Inside the Giants’ heartless locker room: ‘What’s the actual problem?’

The question is often asked: What is the Giants locker room like after these losses? Are the players angry? Do they care?

There is no doubt they care, but the traditional signs of anger are not present in abundance. Voices are more often hushed than raised. The multitude of young players are trying to figure it out on a week-to-week basis; they rarely see the big picture or future ramifications. There is no strong spokesman to deliver a fire-and-brimstone message.

Eli Manning is the longest-tenured player, but he is the backup quarterback and nowadays might as well be a ghost, as far as media accessibility. Zak DeOssie has been around since 2007 but he is — was — the long snapper and thus did not assume a mouthpiece role. Incredibly, the players with the most seniority after Manning and DeOssie are Sterling Shepard and Janoris Jenkins, both in their fourth year with the Giants. The good old days for them was 2016.

The four massive Super Bowl banners inside the field house at the team facility might as well be stored away in a dusty closet for all the relevance they hold to some players still not sure if they should take Route 3 or Route 17 to get out of the Meadowlands complex.

Time in the room reveals a mercenary, transient feel, more Penn Station vibe than familiar workplace filled with fully invested employees steeped in team tradition.

Saquon Barkley tries every week to remain positive and promise better times ahead, but all this losing — eight consecutive games heading into Monday night in Philadelphia — is wearing on him. It must be remembered he is 22 years old and cannot shoulder everything.

Saquon Barkley; Pat Shurmur; Daniel Jones
Saquon Barkley; Pat Shurmur; Daniel JonesAnthony J. Causi (2), Robert Sabo

Daniel Jones is a soft-spoken rookie and it seems natural for him to reveal nothing and say as little as possible. Safety Michael Thomas is one of the team captains with a respected perspective, but he barely plays on defense and thus is careful with his comments.

Alec Ogletree provides calm in a storm, but he has known nothing but losing since donning a Giants uniform in 2018 and knows he most likely will not be back in 2020. Nate Solder, another team captain, is a swell guy fully indoctrinated in the New England/Bill Belichick say-nothing methodology and has his hands full at left tackle trying to protect the rookie quarterback. Jabrill Peppers is emotional and intense and could be a factor as a leader down the road.

“Everybody keeps saying the team is young. This is not college, bro, this is the NFL.” — Brandon Jacobs

There are 13 players currently filling prominent spots in the playing rotation that are rookies or in their second year. Mostly, they are about figuring how to stay on the field or in the league and do not have the seniority or the resumes to lay the hammer down on any one.

Coach Pat Shurmur insists the emotional temperature of his team is not an issue.

“I don’t think that’s a problem, as far as gauging it,’’ he said. “I don’t worry about that.’’

There was a time when the room was filled with grizzled veterans well-versed in the Giants Way. Brandon Jacobs, the hulking running back who helped the franchise win two Lombardi Trophies, was in the locker room following the loss to the Packers, looking as if he could suit up and pick up a third-and-1 by trucking a linebacker. Jacobs said he is 270 pounds, five pounds heavier than his playing days.

Jacobs was always an emotional firebrand, making it loud and clear when he was dissatisfied with the product on the field. He is pained with how his former team has fallen.

“I am sitting back scratching my head wondering how the alumni, current players and organization come together to figure out what’s needed, what’s going on,’’ Jacobs said. “I talk to people all the time that’s in here, around them every day and the closeness just doesn’t seem there between the players.

“If you ask me talent-wise, in his locker room, they’re better than what we were. Player for player? You have to understand, when we won the Super Bowls we didn’t have these amazing seasons.’’

Jacobs is not fully on the mark with this, as he is short-changing the talent on the 2007 and 2011 teams, especially on defense. He wonders what is missing in this year’s Giants team.

“Heart,’’ he said. “Veteran leaders. We also had some guys who just plain ol’ didn’t give a f—.

“Everybody wants to point the finger at the coach. You can’t tell me guys aren’t coming to work trying every day. What’s the actual problem? I don’t know. Everybody keeps saying the team is young. This is not college, bro, this is the NFL. Are we supposed to be terrible until everybody gets to six, seven years? It doesn’t work like that. We always told the rookies when we were playing, ‘Week 2, Week, 3 it’s over, you ain’t rookies no more, you’re here to be held accountable as if you’re in the league 10 years. And if you’ve got a problem we hold you accountable, we’re gonna beat your ass.’ It’s just that simple.’’

These Giants do not beat anyone’s asses, on the field or in the locker room.

For more on the Giants, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast:

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