If you’re a Giants fan desperate to find a sliver of hope amid the wreckage of another lost season, you’ll find it in the back corner of the locker room. It is there that rookie running back Saquon Barkley, after another mind-numbingly weak performance by the Giants in a 20-13 loss to the Redskins, refused to surrender to the misery.
I asked him if he believes there’s enough in this room to find a way out of this mess, an epically bad stretch in which the Giants have lost 21 of their last 25 games.
“I don’t feel like there’s enough in the room to get ourselves out of the situation,” Barkley said. “I know there is. I truly, truly believe that. I believe in this team. I believe in this offense. I believe in every single player on our team. I know we’ve got the talent. I know we’ve got the coaching staff.”
The 1-7 Giants are a dumpster fire, a team that will remind their longest-tenured fans of the black hole of the 1970s, the worst days in franchise history. With Eli Manning sputtering toward the inevitable end of his Giants career — a departure hastened by the wretched blocking that resulted in seven sacks Sunday and 31 overall — there is nothing that leads you to believe they can win another game or two the rest of the way.
Yet No. 2 overall pick Barkley, who has been mostly terrific, refuses to believe the future won’t be brighter. And he doesn’t believe it’s all that far off.
“It [stinks] because we’re losing,” he said. “Obviously, I’m a competitor. Everyone hates losing. I’m disappointed. I’m upset. We know we’re much better than our record and we’ve just got to find a way to be better.”
And what will that day be like if and when things do come together?
“When we get this thing rolling, we’re going to look back at this and laugh and see how this made us tougher,” he said. “Definitely look forward to it, but I know it’s going to happen. It’s going to be coming soon. I know that day is coming soon.”
Before the end of this season?
“That’s what my mindset is,” said Barkley, who had 13 carries for 38 yards and nine catches for 73. “Visualize success in your head, put success in the air. I believe it could happen next week, and if it doesn’t happen then, it’s going to happen the next week after that. I’m going to continue to believe until it happens.”
Barkley’s optimism certainly is admirable, but considering how unfailingly dreadful this team has been this year, it’s hard to imagine a turnaround anytime soon. If at all.
Manning had another rough day, with a red-zone interception on what should have been a routine throw to Odell Beckham Jr., and his line, now riddled with injuries, has been a sieve. Manning is on pace to be sacked a whopping 62 times; his high was 39 in 2013.
Pat Shurmur said he’ll consider potential changes during the upcoming bye week. Although he seemed to back off when asked about a possible quarterback move, there is no reason to believe that Manning in the second half will be much different from what he was in the first half: ineffective, under siege and near the end.
“I have to worry about just doing my job,” Manning said. “That is not my decision.”
The trade deadline is Tuesday, but Manning said he isn’t interested in waiving his no-trade clause to facilitate a move. “I want to stay here,” he said.
But with another potentially high draft pick in the offing — perhaps No. 1 overall — the Giants will want to get a look at rookie Kyle Lauletta at some point. Maybe not right away, but almost certainly down the stretch of a meaningless season.
Barkley’s optimism notwithstanding, there are no indications that the Giants can achieve the success he visualizes. It already had the look and feel of a lost season even before Sunday’s game, and with eight more to go, it could get even worse.
Which is saying something, considering how bad it has been.