season.
“Unfortunately I have been in this position the past two years,” said Julian Love, a third-year safety. “I think what I take away from everything is that, man, now more than ever you’ve got to put your head down, kind of block out any distractions you’ve got going on, and really give it your all. It’s for a couple reasons. Just for pride itself, I think that’s one thing — but not to the pride of you, the pride of the community, the pride of the city.
“Then, I think it’s just propelling forward to whatever happens after the regular season is the other half of the battle. You play these last few games to really put yourself and put your team in a position going forward.”
At least there is a twist with this game. With Daniel Jones shut down for the reminder of the season with a sprained neck, Jake Fromm will make his first NFL start. The Giants went with veteran Mike Glennon the past three games and that was not so hot. Fromm, signed Nov. 30 off the Bills’ practice squad, was a big winner in college at Georgia, but has no real NFL experience. He might not be an upgrade at all from Glennon. But he might be, and that at least adds a modicum of intrigue into what otherwise is the same old, same old for the Giants.
That his starting debut comes at the Linc, with the home team in playoff contention and always inhospitable to visitors and especially the Giants, is a factor Fromm must deal with as best he can.
“Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about the environment and for me, it’s just preparation and making sure everybody’s on the same page,” Fromm said. “Really, it’s just going out and executing whatever the plan is and just trying to tune it out the best you can and go play football.”
Fromm is a fresh face in what has been another spoiled season, with Giants players, young and old, getting through this holiday with the losses piling up, again.
“If you like your craft, you’re going to go out there and try to work at it,” said safety Logan Ryan, who won two Super Bowls with the Patriots. “There’s only one way to play the game. There’s only one way, it’s to give it your all and give it your best.
“There’s a lot of people behind the scenes that do a lot of work for us to get us prepared to play and we honor a lot of people when we go out there to play.”