Dave Gettleman believes in Daniel Jones as strongly as ever and is excited about the prospects for the Giants’ offensive line. He is also dissatisfied the team averaged only 17.5 points a game in 2020.
Because of that, the general manager today had no reason to be coy regarding the franchise’s objectives as it enters a critical offseason.
“At the end of the day, we need to find playmakers,” Gettleman said during his annual postseason news conference on Zoom. “That’s all there is to it. I’m not sugarcoating it. If you talk about philosophically doing roster building, it’s the Q (quarterback), it’s the big men who allow you to compete. On offense, it’s playmakers. We have to be very conscious of it. We’re going to find the right guys to help Daniel get us over that hump.
“We’ve got great leadership. We’ve got a young club, a new, young team. I understand that. At the end of the day, this is an important offseason, roster building offseason, for us. We’ve got some solid pieces. We’ve built up the lines. We’ve done some things. We have to continue to get good players and part of it is getting playmakers, because that’s what you’re referring to. This is a goal of ours, obviously, for the offseason.”
On his own Zoom call with reporters, team president and chief executive officer John Mara expressed a similar sentiment.
“I think we certainly need to help our offense a little bit this offseason, be it free agency and the draft,” Mara said. “I think we need some more pieces there. Part of the problem that we had is we had a brand new offensive line with new guys playing new positions. They had never played together before, we had no offseason, we had no preseason games for them to get to know each other and get the feel for playing with one another, and they struggled, particularly early in the year, no question about it. I thought they started to play better in the second half of the season. But there’s no question that we need to help our offense going forward and add some more pieces. That will be a priority for us.”
The Giants were 6-10 and NFC East second-place finishers in 2020. Despite the record, they would be preparing for a postseason game as division champions had Washington lost to Philadelphia Sunday night.
Gettleman acknowledges the roster must be upgraded before the 2021 season begins. But he strongly believes the Giants have the two elements most critical to any improvement with Joe Judge as coach and Jones at quarterback.
“The bottom line is, with Joe, is his big picture view and then the follow up on the attention to detail,” Gettleman said. “That’s what’s really critical. He starts at A and gets to Z. That is huge, that is really huge. Obviously, he is a very bright guy. That’s what really sticks out in my mind. Just the big picture and the attention to detail. No detail is too small, the old saying, ‘The devil is in the details.’ He and his staff, he is really tuned into that.”
Gettleman selected Jones sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft and he’s more convinced than ever that it was the correct decision.
“Obviously, he flashed last year,” Gettleman said of Jones’ rookie season. “He had some big games and played well. Then he had games that weren’t so great. This year, early in the season he was struggling with his ball protection. We all know that. The second half of the year unfortunately he had that blip with the hamstring (and missed two games). He finished the season very strong. He played well against Baltimore despite getting chased all over the place to a degree. Made some big-time throws.”
In the season-ending 23-19 victory against Dallas on Sunday, Jones completed 17 of 25 passes for 229 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a season-best 106.9 passer rating. That would have put the Giants into the postseason had the Philadelphia Eagles defeated Washington that night.
“Really and truly, it may sound trite, but obviously the last game of the year was a playoff game for us, it really was,” Gettleman said. “We have to win that game to force Washington to win their game. Daniel played very well. He made a couple of big-time throws. Protected the ball for the most part. The one pick was off of Evan’s (Engram) hands. He’s done a lot of really good stuff. He’s made of the right stuff mentally and physically. Again, we’re talking about a young quarterback who has had two different offensive coordinators in the NFL. Two different systems. Obviously, he had a different one at Duke, so he got three different systems in three years. I thought he got beyond the hamstring the last two games and he played well. We have complete confidence in him moving forward.”
Upgrading the offensive line has been one of Gettleman’s priorities since he arrived. This year, the group had three new starters in left tackle Andrew Thomas (the team’s 2020 first-round draft choice) left guard Shane Lemieux (a fifth-round selection) and center Nick Gates, a third-year pro who had never before played the position. Communication and continuity are considered critical for an O-line and as Mara noted, this group (which early in the season had Will Hernandez at left guard) had to develop a rapport via virtual meetings and training camp practices.
“We’ve got some really nice, young pieces,” Gettleman said. “Nick Gates stepped in there. He’d never played offensive center before. We drafted Will (Hernandez) and Shane Lemieux. You have (Kevin) Zeitler and Andrew Thomas who acquitted himself very well when he had that rough patch and then he got himself rolling again. I think this offensive line can compete. You can cherry pick here, cherry pick there, in terms of which game you want to pick and how the offense did. The offensive line showed very good progress. They’re big, they’re young, they’re strong and they’re tough and smart. This O-Line has a chance to be pretty damn good.”
The defensive line already is, most notably Leonard Williams. Gettleman was roundly criticized at midseason in 2019 when he sent three and fifth-round draft choices to the Jets for Williams, a first-round draft choice in 2015. Williams was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice following two of the final five games, including after his career-high three-sack performance against Dallas. He finished the season with a team-high and career-best 11.5 sacks.
“Leonard deserves a lot of credit for how he prepared this year,” Gettleman said. “Sean Spencer working with him as the D-line coach, the scheme that (defensive coordinator) Pat (Graham) had for him.. There was a reason that (Williams was the sixth overall selection in the draft). Leonard did a great job. He did a great job of working his fanny off. Again, the atmosphere for our players – one of hard work, you can have fun, you can enjoy yourself and Leonard did a heck of a job and his position coach, Sean Spencer, Pat Graham and Joe. The bottom line is he thrived in our atmosphere. I’m ecstatic. It’s like I tell players all the time, ‘I only want you to be successful and I want you to make me cry when it comes to negotiations.’”
While the Giants have numerous promising pieces on offense and defense, growing pains are always difficult to endure. Aside from perhaps Mara, no one has felt them more acutely than Gettleman.
“Of course, it’s disappointing,” Gettleman said. “It’s disappointing not just for me personally, but I’m disappointed for the organization. I’m disappointed for the players and the fans. Sure, it’s disappointing. Listen, last time I double checked, it’s about winning. I’m very disappointed. I guess the best thing I can say is – John said in 2018 we didn’t have a stellar year, didn’t have a stellar roster building season, it’s affected us. We’re on the right track right now. We’ve done some really good stuff the last two years. We’re going to fix this. We are going to fix this.”
Gettleman is a cancer survivor who turns 70 next month. But he is determined and motivated to lead the fix.
“I feel good, I feel strong. I had my 24-month review with my lymphoma doctor. He says you’re as healthy as a horse. Let’s just keep moving, so I’m ready to rock.
“It really is dependent upon the Lord how long I stick around for. We’re all day to day, by the way, in case anybody missed that point. I feel fine, I feel good, I’m excited. I just want to keep going. I don’t know where this retirement stuff came from. I have no idea what that’s all about. There are probably some people that… at the end of the day, I feel great. So, let’s keep going.”
After missing a game due to a hamstring injury, Giants QB Daniel Jones returned on Sunday against the Cardinals, and unfortunately for him, it was a struggle.
Jones and Colt McCoy were under pressure all day against Arizona and were sacked eight times, including five by Cardinals LB Haason Reddick. Jones finished the game 11/21 for 127 yards with no touchdowns and three fumbles, one of which was lost. Ultimately, New York(5-8) would fall to Arizona 26-7 at MetLife Stadium.
New York totaled 159 offensive yards, their lowest total since they gained 150 yards in a 38-0 loss at Carolina on Sept. 22, 2013. In addition, New York’s seven points are their lowest total since they were shut out by the Tennessee Titans, 17-0, on Dec. 16, 2018.
Jones seemed limited on Sunday and finished the game without a rushing attempt for the first time in his career.
On Monday, Giants head Joe Judge was still comfortable with his decision to start Jones against Arizona.
“I just go back to we saw he could protect himself in the pocket and move fluidly through the pocket,” Judge said. “He could get rid of the ball if he needed. If he had to eat a sack at some point, that was something we were going to go into the game plan, knowing it could happen. Obviously, there are some things that come up in the game. You get hit in the pocket at certain points. He is no different than the other 31 quarterbacks in the NFL. They all deal with the same risks every time they drop back in the pocket. To answer you directly, he was able to protect himself yesterday. No, there is no regrets, there’s no second-guessing. We took a lot of time discussing a lot of things, scenarios with doctors, coaches, making sure it was the best position for the team. That’s the decision we went with and move forward.”
If Judge feels Jones is healthy and looks the way he did in practice last week, Jones will start next Sunday night against Cleveland.
“Yeah, if Daniel is healthy to play and he looked the way he did in practice last week, I’d have no hesitation of playing Daniel at all,” Judge said. “We made a calculation. We have a lot of confidence in Colt (McCoy). This has nothing to do with Colt. But there’s also a commitment we’ve made to Daniel as our quarterback and how we’re running this offense. We have confidence in all of our players. But if he’s healthy enough to go out there and protect himself, and we don’t feel he’s putting himself in greater danger to be injured worse, and he’s going to give the team a competitive advantage of going out there, then we’re going to play him.
If Jones looks the way he did against Arizona, McCoy gives New York the best chance to defeat Cleveland. Jones needs to be able to move and use his legs. He did not have that against Arizona, and it showed. The Giants are fighting for supremacy in the NFC East, and after the loss to Arizona, they are a game behind the first-place Washington Football Team(6-7), so these final three games are huge for the Giants, and they need Jones to be at his best for them to win those games.
The Giants’ recent good times were interrupted Sunday afternoon.
Soaring into their MetLife Stadium matchup against the Arizona Cardinals with a four-game winning streak, the Giants were grounded by an ineffective offense and lost, 26-7. The defeat dropped them to 5-8 and likely set up a wild three-week finish to the NFC East title chase. Just one week ago, the Giants earned their most impressive victory of the season, against the Seahawks in Seattle.
“I don’t think we had any kind of a hangover from going out to Seattle last week,” coach Joe Judge said. “I don’t think that’s the cause of it. Again, this game is completely independent of anything that has happened before. We simply didn’t come out today and we didn’t coach well enough and we didn’t play well enough. That’s the hard truth of it. We have to do a much better job.”
They’ll get an opportunity next Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns, who are 9-3 entering their clash tomorrow against the Baltimore Ravens.
Quarterback Daniel Jones, who missed the Seattle game with a hamstring injury, returned to the starting lineup, but his comfort level appeared to be less than optimal.
Jones completed only 11 passes, his lowest total in any of his 24 career starts. His 21 attempts and 127 yards were this second-lowest figures. Jones was sacked six times, tying the second-highest total he’s absorbed in a game. He fumbled three times, losing one. And for the first time as a pro, he did not have a rushing attempt.
“I think I wasn’t able to run like I normally do, but I felt good during the game,” Jones said. “I was able to move around the pocket and do what I needed to do throwing the ball. I think I got to do better with that still.”
“Something that has been very positive for our offense this year is Daniel being able to run the ball and extend some plays right there,” Judge said. “He had a few today. He got outside of the pocket. He had some passes down the sideline. He had a throw away and a completion down there at one point. Obviously, you take away part of the offense in any regard, it’s going to affect how everything else complements itself right there.”
Jones was replaced for the Giants’ final offensive series by Colt McCoy, who played the entire game last week.
“It (the injury) wore on me a bit during the game,” Jones said. “Just got to do a good job staying on top of it and making sure it’s healing up like it should.”
Judge had numerous conversations with Jones in the days leading up to the game.
“I thought he was able to protect himself in the pocket, which was the main concern as in can he step up and can he move in it,” Judge said. “We knew there were going to be some situations today where he wasn’t going to pull it down and just run like he’s done in the past. We knew that he was going to either end up throwing the ball away or take sacks at certain point. We knew that going into the game and we saw that early on. But I thought, overall, that he showed that he was able to protect himself in the pocket. I checked on him at halftime. I checked on him throughout the course of the game. That was really kind of the feedback we got right there.”
In response to a follow-up question, Judge said, “No, I have no regrets on playing him. We made a calculated decision based on what he could do as a player. We went out there, and as a team, we have to execute better.”
He’ll get no dissent on that final point. The Giants posted numerous season-low numbers, including 159 total yards, 81 net passing yards, eight sacks allowed (McCoy took two) and 10 first downs and tied another with three turnovers (all fumbles). They owned the ball for only 22:08. Wayne Gallman led the rushing attack with 57 yards. Dion Lewis scored their only touchdown, on a one-yard run in the third quarter. No receiver caught more than three passes.
The offense likely helped Arizona outside linebacker Hassan Reddick win the NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award. Reddick set a record for a Giants opponent and a Cardinals record with 5.0 sacks and forced three fumbles.
“They definitely did some things that we didn’t expect, but we did what we could,” Gallman said. “Of course, there are things that we have to get better at ourselves. They played good today, but I think there are things that we could have done better in terms of our IDs and stuff as our own unit. That’s just something that we have to go back and fix during our practice.”
“They had a good game plan going in, a few different things, but every team does every week,” Jones said. “We got to do a better job identifying, I have to do a better job with that and getting the ball out on time.”
The Giants’ defense had its own share of frustration. Arizona ran the ball 43 times for 149 yards, both the highest totals by a Giants opponent this season. The Cardinals never turned over the ball. Quarterback Kyler Murray constantly demonstrated his slippery elusiveness while getting sacked just once on 36 dropbacks. He completed 24 passes for 244 yards and ran for 47 more. Murray’s favorite target was DeAndre Hopkins, who finished with nine catches for 136 yards.
“Murray is a special player, we knew he was going to make certain plays here and there,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “We needed to do better keeping him in there and making sure we had our game plan set, we just didn’t play as well as we wanted to.”
Arizona scored touchdowns on a seven-yard pass to tight end Dan Arnold in the second quarter, Kenyan Drake’s one-yard dive in the third and four field goals by Mike Nugent, who was in the Giants’ training camp in 2017 and played in his first game since Oct. 27, 2019, with New England. Nugent’s field goals traveled 34, 37, 34 and 30 yards.
“I think it just came down to they performed better than us,” cornerback James Bradberry said. “We didn’t execute when we needed to and that’s usually the name of the game. You’ve got to execute and make plays, and we didn’t do enough today.”
It doesn’t mean the good times can’t return next week.
Daniel Jones had an MRI on his injured right hamstring today, but it did not provide the Giants with a picture of his immediate future.
“There are actually more question marks than answers right now, to be honest with you,” Giants coach Joe Judge said on a late afternoon Zoom call. “We got some of the information back from the doctors, but a lot of that is we have to wait and see how this guy responds in a couple of days. Can he move around the field and can he do anything?
“I couldn’t get an answer on if it’s one week or more than one week right now. I’m not qualified and, to be honest, the doctors I talked to today don’t have a crystal ball to look through, either. I would say this, this is a tough dude. He is a tough guy. He is a very competitive guy and he wants to be out there. If we gave him the option today, he would jump out there, I’m sure, with duct tape on his leg and try to go at it. That being said, we have to give this guy a few days to get out there on the field and see if he can move around. See if he can do something.”
Until that reveals itself, no definitive announcement will be made regarding Jones’ availability for the Giants’ game Sunday against the Seahawks in Seattle. But based on Judge’s “one week” comment, it’s likely Jones will miss at least the Seattle game.
“My approach on every injury is always the same,” Judge said. “It’s always, number one, can the player hurt it worse by playing? Is it pain tolerance or is there a risk for serious injury? That’s number one. Number two, can the player defend himself on the field at a level necessary to do their job effectively? Until we can answer those two questions with absolute certainty, we won’t have any answers on what we’re going to do in terms of this week. I know Daniel is going to do everything he can to get on the field. But sometimes, as coaches, you have to make a decision to maybe protect the player from himself and kind of get through their competitiveness.
“With these types of injuries, we just have to give the player a few days to get out there and see what it really is. The day after, there’s going to be some swelling. It’s going to be tight, there’s going to be issues that show up. We have to see how he reacts from a couple days of treatment and what we can do to get him going on the grass.”
Jones, the second year starting quarterback, was injured on a seven-yard run with about 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter of the Giants’ 19-17 victory yesterday in Cincinnati. After running two more plays, including an all-arm two-yard pass to Wayne Gallman, Jones sat on the ground in pain. He left the field and returned for the first two plays of the next series before leaving for good.
Judge declined to characterize the injury as a strain, pull or tear.
“I’m not the doctor,” he said. “I’m not going to go ahead and try to put a label on it, to be honest with you. But it was enough that we had to remove him from the game yesterday. We’ll kind of see where he is going forward.”
Jones was replaced by Colt McCoy, who has played in 41 games in 11 NFL seasons. He has started 28 games – eight in his 2010 rookie season and 13 the following year with Cleveland and four in 2014, two in 2018 and one last year for Washington. McCoy’s record as a starter is 7-21. But the five teams he started for finished a combined 23-57.
In his first game action of the season, McCoy completed six of 10 passes for 31 yards – a deceptively impressive number considering his first pass, to Gallman, lost nine yards – and ran for seven yards on five carries.
“I have a lot of confidence in Colt,” said wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who caught three of McCoy’s passes for 28 yards. “He’s a veteran guy. He’s been in games, he’s played this game for a long time. Like I said, my confidence is through the roof with him.”
“He’s very experienced, very savvy,” said safety Jabrill Peppers, who faces McCoy daily in practice. “He’s a guy who can make all the throws. I definitely have the utmost confidence.
“He diagnoses coverages really well, very fast. He gets through his progressions really well. He has some tricks that he likes to throw at us, whether it’s his no-look passes or looking off the safety, throwing it back side. He definitely does a lot of things to help us prepare for what we’re going to see on Sundays.”
Judge expects no radical differences with McCoy stepping in for Jones.
“We don’t have to change the offense,” Judge said. “We can put him in there and we can run our offense. If Colt is taking the snaps, maybe there will be a few different things that (offensive coordinator) Jason (Garrett) determines are good to run with Colt, absolutely. It doesn’t matter exactly what it is. It’s based on the opponent and what our players do well. We’re going to try to find the best way to use their strengths. As the guys put the game plan together for this week as we talk through different scenarios, I’m sure there may be a different wrinkle here or there at some point. That’s not just because of what there is a limit of. We ran our offense yesterday with Colt, and Jason called it off the same play sheet and the same way. Colt went out there executed and did a good job for us.”
If McCoy starts, the Giants need a backup quarterback – or two. Their only other signal-caller is first-year pro Clayton Thorson, a 2019 fifth-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles who is on the practice squad. Judge also mentioned as possibilities Alex Tanney, who spent the 2018-19 seasons with the Giants and is currently out of football, and Cooper Rush, who is on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad. Both were with the Giants in training camp.
“I haven’t gone through all of those lists yet,” Judge said. “We had those conversations. We just wrapped up meetings with the players. I’m going to jump back into some personnel discussions when this call is over.”
The Giants have five games remaining. After the long trip to Seattle, they host the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns, visit Baltimore and end the season at home against Dallas.
Judge conceded that keeping Jones out of the Seattle game might give him a chance to play in more of those stretch-run contests. The 4-7 Giants have won three consecutive games and are in first place in the NFC East pending the outcome of the Eagles-Seahawks Monday night game in Philadelphia.
“That’s always part of it,” Judge said. “Again, I kind of go back to the first two things I said. It’s just short-term putting him on the field, can he hurt it any worse? I don’t think you want to look at it in terms of this game is not as important as maybe another game coming up. To me, it’s always that one game season. You don’t want to do anything stupid that’s going to risk the player and lose him long-term. But I’ll let the doctors kind of decide what the short-term risk is.”
And he’ll decide what the longer-term benefit is to the Giants.
Daniel Jones might want to play with extra caution in the Giants’ first post-Thanksgiving Day game next year.
For the second time in his two seasons, the Giants’ quarterback was injured in the game immediately after Turkey Day. Last year against Green Bay, he suffered a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for two games – and enabled Eli Manning to enjoy one last triumphant moment.
On Sunday – 72 hours after the holiday – Jones injured his right hamstring in the Giants’ third consecutive victory, a 19-17 triumph against the Bengals in Cincinnati. With his status for next week’s game against Seattle uncertain, Jones latest issue might open the door for Colt McCoy to temporarily join the starting lineup.
Asked after the game if he is confident this won’t be a long-term injury, Jones said, “it’s tough to say. I think we’ll go back and look at it, examine it and go on from there, so that’s my focus now and I’ll certainly look to do that as soon as we get back.”
Did the doctors and athletic trainers indicate he will be able to play next week in Seattle?
“No, you take it day by day and get back and look at it, examine it and work to improve it every day,” he said.
Because the in-depth examination of Jones’ leg had yet to begin, coach Joe Judge also had no definitive answers regarding his quarterback’s status when he spoke to reporters via Zoom after the game.
“I don’t really know much,” Judge said. “I actually talked to him on the sidelines in terms of how he was. It was at a point where he couldn’t continue in the game, which takes a hell of a lot. Daniel is a really tough dude. So, we’ll take a look and see what it is. I don’t have much more information than what you guys probably got from the T.V. at the point right now. He just has the doctors and get some MRI’s – things like that are standard procedure. We kind of MRI everything around here.”
Jones was injured on a seven-yard run with about 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter. He participated in two more plays, including a two-yard pass to Wayne Gallman that he threw without moving his legs, before going to the ground in pain. After he was examined on the field by the Giants’ medical staff, Jones left the field and was replaced by McCoy, the 11-year veteran and first-season Giant, who made his first appearance of the season with 9:39 remaining in the quarter.
Jones returned for the start of the Giants’ next offensive series. But he lasted just two plays and left the game for good after grabbing his hamstring on a pass to Evan Engram that was incomplete.
“Just felt it on that play and didn’t feel like I could get a lot on it really or do what I needed to do to be effective and move the ball and throw it accurately,” Jones said. “Just look to rehab it, do whatever I can to heal it up as fast as I can.”
Jones concluded his day with 16 completions in 27 attempts for 213 yards and neither a touchdown pass nor an interception.
McCoy, the 11-year veteran and first-season Giant, completed six of 10 passes for 31 yards with a long completion of 15 yards in his first appearance of the season. He also rushed for seven yards on five carries.
McCoy had last played on Oct. 6, 2019, when he started for Washington against New England. In his only action of the 2019 season, McCoy completed 18 of 27 passes for 122 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. This was McCoy’s 41st career game. If he takes the first snap against the Seahawks it will be his 29th start.
“You never want to see D.J. go down like that, but we always have to be prepared and be ready,” McCoy said. “It felt good to get out there, call some plays and execute. There’s a few I’d really like to have back, but always thankful to get a win. I thought the defense played outstanding today, kept us in it. This is a tough league, so when you can get three in a row that’s big for our confidence and for our team.”
And they had faith in him.
“I think he came in and managed the game well,” Judge said. “I think he made some big time throws in some tough situations. He ran the ball tough.”
“I thought he did a great job coming in and executing and moving the ball down the field and scoring some points there,” Jones said. “That was big time and obviously I’ve learned a ton from Colt, he’s played a lot of football, been in this league for a long time and I think you were able to see that when he gets out on the field and executes, and how well he did it. Good to see the team get a win down the stretch and I thought Colt did really well.”
Although he doesn’t get first-team reps in practice, McCoy knows he must produce when he’s needed on game day.
“I’m always going to be ready to play, but I hate it for D.J.,” he said. “He was playing really well, just like he has been the last several weeks. I just didn’t want to let our team down. I was going to be prepared and you never know when these situations pop up. I work hard in practice and I know my teammates have confidence in me, and I just tried to go out there and secure the win for us.”
Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman added McCoy for these situations. In addition to being a capable quarterback, McCoy is a mentor to Jones and a helpful practice player.
“We talk about Colt not having a lot of snaps,” Judge said. “I’ll be honest with you, we benefit a lot defensively from having Colt run the offense against us on a weekly basis. I think he benefits from seeing a lot of competition in practice. But nobody gives our defense bigger headaches than Colt. Finally, a period on Friday of him going through the red area is always as tough as it gets because he’s out there to win. He’s out there to compete. He does a lot of things. He’s a veteran. He has a lot of experience to draw from, but at the same time, he keeps himself as prepared as can be. He’s mentally always into it. Physically, he’s ready. I thought he got in the game today and he helped us win.”
Time will tell if McCoy will be called upon to do that again next week.
Over the past four years, the New York Giants have had a hard time defeating their NFC East rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Coming into Sunday’s game, Philadelphia had beaten New York eight straight times, but all of that ended on Sunday. Behind QB Daniel Jones, who threw for 244 yards and ran for 64 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown run, the Giants defeated the Eagles 27-17.
With the victory, New York(3-7) wins their second straight game and are 1.5 games behind the Eagles(3-5-1) for the top spot in the NFC East. According to Jones, who had a season-high passer rating for the second week in a row – 100.9 after posting a 94.2 rating last week in Washington, New York’s confidence is growing.
“I think our confidence as a team is continuing to grow,” Jones said. “We were certainly frustrated through the first stretch of the season. Frustrated not to get the results we expected, but we didn’t let that discourage us. We didn’t let it affect our confidence week in and week out. We continue to improve, continue to work towards the next week, and I think that’s ultimately what has helped us do that, continue and grow, and the challenge is to keep doing that, and we’ll continue to build confidence through that work and through that improvement.”
For the second straight week, Jones was turnover-free, and Giants head coach Joe Judge sees a quarterback who’s getting better.
“This guy is a young player who is developing; he’s learning a lot every week,” Judge said. “You can see his improvement week to week. Sometimes there’s something you want to get off the tape, and he understands that, and we correct that in practice, working hard. But there’s a lot of games he’s played where maybe there’s a blemish that takes away from the 99% of the really good football he has played. But Daniel continues to be an improving player, he’s a tough dude, mentally and physically, and that spreads throughout our entire team. When he steps into that huddle, there’s 10 guys looking at him knowing he’s going to be the one to give them the answer to the problem on the field.”
Giants S Jabrill Peppers, who was apart of the Giants’ defense that held Philadelphia to 0-for-9 on third-down conversion attempts, feels the team is buying into what Judge is selling.
“Joe(Judge) has been a part of a lot of winning programs,” Peppers said. “All we had to do was buy-in. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. A lot of the times, it was more execution things. When you see how close you are, and then it’s a play here and a play there, it kind of keeps you wanting to keep pushing and keep chomping at the bit. You have to stay bought in because it’s going to turn and we felt that. We were in it damn near every game we played, and it just came to a couple plays here and there. That’s our mindset, man. We’re going to stick to the script, come to work to get better each and every day and execute on game days.”
It appears the Giants could be the best team in the NFC East, and in the last two weeks, the Giants have shown the ability to close out games. If the Giants keep playing at this level, don’t be surprised if they represent the NFC East in the playoffs this season.
The New York Giants have been involved in a lot of close games in 2020. New York’s last five games have been decided by 10 points. In those five games, New York is 2-3, and both wins have come against Washington. This is the first season in their history in which they have played five consecutive games with such a small cumulative margin. The last NFL team with five games decided by no more than 10 points was the 1987 Chicago Bears.
In addition, the Giants have also played five straight games decided by three or fewer points in a single season for the first time in their history. No NFL team has played so many consecutive close games in a single season since the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 (who lost all five by a total of 13 points).
This week the Giants host the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles. In their Week 7 matchup against the Eagles, New York was on the verge of defeating Philadelphia after taking a 21-10 lead late in the fourth quarter, but Carson Wentz would lead the Eagles on two scoring drives to get the victory 22-21 at Lincoln Financial Field. According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, New York had his team on the ropes in that contest.
“I go back and watch our first game, and they have us against the ropes there with just a few minutes left in that game,” Pederson said during a conference call with the New York media on Wednesday. “I’m sure it’s in the back of their mind obviously, as it would be with us. Listen, it’s one of these games, too, where it’s an NFC East opponent, and it doesn’t really matter what happened the first time, the last time, or everything in between. It’s always a good football game, it’s a tough, hard-fought football game, and that’s what we expect.”
This game is another chance for New York to make their move in the NFC East. The Giants are 2-7 and are 2 1/2 games behind the 3-4-1 Eagles, so a win for New York puts them right back in the mix for a division title. A loss and their chances of winning the division are probably over.
“Obviously, it’s a big game,” Giants OG Kevin Zeitler said on Monday. “We know where we’re at; we know where the division is at. Every win in the division is a big thing.”
Giants QB Daniel Jones added: “We’re certainly aware of the situation in the division and where the division stands. I think there’s opportunities for us. You can say it’s coach speak, you can say whatever you want to say it is, but the truth is we have to take it game by game. That’s the reality of how you have to approach these situations if you want to play your best week to week.”
While their record does not indicate it, New York has played decent football at times this season, but they have to find ways to close out games, and if they can find a way to beat the Eagles on Sunday, who knows, maybe the Giants could find a way to be legitimate contenders in the NFC East.
The Giants concluded the first half of their season just as they started it, facing one of the NFL’s best teams in MetLife Stadium on Monday Night Football.
On Sept. 14, they hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in Joe Judge’s first game as head coach. The Giants jumped to a 10-3 lead in the second quarter but were eventually worn down by a team that won by 10 points and almost two months later still hasn’t lost a game.
But the promise of that night devolved into an unfulfilling half-season. The Giants have lost leads, close games and, far too often, the ball. Those recurring elements were on display again Monday night in a 25-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants might have pulled the game out had it not been for a questionable non-call on a late two-point conversion attempt (more on that later).
The Giants’ last three losses – to Dallas, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay – have been by a total of six points. And they held a fourth-quarter lead in each of them. In earlier defeats to Chicago and the Los Angeles Rams, they had a chance to win or tie the game in the final moments but came up short.
“I think any competitor that’s playing in this league wants to win and wants to improve and show that by results,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “It’s a results business. So yeah, it’s definitely tough, and you want to go out there, after all the hard work, and come out with a win.”
“You talk about closing out the games. To me, closing out the games starts at the opening kickoff,” Judge said. “It’s a culmination of everything you’ve done for 60 minutes. Again, it’s never one player’s mistake, it’s everything collectively. There’s a lot of things that go into it, it’s a coach’s call, it’s how everything operates together on the offense or defense. It’s never one play that eliminates you in a game. It’s the effect of different plays throughout the game that add up.”
On Monday, the Giants owned an 11-point lead in the second quarter and an eight-point advantage at halftime. But Daniel Jones threw interceptions on the second play of the third quarter (leading to a Bucs field goal) and early in the fourth (setting up Tampa Bay’s go-ahead touchdown on Tom Brady’s eight-yard pass to Mike Evans).
“I think those were costly mistakes for us that I have to continue to work on and improve,” Jones said.
The second-year quarterback also overthrew Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton when they were open down the field.
On each of the picks, Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett had a fistful of Jones’ jersey in his hand and the throws were short. The first was picked off by Carlton Davis, the second by Sean Murphy-Bunting. Jones was asked if it would have been wise to hold onto the ball and go onto the next play.
“I think that’s certainly what I have to do is those situations,” he said. “When you’re out there competing and playing hard, you have to be able to understand that part of the game and understand when (the play) is over. I have to do a lot better job there.”
Jones has thrown nine interceptions this season. In every one of his 20 starts, he has thrown an interception or fumbled or both and his 36 turnovers since the start of the 2019 season lead the NFL.
“We’re just going to keep on coaching hard,” Judge said. “We’ve got to find inventive ways coaching it and drilling it. Then, as the player keeps on working, he’ll experience it through play, but there’s a lot of things we have to improve on collectively as coaches and as an entire team to help take him out of some of those situations right there, and it starts with me and we’ve got to keep making sure we put him in the best position possible.”
Of course, Jones has had his share of inspiring and uplifting moments and he was at his best on the Giants’ final drive, when he put them in position to tie the game and perhaps pull out a thrilling victory.
Ryan Succop’s fourth field goal of the game, a 38-yarder, stretched Tampa Bay’s lead to 25-17. The Giants took possession at their own 30-yard line with 3:34 remaining and no timeouts. Jones twice converted fourth downs, including a fourth-and-16 on a 20-yard pass to Shepard. With 28 seconds remaining, he connected with Golden Tate for a 19-yard touchdown to lift the Giants to within 25-23.
A successful two-point conversion likely would have sent the game into overtime. Jones took the snap and threw to his right for Dion Lewis, who had caught his first touchdown pass of the night. Rookie safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. seemed to collide with Lewis just as the ball was bouncing off his right arm.
An official threw his flag. But after a long discussion, referee Brad Rogers announced that no penalty had been committed. The Giants were two still two points shy of their second victory.
“I thought it was pass interference and was surprised when they picked it up,” Jones said. “So, we’ll watch it and learn from it and see what they say. Tough break.”
“I thought (the official) made the right call when he threw the flag,” Judge said. “I’m not sure why it got picked up, we had a pretty good view, I know they can’t use the jumbotron to replay. We had a pretty clear view of that as well. I thought (the official) made the right call the first time, and I thought normally your first instinct is right. That’s all I’m going to say about the officiating.”
Rogers spoke to a pool reporter after the game.
“The side judge (Eugene Hall) had the flag thrown on the play and came to the down judge (Jerod Phillips) who was on that side of the goal line,” Rogers said. “The communication between the side judge and the down judge was that the defender contacted the receiver simultaneously as the ball came in. And in order to have defensive pass interference, it has to be clearly early and hinder the receiver’s ability to make the catch.
“You want to make sure that it meets the qualifications for pass interference. And in our communication on the field, the down judge and the side judge communicated about the action and believed that it was appropriate to pick that flag up.”
The Giants got several solid performances, including Wayne Gallman’s 62 yards from scrimmage, Shepard’s eight catches for 74 yards and Jabrill Peppers’ 10 tackles and two pass breakups.
But in the end, turnovers contributed to another lost lead and another close defeat.
“We were able to make some big plays tonight down the stretch,” Judge said. “Ultimately, we have to overcome some mistakes, and we have to improve collectively as a coaching staff and as a team to give ourselves the best chance to be successful. We’re not asking for moral victories. We understand the people of New York deserve better, so we got to keep working to be better for them.”
They get their next chance Sunday in Washington.