EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants likely envisioned several ways Sunday could unfold. None looked like this.
On top of dropping their fifth straight game, they lost Odell Beckham Jr. and just about their entire receiving corps. Their season went up in flames and any clarity on their future went down the toilet.
The Giants said Beckham fractured his ankle in a 27-22 loss to the previously winless Los Angeles Chargers. He will get a second opinion, but surgery is an option and his season is almost certainly over.
“That’s rough -- he’s our best player,” cornerback Eli Apple said. “He’s a brother to everybody, and somebody we really care about. That is kind of tough.”
The Giants (0-5) will have to move forward without their top playmaker, and perhaps without their Nos. 2 and 3 receivers at least for the short term. Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard both left Sunday’s loss with ankle injuries. A sixth straight loss to start the season seems inevitable.
This is worse than just about anyone imagined.
Beckham left Sunday’s game with perhaps the most serious injury. But wide receivers Marshall, Shepard and Dwayne Harris (fractured foot), linebacker Jonathan Casillas and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also were injured. Harris is out for the season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
That’s not ideal with a game this Sunday night against the Broncos in Denver on the horizon.
Forget this season, though. The Giants’ future is now in doubt. Everything about it, from their two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback to their now-injured superstar wide receiver.
The Giants are drifting toward a top pick in the draft. Do they take the opportunity to nab a quarterback even after grabbing Davis Webb in the third round this year? And what do they do with an aging Eli Manning on a team that is obviously nowhere near Super Bowl caliber? Do they fire general manager Jerry Reese and/or coach Ben McAdoo if this continues to go off the rails?
These are questions that will likely come into focus as the season slogs forward.
This will be the fifth time in six seasons the Giants have missed the playoffs with Reese in charge of picking the pieces. Ownership must decide if he has earned the right to be the deciding factor with another top-10 pick. The past two (Ereck Flowers and Apple) haven’t exactly worked out.
And then there is McAdoo. He went 11-5 in his first season, but this year appears headed in the other direction. He seems to be aware of the current situation.
“Listen, I get paid to win, not merely compete, and right now we’re 0-5,” McAdoo said. “I’m my biggest critic. I look in the mirror and I have to do a better job.”
He will have to do that without Beckham, who now faces an uncertain future. Beckham was eligible for a new deal for the first time this past offseason. The Giants never initiated negotiations during the offseason.
Despite skipping OTAs, Beckham arrived for the start of training camp and played without a peep about his contract after the initial summer news conference. He likely won't be as cooperative moving forward, considering he will have to wait even longer as he recovers from a serious injury.
That $100 million or so was inevitably put on the back burner. The Giants can't possibly make that investment now until they know the recovery has gone well.
Beckham has a fifth-year option worth somewhere around $8 million next year. He will have to come back and prove himself again before the Giants open the vault. It's the unfortunate reality of the situation for the young wide receiver.
This was Beckham’s worst-case scenario. It’s the Giants’ worst-case scenario. They would have rather paid their top player after a successful season that included playoff wins or a Super Bowl.
Now, they will have to handle it all with kid gloves, being careful not to fracture their relationship with Beckham the same way he did his ankle. Nightmare might be one way to describe it, for everyone involved.