Giants aren’t displaying any of traits Joe Judge promised
OK. It’s December. The holiday season is here. Peace on earth, good will toward men, be of good cheer, all of that. In the spirit of the season, let’s see if we can show some good will and good cheer with the Giants. Let’s see if we can say something nice about them:
Graham Gano is a fine placekicker.
(Yes, that may seem a low bar. But have a look-see at what kind of day the other kicker in town had on Sunday.)
Gano made three field goals Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium. One traveled 39 yards. One traveled 34 yards. One traveled 51 yards. He accounted for the entirety of the right side of the hyphen in this 20-9 loss to the Dolphins. Having a very good placekicker is a very good thing for a football team.
When your very good placekicker is the very best thing about that team?
That’s not so good.
And thus ends the happy-talk part of this discussion about the Giants. They were dreadful across all 60 minutes of this rock fight in South Florida, unable to do just about anything offensively, unable to make the kind of game-changing big plays they made a week ago when they were able to steal one from the Eagles.
But it’s actually worse than that, really. It’s worse than just another loss. The starting quarterback, Daniel Jones, is out with a bum neck and the backup quarterback, Mike Glennon, suffered a concussion, probably because the offensive line is a sieve that finally succumbed to Miami’s pressure. The defense was dinked and dunked and doinked to death by Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa.
And Joe Judge …
“There were a lot of things I saw today,” the Giants’ coach said. “A lot of things moving in the right direction.”
Yeah. About that.
Two weeks ago, after an eyesore loss at Tampa Bay, we finally saw the angry side of Judge. We finally saw some genuine flames behind his words. He was on the verge of firing offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, and almost certainly knew it was about to happen, so maybe that made it easier.
But Judge has to know that we all saw the same game he saw Sunday.
Has to know we’ve seen the same team he’s seen for 12 games this year.
And has to know, deep in is heart, that the positive vibes he has managed to attract across the first 28 games of his career — 10 wins, 18 losses, if you’re keeping score at home — aren’t going to last forever. They have, it seems, already frayed.
“The margin for error in this league is very small,” Judge said, and then he made the mistake of citing the Dolphins, who at one point this season lost seven games in a row (including one to the Jaguars) yet have now rattled off five wins in a row, a fine turnaround that only proves two points:
- That kind of stuff can happen to a football team.
- So far, under Judge, it hasn’t come close to happening for the Giants.
It is bad enough that Giants fans can look to the NFL Death Star in Foxborough and see that a full end-to-end rebuild is possible in one year while the Giants toil in Year 5 of another endless spin. It is worse to see a fellow Bill Belichick disciple, Brian Flores, do what, in essence, Judge has been promising here for two years: Win with smarts, with toughness, with defense and with nerve.
The Giants are not smart, burning two more timeouts Sunday so they wouldn’t be charged with delay of game penalties. They are not tough — you hit them in the mouth, they only rarely hit back. Their defense is fine, but still allowed the pop-gun Dolphins two TDs and two field goals. And Judge, normally willing to roll the dice, was shockingly conservative both in deciding to punt late in the third quarter and in not demanding the offense show more urgency in the fourth.
The Dolphins are now very much in the AFC playoff picture.
The Giants are not, no matter what the math says, no matter how badly anyone tries to twist and postulate and pave a path for them to the 7 seed. Not going to happen. Was never going to happen. The Giants needed to see progress this year. There have been only regressions across the board, and they get the Chargers in LA next Sunday. Perfect.
But at least the placekicker is having a nice year.