GLENDALE, Ariz. -- By Week 16, you would think the New York Giants would have figured it out and found some kind of direction.
Oh, no. Not in this debacle of a season. They don’t have it together. Not even close. This Christmas, they’re the equivalent of Santa Claus without an address book. They're lost, and their season is lost, as well.
The Giants (2-13) set a franchise record for losses in a season Sunday. And there is still another game remaining. They should have been playing for pride and their future for weeks, except they weren’t, based on some of the decisions made before and during this 23-0 defeat to the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. They were completely focused on trying to win when, in fact, it benefits them to lose.
That's not to say they should've tried to lose to secure the No. 2 overall pick in next year's draft. They can do that anyway with another loss next week at home against the Washington Redskins. But the Giants could've tried winning while mixing in pieces that could be part of the future.
No Davis Webb. The third-round pick was inactive for the 15th straight game despite taking some first-team reps at quarterback during the week of practice.
No Eli Apple. The first-round pick last year remains in the doghouse. Instead Brandon Dixon, in his fourth game since being elevated to the active roster, was getting schooled by future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the other Cardinals receivers. Dixon allowed a pair of touchdown catches, but the Giants didn't appear to consider putting Apple in the game.
"I don't know that we had that conversation," Spagnuolo said. "It probably would have been a good one to have. We may talk about that going forward, but I don't remember us talking about that. It's a good though. And I would say this, maybe there was something that I'm not aware of right now, so I don't really know, but it's a good thought."
No Avery Moss or Romeo Okwara. The rookie and second-year defensive ends, respectively, were surprise inactives, especially with Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) banged up and playing with a club. Moss was this year's fifth-round pick. Okwara was recently activated from injured reserve, and interim coach and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo hasn't put him on the field despite saying Okwara is healthy and ready.
For whom, for what?
This doesn’t have the look or feel of a team looking toward its future. It’s apropos considering the type of season this has been. The Giants lost their fifth straight overall and third straight since coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were fired.
They’re in no-man’s land right now, with Spagnuolo trying desperately to win games before he interviews for the full-time gig and ownership unwillingly forces any game-day personnel decisions on the coaching staff. Spagnuolo played his part in this latest embarrassment by electing to punt on a fourth-and-2 from the Cardinals 40-yard line after a silly string of events surrounding the end of the first quarter. So much for playing to win.
What the Giants put on the field Sunday was Eli Manning at quarterback with a ragtag bunch of weapons (especially after rookie tight end Evan Engram left with a rib injury) alongside the two-time Super Bowl winner. Manning and the Giants were shut out for the first time since Week 6 of 2014 and scored 10 or fewer points for the sixth time this season.
"We just didn't make many plays. They made some, they made some big time plays. Third down, we were bad again and a lot of them were third-and-3s and 4s and even shorter than that sometimes. We just weren't able to get that first down or get things going."
Manning finished Sunday 27-of-45 passing for 263 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and fumble that was returned for a touchdown. This on the heels of throwing for over 400 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
And Webb -- he wasn't even dressed to see his first NFL game action.