Giants vs. Patriots matchup is convergence of futility and intrigue

Giants vs. Patriots matchup is convergence of futility and intrigue

Bill Belichick, Brian Daboll, Joe Judge, John Mara and Steve Tisch will all be on the same field before Sunday’s game between the Giants and Patriots.

That’s enough to write a documentary right there.

A former and fired Giants head coach, a current Giants head coach whose seat is warm, and a two-time Super Bowl-winning Giants defensive coordinator who might be available to coach the Giants, or any other NFL team, very soon.

A co-owner in Mara who has sought Belichick’s secret through three coaching cycles, pursuing Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia before hiring Pat Shurmur; then hiring Judge; now bringing on Daboll.

An all-time awkward dynamic over Daboll’s hiring:

Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores alleged in a lawsuit that Belichick accidentally texted the wrong Brian before Flores’ January 2022 interview for the Giants’ head coaching vacancy, indicating Daboll already had the gig.

“I hear from Buffalo and NYG that you are their guy,” Belichick allegedly wrote to Flores by mistake.

Mara said last year that no one from the Giants, including Mara himself, spoke to Belichick about the hiring process.

“I haven’t spoken or communicated with Bill since we played them in the preseason last summer,” Mara said in March 2022, “and to my knowledge, nobody in our organization communicated with him.”

Add the firing of Judge two years into a promised minimum three-year rebuild, and Sunday’s game between the Giants (3-8) and Patriots (2-8) becomes a powder keg of emotion, bad blood and axes to grind.

“I’m excited about playing the Giants,” Patriots safety Jabrill Peppers, a New Jersey native and former Giant, nodded with a smile this week.

Even without the controversies and awkwardness, the drama for this game is overflowing due to the dire current states of both franchises.

Belichick looks like he’s at the end of his six-Super Bowl run in New England. Daboll’s Giants tenure has slid into an ugly and dysfunctional state.

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones stinks and might not even start Sunday. It could be Bailey Zappe or even third-stringer Will Grier getting the nod over the former first-round pick.

Giants starter Tommy DeVito is an undrafted, third-string rookie out of Syracuse and Illinois.

New England currently holds the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Giants sit at No. 5. And the Giants are 3.5-point underdogs at home for this game.

Both franchises are on the verge of a reset, whether it’s at GM/head coach, quarterback, coordinator positions or all of them.

If Belichick, 71, were ever going to return to be the head coach of the Giants, it would happen now or never. But there are some obvious hangups.

Belichick has a soft spot for the Giants and always will, but he presumably would need complete control if he returned to East Rutherford, N.J., and it’s difficult to imagine he would ever receive that from Mara and Tisch.

A total rebuild probably wouldn’t interest Belichick, either. And if he were going to take one on, it would make more sense for him to replace Ron Rivera in Washington where new owner Josh Harris likely would hand him the keys.

The Los Angeles Chargers job also is lurking with Justin Herbert already in place at quarterback. That’s the most intriguing if Brandon Staley doesn’t make it to 2024, assuming that franchise’s ownership could manage a signing as massive as Belichick.

Daboll’s situation, meanwhile, is uncomfortable and unorthodox.

The Giants’ intention isn’t to move on from their second-year head coach, obviously. But if this season skids to a horrendous finish line, it’s impossible to rule anything out.

Everyone saw the Washington Commanders’ Friday firing of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio as a silly half-measure that delayed the inevitable firing of Rivera.

Everyone saw the Buffalo Bills’ recent firing of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey as a sign of the increasing heat on head coach Sean McDermott, who has now separated from two OCs (Dorsey and Daboll) and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier within the last two years.

So what will it say about Daboll if two or all three of his coordinators in Mike Kafka, Wink Martindale and Thomas McGaughey are gone after this season?

Understand: Daboll might have more attractive options than staying with the Giants after this season, as well.

Daboll has a close bond with Bills quarterback Josh Allen. They could be reunited if McDermott got let go. Daboll also went to high school with Chargers GM Tom Telesco. He already has a quarterback in Herbert.

Not that Daboll will have much to trade on coming off this season, where GM Joe Schoen and Daboll so far have left a bigger mess than they inherited in 2022.

This is the noise that starts, though, when NFL franchises get driven into the ground and don’t see a way out. These are the bleak yet intriguing realities surrounding Sunday’s tilt between Belichick and The Brian He Meant to Text (Allegedly).

GIANTS INJURY REPORT

Right tackle Evan Neal (left ankle) remains out Sunday. He will be sitting out for the fifth time in the last six games. … Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (hamstring) and wide receiver Darius Slayton (neck) are doubtful. Lawrence didn’t practice all week. With the bye upcoming, it seems likely both players will sit and get healthy for the season’s stretch run. Slayton did practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, at least. Lawrence didn’t practice all week, though. … Running back Eric Gray (ankle) is questionable in his attempt to return from injured reserve.

KICKER SWAP

The team signed Randy Bullock to the active roster and re-signed kicker Cade York to the practice squad. Bullock had used all three of his gameday practice elevations, and York had spent his mandatory three weeks on the active roster after being signed off the Tennessee Titans practice squad. Paying and carrying York as a second kicker appears to be part of a long-term developmental plan in the wake of Graham Gano’s season-ending knee injury. But it is strange.

PATRIOTS INJURY REPORT

Seven Patriots players are questionable coming off New England’s bye: special teams captain Matthew Slater (questionable), offensive linemen Trent Brown (ankle) and Riley Reiff (knee), corner Jonathan Jones (knee), linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (hamstring), wide receiver DeVante Parker (concussion) and defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. (shoulder).

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