Feb 012021
 
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Blake Martinez, New York Giants (September 27, 2020)

Blake Martinez – © USA TODAY Sports

As we covered in our defensive line review, the New York Giants defense significantly improved from 25th in 2019 to 12th in 2020 in terms of yards allowed. It was a remarkable achievement given the year-long personnel changes in the back seven on defense. There were no adjustments on the defensive line. The same three starters and two back-ups played in every game. The same could not be said for the linebackers and defensive backs.

In today’s 3-4 defenses, the outside linebackers are more of a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, increasingly commonly referred to as “edge” players. The two Giants who won the starting edge jobs (Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines) were both lost for the season in early October with 3/4ths of the season left to play. Their primary back-up (Markus Golden) was traded to the Cardinals a few weeks later with half the season left to play. The next man up (OLB/ILB hybrid Kyler Fackrell) missed four games due to a calf injury. The Giants were forced to rely on three rookies (7th rounder Carter Coughlin, 6th rounder Cam Brown, and undrafted free agent Niko Lalos) and two retreads (Jabaal Sheard and Trent Harris).

There was chaos too at one of the inside linebacker spots. Devonta Downs started the season but was unimpressive and lost his job to rookie Tae Crowder, the very last player taken in the draft. But after starting two games, Crowder landed on Injured Reserve with a groin injury for five games. Downs was reinserted into the starting line-up, but now David Mayo, who missed the first five games of the season with a knee injury, also saw increased playing time and two starts. Crowder returned in late November and reclaimed the starting job.

Whew. Just typing that was confusing. The only constants were free agent godsend Blake Martinez and the coaching staff.

Martinez was the glue that held the defense together. He directed the defense, played virtually every defensive snap (97 percent), and was a tackling machine (team-high 151 tackles). Long story short, Martinez is the best inside linebacker the Giants have had since Antonio Pierce was cut a decade ago.

Inside Linebackers Coach Kevin Sherrer and Outside Linebackers Coach Bret Bielema did a marvelous job of mixing and matching on a week-to-week basis. Look no further than the edge position where the Giants were left scrambling. At one point, the available players to use were Sheard, Coughlin, Brown, and Lalos. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham, who coached linebackers with the Patriots and Packers, also employed defensive backs at linebacker in various packages. But there was a bit of chaos even in the coaching ranks when Bielema left the Giants with three games left to play to become head coach at the University of Illinois. Sherrer then handled both positions.

Aside from Martinez, what really stands out is that all four of the team’s late-round draft picks at linebacker made the team in addition to a rookie free agent. All five of these rookies played. The Giants were hammered by injuries at the outside linebacker position – down to their 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th options – and yet the coaching staff held the unit together. The biggest negative was the lack of pass rush, particularly from the edge spots. Of the team’s 40 sacks, 13.5 came from the linebackers (and four of them were from inside backers Martinez and Crowder). Fackrell led the linebacking corps with just four sacks.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

The Giants signed Blake Martinez as an unrestricted free agent from the Green Bay Packers in March 2020. He had a major impact on the defense, starting all 16 games and playing in 97 percent of all defensive snaps. Martinez finished the season with a team-high 151 tackles and also accrued nine tackles for losses, three sacks, six quarterback hits, five pass defenses, one interception, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. The 6’2”, 237-pound Martinez was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Packers. In four seasons with Green Bay, Martinez has played in 61 regular-season games with 57 starts, accruing 512 tackles and 10 sacks. Martinez lacks ideal size and range for the position, but he is a heady player who can make the defensive calls and gets in on lot of tackles. He is better against the run than the pass.

The Giants selected Tae Crowder in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He surprisingly moved into the starting line-up in Week 5 and 6 before suffering a groin injury that landed him on Injured Reserve for five games. Crowder returned in late November, starting four of his final six games. In all, Crowder played in 11 games with six starts (37 percent of all defensive snaps), and was credited with 57 tackles, three tackles for losses, one sack, three quarterback hits, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery that he returned for a game-winning touchdown. The 6’3”, 235-pound Crowder was moved from running back to linebacker in college and thus is still learning the position. Only a 1-year starter in college. While Crowder lacks ideal size, he is a good athlete and seems to have good instincts for the position. He must improve his tackling consistency.

Devante Downs began the season as a starter, but saw his playing time give way to Tae Crowder. Downs played in all 16 games with eight starts (21 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 33 tackles, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery. The 6’2”, 252-pound Downs was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings waived him in late September 2019 and he was then signed by the Giants to their Practice Squad and 53-man roster in October 2019. Downs played in seven games for the Giants in 2019 on special teams. Downs has good size, but he did not impress against the run or pass in 2020 despite his eight starts.

The Giants placed David Mayo on Injured Reserve in early September 2020 with a torn meniscus in his left knee that required surgery. He was activated from Injured Reserve in mid-October. Mayo ended up playing in 11 games with two starts (18 percent of all defensive snaps). He was credited with 29 tackles, two tackles for losses, and one forced fumble. The Giants signed Mayo in September 2019 after he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers. He surprisingly ended up playing in all 16 games with 13 starts, playing in 57 percent of all defensive snaps, and finishing with 82 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 pass defenses. The 6’2”, 240-pound Mayo was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. After four seasons in Carolina, Mayo signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2019. Before coming to the Giants, Mayo only had started four NFL games in four seasons. Mayo lacks ideal tools which limits his ability defend the run and cover receivers, but he plays hard.

The Giants selected T.J. Brunson in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Brunson spent most of the season on the inactive list, but he did play in five games, almost exclusively on special teams. He was credited with three tackles. The 6’1”, 230-pound Brunson is an undersized inside linebacker with decent but not ideal athleticism. He is very physical and aggressive.

EDGE

The Giants placed Lorenzo Carter on Injured Reserve with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon that he suffered in Week 5 in October 2020. He underwent surgery and missed the rest of the season after starting all five games and finishing with 14 tackles and one sack. The Giants drafted Carter in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Carter played in 15 games as a rookie with two starts, finishing the season with 43 tackles, 4 sacks, and 4 pass defenses. In 2019, Carter started 12 of the 15 games he played in, finishing the year with 45 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 5 pass defenses, and 1 forced fumble. Carter is a tall, athletic, disruptive forward mover. Carter looks the part, combining good size (6’5”, 255 pounds) and overall athletic ability. He flashes the ability to disrupt, but must do a better job of disengaging from blockers and making more plays. Versatile, he can play with his hand in the dirt.

Oshane Ximines was placed on Injured Reserve in early October 2020 with a shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 4. He returned to practice in late November, but his season ended when it was determined he would need rotator cuff surgery. Ximines started three of the four games he played in and finished the season with just four tackles. The Giants drafted Ximines in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He played at end in college. Ximines had a mixed performance in his rookie season in 2019. He received significant playing time, playing in all 16 games with two starts, playing in 45 percent of all defensive snaps, and accruing 25 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and one pass defense. Ximines has a nice combination of size (6’4”, 254 pounds) and overall athletic-ability. Ximines flashed at times as a pass rusher, but he must become a more physical run defender and more consistent, dynamic performer when rushing the passer. He also needs work in coverage.

2020 was an odd year for Markus Golden. Coming off of a superlative debut season for the Giants as a 1-year free agent rental in 2019 (career-high 72 tackles and team-high 10 sacks), Golden did not receive much interest in 2020 free agency. He re-signed with the Giants very late in the offseason in early August, but did not regain his starting position when the season started. The Giants then traded him to the Cardinals in late October. Golden ended up having a much bigger impact with the Cardinals than the Giants in 2020. With the Giants, he played in seven games with one start (16 percent of all defensive snaps) and finished with just 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Golden was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cardinals. After rejoining the Cardinals, Golden started the final eight games, including a 1-sack, 1-fumble recovery performance against the Giants in Week 14. 

The Giants placed Kyler Fackrell on Injured Reserve in early December 2020 with a calf injury and activated him to the 53-man roster in early January 2021. In all, Fackrell played in 12 games with nine starts. He played in 56 percent of all defensive snaps and finished the season with 34 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, four sacks, 10 quarterback hits, two pass defenses, one interception that he returned for a touchdown, and one forced fumble. The 6’5”, 245-pound Fackrell was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. In four seasons with Green Bay, Fackrell played in 61 regular-season games with nine starts, compiling 111 tackles, 16.5 sacks, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. Fackrell’s best season was in 2018 when he started seven games and accrued 42 tackles and 10.5 sacks. The Giants signed Fackrell an unrestricted free agent from the Packers in March 2020. Although not a dynamic athlete, Fackrell is a big, versatile linebacker who can play outside or inside linebacker. He flashes as a pass rusher.

The Giants signed Jabaal Sheard off of the Practice Squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars in October 2020. He ended up playing in nine games for the Giants with three starts (24 percent of all defensive snaps), and finished with 19 tackles, two tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, and one forced fumble. The 6’3”, 268-pound Sheard was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He has spent time with the Browns (2011-2014), New England Patriots (2015-2016), Indianapolis Colts (2017-2019), and Jaguars (2020). Sheard has played in 144 regular-season games with 106 starts. While not a dynamic performer, Sheard is a steady, veteran presence who is solid against the run and will occasionally make some noise as a pass rusher.

The Giants selected Carter Coughlin in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He played in 14 games as a rookie with two starts (18 percent of all defensive snaps). Coughlin finished the season with 17 tackles, two tackles for losses, one sack, and two quarterback hits. The 6’3”, 236-pound Coughlin is not a top athlete, but he is a tough, competitive, and reliable linebacker who plays hard.

The Giants selected Cam Brown in the 6th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He played in 15 games as a rookie with no starts (8 percent of all defensive snaps). Brown finished the year with 12 tackles, three quarterback hits, and one forced fumble. The 6’5”, 233-pound Brown is a tall and lanky outside backer with long arms and decent speed. His size and solid athletic ability assist him coverage but he needs to improve his run defense at the point-of-attack and overall tackling consistency.

The Giants signed Niko Lalos as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. Lalos spent most of the season on the Practice Squad but was elevated to the 53-man roster in December. He played in six games with no starts as a rookie (7 percent of all defensive snaps). Lalos finished the season with six tackles, one interception, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery. The 6’5”, 270-pound Lalos played defensive end in college but was moved to the outside linebacker position by the Giants. He has good size for the position, but is not a dynamic athlete. Over-achiever who plays hard.

The Giants signed Trent Harris to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in October 2020; he was re-signed to the Practice Squad in December after playing in four games with two starts (6 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished they year with five tackles and 0.5 sacks. The 6’2”, 255-pound Harris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on the Practice Squad of the Patriots. The Miami Dolphins claimed Harris off of waivers in September 2019. He played in 11 games with three starts with the Dolphins, accruing 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The Dolphins cut him in early September 2020.

Jan 072021
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

JOHN MARA ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara addressed the media on Wednesday (video):

Opening Statement: Good morning everybody. Let me just start out by saying how proud I am of our staff, our entire organization and particularly our players for the way they handled this past season. The effort and patience and discipline and sacrifice that everybody went through, not seeing their families and all of the protocols that kept changing seemingly on a weekly basis. We were able to get through and play the whole season with relatively few bumps in the road, and that was no small feat.

In terms of the season itself, looking back a year ago, I can tell you that we’re very pleased with the selection that we made at head coach. I thought Joe (Judge) did a very good job considering what he had to deal with. When you think about it, here you have a brand new head coach at 38 years of age and look what he was asked to deal with: a pandemic, no offseason program, no minicamps, no preseason games, virtual meetings, protocols that kept changing, and he loses his best player in Week 2. I thought he showed great leadership and great adaptability. Nothing seemed to faze him during the year. If something had to change, he just made the change and went from there. I thought he showed real leadership, grit and determination the entire time. I thought he represented our franchise very well, the way I want our head coach to represent our franchise. I thought he established a great foundation and a great culture here. I know that culture word is overused, but I think it’s so important and I think we have the beginnings of a very good culture here. I also thought that he and Dave (Gettleman) worked very well together. All of our personnel decisions I thought improved significantly this year. They were able to agree on basically every decision that we made. I thought our draft was solid, our free agency moves were solid, and I think we have the foundation for something that could be very successful going forward.

Obviously, I’m not pleased with the number of games we won. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t do better than 6-10. But I do see progress in the building here. I think that the quality of people that we have in the locker room has improved a great deal. I think we have some great leaders down there. I think we’ve established a basis for a foundation that can have continued success going forward. I’m excited about the future of this team. I think the fact that we went 5-3 over the second half of the season gives me some reason for encouragement. I’m obviously disappointed we didn’t make the playoffs. We had every opportunity to do that only needing one more game, and we didn’t get that done. But I think what I wanted to see this year was some progress and some reason for some optimism going forward, and I did see that and that’s what I’m optimistic about what we can do in the future. With that, I’m happy to take whatever questions you have.

Q: Back in September, you didn’t want to put a win total on this season. You cited a vision that you wanted to create with Joe and obviously what you just said in your opening statement. I’m curious how much of it is a leap of faith compared to what you’ve done in the last couple of years following losing seasons? How much is it tangible? Is there tangible evidence that you’ve seen beyond the record that you could describe as to why you’re as confident in this season, maybe more so than you were in the last couple years?

A: I think it’s both of that. I think there’s always a certain leap of faith when you’re coming off a season when you only won six games. But just the quality of the players that we have in the locker room, the fact that they all seemed to buy in to Joe’s philosophy and Joe’s message. The effort was really good all year long, the discipline was really good all year long. I just think there’s a different feeling in the building now then there has been in a number of years, and I think that’s why I’m optimistic going forward.

Q: You didn’t actually come out and make an announcement today that Dave Gettleman is coming back as general manager. Is that because that was not a decision that you made, it was just something that was naturally happening? Why is Dave coming back for another year as general manager?

A: He is coming back if you want a formal announcement about that. I don’t think there was any particular reason why we didn’t make any formal announcement. I think the way Dave and Joe worked together, I thought our personnel decisions were really sound this year. I feel better about our roster than I have in years, and I think the two of them working together have started the building process with something that can have sustained success going forward. I just didn’t think that making a change at this point in time was something that was going to be beneficial. I said they worked really well together, and I’m really pleased with the players that they brought in here. I think that gives us a chance going forward.

Q: Is there any change to the structure at all? Or this is the same structure that it’s always been? There was some speculation of Joe’s going to have a lot more power now or something.

A: It’s the same structure it’s always been. The general manager and head coach collaborate on personnel decisions. What I’ve been really pleased about is, now they haven’t agreed 100 percent of the time. My father used to have a saying, ‘if you both agree all the time, then I don’t need both of you.’ I haven’t had to intercede on one occasion to break any ties. They managed to talk it through and work it out, showed good communication and at the end of the day, the decision that gets made is the New York Giants’ decision. It’s not Joe’s decision or Dave’s decision. They collaborate really well together, and that’s one of the reasons why, again, I’m optimistic about our future.

Q: I know you’re happy here with the progress and optimistic about the future, but my question is how long do the fans need to wait for a winning team to emerge?

A: Hopefully not too much longer because I can’t wait too much longer quite frankly. I’m tired of sitting up here at the end of the year trying to explain what went wrong and why I feel optimistic about the future. I want to do it after a winning season. I do believe that we have the right people in the building, we have a much better locker room than we’ve ever had before, and I think there’s reason for optimism. I feel good about the way the personnel decisions were made this year. We have some opportunities now in the draft and in free agency to improve the roster even further. I think if our fans continue to stay patient with us, that they will see a winning team pretty soon.

Q: I have two questions related to the NFC East. The first is did you reach out to Eagles ownership at all, either before Joe said what he said or after about how they handled their last game? The second one is in evaluating your season, did you have to take into account the reason you were playing meaningful games in December was the rest of the division struggled so much? You guys would have been four games out of first in any other division.

A: The answer to your first question is no, I did not reach out to the Eagles organization either before or after. The reason we didn’t make the playoffs is we didn’t win enough games. We had to win one more game to get into the playoffs. That’s on us. We can’t blame that on anybody else. I’m very conscious of where the division was this year, what the final record was. But I think you’ll see a much stronger division next year. Listen, we didn’t win enough games, but I do feel like we’re making progress. Some people may dispute that, and time will tell if I’m right or not. But I believe very strongly we did make enough progress to warrant staying the course with the people we have in the building.

Q: I have two questions also. The first is what was the season like for you watching games in empty stadiums and in your empty stadium?

A: It was a very strange feeling, and not a good one and not one I hope to repeat. Just coming into our stadium and not feeling any energy from the crowd I think was pretty difficult. Hopefully that’s not going to be the case next year. It was an eerie feeling each week walking into, really every stadium you’d walk into, even those that had limited capacity. It just didn’t feel the same. It’s just not the same having your fans there to support you. I think the players feed off that energy, and not having that I think hurt us this year.

Q: My second question is Joe has obviously expressed his conviction about Daniel (Jones) as the quarterback moving forward. Do you share that and why?

A: I do share that. I think Daniel before he got hurt was playing really well during that winning streak that we had. Then he got hurt, I think it was in Cincinnati, and then he wasn’t quite the same for the next few weeks. I thought he played very well this past Sunday, and also played well in the Baltimore game. Our coaches, all of them, are very high on Daniel, and I feel the same way. I think he has what it takes to lead us to where we want to go.

Q: I just wanted to circle back to the decision with Dave real quick. I understand you say you’re seeing progress with him and Joe, but what do you say to fans who say in his third year, you guys won six games, then in three years, you won 15 and they just feel that’s not enough progress?

A: I can understand that and there’s no defending the record. There’s no defending that at all. We haven’t won enough games. But listen, we made some miscalculations in 2018 with some of our personnel decisions. But I think the last two years, particularly this past year, we’ve seen significant improvement. I just felt like to break that up now and bring in somebody new from the outside was not going to be beneficial for us. I think Dave and Joe work very well together. Our personnel decisions I think were very sound, and I have every reason to think that will be the case going forward.

Q: You mentioned 2018, this notion has kind of been out there that there was a mandate from ownership that you had to make one more run with Eli (Manning). Is that true?

A: That’s absolute nonsense. We have never made any such orders or directions whatnot. I want the general manager and the coach to agree on the roster and the players that should be on the roster. I’ll give my opinion, but I want them to have a conviction about it going forward. Listen, we definitely made some miscalculations in a number of areas in 2018. But it was never any direction from ownership one way or another.

Q: Is there any kind of contract extension going on with Dave, or are you leaving his contract situation as is?

A: I don’t comment on people’s contracts and how much longer they have or anything. I’m not going to start by doing that now.

Q: If you consider this year progress, then what is your barometer for progress for Dave as general manager and for your team in 2021?

A: Well, I’d like to see our team win more games. I’d like to see us get back into the playoffs, but I’m not ever going to set a minimum number of games that we have to win or make any kind of determination like that. Again, I want to feel at the end of next year that we’ve taken a significant step forward. It’s not another six-win season or something like that. We need to win more games. But I’m not going to give you a required minimum.

Q: How did you weigh or count the facts that mistakes that Dave has made as GM, including DeAndre Baker, Golden Tate, I’m not going to list all of them, but do you connect those mistakes with your 6-10 record this year from the previous two years? Why do you not think that’s an indictment of the general manager?

A: You used the word indictment. We made some miscalculations in 2018, and I think we, to a certain extent, paid for that this year by not having some of those players available. No question about it. I thought in 2019, things got a little bit better. Certainly, this past offseason, I thought the personnel decisions that we made, both in the draft and in free agency, were significantly better. I like the combination that we have here right now. I didn’t see any reason to break that up.

Q: How much did you even contemplate making a change at general manager?

A: I really didn’t contemplate that. Listen, when you go through a season, any season, your feelings change from week to week depending on how you’re doing. I certainly didn’t feel very good midway through the season when we were sitting there at 1-7. I kept thinking that I’m seeing a team that’s practicing hard, I’m seeing a good attitude out there, nobody’s quitting, but where are the results? Where are the results? Then we started to win a little bit in the second half of the season and things started to look a little bit better. I just like the feeling we have in the locker room. I went to more team meetings than I ever had in the past. Players are so attentive and so tuned in to the message that’s coming from the head coach. It just seemed like we were on the right track. Now we just have to win some games to prove that we’re on the right track. We did a little bit better in the second half of the season. Then Daniel gets hurt, and I think that certainly hurt us a little bit. I think the fact that we did go 5-3 in the second half of the season gave me some reason for some optimism about what we have in the locker room. Obviously, we need to do better going forward.

Q: How much did you factor in, you obviously would have probably felt differently I would assume if you were in another division. I think every other division winner won 11 games. Obviously, you were in the division race until the final week. How much did that kind of factor into your overall feeling for the team?

A: It really didn’t. We were 6-10, we didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs at 6-10. We would have taken it, but we didn’t deserve to be there. I think the fact that we started to win some games in the second half of the season, and some of the younger guys that we brought in here were starting to play and show some talent. It was really the overall feeling that we’re making progress as opposed to whether we were playing meaningful games or not. We were playing meaningful games because our division is what it is. But I think it was more of a factor our younger players and some of our new players we brought in here were showing why we either took them in free agency or picked them in the draft. I think our talent level finally started to show itself a little bit. Now we’re far from a finished product. There are a lot more pieces that we need here. But I think we’re in much better shape now than we were a year ago.

Q: Just to keep on the topic of Dave, a year ago when you said his batting average had to improve, it was viewed as if it didn’t, you would consider a change. I know you just said you want to see another significant step forward. Is Dave’s status still essentially year to year, or have you seen enough now where you’re thinking more long-term with him?

A: Everything in this business is year to year. I’m not going to speculate on that. I think his batting average certainly improved this year. Our personnel decisions I thought were very sound this year and gives us some reason for optimism going forward. I’m not going to get into contractual situations with either staff people or players at this point.

Q: Given his age and obviously retirement is coming at some point with him, is there any internal succession plan under consideration or is that something you just put off until he actually does retire?

A: Listen, you’re always thinking about things like that. But there’s nothing that I’d want to comment on publicly at this point.

Q: Obviously, the defense had a pretty good season. But the offense finished 31st in scoring, 31st in yardage. I think it was the highest scoring year in NFL history. How do you feel about where the team is at in terms of that, being kind of behind the curve when it comes to being able to compete with teams?

A: I think we certainly need to help our offense a little bit this offseason, be it free agency and the draft. 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.

Q: You asked fans to be patient again after missing the playoffs three years in a row under Dave Gettleman. It seems like even dating back to 2018, some of those decisions were short-sided decisions, and some of the decisions that were made in the draft, you only have three players left each in 2019. How do you ask fans to be patient when (audio cut out)?

A: (Jokingly) The sound went out about halfway through that question and I had nothing to do with that. I’ll try to answer. The first part of the question was how do I ask fans to be patient. I feel like that’s the only thing I can ask them to do right now. I feel like we’re making progress. I think that given the fan mail that I’ve received, which tends to peak during the losing streak and then after we win a couple of games, it tends to die down. I think most of our fans believe we’re making progress. There are always going to be fans that are going to be critical, and rightfully so. I do believe we’re making progress. I am going to ask them to be patient again. I know it’s a tough ask, I know they’re tired of me saying that. But I am sincere in the belief that we are making progress here.

Q: What was it like for you to watch your team play 14 full games without Saquon (Barkley)? How do you look at decisions that are going to have to be made in the relative near future, not immediately perhaps but in the relative near future, about his tenure with the organization?

A: It was brutal to watch him go down in Week 2. He’s such an important part of this team, not only for what he does on the field but the leadership and all of the intangibles he brings to us off the field. That was really a gut-punch. Listen, I’m still happy that we have him. I think knowing him, he’s going to come back stronger than ever and be a big part of this team next year. In terms of what the time table is, it’s hard to predict that right now. I know our medical people are very pleased with the progress he’s made. I certainly expect him to be a Giant for a very long time.

Q: This year with no fans and everything, how much of a hit did the Giants take as an organization, and how much did the league take?

A: Well, it was a huge financial hit for us this year, no question about it. We did suffer some pretty significant financial losses, but it’s not going to affect our ability to be active in free agency or to do what we have to do to improve the team. Hopefully this is a one year thing and we’ll be able to have fans back in the building next season. I don’t think there’s any guarantee about that, but we’re optimistic that particularly as these vaccines get rolled out, people will start to feel comfortable about coming back into the building again. That would be a big boost to our players, I know that, being able to play in front of fans again.

Q: Is there any way you have to reach out to get more money, or is that not a problem at this point?

A: We’ll be ok. We’re not ready to put a padlock on the door just yet. I think we’ll survive just fine. It’s been a tough year from that point of view. But listen, there are people all over this country that are suffering. I’m not out here complaining or anything. We’ll be fine as an organization going forward.

DAVE GETTLEMAN ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman addressed the media on Wednesday (video):

Opening Statement: Good morning everybody. I hope everyone’s holiday season was joyful and that your families are all safe and healthy. I want to take this time to thank all the people who made the 2020 NFL season happen. There’s so many people behind the scenes whose tireless efforts, the players, the coaches, football ops folks, enabling us to get this done. First, I want to thank ownership for allowing us to do what was financially necessary to allow us to operate as close to the norm as possible. Given a new head coach and some of the situations that other people had. We were able to go over to MetLife (Stadium) and have as normal a training camp as we could. I can’t thank ownership enough for that. Specifically, in our building, I want to thank Christine Procops, Bill Heller, Justin Warren, Victor McLoughlin, Jerry Meade, Kevin Abrams and of course Ronnie Barnes. Their efforts enabled our season to happen as close to normal, whatever that is now, as possible. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. Our football team made quality strides from beginning to end. We certainly have areas to improve upon. Joe (Judge) and his staff had a very productive year. Now as we enter our roster building season, we have full realization there is more work to do.

Q: We just got off with John (Mara) obviously and he kind of echoed some of your sentiments, but also pointed to 2018 which was obviously your first year as General Manager. He said as an organization you guys have acknowledged some miscalculations that you guys made. Have those miscalculations set you up for success now because of what you learned from what you did back then? Do you feel confident that the lessons learned in the last couple years have put you guys in a position to succeed?

A: I’ll tell you this, we’re always learning. The short answer to your question is yes. You’re always going to learn. I go over every final decision we make. I review it in my head over and over again, good or bad, oh by the way. I review it over and over again because you certainly don’t want to repeat mistakes. You do that and you have to be honest with yourself. You have to debrief, and you have to be brutally honest with yourself. As I’ve already admitted, ‘18 was not a stellar year, personnel-wise. We’ve learned from our mistakes. Our processes are better. I think this past year showed the fruits of that, both in free agency and in the draft. I really believe strongly we’ll continue in that way.

Q: Can you be specific about the things you saw in Joe Judge this year? What was your reaction to his reaction to what went down in Philly on the last night of the year?

A: The bottom line is, with Joe, is his big picture view and then the follow up on the attention to detail. 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. As far as what he said the other day, he said what he said. At the end of the day, it is what it is. Obviously, it’s about playing 60 minutes. It’s about giving the fans their money’s worth. It’s really how you live your life. He said what he said and it’s time to move on.

Q: What does Dave Gettleman – almost 70 – how long do you want to stick around for?

A: 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.

Q: Do you feel like you have the ability to keep your defensive line intact or will you have to make a decision on one or the other there?

A: The toughest thing for us right now frankly is we don’t know what the cap number is going to look like. That’s a problem. We’re not going to know for a while. That’s going to dictate obviously how you operate. We’ve got cap space, we’ve got room. You never have as much room as you want to have. We’ve got cap space, we’ve got room to do the things we feel like we need to do initially. A lot of it is going to be about the drop it’s going to take. How far of a plunge is it going to take? We don’t know. They’re talking 175, who knows. We’ll plan and then once we know the number, we’ll get moving.

Q: Your team had one win against a team with a winning record this year and was outscored 73-26 during a three-game losing streak in December. I guess for fans who aren’t seeing what you call quality strides, where would you say the quality strides are?

A: Well I think first of all the culture piece. I know it’s talked about but it’s important. You have to learn how to win, you have to know how to win and we’ve made progress there. The locker room is terrific. 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.

Q: I was going to ask you about the playmakers but you kind of addressed that a little bit. Let me you ask about Daniel (Jones). Where do you see him two years into his tenure as Giants quarterback?

A: Obviously, he flashed last year. 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. 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. Really and truly, it may sound trite, but obviously the last game of the year was a playoff game for us. It really was. 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.

Q: You mentioned you feel good and you want to continue but I have to ask you about the conditions that the pandemic brought on. Obviously, your job changed or how you did the job I should say. I’m wondering how did that affect your energy and have you thought about that moving forward?

A: For everybody, I don’t care if you’re a football GM or you’re a carpenter or whatever. This pandemic is a load. It is a flat load. It makes everything an event. You have to consider everything. You have to consider going to the grocery store. You have to consider just everything, absolutely everything. Everything is an event. It takes energy from everybody. It took energy from you guys. There were days you’re looking at four walls. You can’t come to practice, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. It puts a mental load on you. 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.

Q: Two-part question, number one, thanks for doing this. When you mentioned Daniel a few minutes ago, the idea of three offensive coordinators in three years and the potential teams asking to talk to Jason (Garrett) that you might have to go to a fourth, how does that affect the evaluation process? Also, with hindsight being 20/20, when you look back at how the injury was handled, would things have been better served if you had held back another week and maybe not played him against Arizona?

A: You can always look at everything – in hindsight, you can reevaluate everything and take a look at it. We felt good about it. We felt that he could protect himself and that he could do the things he needed to do and that’s why he played against Arizona. I really understand what you’re saying, but we felt strong. Obviously, we had the conversation with Ronnie (Barnes) and his staff and we felt good about it. During that week of practice, he moved around pretty darn good. Being as it may, we’re fine with that decision. He didn’t do any more damage. It is what it is. As far as the potential of Jason leaving, of course it makes you a little antsy. Just imagine, anybody, any of you guys, having your fourth editor in four years. It’s the same thing. It’s no different. We’ll adjust and adapt and do what we have to do and obviously anything we do moving forward, Daniel is a big part of it. We’re certainly conscious of that piece, to answer your question.

Q: I know you’re a trenches guy and the game is won upfront and you like defense, but the team just didn’t score enough points. It’s obvious. 20, 17 points a game just can’t win in the NFL. What do you say to address that? How much of it is you having to study everything that happens on offense. I know there was no Saquon (Barkley), the offensive line and everything, do you look at everything and say we need to find better players to score more points coming up?

A: You can never have too many good players. Bottom line. That’s a stock answer that every GM is going to tell you. At the end of the day, we need to find playmakers. That’s all there is to it. I’m not sugar coating it. If you talk about philosophically doing roster building, it’s the Q (quarterback), it’s the big men allow you to compete. On offense, it’s play makers. We have to be very conscious of it. We’re going to find the right guys to help Daniel get us over that hump.

Q: I have a big picture question for you. Obviously, there is a lot of talk of progress today, but how disappointing is it for you that after year three, you guys haven’t topped six wins and you only needed to get seven to make playoffs this year?

A: Of course, it’s disappointing. 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.

Q: You’re going to enjoy this question because it’s worded a lot differently than it would have been last year. Leonard Williams, the season he had – do you almost wish you had gotten something done with him last year rather than giving him the franchise tag because it certainly seems like the price went up this year?

A: It doesn’t make a difference – you’re killing me either way. At the end of the day, I’m not going to discuss contracts, negotiations, did we do anything last year or did we not? No, the bottom line is we are where we are. Leonard deserves a lot of credit for how he prepared this year. Sean Spencer working with him as the D-line coach, the scheme that Pat (Graham) had for him, you know? As I said to you guys, before, he was a – I don’t even remember when he was taken, he was a top five pick – number two or four or something like that. There was a reason that happened, you know what I’m saying? 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’.

Q: I know you just said that, ‘We’re going to fix this,’ but fans are saying in three years, we’re at 15 wins. How much does it have to be now? At what point do the wins have to come?

A: Obviously, they have to come soon. The idea is to win. Like I said, a lot of things have happened. We’re definitely on the right track. I’d like to believe finishing – starting at the 1-7- we finished 6-10. We finished 5-3 over the last eight games. There are a lot arrows pointing up for us. We’ll have a good season, a good roster building season right now and we’ll feel a lot better. We’re getting there.

Q: Your top priority when you came, well at least one of them, was to rebuild the offensive line. I’m curious after three years, where are you in your estimation with that rebuild of the offensive line?

A: We’ve got some really nice, young pieces. 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.

Q: You know a thing or two about evaluating talent. How would you evaluate the job you did this year as GM?

A: I don’t want to evaluate myself. We made some really solid progress. I know everyone is tired of hearing it. Joe and I worked together very well and it was thrill. It was fun. He’s collaborative, communicative, we’re on the same page. As John said, we don’t agree on everything, but if we’d agree on everything, as John said, he doesn’t need both of us. The bottom line is that we had a good solid year. We hit on free agency. We hit on draft picks as of right now. Again, I always say that you know about a draft three years later. You can really quantify and evaluate on what you’ve done. We had a lot of those young kids step in and help us and show us that they’re legitimate NFL players. They have legitimate NFL talent as long as they continue to blossom and improve and progress. So anyhow, for what that’s worth, what we’ve done here in the three years that we’ve been here, is about sustained success. That’s what it’s about.

Q: You and John had both made several references to 2018 as a mistake. It seems like you’re calling 2019 in the draft and free agency a success. I was wondering if you actually feel that way? What do you think in 2019 were the team moves that set you up so well for this year?

A: You have the quarterback. You have Dexter Lawrence. There’s a start. Obviously, we had no clue that Deandre (Baker) could get in that kind of issue. It’s just a constant build and a constant blend and we feel like the last three years have been solid personnel-wise.

Q: Do you look at the last couple drafts at quarterback for example, there are guys like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert who look excellent and score a lot of points. Then this year, at offensive tackle, Andrew had a rough patch, whereas, some people would say some of the other guys played a little bit better. I was wondering if you look at not taking several players at those two positions and looking at what you have. Do you reconsider whether you made the right choice?

A: You guys are going to call me doubling down, I’m very happy with what we’ve done with Daniel and Andrew Thomas. I’m not even going to blink.

Q: You mentioned off the top, a lot of people top be thankful for that you guys have reached this point in the season because there was a lot of uncontrollable factors. Did you scale back any of the expectations this year because a pandemic was happening? This was the first year of no preseason game etc.

A: No, not really. This was a crazy year obviously. Like I said at the top, ownership financially supported us. We were one of the few teams in the league that was able to work out of a stadium and be socially distanced properly, have the locker room space, everything that we did over there. It allowed us to have as close to a normal preseason as you could have. Not having the preseason games obviously hurt, it hurt everybody. Our situation wasn’t any different than anybody else. Nobody had preseason. When you have a really young team, that creates issues when you’re trying to figure out what you have. Not having the preseason games was difficult. At that point in time, everybody is trying to negotiate the protocols. Things were changing constantly. I just thought ownership gave us the ability to do some things and it was really important that we do that for Joe and the staff. We came back from Indianapolis last year, the first week in March. Ronnie Barnes came to me three times and said, ‘Dave this is going to be really bad, really bad’. By then it was I believe in Italy, it hit there. Ronnie told me, Ronnie said, ‘Dave this is going to be bad’. I walked down the hall to (Director of College Scouting) Chris Pettit and I said, ‘Chris get ready for us to draft remotely. Get ready for our meetings’. I walked down to Joe and I said, ‘Joe you’re not going to see your players until August, I’m telling you. That’s what we have to plan for’. Thank God for Ronnie for having that foresight. I felt like we were ahead of the curve with a lot of the things we did in terms of how we were set up for training camp and how we were set up when got back here. That’s where Victor McLoughlin, our buildings guy, and Justin Warren, our IT guy, just did an unbelievable job. Getting us set up to be able to do things remotely and be spaced out and all the other stuff. We actually had setups for all the coaches that we installed in their homes so if something happened, they could work remotely. That paid off for us. There’s a lot of things that people behind the scenes warned us about and we heeded their warnings and it enabled us to do what we did. No, we didn’t scale back any expectations.

Q: You talked about how the salary cap may hit one of those air pockets. I’m just wondering how creative will you have to be in maybe reworking contracts? Making do with what you have, and have you talked to guys like Nate Solder and things like that and figure out what’s his status going to be next year?

A: We haven’t started that. I haven’t had that conversation with Nate. The season just ended Sunday here and it’s Wednesday. The bottom line is until we have a good idea of what the number is, what the number is going to be, we’ll plan as best we can. Obviously, we know who our UFA’s (unrestricted free agents) are. We’ll get moving and we’re going to have to make some decisions on a number of players. That piece is going to be interesting to work with and work through. We’re going to make the best decisions we can for the New York Football Giants and for our fans.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

  • LT Andrew Thomas (Video)
  • LB Blake Martinez (Video)
  • CB James Bradberry (Video)
  • CB/S Julian Love (Video)
  • S Xavier McKinney (Video)
Dec 282020
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (December 27, 2020)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 28, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 27-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: I’ll start where I think everyone wants to start, which is the playoffs. Did you watch those two games yesterday? Obviously, you got the help you needed. With no fear of looking ahead, there’s nothing after Week 17, will you change the approach about discussing the playoffs with your team this week?

A: No. I actually met with the team last night when we got back to make sure we were set on what the plan for the week was. Our focus still needs to remain on the Cowboys. That’s the priority this week. We remain focused on improving as a team. We have a division rival coming up ahead, it’s a big game for us. Obviously, there are implications. As I’ve said all along, those games right now don’t exist. Until I can talk about any kind of opponent coming up beyond who we’re playing, there’s not a conversation to be had. Our focus remains on the Cowboys.

Q: I’ve been doing some studying of the numbers, it looks like in your last three games, when you come out in the second half, the scores have been a little bit closer, perhaps indicating a quicker start. I’m just wondering what’s been the difference with getting started up a little quicker in the second half versus getting started in the first half?

A: I think our coaches have made good adjustments at halftime. We’ve come out, obviously, schematically, to change a few things and use our personnel just a little bit differently. Nothing drastic, but just something to go ahead and change up something that may have been an issue in the first half. Again, we have to be able to adjust on the fly. That’s within the game. We can’t wait until halftime to make adjustments. But that’s an opportunity to get the entire unit together to discuss some schematic things or maybe how we treat a person on the other side. On both sides of the ball, including the kicking game as well, we try to use halftime as effectively as we can.

Q: I don’t believe Will Hernandez had ever missed a snap in his career until he went on the COVID list. Now his playing time has really reduced. I’m just curious what’s gone into that? Why is he playing so much less now?

A: We’re continuing to roll our linemen throughout the game. There hasn’t been a designated snap count on any player going in. Look, I’ve let Guge (Dave DeGuglielmo) have some autonomy in terms of as the game gets going, the flow goes, to put in what we think is best for the schemes that we’re running. We check in and we talk continuously throughout the week. The plan is to play all of our guys at the game. It’s always been our plan and to use guys continuously. You saw Matt (Peart) play as well last night. We’ll continue to use Will, and we’ll rotate all three guards going forward.

Q: You say you don’t have starters, but Shane (Lemieux) is playing significantly more snaps. That can’t happen by accident. He plays usually the first two series, then Will comes in. Did Will lose his job by going on the COVID list? He wasn’t rotating, he was a starter and he played every snap.

A: Look, we base everything here on production, so in terms of who’s playing on what snaps, we may have different guys in different schemes. There are different times we want to use different guys throughout the game. We put priority on keeping all of our guys fresh, and we’re looking to really develop as many guys as we can. I’d say all three guards, Kevin (Zeitler), Shane and Will, have played well at times. There have been things we want to improve on with our entire unit going across the board. But we’re going to continue to rotate those guys going forward.

Q: Didn’t get a chance to ask you yesterday about Evan (Engram). He got banged up at the end of the game. Just curious what his status is, how he was feeling today? I know you probably won’t get a true sense until Wednesday, but to add some insight as to what went on there.

A: I’ll tell you what, he’s actually going to meet with the doctors a little bit later tonight. He’s already seen our training staff and met with the doctors after the game. That’s all kind of standard procedure. Look, we’re optimistic about where he’s going to be. That being said, this will definitely be a deal where we have to see how he moves around on Wednesday in practice. From the feedback we got from the doctors, for them, it’s a lot of wait and see and watch to see how he responds. But we are optimistic. I have not spoken directly to Evan today myself. I checked in with him yesterday after the game, obviously, and talked with him a little bit when we got back, but nothing extensively.

Q: Just one on Daniel (Jones). Did he come out physically well enough to the point where today you don’t feel like there’s anything new that you have to deal with this week?

A: No, I think this is the first week in a while as far as Daniel goes where we can just turn around and say, ‘hey, we’re going to let him go out there and let him play.’ Obviously, we had to see him move around a little bit throughout the week coming up to it. The one good thing about Daniel is our training staff and him have done a really good job of working together and prepping him for game action. We’ve seen continued improvement health wise with him. He hasn’t come out of any game he’s played in worse off than when he was beforehand. I’d say the ankle is getting better. I don’t think it’s anything he really talks about or you see hindering his performance out there, and the hamstring has continued to heal as well. Physically, he’s definitely moving in the right direction.

Q: This is a little bit looking back a bit. I know you don’t like to look forward too much or back too much, but this team suffered a significant injury with Saquon Barkley. How do you think, looking forward, of the way this offense has played, you have been able to make up for that with such a key player being gone?

A: I think with any person you have available, you have to use it to their strengths. We want to have all of our players out there, it’s no secret. I would have loved to have been able to coach Saquon for 16 or 16-plus games this year. Absolutely. He’s a fun guy to coach, he works really, really hard, he’s doing everything he can right now to get better and progress. I don’t think it’s really fair to turn around and say what our offense would or would not have looked like with him in there. I think some of our scheme would have probably evolved into what it’s doing right now anyway based on how the offensive line plays and what their strengths are as a unit. But there may have been some different wrinkles we could throw in. That being said, all of the backs we’ve used this year have done a good job adjusting their games as well. These are different schemes than they’ve run in the past. Wayne’s (Gallman) done a nice job, Alfred (Morris), Devonta (Freeman), Dion (Lewis), all these guys are running really hard for us right now. We try to use them all similar enough that every time they’re in, it’s not a red flag of what’s going to happen in the game. At the same time, they all have a little bit of difference to them. Look, Saquon is his own player as well. We definitely would have had some things dialed up for his skillset, like we do for Wayne, Alfred, Devonta and Dion as well. It’s not really fair to turn around and tell the entire offense what it may or may not have looked like. I don’t think that’s really fair to anybody. But obviously, he’s a weapon you want to have out there. I will say this, what you don’t see really behind the scenes is how he’s working right now. This guy is in here every day. He’s very active in the training room, in the weight room, getting better. You see this guy around the locker room as much as he can in terms of really encouraging his teammates, staying involved, staying engaged. Look, this guy was elected a captain by his teammates for a reason. The leadership off the field has definitely come through since he’s been hurt and been away from the team on the field.

Q: How connected were you on the way home last night with what was going on with the rest of the division and those games that ultimately kept you alive in this race for the division title?

A: Being on the train, actually, we had the game streaming in the background. I sat, we had kind of a little conference room in the front car that I was in. Me and Pat Graham sat in there. We went through the defensive tape together and watched like we do, we did the same thing coming back from Washington and talked some ball. We were kind of checking scores throughout the league with a lot of games going. That’s kind of normal custom right there. Everyone’s kind of checking scores around the league. Last night was no different. Obviously, there were some division games going on that we were conscious of. We checked those, we streamed those and watched the end of those games.

Q: What was the reaction of the team when the results of those games came in in your favor?

A: To be honest with you, I was actually separate from the rest of the players. They had us very spaced out in the cars. The front car was kind of more coaches than it was players. I saw the players on the backend when we got back to the facility. I called a quick meeting in the bubble just to address how we’re going to handle the week going forward and kind of clear up any questions that may have come up. To be honest with you, look, the questions about the playoffs, these are things the players obviously have as well. We’re going to keep our focus on Dallas. We’re not getting focused on the playoffs. I truly believe what I said earlier, this is a hypothetical game. The only thing we can control is what we do against Dallas. At the same time, there’s a human nature that they’re very conscious of what’s going on around the league. It would be naïve or ignorant to pretend that they’re not paying attention as well. When we got back, I grabbed the team and just kind of let them know what the situation is, but really, reaffirm the importance of staying focused on Dallas. That’s all we can control.

Q: Coming off this game, obviously, the Ravens blitz a ton and they’re a tough defense. But what are your coaching points to clean up how the offensive line handled or did not handle some of the pressures they threw at you guys? Kind of connected to that, how much patience do you have when your two most veteran offensive linemen false start back to back on the first drive and really set you guys back?

A: We’re not going to accept any penalties from any player at any time. We have to coach that better, we have to make sure that we drill every technique at practice and every situation the right way, and we have to execute when we get on the field. That’s just our responsibility as coaches and players. That being said, in terms of the offensive line, look, there were a lot of positives. Obviously, it wasn’t perfect. We have to clean up a lot of things, and there’s going to be a lot of things that we’ll tie over and apply to the Dallas game this week. We saw a lot of moving schemes yesterday. We’re going to see movement against Dallas. There were some blitz packages yesterday, we’re going to see probably some copycat and similar things against Dallas. The tape is relevant in terms of what Dallas might copycat and what we have to prepare for. I’d say the situation we have to keep ourselves out of is when you get behind and you’re in that pass-only mentality, well, now the defense can pin their ears back and really get you. If you kind of look at our past few games, when the issues have come up, it’s really been in those situations. That’s against Arizona, Cleveland and then again yesterday. When you get into that pass heavy zone where you’re behind, that’s when the defense can finally pin their ears back. But when you can stay balanced early on, whether it’s run or pass, is it a draw screen situation, what may come up, that keeps the defense a little bit more honest. That’s when our offensive line has really played its best. When you’re getting blitz zero three out of four plays, eventually, someone’s going to come free.

We have to make sure we avoid the hits on the quarterback. But there are times you’re protecting with just five and they’re bringing six or seven, and Daniel did a very good job yesterday of really controlling it and operating it and getting the ball out. You look at yesterday, there are a lot of situations where Daniel knew there were going to be free runners. You just know it by scheme. That’s part of how you design getting the ball out. We had some hot reads, some sight adjustments, and just some plays schemed for a quick gain. I really like the way Daniel handled it yesterday. You kind of talk about what level of improvement have we seen throughout the year, I think there are a lot of things that show up on the tape yesterday with number eight. You watch him from the start of the year to through yesterday and how he handled a lot of the situations with the pressure, the ball security and the decision-making. He did a lot of things that demonstrate a lot of growth. There are a lot of things you guys ask me all the time. What are you really looking at with this team as you go forward?

Well, I’ll start with a key piece right there with Daniel. You always want to know about is Daniel our guy? Are we going forward with Daniel? The answer is absolutely. What gives us that confidence is even in games like yesterday where it didn’t come out perfectly, you can turn the tape on and you can say, ‘hey listen, in games one through whatever, that wasn’t the guy we were looking at.’ You watch the tape yesterday and you see that guy in there operating, executing, understanding the pressure and not just standing in there with courage like he’s done all along and taken a hit but understanding how to take the hit and deliver an accurate pass and move the sticks down the field. These are things that as he grows in this league and develops in his craft, he’s going to be able to do. As we get going and we build more into this scheme, he’ll be able to handle it different ways as well and take some hits off himself. You see a lot of growth in these guys. I thought Daniel yesterday played well. There are some plays I’m sure he’d like to have back, some plays we’d like to do differently. That’s natural in any game. We’re going to coach it to eliminate those plays on the front end. But at the same time, there was a lot of growth that I saw with Daniel that’s really showed up in terms of how he had to play the game yesterday and what he’s able to do.

Q: I know you really don’t want to talk about the playoffs and stuff, but what do you think about the opportunity that’s been presented to you guys? We know what it is at this point. In most seasons, you’re 5-10, you wouldn’t have this opportunity. But the reality is it’s sitting right there in front of you.

A: Look, I think the goal is always, somebody asked this question I think it was a few weeks ago, about playing relevant games in football. I think you want every game you ever play to be relevant. That being said, this same situation in front of us, the same opportunity that’s in front of us is the same opportunity that was in front of us in Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and so on. We have to make sure we take care of our business every week along the way and improve as a team. At the end of the year, it’s the collective record that matters. Right now, the emphasis has to be on the Cowboys. We have to play our best game. This is a good team. This is a much different football team than we played early in the season. We’re a different team, too. We have to re-learn the Cowboys and really study them and get ahead on it. Our players have to understand the opportunity that’s really sitting in front of us is the opportunity to play a division rival and play the last game of the season with our best football. That’s the opportunity that we have to take advantage of.

Q: Does the collective record really matter though if you win the division at 6-10?

A: To me, everything that’s collective matters. How you improve as a team collectively throughout the year, to me, that’s the ultimate measurement of what you’re trying to do. I’ve never talked about our record as far as being the goal of any situation that I’ve been in as an assistant or now as a head coach. You talk throughout training camp in terms of being the best team you can be. You go out there every day with the mentality of we’re going to do everything we can to improve today individually and then collectively as a team. To me, what I’m looking to see is growth as a team, improved level of football this week on the field, and top execution and coaching on Sunday. That’s really my goal for this week. We have to control that. If we control that, the other stuff will take care of itself.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The team’s assistant coaches will address the media on Tuesday. The players return to practice on Wednesday.

Dec 132020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

ARIZONA CARDINALS 26 – NEW YORK GIANTS 7…
The New York Giants got their collective asses kicked by the Arizona Cardinals 26-7 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants fell to 5-8 on the season.

The statistical domination was total. The Cardinals out-gained the Giants in first downs (22 to 10), total net yards (390 to 159), net yards rushing (159 to 78), net yards passing (231 to 81), and time of possession (37:52 to 22:08). The Giants also lost the turnover battle 3 to nothing.

To say the Giants’ offense struggled would be an understatement. Quarterback Daniel Jones returned to the starting lineup after missing a game due to a hamstring injury, but he clearly was not healthy. Jones only completed 11 of 21 passes for 127 yards. He was sacked six times, losing 52  yards in the process. His back-up, Colt McCoy, was also sacked twice. No-name Cardinals linebacker Hasson Reddick set a single-game franchise record with five sacks and forcing three fumbles.

The tone was set on New York’s first drive. After picking up two first downs and reaching midfield, Jones was sacked by former Giants linebacker Markus Golden on 2nd-and-10. Jones fumbled on the play and Golden recovered the football and returned it 30 yards to the New York 9-yard line. The Giants’ defense did stop the Cardinals on 4th-and-goal. That was the high point of the game for New York.

New York went three-and-out on their second drive, but the Giants’ special teams gave up a 24-yard punt return to the Giants’ 38-yard line. The Cardinals gained 22 yards in six plays to set up a 34-yard field goal. Cardinals 3 – Giants 0.

After two punts by the Giants and one by the Cardinals, Arizona extended their lead to 6-0 after driving 34 yards in 11 plays to up a 34-yard field goal. Matters got quickly worse when running back Dion Lewis fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return. The Cardinals recovered at the New York 21-yard line. Quarterback Kyler Murray threw a 7-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal to give Arizona a 13-0 advantage.

Both teams had two more possessions before intermission, but neither scored. The Cardinals continued to lead 13-0 at halftime.

Arizona received the football to start the 3rd quarter. They immediately drove 77 yards in 11 plays to go up 20-0. The Giants responded with their only scoring drive of the game. After a 39-yard pass from Jones to wide receiver Golden Tate, Lewis scored from one yard out to make it 20-7.

After that, it was all Cardinals. The Giants only gained two first downs for the rest of game, punting three more times and fumbling the ball away again on their last possession. While the Cardinals also punted twice, they added two more field goals to comfortably extend their lead to 26-7. The game was never in doubt.

Video lowlights are available on Giants.com.

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
On Friday, the New York Giants placed cornerback Madre Harper on Injured Reserve with a knee injury. To fill that roster spot, the Giants signed safety Montre Hartage from the Practice Squad.

The Giants signed Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Las Vegas Raiders in late September 2020. This year, he has played in nine games, mainly on special teams.

After spending time with the Giants in training camp, the Giants re-signed Hartage to the Practice Squad in late October 2020. He was signed to the 53-man roster in November and moved back to the Practice Squad earlier this month. Hartage originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATION, INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
CB Jarren Williams was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were CB Darnay Holmes (knee), WR Dante Pettis, OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, and LB T.J. Brunson.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Dec 102020
 
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Wayne Gallman and Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 27, 2020)

Wayne Gallman and Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 10, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
CB Madre Harper (knee) did not practice on Thursday.

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring), LB Blake Martinez (back), OT Matt Peart (ankle), and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) were limited in practice.

“I think (Jones is) working hard every day to get better,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “He’s doing everything we ask him to do. He did a good job in the walkthrough yesterday. We put him through some basic agility, short space stuff. I would say that he’s throwing the ball well, but there’s a lot of things we still need to see. Throwing the ball in short space and going through a walkthrough are very, very different than going through team periods and being able to see how this guy reacts and moves in the pocket, which is really our biggest concern is how he can protect himself on the field. Today will tell us a lot and tomorrow hopefully we’ll make a final decision.”

TRENT HARRIS RE-SIGNED TO PRACTICE SQUAD…
The New York Giants have re-signed linebacker Trent Harris to the Practice Squad. Harris was cut from the 53-man roster on Tuesday.

The Giants signed Harris to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in October 2020. He played in four games with two starts for the Giants. The 6’2”, 255-pound Harris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on the Practice Squad of the Patriots. The Miami Dolphins claimed Harris off of waivers in September 2019. He played in 11 games with three starts with the Dolphins, accruing 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The Dolphins cut him in early September 2020.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Friday (11:40AM-1:00PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Dec 022020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 2, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday.

“Really, we’re waiting to hear a lot of feedback from the trainers, to be honest with you,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “(Jones) came in today, deep in the playbook and ready to work. We’ll see some stuff with the trainers today. Today is going to be kind of a practice work hybrid structure. Some early practice, individual and group periods. Then we’re going to have kind of a team walk-thru on the back-end today after some conditioning. We’ll kind of see what he’s able to do, and that will really help us plan out more tomorrow and Friday going forward.”

“I’m not sure (if I could play today),” said Jones. “I think, luckily, there’s not a game today and to think of a hypothetical here, I’m sure we all use the week to prepare our bodies to play on Sundays. That’s part of the schedule and the way it works for all of us, so I’m not sure. My goal is to continue to improve throughout the week.”

WR Darius Slayton (shoulder/foot), WR Sterling Shepard (toe/shoulder), LB David Mayo (knee), and S Nate Ebner (knee) were limited in practice.

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
The New York Giants have re-signed safety Montre Hartage and place kicker/punter Ryan Santoso the Practice Squad. Both were waived from the 53-man roster on Tuesday.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday afternoon (12:15-1:45PM). Head Coach Joe Judge, the team’s coordinators, and select players will also address the media.

Nov 182020
 
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Marc Colombo, Dallas Cowboys (November 5, 2018)

Marc Colombo – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS FIRE MARC COLOMBO, HIRE DAVE DeGUGLIELMO AS OL COACH…
In a shocking move, the New York Giants have fired Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo and hired Dave DeGuglielmo to replace him. According to press reports, Head Coach Joe Judge was planning to hire DeGuglielmo to work with Colombo, but Colombo’s reaction to that change is what led to his dismissal from the team. Ben Wilkerson will continue to serve as the assistant offensive line coach.

“We appreciate what Marc has done, but I felt like this move is in the best interest of the team,” said Head Coach Joe Judge in a written press release.

The 42-year old Colombo had previously served as assistant offensive line coach (2016-2018) and offensive line coach (2018-2019) of the Dallas Cowboys before being hired by Judge this year.

The 52-year old DeGuglielmo is well-traveled, including serving as an assistant offensive line coach for the Giants under Tom Coughlin from 2004-2008. In recent years, he has coached offensive lines with the Miami Dolphins (2009-2011, 2017, 2019), New York Jets (2012), New England Patriots (2014-2015), San Diego Chargers (2016), and Indianapolis Colts (2018).

RILEY DIXON AND CASEY KREITER PLACED ON RESERVE/COVID-19 LIST…
The New York Giants have announced that punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter have been placed on the the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Place kicker Graham Gano was also placed on this reserve list on Tuesday after he tested positive for the disease. It is not clear if Dixon and Kreiter tested positive or merely being quarantined due to contact with Gano.

NOVEMBER 18, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Wednesday to discuss the state of his team heading into the bye weekend (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: I know you don’t like the term starter, so I’ll use bulk of the reps. The cornerback opposite James (Bradberry), you’ve used a bunch of different guys. (Isaac) Yiadom, (Corey) Ballentine when he was here, Ryan Lewis. Is it sustainable to just keep kind of having a different guy there at cornerback two all the time, or do you guys need to settle on one guy?

A: No, I expect all the guys to play, I really do. There may be certain matchups that we may favor a certain guy for a skillset. There may be certain positions on the field, whether it’s red area versus backed up or in the field, that may be more of an early down guy or a third down guy. Every game brings a little bit of a different element on how you’re trying to match up the opponent. To me, I have no issue at all playing guys at any position and rotating them on through. As long as we’re getting production, we’re keeping guys fresh, we expect everyone at the game to contribute. In terms of the way I view the game, no, I have no issue with that at all.

Q: How do you think Ike (Yiadom) has played these last couple of games? He went from playing a lot to playing not much at all to now playing a lot again. How do you think he’s performed this second stint?

A: I’ve seen a lot of improvement from Ike. Yeah, that’s a guy who’s really worked tirelessly at practice. He’s really competed hard for us and shown a lot of things at practice. Then he got a shot in the game and he went out there and he’s been making plays for us. Yeah, he’s done a lot of really good things right now that have helped us. He’ll keep playing for us as well, as will (Madre) Harp(er), we get Ryan Lewis back and a number of other guys.

Q: When you made the decision to transition (Nick) Gates to center, that was probably with the thought that you’d have a full offseason, a full training camp, and preseason games. I’m curious were there any reservations about throwing him right in the way he had to get thrown in? How do you feel like he’s developed through the season?

A: I’ll start with the backend part first. I think he’s developed really well. I see a lot of improvement on a weekly basis from Nick. Look, going from playing guard and tackle into center is a completely different animal. The multiples on your plate, the command you have to have, the calls, even just the different mechanics of having to snap before you block, these are things you have to learn how to do. There’s a reason a lot of guys play center throughout their entire career up through high school, college and then in the NFL. It is a different type of position. I think he’s done a really good job of advancing in that. I see a lot of promise going forward with him. I’m pleased with how he’s playing, I see improvement every week. Now to the first part of it in terms of yes, obviously, initially we saw that as having a full offseason, full training camp. But like with everything else, that wasn’t going to waver when the pandemic hit. It wasn’t going to change our course of action in terms of how we were going to get this team ready. We just decided, hey, we’re going to adapt or die. We’re going to get ready. There are going to be some growing pains with a lot of guys, we have to move forward.

Q: On Monday, you talked about one of the things you’ve learned is to juggle time so you have enough time for your defense and offense. I tend not to be the most organized guy in the world. Why would you put yourself through that, or is that just how you have to be to be a coach?

A: I think as far as being the head coach, I have to know what’s going on with all three sides of the ball. I can’t know what’s going on without putting in the tape and time to learn the opponent on the frontend, and I can’t know what’s going on without really watching our teams at practice and studying what we’re doing and reviewing all the practice tape and the game tape, and understanding our personnel and how we’re using them. To me, it’s just part of the responsibility of what you have to do to be effective. I don’t know how I could help the team if I don’t know what’s going on. That’s just an emphasis for me.

Q: What’s your message to your players during this bye week? How do you balance staying focused and keeping the momentum going with taking a much-deserved break?

A: I’ll go back to the momentum question first. I don’t really believe that exists, to be honest with you. Nothing that we did against Philadelphia or Washington is going to help us against Cincinnati. We have to learn from what we did wrong and make corrections, but we have to come back on Monday and have a good, strong practice. To be honest with you, obviously, we’ve gone virtual this week with some of the COVID protocols going back to the intensive protocols. That’s changed a little bit of our plans with what they were going to be on the field. Initially, we were going to do more of a walkthrough (on Tuesday). Some of the younger guys, practice squad and some of the younger rookies, we’re going to have a more intensive practice when the walkthrough was over. Then today, Wednesday, would have been an on the field, padded practice for the entire team to get out there, popping around, work on some new schemes, concepts, make sure we correct some things that came up through the season. Now we’re working virtually to go ahead and have meetings and address those things right there. But we have to have a good day on Monday. In terms of the momentum, the only momentum I think we’ll be able to go ahead and transfer and create is how we practice and how we play. We have to come back next week ready to go.

Q: I’m curious 10 weeks into the season, after watching the tape of all these games and coaching through them, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about your team and what do you guys have to get better at down the stretch?

A: We have to continue improving across the board on fundamentals. I think that’s something you always have to improve on. You can never think ‘we’ve arrived’ there. I think sometimes the mistakes you make as a team as you get to a certain point in the season and it’s very scheme-oriented, and you fall away from what you worked hard on in training camp in terms of fundamentals and basics. Ultimately, that’s really what always makes the difference anyway. We talk about turnovers, penalties, mental errors, those are the things that are going to be the true deciding factors within games. In terms of our team, we hoped early on that we could develop a tough culture without knowing these players early on, and I’ve seen that with our guys. Our guys, it’s a team full of resilient guys, very mentally tough guys. I’ve seen these guys come to work week in and week out, no matter what the noise on the outside was. They come in focused, they come in determined, and they play together. I’ve seen a group of guys moving in the same direction, make a lot of improvement. I’m proud of how they practice, I’m proud of how it’s shown up on tape in games, and I think that transfers directly from how we practice to how we play.

Q: It seems like that’s really kind of taken off over the last two or three weeks, especially on defense. It seems like you’re playing a more physical brand of football than maybe you started. Why do you think that is, and do you think maybe that’s just kind of snowballing with wins and confidence beget more wins and confidence or is there more to it than that?

A: I think when you practice with good execution and you’re confident with what you’re doing schematically, you can play more aggressive. When you demonstrate across the board that you have 11 guys on the field who truly understand the schemes, the concepts and what we’re doing, then you can play aggressive by not worrying about the guy next to you and what he’s doing. I think right now, we’re at a point where our guys have really learned and progressed within the schemes and concepts that we’re working. They’ve really done a good job week by week adapting to different game plans and how they fit, and understand not only their responsibility, but how the guy next to them has to play as well. When you understand that, you can play more aggressive. That’s probably why some of that is starting to show up the way we want it to on tape.

Q: Do you look into the data, how teams come into a bye, how teams go out of a bye? This is your first time being a head coach with this. Is there something that you can do maybe better than someone else taking your team out of a bye that could give you an advantage?

A: Yeah, I think you have to look at what you do well, what you’re deficient on and what you have to improve on. I think the biggest thing coming out of a bye, other than maybe getting some guys back health wise or getting some things adjusted schematically, is you just need to come out and correct things that you’ve made mistakes on and go forward with. You may have a new wrinkle you try to work in here or there. We do look at teams coming out of byes. Obviously, the last two weeks we played teams coming off of byes. To me, it’s important to look at those teams based on what they’ve done in the past coming out of a bye. What kind of adjustments do they use? What does their game plan look like that game out of a bye? Different than it was the previous games before the bye? How many schematic differences do they have? Is it a more aggressive mindset? What do they do? You want to put all of those things into account just to anticipate what your opponent may do against you. For us specifically, I think the biggest mistake is people think when you’re coming out of a bye, you’re automatically fresher and faster and all that kind of stuff. I think that’s a myth. You have to come out and all that matters is how you play on that Sunday. You have to wake up and you have to knock off those cobwebs because the one thing is, these guys will have four solid days off without being around us as coaches or hearing our voices. Four days, again this season, is like four months. It just is. You come back, and that Monday practice we’ll have, that’s very necessary to go ahead and just make sure everybody gets woken up, knocks off some rust, has a good day on the field, and that that can transfer going forward.

Q: Coaches very often and sometimes you hear players say ‘he’s not a rookie anymore’. Are your rookies still rookies? What is that mindset? Do you subscribe to that mindset?

A: You can kind of phrase that two different ways on that. I know what you’re saying with that. I expect marked improvement from our team along the way. The so-called rookie mistakes, I don’t care if it’s a rookie making it or a vet making it, I just don’t expect to see it repeated. That’s what we’re really holding everyone accountable for. Things are going to happen, we just have to learn from them and move forward. I think at this point right now, our young players obviously have a different perspective and a different taste for the speed of the game and what goes in week by week. You hear a lot about these rookie walls. We talk to our rookies a lot about them. I’ve talked to rookies in the past about it as well. To me, it’s important to have these rookies understand that really right now we’re at a point where the college football season is winding down and about to be over. At least in a normal year, it would be. Your season is very much still going. We’ve got a lot of ball left to play. In a normal season, by the time you get to Week 8, that is a college season. That’s four preseason games. It’s eight games, you’re looking at 12. Maybe you play a bowl game after that. Go get a Little Caesar’s pizza bowl thing and go back home for Christmas and stuff. This season here, you’ve got to refuel and get going. You’ve got to make sure that you handle your routine throughout the season effectively. Physically, you don’t break down and mentally you don’t fatigue. To me, that comes into having a good established routine but then also some point in the year changing up your routine to change the stimulation. If you’re a guy that’s always watching tape mid-afternoon, okay maybe it’s an early morning thing and you get your workout in mid-afternoon. You have to change things up a little bit throughout the season not to have that monotony that kind of wears you down to the point where you think you’re being productive just because you have activity. You’ve got to make sure you’re actually taking steps forward every time you do something. We’re not writing a pass for any of guys, whether they are rookies, vets, whatever they are. In terms of repeat mistakes, we have to make sure as coaches we do a good job of eliminating those.

Q: I wanted to ask about Will Hernandez and everything he has gone through the last couple of weeks. You come into Sunday, it seemed clear you had a plan that he wasn’t necessarily going to get snaps. What did you see from Will in the game? Is it a challenge this week knowing you’re not in the building with these guys? How can you gauge how he is coming out of this weekend, first opportunity being out there on the field?

A: The best feedback we get as far as how he came out of this weekend is from the trainers and the strength coaches. We’re not in the building, but what we have done is we’re doing very small group workouts that are going to be available to our players, that they want to come and get something physically. Obviously, we’ve had to do a lot of maneuvering to make sure it’s very limited people in the field house working out or running. The field is very spread out, we’re taking precautions in that. The feedback I’ll get from the trainers and strength coaches will be the most valuable feedback I can get on those guys. What I saw when he went in the game is a guy who was ready. I saw when Will went in there, he was mentally, physically and emotionally ready to go. Obviously, two weeks off from a game, it’s a lot to ask anyone to jump right back in the swing of things and go through an entire game. When we needed him, he came through. He played well, he played tough. That’s just kind of Will’s personality. Coming out at the end of the game right there. He kind of goes in as the enforcer when we needed him right there. I was pleased to see Will at the game. It’s good to have him back in the building. He’s always a dude that makes everyone smile when he’s around. It’s just good to have him back with us.

Q: Do you feel like when you come back on Monday that the last couple weeks are behind him?

A: I think it’s still wait and see to see him on the field Monday, to be honest with you. To be fair to him, if we had practiced the last two days, if we were out there today, I think I’d have a much better view on that and an answer for that. Not being able to see with my own eyes when we put him through a practice, that’s a tough thing to evaluate and gauge. He says he’s feeling better. I don’t want to speak for the player, I guess I just did. I want to make sure that we make the right evaluation for him at all times. These guys are tough guys, they are competitive guys. Sometimes they say things and you have to make sure you really gauge it and make the best decision for them.

Q: You have a bunch of guys on the verge of returning from injured reserve. What’s their status coming off the bye. Tae Crowder, (Oshane) Ximines, (Xavier) McKinney and Ryan Lewis.

A: That falls back on Art’s (Stapleton) question. I was really counting on seeing a little bit of those guys this week. Obviously, we can’t see them on the field football wise this week. Monday will be an important day for us to kind of take a look at a lot of these guys moving around. We still have to make a declaration on a couple of these guys in terms of their clock. We’re going to have to evaluate these guys next week and see where they are going into Cincinnati. We’re optimistic we should see the majority of those guys if not all of them at some point down this stretch. They’ve all made progress, they’re all working very hard with our trainers. I know they are a lot further ahead than they were when they initially went on IR. We just have to see how close they are to game action for us.

Q: For you personally, do you decompress? Do you take any time off at the end of this week? Do you just plow through and worry about that after the season?

A: I’ll definitely structure good family time this weekend. I’ve got a laundry list of stuff right now that I am loading up on and making sure I stay ahead on. I’m using a lot of this time right now not only to self-scout and catch up on things that we’ve done throughout the season. The coaches have done a lot of really good research and reports and giving me good feedback on where we have to go going forward. That’s been very valuable. I’m trying to jump ahead on all of our opponents to get a head start which will help me down this final stretch. As far as watching some tape. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that when this weekend rolls around there is going to be a point where I have to dive in and be dad again. I’ve got to dive in with the kids and give them all my undivided attention. I’ll probably be way more worn out from that than I am from a week of game prep. It’s something we’re looking forward to. That will kind of reset the motor for us and get us moving through the final six.

Q: Have you talked to Graham (Gano)? How is he feeling? What can you tell us about (Ryan) Santoso?

A: Ryan’s a guy who has a huge leg, he’s shown a tremendous amount of improvement since he’s been here. It’s a unique skillset that he does all three, field goals, kickoffs and punts. He’s shown a lot of improvement in all three phases through being. I think Tom (Quinn) and T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) do a tremendous job of working with this guy. This guy is a mentally tough guy, too. He’s one of my favorite guys on the practice field. He kicks for us in kicking periods, obviously. He does a lot of his field goal operational work on Friday with the team. Me and him normally have some kind of side bets going on as he is kicking, kind of put a little pressure on it. I think he’s a little bit better in terms of roping that thing through the uprights when I’m talking a little smack behind him. We have a lot of confidence in Ryan. He’s definitely a developing player. I think he has a big upside in this league for a long time, I really do. I’m pleased he’s been in our program and we’ve been able to hold onto him through this point. I’m really pleased with the work Tom and T-Mac have done with him. If he’s got to go, we have a lot of confidence he will be able to go out there and do the job effectively. Graham has talked to Ronnie (Barnes) today. I touched based with him yesterday. I don’t want to speak for him in terms of how he may feel with this. I don’t know all the stages of this virus personally, so I don’t know if this is something that increases, decreases. I don’t want to speak for any of the players. I know obviously our trainers are communicating with him on a regular basis to make sure his welfare is okay. I’ll touch base with him later today like I do with most of the players.

Q: Do you expect to have him back in time for the next game?

A: There’s a timetable with that. There’s an opportunity for that, but there are some other things that go into that as well. Are there any setbacks in that time window? Where does the physician clear him? There’s a ramp up period. Him, like everybody else, we have to be fair to this guy. He’s sitting in a hotel room for a couple weeks. Is it fair to him to put him on the field and ask him to go ahead and do his job? These are all things we have to account for. In fantasy football, yeah, plug him in and we’re good to go. In reality, are we doing the fair thing by him individually and the team collectively to take someone who hasn’t had two weeks of an opportunity to prepare to put him out there to do a job?

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video/audio clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants from November 19th to November 22nd.

Nov 092020
 
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Kyler Fackrell and Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (November 8, 2020)

Kyler Fackrell and Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

NOVEMBER 9, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 23-20 win over the Washington Football Team (the video is also available on Giants.com):

Q: We’ve heard you talk so many times about why you’re doing the offensive line rotations, because you want everybody to play. But why is it working? Every offensive lineman I’ve ever talked to tells me the key to the offensive line is continuity, the same five guys, etc. etc. Why is playing six guys and soon to be seven guys with the three guards, why is it working?

A: We’ve talked about that a lot internally, to be honest with you. Part of the reason we think may be, hey look, maybe it gives our guys a little bit of a breather. It keeps them a little bit fresher. They have fresher legs out there, working with some tempo on offense. You get guys with a series off here or there, it kind of gets their breath a little bit. All three guys are playing, they’re playing well right now for us. They’re all improving, so it gives us a lot of confidence to keep moving those guys on through. Part of it may be it changes a little bit what the defense can do to attack you. They can’t single up on what just one guy does and what they’re trying to look. Maybe it alters how they approach each drive not knowing who’s going in. We’ve kind of talked internally and bounced a few things off. The one thing we’ve concluded is whatever the reasons on the other side may be, we like how it’s working for us and we’re going to keep on going with it.

Q: How hard is what Matt Peart is doing? He might be playing the least of the snaps between Cam (Fleming) and Andrew (Thomas), but he’s the one who has to change his footwork from series to series, left to right. How hard is what he’s doing?

A: Yeah, that’s very impressive, especially for a young guy like Matt. He’s really shown a lot of progress in doing that. That’s definitely something that’s better preparing him for the remainder of his career, and I think he’s shown a lot of promise right now that it should be a very productive career. We love Matt, the way he works, and for him to be able to be a swing guy as a rookie in this league, because as you alluded to it’s not just the footwork you’re changing. It’s also the matchups based on who the defense plays on either side. It also changes some of the responsibilities based on the plays. He’s done a really good job as far as knowing the offense. But he’s done a really good job fundamentally of working both sides’ techniques and haven’t really seen a difference on either side with him.

Q: I know you’ve been pretty adamant about every Monday after a game, win or lose, you’re going to do corrections and approach it with the team the same way. But after a win, is there any difference that you sense in the way the players act, the way they take to coaching as far as more confidence, a sense of “swagger” or something you notice that maybe could help you moving forward?

A: I think one of the things that’s most pleasing about our guys today, to be honest with you, is they’re very consistent, they’re very steady. They came in today with that same attitude we’ve seen in the previous weeks. There’s a little more joking around and laughing at different times, but really ultimately, they came in the room and they’re very easy to coach. They’re very receptive, they’re looking for a better way of doing things. Look, we told them right at the beginning of the meeting, ‘hey listen, we had success yesterday. Let’s not mistake that for thinking everything is perfect. There is plenty that we have to watch on this tape and we have to correct. Philadelphia is watching the same tape we are today, and they’re looking to expose everything we put out there that while it may not have been magnified in yesterday’s game, they’re going to look to go ahead and expose it in next Sunday’s matchup.’ We have to do a good job of knowing what we have to continue to improve on and clean up, and also, what we can build on in a positive manner. Our guys have been great. One of the things I’m seeing that is very pleasing is I didn’t see a group of guys come in today like we have everything figured out. I saw a group of guys coming in here today ready to learn, ready to work and move forward.

Q: Does the little more joking and fooling around and smiling, does that include the head coach?

A: I’m always kind of myself. Win or lose, I’m going to kind of bust your chops a little bit either way, throw something at you. Look, I’m kind of the same guy all the time, to be honest with you, win or loss. In a lot of ways, after a win, it can be tougher to coach in a lot of ways. Our guys have been very good with that in that they’ve been receptive. Sometimes you walk in after a win, you have to tell a team this is the toughest it’s going to be to coach all year because you think you have all the answers. After a loss, people can be more receptive at times. You have to understand and know who your team is and how you have to approach them. In terms of me laughing or joking or whatever that may be, if I think the team needs to kind of lighten the mood a little bit, I may throw something in there. If sometimes it has to be a little bit more serious tone, then I’ll approach it that way right there. But I think the guys know what to expect from me on a daily basis. Win or lose, practice or game, I’m kind of approaching everything with the same mentality and personality.

Q: Where do things stand with Golden Tate this week?

A: He was back in there with us today working. We’re not going to have the players in the building tomorrow, but they’ll be able to come in to work out. Then Wednesday we’ll be on the field for practice, so he’ll definitely be out there practicing with us. Like all of our players, we’re going to have plans for these guys within the game plan. If you’re asking me specifically about him being active for the game, I would anticipate Golden being active. I have no reason to believe he wouldn’t be active at this point. But we’re going to go through this week and kind of see how everything goes with everybody on the team and see where everything lays out.

Q: I was reading that your captains were on board with the decision to leave him home. I think it was Albert Breer that wrote that. Do you consult your captains when you make a decision like that?

A: I try to let the captains know what’s going on with any major decisions we have within the program.

Q: What do you think of your defense and the improvement it has made?

A: Well, I love what those guys are doing with the energy that they play with and the urgency. There are definitely some things we have to clean up and continue to improve on, but every week, there are things that we emphasize that I see turn around in a positive way. Something that’s been a major focus for us is two-minute, and we’ve been working very hard on the two-minute drives in practice. It’s something that we had to really continue to improve on. But like I told the team today, I said we closed out two two-minute drives. You can kind of include that maybe as a third two-minute drive as well at the end, all with interceptions. Kind of two end the game situations, one at the half situation. That was definitely a step in the right direction for our team. But we compete, we go good vs. good on two-minute in practice. Offensively and defensively, we’re getting good competition as far as working the situation, not worrying so much about the looks from the other team. Then we do some kind of crossover against the opponent two-minute drills later in the week. There are a lot of things I’ve seen the defense improve on. There is no reason we can’t continue to play at a high level. I love the way the improvement we’re seeing. The young guys are really coming along. There are a lot of encouraging things we’re seeing from the guys that are rookies or new guys to this program, and we’re getting a lot of production from a lot of guys.

Q: Real quick on Golden, one more thing. Can you explain the decision of why you decided to leave him behind and not dress him for that game?

A: No, I’m not going to go into that. But I appreciate the question and respect the question.

Q: With Daniel (Jones), he obviously didn’t have a turnover in the game. I’m just curious how you as coaches look at it because the ball did hit the ground twice during that game. How do you sort of balance that and look at it?

A: We’re always emphasizing what we’ve done well and correcting what we did wrong in every game. That’s every player, that’s every coach, that’s everyone within different techniques. We’re always emphasizing ball security across the board. We’re always emphasizing playing clean penalties-wise. We did some things in that neighborhood that we have to get off the map as well this next week. We’re always emphasizing playing a clean game in terms of eliminating mental errors by understanding what we’re doing on the field and not making mistakes.

Q: Obviously you eliminated the turnovers in this game. Does the pendulum need to swing back more to be aggressive to give more oomph to the offense? You scored three points in the second half.

A: I don’t think anything with that had to do with a lack of aggressiveness at all. In fact, we were actually moving the ball very well in the second half. You go back afterwards, you watch the tape, okay what happened with we were scoring points? Those were self-inflicted wounds that we have to make sure we get off it. We had some penalties, we had some different things happen offensively, some negative plays. When we don’t go ahead and shoot ourselves in the foot, we’re moving the ball pretty productively. I think the difference in the first half and the second half was we didn’t have any self-inflicted wounds in the first half. We were able to finish drives aggressively. I like the way the offense is playing. I think there’s a lot of aggressiveness with how we’re calling plays right now. There’s a lot of aggressiveness in terms of how we’re playing and executing on the field, starting up front with the run blocking and the pass protection from the offensive line. I see that carryover in everything. When Daniel has a nice clean pocket, he’s been very productive. He’s been able to make plays in scramble situations as well. The offensive line really set the table for us this week to play a good, clean game and complementary with the run and the pass game.

Q: If Daniel plays the same game he played on Sunday, obviously every game is different, if he plays that same type of game on Sunday, is that the style you want to move forward?

A: I think there’s a lot of clips in these last few games that you can see that we can say this is the style we want to play as an offense, defense and special teams moving forward. That doesn’t mean the game plan is exactly the same. We want to keep making sure we have an emphasis in terms of ball security, number one. Limiting penalties and knocking mental errors off the plates. I like the way we’re playing aggressively on offense. I like the tempo we’re playing with. That’s not always going to be part of the game plan. Sometimes we may slow it down. I like the last few games, our ability to work some tempo. I like how we’re running the ball and that’s setting up some plays down the field in the passing game. I like how we’re covering kicks right now. We’ve been able to make plays in the return game as well. That’s shown up in the last few weeks. We’re definitely improving in that area. Defensively, I see a lot of improvement with the situations. Whether it be third down, red area or two-minute. That’s improvement, that’s something we’ve placed an emphasis on with our team that we have to continue to improve on. We’ve seen a lot of really good players, good offenses in the first part of the season. We have to keep on improving, as we keep on going through because they’re going to keep on getting better and better.

Q: It seems when you talk to us, there are times when we talk to a player later on and he will say the same thing you said to us. Is it important to you that the team speak with one voice and that it be yours?

A: I think it’s just important that I explain to the players what I expect. I explain to them very clearly that when something is going on, how I’m going to handle it and why I’m handling it a certain way. To me, it’s important to have transparency with the team and I think at that point they can better understand how we’re attacking a situation or how we’re approaching the season through whatever is going on with it. We don’t try to make our players robots. We don’t try to dictate anything they say. To me, it is important that everyone understands and plays on one accord, that we’re all on the same page. That’s very important, I think we have seen that with our players. You guys asked a lot of questions throughout the year in terms of coming off a loss or continuous losses, how do we deal with it? I think you deal with it just by being very transparent as an organization. Everyone understanding where we are, where we’re going and how we have to get there. That carries over into kind of talking to the media as well.

Q: After the first play of the game for Washington, are you bringing back the mud sliding drill?

A: You bet. We have to be cleaner on the fumble recovery on that. I’m glad we were able to come up with that. Right there, there was a lot of rules to emphasize on that. A lot of things we can teach off of with the sideline fumble technique and the rules involved with it. In terms of if you go out of bounds, if you’re an offensive player, you want to reach and touch the ball to make sure the ball is a continuation of being out of bounds. Then the opportunity for the defense to recover it, for a defensive player, you want to tap it back in before you go out of bounds. If you go out of bounds, get both feet established to give yourself an opportunity to recover that thing cleanly. When (Jabrill) Peppers comes out of the pile with the ball there, the importance of not running off and celebrating but turning and showing the ball to the official so they don’t erroneously signal the ball to the other team, thinking it was a clear recovery. Then you can’t challenge that play and the other team gets it even though you’re holding the ball. There’s a lot of teaching things that come out of that coming out of that situation. We definitely don’t want to be out there looking like the Keystone Cops trying to get that ball. We have to clean that up.

Q: Do you have to sign Alfred Morris to the active roster since you have called him up twice to activate him?

A: Yes, the next move would be to sign him. Obviously, we’ll approach a lot of different things this week in terms of our roster with a lot of different players. Over these next few weeks we expect several guys to have the opportunity. We don’t know where they are physically yet. We start their clocks off the IR, they will be coming off the clocks on IR, so we have to check and see what our total roster is in terms of that. There’s a lot of things with that that are going to factor in.

Q: Two guys I wanted to ask about injury wise. Xavier McKinney, is he going to start practicing with you guys this week?

A: That’s still up in the air. I don’t know if we will necessarily see him this week. He was on the field the other day running with the trainers. I haven’t had much of a chance with my own eyes to really get my eyes on him. I know he’s making a lot of progress. I’m getting positive reports on him. We have until Wednesday. He’ll be with the trainers tomorrow, that may shed a little bit more light on it for us. Based on how we practice Wednesday, if we go full tilt or some kind of an abbreviated walk thru, or short fundamentals practice, we haven’t decided yet. That may affect whether or not we start his clock on that day or not.

Q: Will Hernandez, is he coming off the list (COVID-19)? Oshane (Ximines) and Tae Crowder I think? (off of IR)

A: With Oshane and Tae, they are very similar to X-man (McKinney). We have to figure out where they’re at physically and when do we want to start their clock. All of them have made a lot of progress. Some are a little bit closer than others. I want to see where they’re at. The biggest thing I’d say at this point is because you have the bye week coming up next week, we want to be very calculated when we start their clock, that 21-day window. If you start it too early and then you lose another week with the bye week anyway, it may set them back. There’s a benefit of getting them going with us right away, getting their legs back under them, get them back playing football. There’s also a benefit of holding a little bit knowing you have the bye week next week and there’s really no advantage to getting them to a game next week anyway. There’s a couple different avenues we can take with these guys. I want to see where they’re at physically. We talked this morning with the trainers and basically said, ‘hey look, tomorrow we have to have some answers to at least help us make a better decision.’ In terms of Will coming off the COVID list, I have to check with Ronnie (Barnes) with some of the specifics. I know he has started some of the ramp up stuff from what I understand talking to Ronnie this morning. The one thing I want to make sure is we are fair with with Will is this guy has missed two games, that’s a lot of football he’s missed. We have to be fair to him to get him his conditioning back and get him back on the field moving around. It’s not like this guy has spent the last two weeks lifting weights and running, doing individual drills in his back yard. This guy has been quarantined and fighting a virus. We have to make sure when we get him back, we give him a chance that he’s able to get out there and play a full 60 minutes healthy. Also, make sure he gets some reps on the field to account for some of that lost time and kind of sharpen him back up for some of the movement he is going to see inside at that guard position.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video/audio clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube/Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday. The assistant coaches will be available to the media on Tuesday.

Nov 032020
 
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Dion Lewis, New York Giants (November 2, 2020)

Dion Lewis – © USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 25 – NEW YORK GIANTS 23…
The New York Giants lost another heart breaker on Monday night, losing 25-23 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants fell to 1-7 for the third time in the past four seasons. It was the third game in the last four where the Giants lost despite holding an 11-point lead against a favored opponent. Five of the team’s seven losses have been decided late in the game.

Two interceptions by quarterback Daniel Jones were instrumental in the defeat as the overall team statistics were evenly matched. The Buccaneers won the turnover margin 2-1.

Tampa Bay began the game on offense and drove 57 yards in 11 plays to set up a 37-yard field goal and a quick 3-0 lead. The Giants picked up two first downs on their first possession but were forced to punt. However two plays later, linebacker Blake Martinez forced a fumble that cornerback Darnay Holmes recovered at the Buccaneers 12-yard line. On 3rd-and-5, Jones threw a perfect pass to running back Dion Lewis for a 7-yard touchdown. The Giants led 7-3.

After two punts by Tampa Bay and one by New York, the Giants drove 77 yards in 10 plays later in the 2nd quarter, culminating with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Wayne Gallman to give the Giants a 14-3 lead with 1:46 left in the first half. Once again, however, the Giants defense allowed points late in a half as the Buccaneers gained 53 yards in eight plays to set up a 40-yard field goal. Safety Logan Ryan made a sure tackle on 3rd-and-2 to prevent Tampa Bay from possibly finishing the possession with a touchdown.

At the half, the Giants led 14-6.

Dion Lewis returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the New York 44-yard line, but two plays later, Jones threw a bad interception that gave Tampa Bay the ball on their own 42-yard line. The Bucs then drove 34 yards in 10 plays to set up a 43-yard field goal. Giants 14 – Buccaneers 9. After a three-and-out by the Giants, Tampa Bay went ahead for the first time with a 5-play, 67-yard drive that culminated with a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The 2-point conversion attempt failed and the Bucs led 15-14.

The Giants responded with a 10-play, 56-yard drive that unfortunately stalled inside the red zone. Still, place kicker Graham Gano’s 33-yard field goal regained the lead for the Giants, 17-15 near the end of the 3rd quarter.

The Giants defense, which played well most of the night, forced a three-and-out. Then came Jones’ second killer interception, turning the ball over at the Buccaneers 34-yard line. Aided by a questionable lowering the head to initiate contact penalty on cornerback Isaac Yiadom, Tampa Bay followed this turnover up with a 6-play, 66-yard drive, that ended with Brady’s second touchdown throw. Buccaneers 22 – Giants 17.

After a three-and-out by New York, the Buccaneers extended their lead to 25-17. Tampa Bay drove 47 yards in eight plays, setting up a 38-yard field goal with less than four minutes to play.

Down by eight points, the Giants began their last desperate drive at their own 30-yard line. Under heavy pressure, Jones miraculously converted a 4th-and-5 play for 12 yards to wide receiver Darius Slayton. Jones followed that up with a 15-yard scramble on 2nd-and-15. On 4th-and-16 from near midfield, Jones then completed a 20-yard pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Three plays later, he found Tate for a 19-yard score with 28 seconds left in the game. Needing two points to tie the game, the conversion failed (the officials picked up a pass interference flag on the defense). Tampa recovered the onsides kick.

Jones completed 25-of-41 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also ran three times for 20 yards. His leading receivers were Shepard (8 catches for 74 yards), tight end Evan Engram (5 catches for 61 yards), and Slayton (5 catches for 56 yards). Gallman rushed for 44 yards on 12 carries and running back Alfred Morris chipped in with 28 yards on eight carries.

The defense held the Buccaneers to 344 total net yards (81 yards rushing, 263 yards passing) and forced one turnover. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams and linebacker Carter Coughlin each sacked Brady.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
Activated from the Practice Squad for this game were RB Alfred Morris, G Chad Slade (COVID-19 Replacement), and S Montre Hartage.

Inactive for the game were RB Devonta Freeman (ankle), WR C.J. Board (concussion), CB Ryan Lewis (hamstring), S Adrian Colbert (shoulder), TE Eric Tomlinson, OT Jackson Barton, and DE R.J. McIntosh.

No injuries were reported.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge will address the media by conference call on Tuesday.

Oct 232020
 
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“Thank You Sir, May I Have Another!” – © USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 22 – NEW YORK GIANTS 21…
The New York Giants snatched defeat from the claws of victory on Thursday night as they watched a 21-10 lead late in the 4th quarter vanish in minutes as the Philadelphia Eagles won 22-21 in dramatic style. The Giants fell to 1-6 on the season and have now lost 13 of their last 14 games against the Eagles.

Despite the closeness of the score, the Eagles significantly out-gained the Giants in first downs (27 to 17), total net yards (442 to 325), and net yards passing (359 to 187). The Giants did out-rush the Eagles (160 to 96), but 80 of those yards came on one run by quarterback Daniel Jones. The Eagles also won the turnover battle (3 to 1).

Philadelphia received the ball to start the game and promptly marched 75 yards in 11 plays, the possession culminating with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Carson Wentz. The Giants gained one first down and punted on their first possession, pinning the Eagles down at their own 11-yard line. After an 8-yard sack by safety Jabrill Peppers on 3rd-and-9, Philadelphia punted and Peppers returned the ball 14 yards to the Eagles’ 39-yard line. On the very next snap, Jones threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Tate and the game was tied at 7-7.

The Eagles followed that up by driving 57 yards in 13 plays on their third possession, setting up a 31-yard field goal that regained the lead 10-7. Both quarterbacks exchanged interceptions on the next two drives, with cornerback James Bradberry picking off Wentz in the end zone for a touchback. After each team punted, running back Dion Lewis fumbled the ball away to the Eagles with less than 50 seconds to play in the half. Fortunately for New York, the Eagles missed a 29-yard field goal with 15 seconds on the clock.

At the half, the Eagles still led 10-7.

Neither team could pick up one first down on four consecutive drives to start the 3rd quarter. On the first play of the Giants’ third drive of the second half, Jones broke off an 80-yard run which should have resulted in an 88-yard score, but he tripped over his own feet and was tackled at the 8-yard line. Nevertheless, three plays later, running back Wayne Gallman scored from 1-yard out after an Eagles’ penalty and the Giants led 14-10.

Both teams went three-and-out again late in the 3rd quarter. The Eagles then began an 8-play, 66-yard drive that ended on downs with an incomplete pass on 4th-and-goal at the Giants’ 3-yard line. With momentum on their side, the Giants appeared to put the game away with an impressive 15-play, 97-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Jones to wide receiver Sterling Shepard on 3rd-and-goal. The Giants now led 21-10 with 6:10 left to play.

However, a New York defense that has struggled all year late in halves did so once again. The Eagles quickly drove 78 yards in four plays to cut the score to 21-16 (2-point conversion failed). New York was flagged with two penalties on this drive, including an illegal contact infraction that wiped out a sack. The big play was a 59-yard pass by Wentz to the New York 14-yard line.

The Giants got the ball back with 4:34 to go in the game. Gallman gained 24 yards and two first downs on the first two plays of this possession. It appeared the Giants would put the game away on 3rd-and-7 when Jones hit tight end Evan Engram for what should have been a big first down but Engram dropped the ball. The Giants were forced to punt.

Philadelphia started their game-winning drive on their own 29-yard line with 2:02 left in the game. Again, it was far too easy for the Eagles as they drove 71 yards in six plays. The score came after a penalty on a perfectly-thrown 18-yard touchdown pass on 1st-and-goal against Peppers. The 2-point conversion failed again, but the Eagles led 22-21 with 40 seconds to play.

The Giants did have one final shot to set up a game-winning field goal, but their first play resulted in a penalty, their second play resulted in an 8-yard completion, and their third play resulted in a sack-fumble-turnover to end the game.

Jones finished the game 20-of-30 for 187 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and one fumble. His leading targets were Shepard (6 catches for 59 yards and a touchdown) and Engram (6 catches for 46 yards). Jones rushed for 92 yards on four carries. No other player gained more than 34 yards on the ground.

The defense allowed two long, late 4th quarter touchdown drives to lose the game. The Giants picked up three sacks (Peppers, linebacker Markus Golden, and defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence). The Giants also got 10 hits on the quarterback and defended seven passes.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

STERLING SHEPARD ACTIVATED OFF OF INJURED RESERVE…
The New York Giants activated wide receiver Sterling Shepard off of Injured Reserve on Thursday afternoon. Shepard was placed on Injured Reserve on September 23rd with a turf toe injury.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
The Giants activated WR Alex Bachman and LB Trent Harris from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were WR C.J. Board (concussion), CB Darnay Holmes (neck), S Adrian Colbert (shoulder), TE Eric Tomlinson, OT Jackson Barton, DE R.J. McIntosh, and DE/LB Jabaal Sheard.

RB Devonta Freeman (ankle) left the game in the 3rd quarter.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Friday.