Ball in John Mara’s hands after Giants fans boo owner during 17-14 loss to terrible Falcons team

·5 min read

This is on John Mara. Signed: the Giants’ fans.

For the first time, a disgusted Giant fan base collectively pointed their finger publicly at Mara on Sunday as the responsible party for this franchise’s futility.

But Mara can’t fire himself, so what will he do after this pathetic 17-14 loss to a terrible Atlanta Falcons team?

Maybe he will fire GM Dave Gettleman, the personnel man he trusted to build this roster.

Maybe he will trade Evan Engram and free his tight end from a fan base that tried to boo and jeer him off the team on Sunday.

All measures have to be on the table after a third 0-3 start in five years, and a second straight under Joe Judge, that left no hope for this 2021 season.

Even Mara said the halftime boos directed at him during Eli Manning’s jersey retirement ceremony were warranted.

“Of course I heard it,” Mara said as he walked back to his box to watch the second half. “Listen, I would have booed, too. We’re 0-2 and down at the half.”

Ninety minutes later, the crash in the back of the MetLife Stadium press box was the sound of two trash cans being knocked over as Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo’s 40-yard field goal sailed through the uprights and time expired.

No one saw who knocked the trash cans over. But Mara was the first person who emerged down the back hallway immediately after, a scowl on his face, with front office members trailing glumly behind.

This is an unprecedented low, with the fan base so openly venting its disgust at ownership and their own players.

The entire crowd booed Engram all afternoon and cheered lustily twice when Judge subbed Engram out, including after a fourth quarter incompletion on a tipped pass that Engram had no chance to catch.

“I don’t think that was deserved,” Daniel Jones said in defense of his teammate. “There was one tipped ball and I could have thrown it better there at the end. I’m not sure I really understood that. He played hard all game.”

A loss like this, to a team as terrible as these Falcons (1-2) with a washed-up Matt Ryan at quarterback, should make an organization reassess everything. And the Giants will.

But Mara heard loud and clear where the reassessment should start: with himself.

Where the Giants go from here, nobody knows.

“We gotta start believing in each other,” Saquon Barkley said. “We keep saying we’re this close, but somebody’s gotta do something about it … I’m sick of losing. Everyone is sick of losing. But we’re not a bad team.”

Oh, but the Giants are a bad team. To make matters worse, some of their biggest names are losing them games.

Adoree Jackson’s dropped end zone interception in the fourth quarter had to send co-owners Mara and Steve Tisch off the edge, wondering why they gave this guy three years and $39 million, including $26.5 million guaranteed.

“S---, I just dropped it. I was pissed at myself,” Jackson said.

Safety Logan Ryan, who announced a three-year, $30 million extension with $20 million guaranteed on Christmas Day 2020, made a ton of costly mistakes.

He had a dropped interception. A pass interference in the end zone in the fourth quarter. A missed tackle on the Falcons’ game-winning drive.

“I understand people may feel like it’s falling right now,” Ryan said. “But if every time you lose a game by a field goal or less you go in the tank, then it’s hard to succeed in this league. So I just don’t think that panic is there. We have to clean up those mistakes.”

Easier said than done. The most frustrating part of this is that Jones is playing well at quarterback, and yet it doesn’t matter because this team is self-destructing all around him.

Punter Riley Dixon sailed his late-game punt into the end zone rather than pinning the Falcons deep, giving them good field position for their final drive.

The Giants’ offense, despite moving the ball at times, was constantly behind the sticks at 1st and 20, 2nd and 13, 2nd and 21, 3rd and 22 and 1st and 15 due to penalties, negative runs, a Jones fumbled snap and sacks.

“Guys are frustrated and certainly disappointed,” Jones said.

They couldn’t manage more than a field goal until Saquon Barkley’s 1-yard TD with 12:53 remaining for a 14-7 lead, and that was short-lived.

Pat Graham’s defense surrendered a killer TD drive before halftime for a third straight week and collapsed late in the game, too. Azeez Ojulari’s third sack and forced fumble just before half at least undid the potential damage of Engram’s fumble in Giants territory.

The fans don’t want to hear about silver linings around here anymore, though. They’re fed up.

They know that the 0-3 starts in 2017 and 2020 both slipped to 0-5, respectively, before they only briefly stopped the bleeding with a Week 6 win.

Ben McAdoo’s 2017 team came apart at the seams in a 3-13 disaster that saw Eli Manning benched for Geno Smith, with Mara’s sign-off, and McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese fired.

Judge’s 2020 team breathed life into the program by recovering to go 6-5 in their final 11 games, demonstrating resilience and some results behind their process.

Judge, after taking responsibility for Sunday’s disappointment, turned back after he stepped off the podium and assured the media:

“We’re gonna be alright, guys, alright? We’re gonna be alright,” he said.

The Giants only will be alright if they make changes and fix this, though, and that’s why this is all about how Mara responds to being called out by his fan base.

The ball is in his hands.

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