PHILADELPHIA — Thomas Edison famously said of his unsuccessful experiments that they were not failures but rather the discovery of 10,000 or so ways that did not work.
On Sunday, the Giants unearthed a similar finding at quarterback in spectacular fashion.
Jake Fromm, their third-stringer who joined the club a month ago off another team’s practice squad and made his first start for them against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, was not the light bulb the Giants (or more to the point, Giants fans) hoped he could be. In fact, he burned out quickly, barely making it into the second half before his inconsistent play forced the Giants to replace him with Mike Glennon just to add a sense of some stability on the field.
None of it truly mattered, of course, as the Eagles won, 34-10. The Giants’ offense has shown itself incapable of functioning just about all season regardless of whether it has been Daniel Jones, Glennon, Fromm or, likely, whoever else they dredge up to trot out there in the two remaining games of a season that now, mathematically and officially, will end without a playoff berth.
Even with a relatively healthy allotment of supposed playmakers on the field — Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Evan Engram — the Giants were mired in a swamp of their own ineffectiveness and inabilities.
They have not had a running back rush for, or a wide receiver catch, a touchdown since Oct. 24.
"We obviously have to come up with some type of production from that phase to complement the defense and the special teams that are making plays for us," Joe Judge said of a unit that managed only 192 yards and had only one play that went for more than 10 yards (it was a fourth-quarter pass for 11). "Ultimately it wasn’t good enough."
It hasn’t been for a while. This was the fourth straight loss for the Giants, a stretch in which they have been outscored 112-46 (with 21 of those Giants points coming late in a blowout loss to the Chargers). This loss, the eighth straight in Philadelphia, dropped them to 4-11, already one more loss than a season ago.
With the calendar year ending this week, by any rational measurement, it has become impossible for anyone to say that progress has been made in 2021.
Fromm spent his first start scattering hurried passes in just about every direction possible . . . with the exception of toward his receivers. He completed 6 of his 17 throws for 25 yards, with none of his pass plays going for more than 8 yards and two of them for negative yardage.
He threw an awful interception on his first pass of the second half — guard Matt Skura was pushed into him and Eagles linebacker Genard Avery hit him in the facemask, an infraction that went unflagged — floating the ball down the middle of the field right to Rodney McLeod. That turnover set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Boston Scott that gave the Eagles a 10-3 lead with 12:02 left in the third.
Fromm’s passer rating: 19.5.
"I don’t think it gets much worse than that," he said. "I wish I had played better to represent myself, my family and the organization."
Fromm lasted one more series, a three-and-out that included a sack in which he rolled right and was met by two unblocked defenders. After Jalen Reagor returned the ensuing punt 39 yards to set up a field goal that made it 13-3, the Giants put Glennon on the field.
"It’s still a two-possession game with a lot of ball to play," Judge said of that point in the contest. "That can’t be a situation where all of a sudden it feels insurmountable."
It wound up being closer than it ever would again.
Glennon, who started the previous three games with Jones sidelined by a neck injury, was only modestly more effective than Fromm, completing 17 of 27 passes for 93 yards, a late touchdown pass to Engram, and an interception.
The Eagles, meanwhile, were able to find their offensive footing after a sloppy first half that included four dropped passes and flew away with the victory.
Jalen Hurts' 4-yard pass to DeVonta Smith was called a touchdown, an incompletion and eventually a touchdown, making it 20-3 in the third quarter.
The final two touchdowns by the Eagles came from unorthodox players who made it seem as if they were toying with the Giants. Hurts hit offensive tackle Lane Johnson for a fourth-quarter touchdown that made it 27-3 and linebacker Alex Singleton scored on a 29-yard interception return to push the difference to 34-3. Judge called those plays "inexcusable."
Judge declined to name a starting quarterback for Sunday’s game in Chicago.
"Obviously you have to get significant play out of key positions," he said.
That means quarterback, of course, but also running back (Barkley ran for 32 yards on 15 carries) and receiver (Golladay, not targeted in the first half, caught three passes for 22 yards). Neither of those cornerstone players was made available to the media after the loss.
"All across the board, we have to execute better," Glennon said of the dysfunctional offense. "If we could pinpoint one thing, then we would already have had that answered and been playing at a higher level."
Eventually they may hit on something that works. With two games left this season, though, the Giants are running out of buttons to push and experiments to try.
On Sunday, all they did was add another failed option to their season-long list of them.