This is always the way these things start. The leak is small at first, like a pinhole, and the water seeps slowly through the fissure.
But you know what happens when the small leak isn’t fixed? It gets bigger, and the water no longer is merely dripping, it’s eventually gushing.
The question with the Giants and embattled head coach Ben McAdoo is whether he’s able to fix the leaks on his sinking 0-5 team before the gushing begins, because the Giants are on the brink of becoming a punch line to this 2017 NFL season.
After McAdoo announced Wednesday that cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended and then offered zero information as to why, the Giants suddenly felt like a lot of those dysfunctional Jets teams of years past when everyone inside and outside of the locker room gets real busy covering for themselves.
Serving as The Post’s Jets beat writer for 17 years — a span that covered Bruce Coslet to Pete Carroll to Rich Kotite at one stretch and then Rex Ryan later — I’ve seen this movie more often than I’ve seen “Caddyshack.’’
The signs are easily recognizable.
The first sign for the Giants came late in Sunday’s crushing 27-22 loss to the previously winless Chargers at MetLife Stadium, when their $62 million cornerback Janoris Jenkins decided he didn’t want to play the last couple plays so he departed for the locker room before the game ended.
When McAdoo was asked on Monday about Jenkins’ distasteful disappearing act, he said, “We’ll handle all those issues in-house.” Jenkins ducked reporters after the game and hasn’t been in the locker room during media availability the last two days.
A second ominous sign of cracks inside the Giants locker room surfaced after the game, when cornerback Eli Apple, who was benched by McAdoo to start and worked into the game later, made some cryptic comments about the Giants “culture’’ and being scapegoated.
And now there’s this Rodgers-Cromartie issue that hangs over the Giants’ heads just days before they travel to Denver to play a 3-1 Broncos team that’s loaded on both sides of the ball and has to be licking its chops at the sight of the struggling Giants.
When it was suggested to McAdoo on Wednesday that there’s a perception that he’s losing the team, he said with a hint of defiance: “Not concerned about perception. Concerned about reality.’’
The reality is that his team is in trouble — and so is he.
The Giants coach didn’t comport himself very well with his refusal to offer any reasons about why one of his starting cornerbacks was being suspended. During his terse exchange with reporters when asked about DRC’s absence, seven times McAdoo answered with, “That’s all I have for you right now.’’
Which, of course, was a whole lot of nothing.
Safety Landon Collins, one of the leaders on the team, handled it a lot better than his coach, who according to players didn’t even address the team about it. Collins said he planned to address his teammates about it.
“That’s a big issue in the room and we need to address it because we don’t need nobody else separating from the team,’’ Collins said. “At the end of the day, the guys we drafted are going to be here, so we have to learn together and how to stick together. By doing so, we have to address the elephant in the room.’’
Giants players insisted they don’t feel like the locker room is cracking.
“I think things like that happen with every team; I’ve been on teams that were winning and guys were suspended,’’ left guard Justin Pugh said.
“I don’t think the locker room is coming apart,’’ defensive tackle Jay Bromley said. “We’ve always been a pretty close-knit unit. There has never been turmoil between players. I guess we’ll see how things turn out. Hopefully, [DRC] is back with us sooner rather than later. We’re already in a tough pickle as we are, so losing a player like DRC doesn’t help anything.’’
According to team sources, McAdoo was upset with DRC because at one point in the second half on Sunday he left the sideline and went to the locker room. When McAdoo spoke with DRC on Tuesday, he told him that he was going to be inactive for Sunday’s game, but he was expected to practice all week in preparation for the Broncos.
It’s unclear what happened Wednesday when DRC showed up for morning meetings, but he was gone before practice started. An ESPN report quoted DRC saying he planned to return to the team Thursday. Whether he’ll be welcomed back by McAdoo and have the suspension lifted only McAdoo knows.
Welcome to the circus, Giants style, not Jets for a change.