COMMENTARY | The last time the New York Giants started a season 0-4, the regular guys had help.
It was 1987, the year the players went on strike after two weeks of the season and the owners brought in replacement players.
The "real" Giants dropped their first two games and then the faux Giants followed by losing all three of their attempts at NFL glory.
Big Blue was the defending Super Bowl champion, but the 0-5 start doomed them to a season of irrelevance ... even with a solid 6-4 finish once the striking players were back.
One has to go back even further to find a season without an asterisk that has started as poorly as this one has. That would be 1979, notable in that it was the rookie season for quarterback Phil Simms, the guy who would later go on to lead the Giants to Super Bowl glory in 1986.
But in 2013, it's been more than just the losing. Rather, it's the way the Giants are losing that is so unnerving for fans. New York is averaging 15.2 points per game, good for 30th in the 32-team league. They're allowing 36.5 points a game. That would be dead last.
It's a killer combination, being outscored 146-61 through just four games and sitting at minus-9 in turnover ratio (also 30th in the league ... thank you, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers). But no team in the NFL has turned the ball over more often than the Giants, who have coughed it up 16 times already (nine Eli Manning interceptions and seven lost fumbles, including two each for Manning and running back David Wilson).
By comparison, the 1987 Giants started 0-4 and were outscored 129-66 and were minus-4 in giveaway/takeaway ratio.
In 1979, New York was outscored 94-44 in the opening four games despite being plus-2 in turnovers.
So we need to look even further back to find a season that started as abjectly poorly as 2013 has begun for Big Blue.
The Giants actually started 0-9 in 1976, en route to a 3-11 finish, and in their first four games they were outscored 90-55 and were minus-5 in turnovers ... 2013 is still worse.
And ... that's it. In the franchise's 89th season, the Giants are 0-4 for just the fourth time ever. Even the worst team in franchise history, the 1-12-1 Giants of 1966, managed a tie within their first four games.
At minus-85 in scoring differential through four games, the Giants are currently worse than all but 12 full seasons in the history of the franchise. Only the presence of the Jacksonville Jaguars and their minus-98 differential prevents New York from being the worst in the league.
Alas, but the schedule doesn't match the Giants and Jags in 2013 ... the NFC East crosses over with the AFC West this season.
New York is having huge trouble in the running game. The Giants are managing just 3.3 yards per carry and averaging just 57.8 yards a game on the ground. Of course, part of that is being so far behind.
But it's defensively where the real troubles lie. Big Blue has been renowned for years for its pass rush, but Giant defenders have gotten to the quarterback just four times in four games and one of those four sacks came from a blitzing linebacker, Spencer Paysinger, who is tied for the team lead with ... ahem ... one sack.
Jason Pierre-Paul, the former All-Pro who is coming back from back surgery, has one sack. So does the bookend on the other end of the line, Mattias Kiwanuka. Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck have shared a sack.
Thus endeth the list.
It hasn't helped that two defensive backs, Laron Scott and Stevie Brown, are already on season-ending injured reserve and that a third, Corey Webster, has missed two games with a hip injury. Throw in Aaron Ross' injured back against Kansas City on Sunday and Will Hill's suspension, now over, and the defensive backfield has resembled a patchwork quilt ... without the patches.
Perhaps most alarming has been the production from the offense in huge road losses at Carolina and Kansas City the last two weeks. The Giants have been outscored 69-7 and the offense has produced just 21 first downs and 448 yards ... combined. Given that the defense has surrendered 48 first downs and 792 yards in those two games, it's hard to be encouraged by the defense creating three turnovers (the Chiefs' first three of the season) on Sunday.
The Giants return home Sunday to host the Philadelphia Eagles, who have lost three straight after an opening win.
The good news is that the rest of the NFC East seems to be just about as inept. New York is 0-4, but is just two games behind the first-place Dallas Cowboys, who fell to 2-2 with a loss at San Diego Sunday. The Eagles and Washington Redskins are tied for second place at 1-3.
So it's not too late for the Giants to turn it around. But for that to happen, the disastrous September can't be followed by an awful October.
Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of brewers101.com and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- New York Giants
- New York