That’s an easy one for the Giants players in the immediate sense. Most of them will scatter across the country for their bye week after one final day of meetings Tuesday.
“Relax,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said of his plan. “You have to get away from football.”
Ben McAdoo agreed.
“I think we need to get away from it a little bit,” he said during his Monday conference call. “We need to get away from it, clear our minds, get our bodies back and come back with a fresh outlook, as tough as that may be. We have a lot of football left to play.”
When they come back, though, their problems still will be waiting for them. They’ll still be 1-6. They’ll still lack offensive playmakers. They’ll still have nine games to play in this dreadful season without any realistic chance of finding any measure of success. That opportunity evaporated with Sunday’s 24-7 home loss to the Seahawks.
So maybe “what now?” isn’t the best question. The better one might be: What then? What does this team do when it returns from this merciful break?
“I can’t even answer that question,” safety Landon Collins said after the game. “We just have to stick together as a team, keep fighting and try and make a good outcome come out of this.”
Almost all of the players in the postgame locker room, still stunned by how quickly the season has deteriorated and overwhelmed by already losing more games this season than they did all of last season, expressed some form of confidence that they would continue to fight.
“We’ve got a nine-game season and we have to come out rocking,” linebacker Devon Kennard said. “We don’t have a choice. The men we have in this locker room, we don’t have any quitters. I don’t think we have guys who are going to lay down. Let’s give people something to talk about these next nine weeks.”
The fact that they are a shell of the offensive team they thought they would be likely will prevent that from happening. Not only are the Giants in rough waters, there really isn’t a horizon to point to for relief. Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall are not coming back. The offensive line will not magically get better. They may be able to find one or two games down the stretch when they can run the ball, and maybe some of the young receivers will start to click with Eli Manning a bit more than they have over their first two weeks of pressed service, but that won’t be a regular occurrence.
“We’ve got to keep grinding,” Manning said. “Obviously, we’ve had a tough start, lost some key players, but they’re not going to make it easy for us, no team [will]. So, we’ve got to keep finding ways to get better.”
There will be the usual self-analysis of Xs and Os by the coaching staff during the bye week. A few adjustments that there just isn’t time to make during the grind of the season will be instituted. But for these 1-6 Giants, the bye week will be more about steeling themselves for what could be one of the coldest winters in franchise history.
It almost would be understandable for some players to start losing intensity as the games become more meaningless. As the crowds at MetLife Stadium morph into what was left at the end of the game Sunday: an overwhelming Seahawks contingent chanting and cheering while most of the Giants fans had already fled for the parking lot.
“We can’t afford that,” Manning said of any dip in passion from players. “It won’t on my end, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure, offensively, defensively, everybody’s grinding, working, and doing everything they can to put us in a situation to win.”
“At the end of the day, we have a job,” defensive tackle Damon Harrison said. “Playing football is our job. You try to get some time to get a clear mind, clear head, but you’ve got to stay in it.”
Even when it’s clear to see that the Giants are not in it. Not even close.
“I’ve been through it my rookie year,” Collins said of the 2015 team that went 6-10, was overmatched in personnel and lost six of its final seven games.
“It’s all right,” Collins added with an almost perceptible sigh. “I’m not used to losing, but I can cope with it just a little bit.”