For all the pain, all the upheaval, all the changes that have taken place in the past year, one thing remains glaringly the same when it comes to the Giants.
They are 1-5.
It's the exact same record they had 12 months ago, when they were six weeks into a season that ultimately would collapse into 3-13. It’s why most of the world looks at this team and dismisses it with a here-we-go-again eyeroll.
But to the players who went through last year’s disappointments and survived the offseason turnover only to find that no progress has been made in terms of the record, there is a very big difference between 1-5 in 2017 and 1-5 in 2018.
The first is that the Giants are relatively healthy. That may seem like more of a condemnation than a positive — they have all their players and they still can’t win? —but moving forward, it’s something for the locker room to hold on to for hope.
A year ago, the Giants lost Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris all in the same Week 5 game. They were stripped of most of their playmakers and faced 11 more weeks of trudging through the schedule like an unarmed explorer in the wilderness.
“Last year we were banged up and lost a bunch of players, and it was hard to kind of see the bright side of it,” Eli Manning said before the Giants had this past weekend off. “This year you see a bright side. You see that it can get better. We have good players, we have good character guys that are going to work. I think there’s a great opportunity for us to improve and win a bunch of football games and that’s what we believe, so I think that’s the mindset going into it.”
The second difference the Giants insist exists is their refusal to turn on each other and abandon ship the way so many players did a year ago. The front office spent a good deal of the offseason talking about character and culture, trying to find players who would stick together when things went poorly, not splinter apart the way they did last season.
That locker room composition certainly has been put to the test through the first month and a half of the season. So far, though, it seems to be holding.
After Thursday night’s loss to the Eagles, safety Landon Collins said the locker room has a very different vibe than it did a year ago.
“We all came in here, gave each other a hug, gave each other a little talking,” he said. “We’re gonna get this grind going some kind of way.”
The Giants have had a few days off to reflect on where they are and where they might be headed. They return to practice on Tuesday. Pat Shurmur told them that it was time away, not time off. Since they were dismissed on Friday, they’ve fallen further behind in the NFC East standings, with the Redskins and Cowboys both winning on Sunday.
“We’ve got to come together as a team and play as one,” linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “Hopefully, everybody goes and kind of takes their mind off it a little bit, but also thinks about the things that we need to do to turn our season around.”
“I think you’ve just got to try to get away for a few days and just come back energized and ready to do everything possible,” Manning said. “Ten games. We’ve got 10 games left. Everyone has worked so hard all offseason, all spring, all of training camp, this whole season, and we haven’t been rewarded with the wins. But we’ve got to look at it as 10 games left to give it all and do everything possible to make something happen.”
Ideally, something other than what happened last year.