New York Giants head coach Joe Judge is going home on Thursday night. The Philadelphia area native will bring his Giants(1-5) into Lincoln Financial Field to battle the Eagles(1-4-1). This is not Judge’s first time coaching at the Linc. He coached in Philly as an assistant coach with the Patriots last season, but this time, Judge comes into Philadelphia as the head man.
Judge, who got his first victory as a head coach against Washington on Sunday, knows a lot about Philly fans and knows a lot about the rivalry between the Eagles and Giants, which he discussed on Monday.
“I’ll probably buy a helmet too because my in-laws are already buying batteries,” Judge playfully said on Monday. “To be honest with you, it’s not my first time going back to Philly as an opposing coach. It’s a great city. It has great, passionate fans. It’s an excellent team. It’s obviously a great rivalry. I grew up watching these games. They were always tough games, blue-collar type games, when the Eagles and the Giants were playing when I was growing up watching the games. Again, you’re so focused on the opponent; the emotion doesn’t really get tied into it. We just know we have a heck of a team we have to match up against.
This is a massive game for the Giants. At 1-5, New York has an excellent opportunity to make their move in the NFC East. Depending on what happens with the Cowboys on Monday night against Arizona, New York could be tied for first place in the NFC East with a win over Philadelphia.
One thing that could help the Giants on Thursday night is that Philadelphia will be without two of their best players on offense in Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz and RB Miles Sanders due to injury. However, according to Judge, Philly still has some capable players on the offensive side of the ball.
“I think they have enough weapons on all fronts to really prepare for with these guys,” Judge said. “Look, you don’t want to see any players get hurt, to be honest with you. You want to play teams when they’re at their best. That’s what competition is all about. We’re expecting (Alshon) Jeffery and (DeSean) Jackson to be back, and they’re going to give you a lot of trouble, along with all the other receivers they have already. They know how to use their receivers, their backs, and their tight ends all very well, so it doesn’t matter who’s in there. They’re all very capable.”
It should be interesting to see what Giants’ team shows up on Thursday. Still, in the end, a win against Philadelphia would give Judge a happy homecoming, and more importantly, could jumpstart New York’s season.
Who had Tae Crowder scoring the Giants’ first game-winning touchdown of the Joe Judge era?
Almost certainly, nobody. Crowder, after all, is a rookie linebacker who was the 255th and last player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. Not exactly a combination of credentials that would prompt thoughts of Crowder’s name appearing in the same sentence as “end zone.”
But on Sunday afternoon in MetLife Stadium, this year’s Mr. Irrelevant was anything but. An alert Crowder scooped up a fumble by Washington quarterback Kyle Allen and sprinted 43 yards to the…end zone. Crowder, who started his second consecutive game, scored the go-ahead points in what became a 20-19 victory against the Washington Football Team that gave the Giants their first victory after five straight losses.
“I wanted to dive on it bad,” Crowder said. “One of my goals was to help the team and I know if I could scoop it up and get in the end zone, it would help the team, and it was something we needed at the moment.”
Many players at the end of the seventh round soon recede into oblivion. But Crowder took pride in his status and with his title.
“I took it as motivation,” he said. “I love the name, I just wanted to get here, get to work with my team. One of my goals for this year was to help the team in any way I can.”
And that he did. The score was tied 13-13 and Washington faced a third-and-nine at the Giants’ 45 when Kyler Fackrell sacked Allen for an eight-yard loss and forced the ball out of his hands and to the ground. When Crowder first bent down to pick it up, he kicked it forward a few yards before securing it and starting his sprint to the goal line.
“I have to say big ups to my teammate Kyler Fackrell for making a big play, a strip-sack on the quarterback,” Crowder said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
“I wish Tae would’ve bent his knees a little better and taken it cleaner off, but I’m glad the second time through he got it and finished it on out,” Judge said. “But it was a nice job of the guys putting pressure on it. We’ve been preaching for a while to keep the pressure on the quarterback and turnovers will come. They did today and Tae did a good job of finishing the play. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t kick that thing initially and give him an opportunity to get on that ball.”
Crowder is the first Giants rookie to score a defensive touchdown since cornerback Bruce Johnson’s 34-yard interception return at Dallas on Sept. 20, 2009. He scored the Giants’ first go-ahead defensive touchdown in the last four minutes of a fourth quarter or overtime since Oct. 31, 1999, when Michael Strahan scored on a 44-yard interception return in overtime to beat the Eagles in Philadelphia.
The Giants still had several anxious moments after Crowder’s touchdown. Washington took possession at its own 25 and converted two third downs on a 10-play drive that concluded with Allen’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Cam Sims with 36 seconds remaining. Coach Ron Rivera could have taken the safe route by kicking the extra point and sending the game into overtime.
But Rivera was going for broke – and the victory.
“I told them in the locker room, I said, ‘Guys, I play to win,’” said Rivera, who is aptly known as Riverboat Ron. “That’s a part of my philosophy. The only way to learn to win is to play to win, and that’s what I want those guys to understand, that’s the mentality. … The intent is to learn how to win football games.”
Good intentions, but poor execution. Dexter Lawrence and Blake Martinez pressured Allen into throwing an incomplete pass that landed in the end zone, nowhere near any of his teammates.
“I was actually expecting them to go for two,” Judge said. “They’ve been aggressive in a lot of situations this year, Ron’s always been aggressive as a head coach. You’re on the road, a lot of times that’s the decision you’re going to make right there. We knew they were going to treat those last couple series like they were their last series and they were going to try to get this thing all the way down and clock.
“I thought (defensive coordinator) Pat (Graham) made a great call on the two-point conversion. That’s actually a call we put in this week. I thought the guys matched it and played it very well. We got some pressure from the line. I saw the DB’s did a good job getting the initial coverage. They were trying to work (wide receiver Terry) McLaurin on kind of a hesitation and work out to the flat right there. I think it was (defensive back) Logan (Ryan) on him at that point right there and did a good job covering him. But it was a call Pat put in this week. The guys did a really good job working that on Friday, really improving on some things that we put on tape in practice that were mistakes, cleaned it up through Saturday, and, hey, practice execution becomes game reality.”
And that enabled the players to finally celebrate with Judge, who was doused in a postgame gathering.
“I gave him the game ball,” quarterback Daniel Jones said. “He was quickly dumped with Gatorade. A lot of people played a part in that celebration. It was a good, it was a fun moment there after the game.”
“It was definitely special to see him get his first win,” cornerback James Bradberry said. “It was also my first win as a Giant, so that felt special as well. Of course, we might have poured a little water on a little bit just to celebrate. We were just happy to get the win. There was a lot of celebration going on in there. It was a happy moment.”
Judge was typically reluctant to make the story about himself.
“The locker room obviously had a lot of energy afterwards,” Judge said. “The guys were very happy. There’s been a lot of pressure that they’ve put on themselves and that we put on them. They’ve been fighting hard for six weeks and working through training camp for us. You hit this point right here and you just want to get the results. And I’m happy the fans were able to have it and I’m happy the players were able to enjoy it today.”
Bradberry’s interception of an Allen pass and 19-yard return set up Jones’ 23-yard first-quarter scoring pass to Darius Slayton, the Giants’ only offensive touchdown. It was Jones’ and the team’s first touchdown pass since Slayton caught two on opening night against Pittsburgh. Graham Gano kicked field goals of 33 and 20 yards.
Jones completed 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards, all career lows for a game in which he started. But he also ran for a career-high 74 yards, including a 49-yarder that was the longest run by a Giants quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
Washington scored on Allen passes of five yards to Logan Thomas and the 22-yarder to Sims, plus Dustin Hopkins field goals of 35 and 28 yards. The 70-yard drive that ended with Thomas’ touchdown was kept alive by Austin Johnson’s running into the kicker penalty on a Washington punt. That advanced the ball five yards and on fourth-and-four, Rivera characteristically chose to go for it. Washington picked up the first down on Dontrelle Inman’s 15-yard reception and scored four plays later.
But the game was decided by a two-point conversion try on which the Giants’ defense executed perfectly and flummoxed Washington’s offense.
“We finally got our win,” said defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who had one of the Giants’ three sacks. “We’ve been working hard and finally got to see some of the fruits of our labor. It was obviously an ugly win, though. We obviously wanted to do a lot better. There’s still some football out there that we have to clean up.”
This week, they can do that with smiles on their faces.
Six years in the NFL has taught Markus Golden that what happens in one game has no bearing on what might occur the next time a team takes the field.
In the first quarter of this season, Golden became a part-time player. He was on the field for just seven defensive snaps in the Giants’ loss to the Rams in Los Angeles on Oct. 4 and 67 in the first four games. In 2019, he led the Giants with 10.0 sacks and was third with 917 defensive snaps.
But instead of pouting, complaining or revealing even a hint of anger, Golden simply went about his business.
“Not frustrated at all,” Golden said today of his early season workload. “I’ve been in the league for a while, so I know some weeks you can get a lot of plays, other weeks you can’t get lot of plays. My focus every week is the same no matter what. Whether I’m starting, whether I’m backing up, it’s go hard in practice, learn the game plan and prepare like I’m starting. I don’t allow that stuff to get me frustrated. I just try to focus and take it one day at a time and be ready when my name is called.”
It’s been called. Last week in Dallas, Golden played 57 snaps when Lorenzo Carter left the game after just 10 plays because of a torn Achilles tendon. Carter joined fellow starter Oshane Ximines, who is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury (and will be eligible to return in two weeks).
The absence of Carter and Ximines, who are in their third and second seasons, respectively, has created opportunities for the more seasoned duo of Kyler Fackrell, a five-year pro, and Golden. The two veterans are expected to get the majority of playing time when the Giants host the Washington Football Team Sunday in MetLife Stadium.
Each made contributions against the Cowboys. Fackrell earned his first career interception and touchdown when he picked off a Dak Prescott pass and returned it 46 yards for the Giants’ first defensive score of the season. Golden had three tackles, including a sack he shared with rookie Darnay Holmes.
Since Golden re-signed with the Giants on Aug. 4, he and Fackrell, who joined the team in March, have become close.
“(They) sit by each other in their remote learning centers in our meeting rooms the way we’re set up,” said outside linebackers coach/senior advisor Bret Bielema. “Those two are kind of over there together. They have a rapport on the field. As veterans who were new to this scheme that was a little bit different, they both talked through that and worked through it. I think it’s been a nice balancing act between those two and I think to find them out on the field for 50-plus plays together, which has really happened for nobody this far into the season, we really hadn’t had two guys playing together for the majority of the game in any of our games to this point. They survived and advanced. Did enough things to make us competitive, but we didn’t get a W and weren’t able to close that thing out. Those two working with whoever else is in the lineup on Sunday will be a big part of our success moving forward.”
Fackrell had 10.5 sacks for the Green Bay Packers two years ago, but just 1.0 in 2019, when he played about 200 fewer snaps. This year, he is the only Giants player with both a sack and an interception.
“He has pass rush value as well as pass drop skillset,” Bielema said. “I think the part that’s fun to work with him is he’s really an analyzer – he really takes deep thought into what he’s saying, what he’s doing.”
Not many coaches refer to a player as an “analyzer.” What does that mean to Fackrell?
“I like to have a clear picture of what I need to do within the defense,” Fackrell said. “I feel like that is what allows me to feel confident and to feel free. Once I know what I need to do or what my responsibility is, then there are different ways that I can fulfill that responsibility. Definitely, I would agree a lot to where I want to know and need to know the details and the reasons for how the defense is supposed to be played to be able to feel confident and kind of step out when I need to and still be able to do my responsibility.”
Golden also spends long hours studying the upcoming opponent.
“Nobody is more focused, he does a lot of note-taking, he has a lot of great individual questions for me,” Bielema said.
But early in the season, Golden was limited to sporadic appearances on the field despite his work in the classroom.
“We’re very clear explaining to our players really on a weekly basis what their role in the game is, what the game plan may call for and what they have to be ready for,” Judge said. “There hasn’t been much talking necessary to get Markus going. He works hard every day. This guy is a tremendous team guy. He’s come in with a positive attitude on a daily basis. He does whatever we ask him to.”
Last year, Golden was the first Giants linebacker with double-digit sacks since Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor in 1990.
“I try not to take stuff personally,” Golden said. “I’ve been like that for a long time. Don’t take it personally. Come in, work hard every day, no matter what. Make sure that I’m being the same person no matter what, and that’s what I focus on the most. Make sure I’m being myself. If I’m worried about other stuff and not working as hard as I can because of other stuff that’s going on, then I’m not being myself. At the end of the day, I want to be able to come here and be as best of a teammate as I can be for my teammates and do whatever I can do to help this team win. That’s just how I am and that’s just how I’ll always be.”
With Golden taking on a larger role, the Giants appreciate that now more than ever.
*With Fackrell and Golden seeing more time and the absence of Carter and Ximines, rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin are the backups at outside linebacker. Neither has taken a defensive snap this season.
“With rookies and the whole process of how these guys mature, the first step you really see is when they start their study habits and you can see that,” Graham said. “They’re asking different questions, most of their contribution is on special teams. You can see the transition there. I think part of it is they learn from some of the veterans, which is a good thing. We have a good group of veterans here that help those guys out. The second part of it that’s a little subtle, but you can see it when they start taking care of their bodies. They understand the importance of the commodity of their body, that’s how they make their money. It takes a while for those rookies to understand because they were better than (everyone) the whole time. In high school, they were better than (everyone). In college, they were better than (everyone). Now it’s like, ‘oh no, this guy is just as good as me or more talented. How can I make sure my body is performing at its peak performance on Sunday? How do I get my body right?’ Whether it’s the nutrition, whether it’s the extra stuff in the weight room, whether it’s the extra conditioning out there.
“In terms of the football part of it, the thing that stands out for me is … the aggressiveness on special teams. Cam stands out to me in terms of kickoff. We talk about it all the time, kickoff, punt coverage, that’s really the first play of a defensive possession. The contribution there, I’ve seen him split double teams making a tackle. You know that tackle counts for defense, alright thanks, you just saved us a first down. That’s a big part of it, so I’m happy with those guys and how they are out there competing.”
In 2019, the Washington Football Team selected Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick in that year’s draft. Haskins came to Washington with a lot of promise after throwing 50 touchdown passes in his only season at Ohio State.
Last season, Haskins started seven games for Washington. In those seven games, Haskins was 2-5 as a starter and threw for 1365 yards and seven touchdowns with seven interceptions. Coming into the 2020 season, Haskins was named the starter and was not awful for Washington. In four games, Haskins threw for 939 yards and four touchdowns, but three interceptions. More importantly, Washington was 1-3.
After the slow start for Haskins, Washington head coach Ron Rivera decided to make a change. Against the Rams, QB Kyle Allen started but left after an injury, and Alex Smith would finish the game for the team.
As Washington prepares for Daniel Jones, who went sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the New York Giants, Rivera explained why he decided to replace Haskins with Allen.
“Well, you sit there and look at what we did with Dwayne(Haskins) – we didn’t have the offseason you would’ve liked to have had in terms of his chance to develop,” Rivera said. “So, we went into training camp, and we gave him every rep with the 1’s for several weeks, and then we gave him a chance to play, and he played four straight games, and every rep he’s taken has been with the 1’s. Just in the evaluation process, we weren’t seeing what we needed to see. We didn’t see the growth that we thought you needed.
“Plus, looking at where the schedule was taking us – you know we have four games, and you could honestly say six games which are all conference games, or five of those six are conference games, and three of those are divisional, and there’s an opportunity to make some hay in our division. So, I felt like I wanted to put the ball in a couple of guys’ hands that know the system: [Washington QB] Kyle Allen, who’s been with me for three seasons, who knows our system; [Washington QB] Alex Smith, who’s a guy that’s made a tremendous comeback who knows the system. So, I felt that our chances in these next six games would be increased by doing that and so that’s what I did.”
Obviously, we don’t get to see what happens during practice, but it’s clear, Haskins is not Rivera’s guy. When Washington drafted Haskins, Rivera was in Carolina.
Is it the right move? I guess Allen would give Washington a better chance of winning since he knows and played in this offensive system in Carolina. However, I think we’ve seen enough of Allen to realize he does not have the goods. You could argue Washington has a shot to win the lousy NFC East, but if you watch this team play, it’s pretty apparent that they are not very good, which means Washington should let Haskins play and see what happens.
The New York Giants had a great chance to get their first victory of the year on Sunday. However, after leading 17-3 in the second quarter, the Giants(0-5) would allow the Dallas Cowboys(2-3) to get back into the game, and ultimately, the Cowboys would defeat New York 37-34 at AT&T Stadium.
While the horrific injury to Dak Prescott may have overshadowed the game, this was an exciting contest. Prescott would leave in the third quarter with a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. After relinquishing the lead, the Giants were able to take the go-ahead of Dallas midway through the fourth quarter 34-31 when Devonta Freeman scored on a seven-yard touchdown run.
However, Cowboys backup QB Andy Dalton led the team on two scoring drives, which allowed the Cowboys to tie the game and ultimately win at the buzzer when Greg Zuerlein hit a 37-yard field goal. It was Zuerlein’s second field goal in the final 1:56 after the Giants had taken a 34-31 lead.
The Giants’ 34 points was their highest total since their 41-35 overtime victory in Washington on Dec. 22, 2019. They had scored a total of 47 points and had not scored more than 16 points in their first four games. The 34 points are great, but New York is still 0-5.
“Look, obviously they’re disappointed after any game where we don’t come out winners, but one thing I know about our team is it’s a resilient group, and it’s a hard-working bunch,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said after the game. “We’ll come back to work this week, we’re going to see great energy, we’re going to have great focus, and we’re going to get tuned in and ready for another division opponent. All of our focus, whether it’s win or loss, shifts to the next opponent the next morning anyway, so we’ve got to clean up this game, get ready for the next opponent, and move on forward.”
According to Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who was 20/33 for 222 yards with no touchdowns and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, New York has to continue to stay the course.
“I think it’s been a tough start. To say we aren’t disappointed, would be a lie,” Jones said after the game. “We certainly are, it’s been a tough start. I don’t think anyone on this team is discouraged. We’re not going to allow ourselves to be discouraged and let this start affect the rest of this season. We have a lot of football ahead of us, and I think everyone on this team feels like we’ve been in the position to win games, we’ve improved as a team, and we’re capable of winning each of these games.
“So in terms of our confidence as a team and what we believe we’re capable of doing, I think that’s going to be the important thing in us finishing strong and winning these games down the stretch. So, that’s where we are as a team, we’re disappointed, we want to win every game, but we’re not going to let it affect our preparation and how we approach these next 11 games.”
Even at 0-5, New York still has a shot in the lousy NFC East. The Giants are two games behind the Cowboys in the division. The next few weeks for New York is vital as they play division foes Philadelphia and Washington, which Jones discussed after the game
“Yeah, all these divisional games are big games and important games,” Jones said. “Certainly, like I said, at this point we’ve lost, but I don’t feel like we’re out of the division at all. We have a couple big games coming up, and all we can do is prepare as hard as we can and be ready to play those games. Like I said, we’re not going to let this game affect us going forward, and how we prepare for the next opportunity.”
At this point, the Giants are not a good football team, but they played well against the Cowboys, which could be something to build on in the coming weeks.
If it’s true that young NFL teams must learn how to win, the Giants are enduring those growing pains.
For the second time in three weeks, they had a chance to stave off defeat and perhaps earn their first victory of the season and in Joe Judge’s tenure as coach with a touchdown in the final minute. Once again, they had to force their way into the end zone to cap an impressive final possession.
Two weeks ago in Chicago, they trailed by four points when they drove 50 yards without a timeout in the final 2:02. But their chance to hold a locker room celebration ended when wide receiver Golden Tate was penalized for offensive pass interference in the end zone on the game’s final play.
Late Sunday afternoon, they were eight points behind when they traveled 62 yards to the Los Angeles Rams’ 18-yard line with 57 seconds remaining. But on the seventh play of the drive Daniel Jones’ pass for Damion Ratley was intercepted by diving cornerback Darious Williams at the five-yard line.
The Giants’ only turnover of the game left them no way to escape an 0-4 start.
“Certainly, frustrating for me,” Jones said. “There at the end of the game with a chance to score and go for two and tie up the game, and to not do that, certainly frustrating. So, we’ve got to stay at it and learn and keep moving forward.”
“Obviously, we came up a little short today,” Judge said. “I’m proud of the way our guys fought, I’m proud of the way they played. We have to make sure we clean up and eliminate some mistakes and keep making more positive plays going down the stretch. I’m proud of the way they fought. They are an improved team from last week, and I’m proud of how they worked last week, I’m proud of the improvement they made. We have to keep pushing on and making strides going forward.”
The defeat was particularly hard to swallow because the Giants’ defense played superbly most of the game. The Rams scored a touchdown on their first possession on a two-yard run by tight end Gerald Everett. But in its next six possessions, Los Angeles totaled 86 yards and scored just three more points.
After giving up 36 points to the 49ers last week, the Giants held the Rams – who averaged 30 points and 449.7 yards in their first three games – to 17 points and 240 yards – 200 under their average. The Rams gained just 116 yards in the first half.
“I love the way our defense is playing right now,” Judge said.
“I think it was awesome,” linebacker and defensive captain Blake Martinez said of his unit’s performance. “I think that’s the type of team we want to be, and I think overall it’s something we’ll hold our hat high on, but at the end of the day, it’s a production league, it’s getting wins, and that’s what we want, and I think we’re not going to be satisfied until that happens.”
It didn’t happen on Sunday because the Giants were held out of the end zone not only on their final series but the entire game. For the second week in a row, their scoring was limited to three Graham Gano field goals – from 35, 37 and 27 yards.
“Offensively, I like some of the things you saw down the stretch,” Judge said. “We have to get the ball to the end zone more, but we just have to keep pushing on forward, keep making corrections and adjustments, and getting better as you go down the stretch.”
The Giants kept plugging away despite their offensive sluggishness. Gano’s three-pointer as time expired in the first half cut the Giants’ halftime deficit to 10-6. After a scoreless third quarter, he made it 10-9 early in the fourth quarter.
After an exchange of punts, the Rams took possession at their own nine-yard line with 9:46 remaining. Eight plays later, Los Angeles faced a third-and-three at their own 49. A Giants stop would have put them in a position to get the ball and take the lead with another Gano field goal.
What followed instead was the game’s biggest play and the only one of the Ram’s 57 offensive plays to gain more than 16 yards. Jared Goff threw to a wide-open Cooper Kupp, who caught the ball at the Giants’ 40, sidestepped a tackle attempt by cornerback James Bradberry inside the 25 and sprinted to the end zone for the touchdown that increased the home team’s lead to 17-9.
“They hurried up to the line,” Bradberry said. “It was just miscommunication on the back end. We’re all accountable for that. We didn’t communicate enough. That’s what led to the touchdown.”
“Obviously, anytime that there’s a touchdown, nothing went exactly right,” Judge said, “so we’ve got to look and make sure we identify the breakdown and correct it going forward.”
On their next possession, Jones’ pass to Tate on fourth-and-11 fell incomplete. But the defense remained tough, forced a punt and gave the Giants a chance to tie the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
Starting at the 20, Jones immediately connected with Darius Slayton for 33 yards, the Giants’ longest play of the game. Jones ran for gains of 13 and 11 yards and threw a five-yard pass to Evan Engram that set them up on the 18. But the seventh play of the drive was unlucky as Jones’ pass landed in the wrong hands.
Asked what he learns from moments like those, Jones said, “You can’t force the ball in those situations.”
Moments later, he said, “I think I may have had the opportunity to run and have to learn from it and move on.”
For the Giants, it’s on to Dallas and their first NFC East game of the season – and another chance to earn that elusive first victory.
After three games, the 2020 New York Giants are looking a lot like the 2019 version of this team, which finished 4-12. On Sunday against the 49ers, Giants QB Daniel Jones had two turnovers (interception, fumble), and New York(0-3) was routed by San Francisco(2-1) 36-9 at MetLife Stadium.
In three games, Jones, who had 23 turnovers last season, has turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions. New York had only 231 yards of total offense on Sunday, and they did not run a play in the red zone. The second-year quarterback finished the game 17/32, 179 yards, one interception.
“I think you look at each one of those individually and try to understand what happened, what the mistake was, and move on from it,” Jones said after the game. “You know, I need to do a better job, and that’s something I’m focused on. I think those are costly mistakes, and I certainly need to correct them.”
Defensively, New York allowed 49ers backup QB Nick Mullens to throw for 343 yards and one touchdown. The Giants could not get off the field, and were unable to force the 49ers to punt. However, even with the struggles, DE Leonard Williams believes New York has a good football team.
“I do think we do have a really good team and a tough team, and I never see any quit in this team. I believe that we’re right there and we just need to fix a few pieces and a few little gaps here and there and stop beating ourselves,” Williams said. “It’s already hard to beat a team, and it’s going to be harder when we’re making mistakes on ourselves as well, so I just think that we need to overcome a few of those mistakes that we’ve been making and just keep playing hard.”
Jones echoed Williams’ sentiment, and he believes the team will improve moving forward.
“I think for us as a team, and for everyone in the building, it’s important that we correct the things that went wrong,” Jones said. “We understand what went wrong and we’ll improve from this game, and not to let it define us as a team. We know that we’re capable of playing a lot better than we did today. I think there were a lot of things that happened that were uncharacteristic of who we are and what we can be.
“As a team, we need to understand that we need to move forward and go back to work determined to play better and to fix the things that have gotten in our way these first few weeks. We’re not going to let it affect our confidence; we’re certainly not going to let it affect how we work and how hard we attack this week, how hard we attack the preparation towards the Rams. I think we have the guys in the locker room to do it, and that mindset and that approach this week will be key.”
The Giants have to get better play out of Jones. He has a lot of ability, but the turnovers continue to get in the way. It’s still early, and the Giants play in a lousy division. However, at 0-3, if things don’t turn around fast, it could be another long season in New York. Hopefully, for New York, the turnaround starts next week on the road against the Rams.
In the first six quarters of the Giants’ 2020 season, Evan Engram caught two passes for nine yards.
But in the two most recent quarters, played last Sunday in Chicago, the multi-talented tight end had six receptions for 65 yards, both team-leading figures for the entire game. That included four catches in the fourth quarter of the Giants’ 17-13 loss to the Bears.
So, did the light come on for Engram?
“I definitely kind of got going. I got into a rhythm, kind of got settled in,” Engram said today. “That was our mindset as an offense coming out for the second half. To get going, make some plays, get the ball rolling. That was just me kind of getting opportunities and cashing in on them, doing my job.”
Engram ‘s revival was due to old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness.
“You just have to keep banging away, you really do,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. “There were some plays in the first game and the early part of the second game that certainly Evan would like to have back. You keep playing, you keep banging and he’s done a really good job working hard in practice. He’s playing hard. He had some opportunities as that game wore on and he took advantage of them. He won some one on one matchups, he made some runs after the catch that were impressive for us. Big, explosive plays like we’re talking about.”
Engram’s personal revival began modestly, with a seven-yard reception on the first play of what became a 95-yard touchdown drive. He later caught a six-yarder that advanced the ball to the Bears’ seven-yard line.
Engram had three catches for 30 yards on a fourth-quarter possession that ended with Graham Gano’s 37-yard field goal. And he accounted for the longest play on the game’s final series, a short pass that Engram turned into a 22-yard gain. But the Giants couldn’t get into the end zone and walked off the field without that desired first victory.
But if Engram can continue to be a big threat in the passing game, the Giants will improve their chances of earning it this week against the San Francisco 49ers in MetLife Stadium.
“He’s certainly going to be a big part of our offense going forward,” Garrett said. “Just love his approach, love everything about it. He’ll get better and better and better the more he plays.”
Coach Joe Judge has remained a strong supporter of the fourth-year pro.
“You know what I look at him as? As a developing player,” Judge said. “I think Evan’s young enough where we have not seen his best ball. But he’s a guy that works every day tirelessly. You guys (reporters) saw him through training camp. This guy really empties the tank. You see him every day in practice. This guy, when you look at his GPS reports after practice in terms of yards and speed and all of that stuff, he’s a guy you have to monitor and kind of back off a little bit because this guy has no governor on himself. He goes full speed all the time. He works tirelessly.”
“The guys respond to him. He does a great job preparing himself. He’s very mentally tough. He’s improving all the time. A lot of guys got on him after that first game in terms of where the production was. I think we saw a glimpse of that last week. He really made some good plays for us at key times, and he’ll continue to do that throughout the season when the opportunity comes his way. He doesn’t have to force it. He doesn’t have to do anything outside of his own responsibility or job. When the play comes his way, he has to be in position to go ahead and finish it. We have confidence he will.”
So does Engram, who refuses to pin his slow start on trying to get comfortable in the offensive system Garrett installed in the team’s virtual offseason.
“I don’t want to make any excuse,’ Engram said. “I think everybody is in the same boat. Everybody has had a different offseason and had to overcome some things with the circumstances that COVID has kind of presented.”
Now that he’s made his first substantial contribution this season, Engram expects to accomplish much more.
The New York Giants have signed former Falcons RB Devonta Freeman, the team announced on Wednesday..
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a one-year deal worth up to $3million. After they lost RB Saquon Barkley to a torn ACL in Sunday’s loss to the Bears, the Giants turned to Freeman.
Last season, Freeman, 28, rushed for 656 yards and two rushing touchdowns for the Falcons. The two-time Pro Bowler was pretty good outside the backfield in 2019. Freeman had career-highs in receptions(70) and receiving touchdowns(4).
On Wednesday, Giants head coach Joe Judge discussed the signing of Freeman.
“He had a good workout for us yesterday,” Judge said via a video call. “We watched his tape from the past few years. Obviously, we have familiarity, Jerome Henderson was in Atlanta with him. He really spoke highly of the character he brings to the team, the kind of teammate he is in the locker room. I think he’s got some juice left in the tank. We’ll give him the opportunity to prove that.”
The six-year veteran did practice with the team today, and according to Judge, New York hopes to have him on the field this Sunday against the 49ers.
“We just got him in the building, so today will be a day of trying to catch him up and build him into the game plan,” Judge said. “Obviously, he has a lot to learn going into Sunday. But we’re going to do our best to get him ready for Sunday if we can do that.
While he is not Barkley, Freeman could be a good option for the Giants. It should be interesting to see how much he does have in the tank, and if you listen to what Judge had to say on Wednesday, it’s clear, they will give him every opportunity to show he can still play at a high level.
To make room for Freeman, the Giants placed wide receiver Sterling Shepard on injured reserve with turf toe. Like Barkley, Shepard was hurt in the second quarter of the Giants’ 17-13 loss in Chicago on Sunday. He is eligible to be reinstated to the roster after missing three games.
Saquon Barkley touched the football just 25 times before his 2020 season ended because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament that will force him to undergo surgery and endure an arduous rehabilitation.
Do the Giants face a similarly challenging road ahead without their most dynamic and decorated player?
Coach Joe Judge is confident his team will soldier on, remain focused and continue to improve. But he knows the offense will require some alteration without the running back who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the previous two seasons.
“First off, losing a player who is such a good teammate and someone who’s such a hard worker on the field will impact the team in a lot of ways,” Judge said after leading the team’s review of the 17-13 loss to the Bears yesterday in Chicago. “Saquon is a tremendous player. We have even more respect for him as a person. I personally hate for this guy, as hard as he’s worked and as much impact as he’s had for this team. I know our team has similar feelings as well. I talked to a number of players already.
“In terms of how we game plan and scheme, our focus will always change week by week. Regardless of how our roster looks, we’re always going to do what’s best for the team going forward to match up with the specific opponent. The guys that are on our roster, we’re going to have to find ways to put them in a positions of strength and find ways to match up with our opponent favorably.”
The Giants have three other backs on their active roster: Dion Lewis, who took over for Barkley yesterday and scored the Giants’ only touchdown; Wayne Gallman, who was inactive in Chicago but has rushed for 762 yards and caught 60 passes in four seasons with the team; and Eli Penny, who is listed as a fullback. In addition, veteran back Rod Smith is on the practice squad.
“Wayne and Dion are definitely guys that will factor in,” Judge said. “We’ll work to their strengths, they are two different types of backs. Both of them have a degree of toughness. Wayne’s got that long speed, get him ranging out and get him really moving. Dion’s got that real good short area quickness and burst to go get going. He does a great job of finding small seams and getting through the hole. They are both different guys, we’re going to have to work with what they do well to give them an opportunity to be successful. … There’s a number of players in our program we are going to be working with. We’ll see where the future takes us elsewhere throughout this long season in the NFL. There’s always a lot of roster movement.”
Barkley was hurt on the first play of the second quarter. While gaining six yards running to his right, Barkley’s leg landed awkwardly as he was tackled by safety Eddie Jackson. He appeared to be in pain before hitting the ground, where he grabbed his knee, pounded his fist and removed his helmet. Barkley underwent a preliminary examination in Chicago. The Giants announced at noon today that an MRI of his knee this morning at Hospital for Special Surgery confirmed the diagnosis of a torn ACL.
Barkley, who was elected a team captain for the second time, ends his third season with 34 rushing yards on 19 carries and six receptions for 60 yards.
“I think it’s emotional for any of your players,” Judge said. “You know how hard these guys work. You know how important it is to them. Not to mention how it impacts directly their own lives and their families’ lives. There’s definitely some emotion attached to losing any player. Saquon’s obviously no different. He’s been voted a captain on this team, he’s very important to the team, he speaks for the team. He always holds the best interest of the team first. He exemplifies what it is on and off the field for us. We’re going to miss having him on the grass, but we’re going to keep him involved as much as we can going forward.”
The two players who spoke publicly today grieved his loss but expressed confidence their teammates will respond favorably in the final 14 games, beginning at home Sunday against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
“Obviously, my heart goes out to him,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “He works extremely hard. Obviously, he’s a leader on this team. I know from working out with him over the summer that he was looking forward to this season after the ankle injury last year (that cost him three games and left him at least than 100% in several others). I’m definitely, definitely praying for him. But he’s a guy who’s going to bounce back better than ever. Minor setback for a major comeback. In this league, injuries happen. You hate it, but it happens. You have to have a next man up mentality. I think the guys that we have in the room do a good job stepping up.”
“For it to happen the way it did yesterday, I know we’re all kind of bummed because we are brothers,” wide receiver Golden Tate said. “We love each other so much. It’s unfortunate, but that is the nature of the game. There are injuries that happen in this game every game unfortunately. It always hurts when you have guys like Saquon and Shep (wide receiver Sterling Shepard) deal with an injury. But we’re just going to keep chugging. We can’t dwell on this. We have to just keep working hard and find a way.”
Everyone connected to the Giants, from players and coaches to the team’s millions of fans, are hopeful a healthy Barkley will return to the field in 2021.
“You look at some of the other guys around the league who have been able to come back from ACL’s and have tremendous seasons those next years out,” Judge said. “I think you can focus on there’s a lot of top athletes and with the medical care they get right now. This is a young guy who is very physically gifted. There are good doctors out there, he is going to get the best medical care possible. We have a great training staff to help rehab him along the way. We’re going to do everything in our position as coaches to keep him involved mentally sharp. Then when we finally get a chance to get him back on the field physically, obviously we’re going to gear everything around his specific plan to get him going full speed at the right rate.
“I tell you what, I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again, I won’t fall asleep on 26, it’s going to be a hell of a story.”
*Judge did not provide a definitive diagnosis on Shepard.
“He did have a lower limb injury yesterday in the game,” Judge said. “Tried to come back early in the second half and wasn’t able to finish. We’ll see where that is right now. I can’t speak for Shep in terms of how he feels. I haven’t been able to sit down with him and talk with him directly about that yet. I’m going to check with our training staff after this meeting and see where things are at going forward.”