Jan 182021
 
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Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates, New York Giants (November 2, 2020)

Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates – © USA TODAY Sports

New Head Coach Joe Judge was hired by the New York Giants in early January 2020. After an atypically long vetting process, the team announced its complete staff a month later in early February. The extremely well-organized new head coach was all set to initiate his program to turn the franchise around. Then disaster struck. COVID-19 forced the league to shut down in the spring and much of the summer. The challenges for a new head coach trying to rebuild most of the roster seemed almost insurmountable.

Probably the position most affected by these developments was the offensive line. The Giants entered 2020 knowing they would have to have new starters at center and at least one of the tackle spots. That quickly became three starters when left tackle Nate Solder decided to sit out 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. Right tackle Mike Remmers had already signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. The only free agent addition was journeyman swing tackle Cam Fleming. It was obvious that most of the help would have to come from the draft, where the Giants selected Andrew Thomas in the 1st round, Matt Peart in the 3rd round, and Shane Lemieux in the 5th round. Despite those additions, there was still a glaring hole at center, with no obvious candidate to start other than the disappointing Spencer Pulley and talk of possible conversion projects.

With the desperate need to sort all of this out, Joe Judge was being told he could have no mini-camps, no Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices, a dramatically scaled back training camp, and no preseason. Teams were told they could only hold 14 padded practices before the season. 14 practices to get rookie Andrew Thomas ready at left tackle. 14 practices to find and name a starting center. 14 practices to figure out who to start at right tackle. 14 practices to build cohesion and chemistry for a group largely unfamiliar with each other.

The early returns were predictable. The line struggled. Converted guard/tackle Nick Gates was moved to center, a position that he had never played, and he had a rough start. Andrew Thomas did not look like the 4th player taken in the draft and fans began to question the pick, arguing the team drafted the wrong lineman. There was no time for Matt Peart to seriously challenge Cam Fleming for the right tackle job, and Fleming continued to demonstrate he really wasn’t an ideal starter. All of this was made worse by the fact that the two guys who the team needed to rely on, guards Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez, were once again not playing as well as expected.

Saquon Barkley was lost in Week 2 and the Giants had no ground game early in the season outside of Daniel Jones running for his life. No Giant had more than 30 yards rushing in the first two games and no Giant had more than 50 yards rushing in the first four games. Jones was the team’s leading rusher in four of the first seven games of the season. Jones was also getting sacked early and often, something that never really totally abated as he was sacked 45 times and NYG quarterbacks sacked 50 times on the season (or over three per game).

Despite all of this negativity and an 0-5 start, something began to change in October. A hodgepodge group of backs and Jones began to hurt teams on the ground as the offensive line began playing better. In eight of their next nine games, the Giants ran for over 100 yards or more. In seven of these games, they ran for over 130 yards or more. The high point was a 190-yard rushing effort against the Seattle Seahawks on December 6th. The line appeared to be developing into a physical, smash-mouth unit almost overnight.

Why? First, Nick Gates made a miraculous transformation from an undrafted tackle to a big, feisty, physical presence at center. In just a few games, he clearly became the team’s best offensive lineman. Second, Andrew Thomas settled down and started playing much, much better. Third, the Giants replaced Will Hernandez with Shane Lemieux at left guard, and while that created some pass protection issues, Lemieux’s presence seemed to be an upgrade in the run-blocking department. Finally, Kevin Zeitler started to play better. Matt Peart did receive increased playing time, receiving significant snaps in half of the games, but right tackle remained a bit of a sore spot with Cam Fleming.

In mid-November, Joe Judge surprisingly fired Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo, bringing onboard outsider Dave DeGuglielmo, who ironically had served under Tom Coughlin from 2004 to 2008. DeGuglielmo would later miss the last week of the season due to COVID-19.

The line struggled in three-game stretch in December before finishing strong in the season finale against Dallas. In those three games, New York never rushed for more than 80 yards and Giants’ quarterbacks were sacked 13 times. Nevertheless, the overall impression was despite all of COVID-19-related handicaps, the Giants actually finally made progress in rebuilding the offensive line in 2020. There appears to be a young, talented foundation to work with.

THE STARTERS

Despite having no prior experience at playing the position, and after a rough start, Nick Gates not only solidified the center position for the Giants but rapidly became the team’s best lineman. Gates started all 16 games at center. He was flagged with five penalties (two holding, one false start, one unnecessary roughness, and one illegal block). The Giants signed Gates as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He missed all of 2018 with a foot injury that caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve before the season started. In 2019, Gates was active for all 16 games with three starts (two starts at right tackle and one start at right guard). Gates is a versatile player, able to play tackle, guard, and center. He has good size and brings toughness and attitude to the offensive line. Gates is a solid pass and run blocker.

The Giants drafted Andrew Thomas in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Thomas started 15 games at left tackle despite playing on a left ankle injury that required offseason surgery in January 2021. Thomas was benched for the start of one game for being late to a team meeting. In terms of his overall play, Thomas struggled early, but markedly improved as both a pass and run blocker as the year progressed. He was flagged with five penalties (three false start and two holding penalties) on the season. Thomas has a big frame (6’5”, 315lbs) and long arms. He is a strong, physical run blocker who can get movement at the point-of-attack. He is athletic enough to get to the second level and works to finish his blocks. Thomas is a good athlete and he flashes excellent pass protection skills, but he needs to improve his overall technique and consistency in that department.

The Giants signed Cam Fleming as an unrestricted free agent from the Dallas Cowboys in March 2020. He ended up starting all 16 games at right tackle, by far the most in his career in a single season. But Fleming was arguably the weak link up front, regularly missing blocks. Fleming was also credited with four false starts and two holding penalties. The 6’5”, 320-pound Fleming was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. After four years in New England, he played two seasons with the Cowboys. In seven NFL seasons, Fleming has played in 91 regular-season games with 42 starts. Fleming is versatile lineman who can play both tackle spots. He has good size. However, Fleming seems better suited to a reserve, swing-tackle type role than starter.

While the overall play of Kevin Zeitler improved in his second season with the Giants, he still did not meet expectations in 2020. Zeitler started all 16 games at right guard. He was flagged four times on the year (one holding, three false starts). Zeitler was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He signed a 5-year, $60 million contract with the Browns in March 2017, which at the time made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. The Giants acquired Zeitler by trade from the Cleveland Browns in March 2019 in exchange for linebacker Olivier Vernon. In eight seasons, Zeitler has started 134 of the 135 regular-season games he has played in. Zeitler has good size (6’4”, 315lbs). Once regarded as one of the best guards in the game as both a run and pass blocker, Zeitler’s play in recent years has been more inconsistent. Nevertheless, he is still a solid, steady, veteran presence up front.

The Giants drafted Shane Lemieux in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He surprisingly ended up playing in 12 games with nine starts starts at left guard, stealing Will Hernandez’s position. He was only flagged once (false start) all year. The 6’4”, 310-pound Lemieux started an incredible 52 games in college, never missing a game. He is a tough, feisty, blue-collar lineman with some athletic limitations. Lemieux needs to get stronger, but he is a physical presence in the ground game with a feel for blocking angles. He struggled at times as a pass protector.

After starting every game in his first two years in the league in 2018 and 2019, Will Hernandez lost his starting left guard job to Shane Lemieux after the seventh game of the season. Hernandez missed two games in early November due to COVID-19. He was flagged only once (one holding penalty) all year. The Giants selected Hernandez in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He was named named to Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. Hernandez has good size, strength, and toughness for the guard position, but he appears to lack ideal lateral agility. This hampers his play as a run blocker on the move and as a pass blocker when isolated against quick defenders. He can move defenders with his strength and power.

THE RESERVES

The Giants selected Matt Peart in the 3rd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Peart played in 11 games with one start at left tackle. He did play in 15 percent of all offensive snaps, receiving some quality playing time. He missed one game in late November due to COVID-19. The 6’7”, 318-pound Peart was a 4-year starter in college with experience at both tackle spots. Peart combines excellent size, long arms, and good overall athletic ability. He has the frame to get bigger and stronger. As expected, Peart was inconsistent as a rookie and needs more technique refinement.

Spencer Pulley spent all of 2020 as the team’s primary reserve center, but he did not play. Pulley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Diego Chargers after the 2016 NFL Draft. Spencer started all 16 regular-season games for the Chargers in 2017 at center. The Giants claimed Pulley off of waivers from the Chargers in September 2018. That season, Pulley was inserted into the starting line-up in late October. He struggled in his nine starts at center and missed one game due to an injury. In 2019, Pulley played in four games with one start in which he again struggled. He also is able to play guard.

The Giants claimed Jackson Barton off of waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs in early September 2020. Despite remaining on the 53-man roster all season, Barton never played in 2020. The 6’7”, 302-pound Barton was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs signed him off of the Colts’ Practice Squad in 2019. He has yet to play in a regular-season NFL game.

The Giants signed Kyle Murphy as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He was signed to the Practice Squad in early September and then signed to the 53-man roster in mid November. Murphy did not play in a regular-season game in 2020. Murphy was a 3-year starter in college with experience all along the offensive line.

The 6’5”, 315-pound Chad Slade was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Houston Texans after the 2015 NFL Draft. Slade spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve, and the 2016 and 2018 seasons on the Practice Squad of the Texans. In 2017, Slade played in five games with three starts (two at right guard and one at tight end) for the Texans. The Giants signed Slade to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019. While he surprisingly made the team, he wasn’t active for any game. Slade spent all of 2020 on New York’s Practice Squad.

The 6’6”, 315-pound Kenny Wiggins was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Ravens (2011), San Francisco 49ers (2012-2013), San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2013-2017), and Lions (2018-2020). The Lions cut Wiggins in late October 2020. The Giants signed Wiggins to the 53-man roster in November, cut him 10 days later, and then signed him to the Practice Squad for the remainder of the season. Overall, Wiggins has played in 79 regular-season games with 38 starts.

COVID-19 OPT-OUT

Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 issue. In March 2018, the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they signed him away from the New England Patriots as unrestricted free agent. However, despite 32 straight starts at left tackle for New York, Solder has not played well at all with the Giants. He really struggled during the first half of 2018 before settling down a bit during the second half of the season. In 2019, his inconsistent play throughout the year both as a pass protector and run blocker was a significant factor in the team’s struggles. The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In nine seasons, Solder has started 127 of the 130 regular-season games he has played in. He is a long, lean tackle with good overall athleticism. However, off-the-field issues with a sick child could understandably be affecting his focus and play.

Jan 042021
 
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Xavier McKinney, New York Giants (January 3, 2021)

Xavier McKinney – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 2021 OPPONENTS SET…
The New York Giants’ 2021 opponents have been mostly set:

Home:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders
  • Los Angeles Rams

Away:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Chicago Bears

The NFL will reportedly add a 17th regular-season game. If so, the Giants are expected to play a team from the AFC East. If the match-up is determined by division ranking, it will be the Miami Dolphins.

The league’s 2021 schedule will be announced in the spring.

NEW YORK GIANTS TO PICK 11TH IN 2021 NFL DRAFT…
The New York Giants now hold the 11th pick in the 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

GIANTS RE-SIGN 15 PLAYERS…
The Giants have re-signed two exclusive rights free agents and 13 players to reserve/future contracts.

The two exclusive rights free agents are OT Jackson Barton and CB Madre Harper. Barton spent the entire year on the 53-man roster, but was only active for one game. Harper played in nine games for the Giants this year.

The 13 reserve/future players are:

  • QB Clayton Thorson
  • QB Alex Tanney
  • RB Taquan Mizzell
  • WR Alex Bachman
  • TE Rysen John
  • OG Chad Slade
  • OG Kenny Wiggins
  • DT David Moa
  • LB Trent Harris
  • CB Jarren Williams
  • CB Quincy Wilson
  • S Montre Hartage
  • LS Carson Tinker

All 13 of these players finished the year on the team’s Practice Squad.

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:

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 142020
 
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Joe Judge, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 14, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 26-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: When you looked back at the film, how did Daniel (Jones) move around to you on the film? Did you think he was able to protect himself? Was he moving around well enough to be effective?

A: You cut out a little bit on me, but based on the part of the question I could hear right there, I’d say the way he moved in the game was what we expected. We put him through enough in practice last week to make sure he was put in a position where he could protect himself. We knew that there were things that were going to come up in the game and some limitations that he was going to have throughout the game. We were willing to live with those. But in terms of the question did we feel like he moved the same in practice as he did in the game, I would say the answer to that is yes. What we expected to see, we pretty much saw.

Q: It did seem like by the end of the game, he was maybe limping around a little more. I don’t know if that was just wear and tear. How did he come out of the game from what you understand?

A: I had a conversation obviously after the game yesterday, and then I talked to him again this morning. Obviously, there are some bumps and bruises. He didn’t do anything that aggravated that leg injury right there. He felt like he came out… obviously, there was probably a little bit of wear and tear as the game went on. He took some hits in the pocket yesterday. I think that’s just kind of natural. Any quarterback getting up is going to have a little bit of wear and tear on them right there. I’ll check back with him tomorrow. I know he visited with the doctors after I talked to him today, and I haven’t talked to our medical staff other than very early this morning until they’re getting ready to leave the building today. The biggest meeting we’ll have will be tomorrow when guys are about 48 hours outside the game. That will kind of tell us in terms of going through the week who we can plan on practicing and managing and having for the game, things of that nature.

Q: Separate from that, what was your diagnosis on giving up eight sacks and five in particular to Hasson Reddick? When you went back and watched the film, was there any common theme there?

A: I think there was a multitude of things we have to do better, coaching and playing. There were some situations where it just came down to they were good in coverage. We blocked for a long time, and Daniel wasn’t going to pull the ball and run in some of those circumstances yesterday. Some of those were, you can call them coverage sacks if you want to call them that. But it’s all tied together. It’s never one person, it’s never one thing. It comes down to everybody on the field and the coach with the plan we put together and the plays we call in that circumstance. Look, obviously, he’s a good player. They made plays, you have to give them credit. They really showed up yesterday and played their top game. We have to be better all across the board, starting with myself.

Q: Did Daniel have any x-rays after the game or other injuries?

A: I don’t have the answer to that, not that I’m avoiding that. But when I check with the medical staff, I’ll kind of get more information on that. I can tell you there’s no broken bones or anything of that nature if that’s what you’re referring to right there, no. They would have told me that immediately.

Q: I was just seeking clarification, you said he visited with the doctors today. I didn’t know if that was just a routine checkup on the hamstring or if that was some new injury that needed further examination.

A: No. So, the checkup with the doctors, that’s routine. Every Monday, we have a full staff of guys in here. What they do is they meet with the players, they come in through the day, they check on everything. If there’s anyone that has to go get an MRI or an x-ray or some kind of an opinion on something they’re doing, they’re handling that today. There are circumstances where we go ahead and we handle things after the game immediately if they need to be. What they do is kind of compile because the guys come in at different times throughout the day. With the buildings being closed right now to the players and coaches, we have to stagger the guys that come in for treatment, for checkups, and for workouts throughout the day to make sure we keep the numbers thin. Right now, it’s a lot less, however you want to say it, it’s a lot less of a fluid situation of getting information back on the players because they’re truly staggered throughout the day, based on the situation with COVID, on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Q: If Daniel were to look the same way he looked going into this last game, would you play him against the Browns or are all options on the table for you in order to try and win Sunday, including possibly resting him?

A: Yeah, if Daniel is healthy to play and he looked the way he did in practice last week, I’d have no hesitation of playing Daniel at all. We made a calculation. We have a lot of confidence in Colt (McCoy). This has nothing to do with Colt. But there’s also a commitment we’ve made to Daniel as our quarterback and how we’re running this offense. We have confidence in all of our players. But if he’s healthy enough to go out there and protect himself, and we don’t feel he’s putting himself in greater danger to be injured worse, and he’s going to give the team a competitive advantage of going out there, then we’re going to play him. We have no hesitation. Just because we’re going to play Daniel doesn’t mean at any time that we’re not going to have a plan to put Colt in for a certain package or situation in the game, or we’re not going to have a plan for any other player on the roster to at some point be used in a certain situation or circumstance to give us an advantage. Look, all options are always on the table in terms of what we’re going to do by game plan. But to answer your question directly and simply, yeah, if Daniel is healthy enough to go out there, and we think he’s not in greater danger to be damaged or hurt, then we’ll play him.

Q: Just kind of piggybacking off that a little bit, based on the way Daniel kind of came through yesterday limited in terms of the running game, do you guys need to change your perspective or what you evaluate on him in practice to clear him? Do you need to have a different set of standards going into next week based on how last week played out?

A: In terms of what? In terms of him coming out healthy or in terms of what he wasn’t doing in the game plan?

Q: In terms of just seeing him through the week at practice, do you need to see him able to do more to be able to be more effective in the game than he was this past week?

A: No. Our evaluation was to make sure he could operate in the pocket, that he could defend himself. He had to leave the pocket a couple of times, he did that, he could do that effectively and be able to get rid of the ball or get the ball down the field and protect himself. In terms of how we call or structure the game plan, that’s on us as coaches to make sure we’re inventive enough and creative enough to put ourselves in situations that if we’re limited with any player in a certain something they can do physically, then we have to give them another option.

Q: Daniel took a lot of hits. You said he had bumps and bruises. When you watched the film, was any of that a result of him not being able to move like he normally can?

A: I think everything is always connected. I think, obviously, he took some hits in the pocket. Were there some times that maybe he could have left the pocket and extended plays? You could argue one way or another. Were there other times that had nothing to do with that? Yeah, there were definitely times like that as well. I think any player that comes out of a game… look, there’s been every game this year that guys come out with some kind of bump or bruise, whether it looks like he didn’t get touched at all or not. You play through a professional game, everyone is coming out the next day sore, tired, worn down, and everyone’s getting checked on all the time.

Q: Was he at some greater risk? Maybe not for the hamstring, but bumps and bruises or other injuries? You think he could protect himself, but he could not move or escape some of the hits like he normally could.

A: I just go back to we saw he could protect himself in the pocket and move fluidly through the pocket. He could get rid of the ball if he needed. If he had to eat a sack at some point, that was something we were going to go into the game plan knowing it could happen. Obviously, there are some things that come up in the game. You get hit in the pocket at certain points. He is no different than the other 31 quarterbacks in the NFL. They all deal with the same risks every time they drop back in the pocket. To answer you directly, he was able to protect himself yesterday. No, there is no regrets, there’s no second guessing. We took a lot of time discussing a lot of things, scenarios with doctors, coaches, making sure it was the best position for the team. That’s the decision we went with and move forward.

Q: In regard to one particular hit that Daniel took late in the game, he seemed to come up limping on his left leg noticeably. He stayed in the rest of the series. He came over and had a conversation with Colt and then Colt immediately started taking warmup throws. It seemed like something in addition to the hamstring had happened.

A: At that point in the game, I had just made the decision to go with Colt. It was late in the game at that point. I was going to get Colt in just to get a few reps at that point. That had nothing to do with something that happened on that drive.

Q: Do you expect Daniel to be ready to practice Wednesday? Is it a little too early to know?

A: I honestly couldn’t give you accurate information. I have to talk to Ronnie (Barnes) and his staff along with the doctors’ feedback. Talking to Daniel this morning, the conversation was more about the hamstring. How his leg felt and how he was through the flow of the game. He assured us he came out with the hamstring really the same as what he went in. He felt good through the flow of the game. We had a long conversation. I’ll let him speak for himself on a lot of things. There was really no talk about anything other than the hamstring going on.

Q: You fell to second place. How do you move forward and how do you talk to the team about the situation and the three games left?

A: I’ve already addressed the team today in a squad meeting. Real simply, the focus is still what the focus has been the entire year: to come to work, to improve as a team. Move forward and play our best ball next Sunday. That’s the only thing that can help us, that’s the only thing that really matters. Our focus this year was very clear-cut and simple, to become the best team we can be, to establish a culture and lay a foundation for this program going forward. That included becoming the best team we could be this year. That includes daily and weekly improvement. I’ve seen that from this team. Obviously, yesterday, we had to coach and play better. That wasn’t the result we were looking for. We need to come back to work on Wednesday. Put our nose to the grindstone and keep moving forward. In terms of all the division standings, the same as when last week everyone wanted to talk about being in first place. That wasn’t the focus of the week and being in second place, that’s not the focus of the week either. The only thing that’s going to help us right now is playing our best game against the Browns.

Q: Does it matter to you whether or not this team makes the playoffs?

A: The only thing I am concerned with right now is the Cleveland Browns. Anything beyond that, again, are hypothetical games. At this point right here, we need to go out there and play our best game this Sunday.

Q: What did you think about the ability of your receivers to get open and create separation? It looked like they were pretty tightly covered a lot of times, at least where the ball went.

A: You have to give them credit. They had a good game plan. They definitely did a lot of the stuff in terms of double teaming and bracketing a lot of our receivers down the field. There was definitely some tight coverage in man situations. I saw a lot of opportunities where our guys made catches in tight situations. I saw a lot of guys separate from man coverage and get open at times. There were times where we have to do a better job of winning our matchups. That ties into a lot of things. That’s not just each individual receiver. That’s the timing of the routes. The timing of the throws. That’s calling it at the right time. That’s making sure we recognize the coverage and get ourselves in the right situation. There’s a lot of things that tie in together right there. Obviously, we want to win more matchups. We want to make more plays down the field. We have confidence in our receivers, and these are the guys we’re going to play with going forward.

Q: The last couple of weeks, you’re not playing as well on special teams as you did for most of the season. Have you noticed teams are trying to take advantage of you schematically? Are there execution issues that are taking place that you are not happy with? What’s happening on some of these breakdowns?

A: We all have to do our job better, number one. This hasn’t been one thing. It’s not a schematic disadvantage. We’re not getting isolated into something and we can’t make an adjustment, make a correction. There haven’t been repeat mistakes, but over six phases, if you have an issue in one phase per week, it’s going to be glaring and go ahead and be magnified over time. That’s fair, that’s the way the National Football League is. That’s what we signed up for. We’ve got to coach it better. We have to play it better. It starts with me. Yesterday, obviously with the returns, they did a good job on us. We have to do a better job covering in space. That comes down to playing with good field leverage, good space tackling. That comes into specialists doing their job, the coverage units doing their jobs and make sure we tie it all together. This has been a strength for us for most of the season. There’s been a one-off here or there. Those one-offs on special teams, everything is a one-play situation, one-play scenario. There is not second down on special teams. You go out there and you have one chance to operate and execute. We have to make sure we make the most of our opportunities.

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 assistant coaches will address the media on Tuesday. The players return to practice on Wednesday.

Oct 302020
 
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James Bradberry, New York Giants (October 22, 2020)

James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

EXCEPT FOR WILL HERNANDEZ, ALL PLAYERS BACK TODAY…
As previously reported, New York Giants left guard Will Hernandez tested positive for COVID and was sent home on Thursday. Hernandez remains at home and was officially placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. He will not play on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The good news is that the seven other players and two coaches who were also sent home as a precaution have passed the COVID testing protocols and returned to the team.

The two coaches were reported to be Outside Linebackers Coach Bret Bielema and Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson. The players were offensive linemen Nick Gates, Spencer Pulley, Shane Lemieux, Cam Fleming, Andrew Thomas, and Chad Slade as well as wide receiver Binjimen Victor.

OCTOBER 29, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
RB Devonta Freeman (ankle) and OG Will Hernandez (positive COVID test) did not practice on Friday.

WR Sterling Shepard (shoulder/toe), CB Darnay Holmes (neck), and S Adrian Colbert (shoulder) were limited in practice.

WR C.J. Board (concussion) fully practiced.

RB Saquon Barkley, who is on Injured Reserve with a torn ACL, partially tore the meniscus, and sprained MCL, underwent surgery today.

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Saturday (11:30AM-1:15PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Oct 192020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS PLACE LORENZO CARTER ON INJURED RESERVE…
The New York Giants have officially placed linebacker Lorenzo Carter on Injured Reserve. Carter ruptured his Achilles’ tendon against the Dallas Cowboys on October 11th. He will miss the remainder of the 2020 NFL season. 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. He started 12 games in 2019 and finishing the year with 45 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 5 pass defenses, and 1 forced fumble. Carter started the first five games this year and was credited with 14 tackles and one sack.

OCTOBER 19, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The Giants have a short week, next playing on Thursday night. The team did not practice on Monday, but issued the following estimation had the Giants practiced:

WR C.J. Board (concussion), LB Tae Crowder (hamstring), DB Darnay Holmes (neck), and DB Adrian Colbert (shoulder) did not practice.

WR Darius Slayton (foot) was limited and RB Dion Lewis (hand) fully practiced.

OCTOBER 19, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 20-19 victory over the Washington Football Team (the video is also available on Giants.com):

Q: You gave a detailed explanation of why (Andrew) Thomas didn’t start yesterday and how that went with Matt Peart. In the second half, was it also your plan to rotate the two, or was Thomas coming out in the third quarter after a missed block a performance-based move?

A: No, there was just a plan to go ahead and move our players on through the entire game at multiple positions, so we just stuck to the plan right there. There was nothing performance-based on that at all in that right there, no. I stress again with Andrew, obviously, this is something the guy made a mistake on a team policy. Again, I’d like to stress this guy is a great dude in the building. We love Andrew. Nothing disrespectful or malicious. He just made a mistake and there are consequences.

Q: So, in the second half, the plan was to rotate them just the same as you did in the first half?

A: Yeah, Marc (Colombo) had them on a rotation. He kind of just stuck with the number of series that were going in and out at that point right there.

Q: I know you guys didn’t practice today, but how much closer is Sterling Shepard being ready? I know it’s a quick turnaround to Thursday night, but how much closer are you to having him on the field?

A: Yeah, I think we’re a little bit closer than we were last week. Obviously, he didn’t make it to the game. He worked with the trainers today. I’m going a lot right now off the information they’ve given me from today’s workout. We were in staff meetings when he was out there on the field doing some of his rehab stuff. Being a walkthrough week for us, we’ll have to go really based on what the trainers tell us. We’ll have to go ahead and look at him. We’ll see. This could go up to a pregame workout. We’re not sure. We’ll see where he’s at throughout the week.

Q: They’re pretty banged up on their side. Reports came out today no Miles Sanders, no Zach Ertz. How much does that change your preparation for a team knowing that they could be without, and probably are going to be without, two of their most dynamic weapons?

A: I think they have enough weapons on all fronts to really prepare for with these guys. Look, you don’t want to see any players get hurt, to be honest with you. You want to play teams when they’re at their best. That’s what competition is all about. We’re expecting (Alshon) Jeffery and (DeSean) Jackson to be back, and they’re going to give you a lot of trouble, along with all the other receivers they have already. They know how to use their receivers, their backs and their tight ends all very well, so it doesn’t matter who’s in there. They’re all very capable.

Q: When you prepare for Philadelphia, have you done any work prior to this week so it’s not such a short week?

A: Yeah, absolutely. I think with all opponents, we actually go back in the spring and through the summer and really build a base on what they are historically. Now, obviously, that changes within the regular season based on who’s on their roster and how certain things have shaken out for them. But I always try to work weeks ahead. Especially knowing it’s a Thursday game, you want to work a couple weeks ahead to really build your base on them. For me personally, I’m always a week ahead on the opponent as it is anyway. That’s something I’ve always done, that’s something I’ve gotten accustomed to doing through what I’ve done at different places. You just rely on your notes, you watch the tape on Monday from the previous game the night before, you update where you think you are with everything, and then that helps you as far as your planning day on Tuesday and going into Wednesday and Thursday, putting together the game plan. If you wait until the game week to really start diving into the next opponent, I don’t think there’s enough time to really dedicate recapping your game from the day before, getting into a new opponent, really learning what they are. Then at the same time, formulating a plan for it. Some people can do that. For me personally, that’s not the way I like to work.

Q: Just going back to the previous question about the left tackle. Now that Andrew has served his punishment, is he back as your starting left tackle on Thursday night?

A: Yeah, we’ll go through practice this week and kind of see where everything shakes out right now. But I was pleased with the way both he and Matt played, along with Cam (Fleming). We have multiple guys who can play the positions. Matt’s a guy that’s worked on the right and the left. We’ve practiced Andrew both on the right and the left as it is anyway, and Cam gets reps on the left as well, just to make sure we’re all in position if we have to get our numbers called. We’ll go through practice these next couple of days and kind of see how everything shakes out. But again, we expect all of them to be at the game and we expect all of them to play.

Q: When you have a decision to make on a fourth down, what goes into that? Do you have someone in your ear telling you the win probability and how it’s affected? Is it gut feeling? Just what goes into that for you?

A: There’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of, you talk through the situation as they come up. With Pat (Graham) and Jason (Garrett) calling the plays on offense and defense, as I go through a series, I’m really looking down the line of, okay, if this gives us a fourth and short here, what am I doing? Are we kicking or are we going? If this gets to a fourth and medium, what am I doing right here? What am I looking at if we punt the ball down here on a long field goal situation versus taking the attempt at a long field goal? What could be the it factor right there? To me, I’m kind of playing out the game and scenarios of what’s going to come up, what’s going to happen, and how we can best handle it. I’m always evaluating where we are with timeouts versus clock and score. Then, to be honest with you, a lot of it is just the flow of the game. You can look at the whole analytics pages of different things and they tell you when to go for two, when to go for it on fourth down. That’s all great, but you have to understand the flow of the game. Sometimes, there is a lot of emotion that goes into it, not to just go out there and pound your chest but knowing what your team needs at the time and how they’re playing.

Q: Does facing an opposing coach who you know is going to be aggressive like Ron (Rivera) was make you a little bit more conservative like you seemed to be yesterday?

A: Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily say conservative with different things. You need to play to the strength of your team and the flow of the game and what you have confidence in. While sometimes you may say it’s conservative not to go for it on fourth down, a lot of times it’s aggressive to say we’re going to trust our defense to go out there and do the job. We’re going to have faith in our team we prepare in all three phases. That being said, you always have to consider how the other coach calls the game. When Ron had the ball and they were driving with about five minutes left in the game, you start looking in terms of they’re going to treat this like it’s a two-minute situation. You start kind of putting it through your mind and talking to the offense like, ‘ok guys, let’s be ready. We have a couple of timeouts. Let’s get ready to start working on two-minute, talking to our players, thinking about what calls we may want to make. If I have to burn a timeout here, guys, think about how that may change our calls with only one timeout.’ We talk ahead on the situations on the series to make sure everyone is on the same page. But you have to understand how the other coach calls it, Ron being a good example because he’s been very aggressive throughout his career. Is this going to be a guy who’s going to go for it at midfield? Is it going to be a fake situation? That’s how Tom (Quinn) and T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) really do a good job getting the guys prepped and ready in the situation in the game, being aware of the gimmicks and the gadgets that may come up in the kicking game to try to extend drives. For us, we try to go ahead and apply all the principles of all the phases. But the opponent is always the biggest factor in the decisions you make. Whether you’re going for it on fourth down, it’s who are you playing, how are they playing and how are you playing against them?

Q: I also want to ask you, I know you love talking about yourself, but you’re going back to Philly this week. What are your thoughts? What are your emotions there?

A: I’ll probably buy a helmet too because my in-laws are already buying batteries. To be honest with you, it’s not my first time going back to Philly as an opposing coach. It’s a great city. It has great, passionate fans. It’s an excellent team. It’s obviously a great rivalry. I grew up watching these games. They were always tough games, blue collar type games, when the Eagles and the Giants were playing when I was growing up watching the games. Again, you’re so focused on the opponent, the emotion doesn’t really get tied into it. We just know we have a heck of a team we have to match up against.

Q: Specific to the fourth down decision. Why punt on fourth down and two from the 38 there where you take the delay of game? You intentionally take it to punt but why not go for that there?

A: At that point right there, I had a lot of confidence in our defense. Hey, look we put the offense out there, sometimes it looks like it’s intentional, sometimes maybe, sometimes it might not be. We have a lot of situational calls and different things we work at all times. In that situation right there, it’s easy to say, hey, it’s fourth and two, go for it, it’s in short range. The defense is playing good, you got a punter you trust. You got special teams that are put on the field to create field position. If you can put the punter on a long field, you trust the way your defense is playing, then you trust them to give it back to your offense in good position.

Q: Kyler Fackrell has made big plays in two straight games now on defense. Another one of those guys who’s playing through injuries. Why has he been able to come up with some big plays in big moments for you guys?

A: I think he just does a good job executing the plan. Pat (Graham) does a really good job putting the pieces together. Bret does an excellent job coaching the guys on the edge, working with them. Kyler has a good tool set with a lot of versatility to it. Whether it’s dropping in coverage, rushing, setting the edge against the run, whatever it may be. He does a good job of really applying all his tools to it. He’s got good instincts and savvy to be able to understand, especially as the game goes on when he makes a lot of plays, what his opponent has been showing him, what he can use to kind of set that guy up to go make a play. He’s a good, smart football player. He’s made a lot of players for us when his number has been called, we’re happy to have him.

Q: I know obviously you talked about the preparation weeks in advance for opponents that you do and maybe the coaches do. I’m curious, defensively especially, you want to be week to week with the game plan. Is there hesitancy with the players to know that you don’t want to change too much and go with a blank slate on a week where you play on Thursday night? As opposed to maybe a regular week, do you guys talk about that and shift what you would do philosophically based on the time you actually have?

A: We always think about that. Really, the way we teach in the beginning is what sets us up for situations like this on a short week. Whether it’s a Thursday night game or a halftime adjustment, which we had to make plenty of them yesterday with some personnel changes in the game due to injury. The guys have to understand the concepts of what you’re trying to do. When you start teaching on the front end in training camp and back in the spring, you want to make sure all the players understand the concepts of what you’re trying to do. In a certain type of coverage, okay, what are the elements of the coverage? It’s a certain type of man coverage, what’s the leverage you have to win? It’s a certain kind of rush, what are the details of the rush we have to execute? Then you just plug people in different spots and they understand when they’re in that spot what concept applies to, they know how to play it. We make sure we drill our players and we teach them. Everyone is learning how to play deep field technique, everyone is learning how to play a hard flat technique. Everyone is learning how to play curl-flat or seam-curl, or middle run through. Everyone is learning how to set an edge in the run game. Everyone is learning how to blitz the A and the B gap. Everyone is learning how to work a stunt game and a twist coming off the edge. We make sure we put all of our guys through exercises of it so when it comes up for them, it’s not new. It may seem more new to the opponent, but for us it’s something we have been teaching from day one.

Q: A follow up on the tackle situation. Do you see any advantage for switching guys mid-game, series to series against a defense and what maybe the defense is prepared for? You have Thomas versus a Peart at left tackle.

A: I think the biggest emphasis is just it’s important for us to play as many of our guys as possible, especially these young guys who need to gain the experience. They can only really improve by being on the field and working. Matt’s a guy that’s shown a lot of improvement in the way he works in practice. We’ve seen it from the team periods, the individual one on one pass rush periods. He’s shown progress in the games and the action he’s seen. Andrew has been doing a good job for us as well. To me, it’s just important to get guys involved and let them play and learn.

Q: How much did Matt Peart earn the opportunity to play more from what he did yesterday?

A: I think he did a good enough job. I have confidence to put him on the field. I have confidence in Andrew, I have confidence in Cam. I have confidence in all of our offensive linemen. Has he earned the right to be on the field and contribute? Absolutely. That’s why he’s going to be at the games for us. Everybody on our roster and practice squad has earned the right to be here. We have confidence we’ll play any of them any time.

Q: You grew up in Philadelphia, very provincial city, we know that. I’m just curious, what do you think your friends and even your mom would’ve said to you (if you said) I’m going to be the coach of the New York Giants?

A: I don’t know. Go get ‘em? My brother walked around in a LT jersey his entire life, I think, mostly to make us mad because we were all rooting for the Eagles. Eventually you get used to seeing it and you understand why he was wearing it.

Q: You guys had Ryan Lewis following Terry McLaurin around for a little bit. I was just curious the thought process there and how you think he held up? I don’t think he gave up a catch yesterday.

A: I thought Ryan has been playing well for us. He’s definitely a guy that’s made a lot of progress for us. We’ve been familiar with Ryan for some time. I’ve had experience with him in the past. He’s definitely a guy who has really improved over the course of his career. I have a lot of confidence in Ryan on the field. He’s a tough dude. He definitely rose to the competition. McLaurin is a heck of a receiver. This guy is as explosive as can be. You talk to guys like Colt (McCoy),who had him on the team as a teammate with him. Early in the week, Colt is saying some accolades about this guy about how he’s one of the best receivers he’s ever thrown to in terms of what this guy can do to get open and then what he does with the ball in his hand. It paints a picture that this guy is an excellent player. You see it on tape. I remember when the guy came out of college, he was painted a little bit more as a special teams guy than an offensive guy. I think this guy has definitely shown he’s got versatility and he’ definitely a weapon for their offense. He’d be a player for any team in this league. Ryan did a good job for us right there. That’s just part of the matchups we established for the game plan right there. Later in the game, it was changed up for different reason, but I thought Ryan did a good job for us yesterday.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Tuesday (10:50-11:50AM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Oct 042020
 
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Austin Johnson, New York Giants (October 4, 2020)

Austin Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES RAMS 17 – NEW YORK GIANTS 9…
The game was far closer than it was expected to be, but the New York Giants fell to the Los Angeles Rams 17-9 on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. New York is now 0-4 on the season and has only scored three touchdowns in four games, and none in the last two contests.

The Giants actually out-gained the heavily-favored Rams in first downs (19 to 15), total net yards (295 to 240), net yards rushing (136 to 58), and time of possession (33:17 to 26:43). The turnover battle was also equal as both teams turned the football over once.

The game started off on a negative note for New York as the Giants quickly went three-and-out on their first drive of the game and the Rams then responded with an impressive 12-play, 65-yard effort that culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run. The Rams were quickly up 7-0.

After gaining one first down, the Giants found themselves in a 3rd-and-27 situation after a sack/fumble and a false start penalty. They punted two plays later. However, the Giants immediately got the ball back when defensive lineman Austin Johnson forced tight end Gerald Everett to fumble after a 10-yard catch. Cornerback James Bradberry recovered the loose ball at the Los Angeles 34-yard line. The Giants could only gain 17 yards on six plays, but place kicker Graham Gano kicked a 35-yard field goal to cut the score to 7-3.

After both teams exchanged three-and-out possessions, the Rams took 15 plays to drive 47 yards to set up a 32-yard field goal to extend their lead to a touchdown again, 10-3. On this possession, the Rams converted on 3rd-and-3, 4th-and-1, and 3rd-and-2, but Johnson pushed the Rams back from the 4-yard line with an 8-yard sack.

With 3:52 to go before halftime, the Giants did drive 56 yards in 13 plays to cut the score to 10-6 on Gano’s 37-yard field goal. On this possession, the Giants converted on 3rd-and-4, 3rd-and-2, and 3rd-and-10, with the first two being completions to wide receiver Golden Tate in addition to running back Dion Lewis picking up 10 yards on rushing effort.

There was no scoring in the 3rd quarter as the Rams punted twice and the Giants once. However, the Giants did begin their final scoring drive with 5:25 left in the 3rd quarter as they drove 48 yards in 11 plays, taking over six minutes off of the clock. On this possession, the Giants converted on 4th-and-1 when quarterback Daniel Jones threw a 10-yard pass to tight end Kaden Smith. However, the Giants once gain were forced to settle for a field goal, this time from 27 yards out. The Rams now led 10-9 early in the 4th quarter.

Both teams exchanged punts. With about 7 minutes to play in the game, the Rams came up with a dagger to the heart on a big 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass from quarterback Jared Goff to wide receiver Cooper Kupp. To put this in perspective, the next longest play the Rams had on the day was just 16 yards. The Rams now led 17-9 with less than a quarter to play.

The Giants’ first desperate attempt to tie the game failed after picking up 44 yards on nine plays. However, Jones could not connect with Tate on 4th-and-11 from the Los Angeles 31-yard line. After a three-and-out by the Rams, the Giants got the ball back with 2:05 left in the game, down by eight points. Jones threw a 33-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton to the Rams’ 47-yard line. He then scrambled for a total of 24 yards on two 2nd-and-10 scrambles. With 57 seconds left, on 2nd-and-5 from the 18-yard line, Jones tried to squeeze a sideline throw to wide receiver Damion Ratley, but cornerback Darious Williams made a diving interception at the 5-yard line to end the game. Unfortunately for Jones and the Giants, he had room to run on this play.

Jones finished 23-of-36 for 190 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He was also sacked five times, four of which occurred in the first half. Jones also rushed six times for 45 yards. Tight end Evan Engram had six catches, but for only a total of 35 yards. Running back Wayne Gallman rushed for 45 yards on six carries and running back Devonta Freeman gained 33 yards on 11 carries. Freeman also caugh four passes for 35 yards.

Defensively, the Giants held the Rams to 58 yards rushing and 182 net yards passing. Besides Austin Johnson’s sack, linebacker Kyler Fackrell also got to the quarterback. The Giants had seven tackles for losses and hit Goff five times.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
The Giants activated WR Austin Mack from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were WR Austin Mack, OT Jackson Barton, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB Carter Coughlin, LB T.J. Brunson, and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle).

LB Oshane Ximines (shoulder), LB Kyle Fackrell (neck), and S Adrian Colbert (neck) all left the game with injuries.

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 Monday.

Sep 282020
 
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Wayne Gallman and Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 27, 2020)

Wayne Gallman and Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 28, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 36-9 loss to the San Francisco (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: The offensive line struggled a bit again in run blocking. Are you contemplating any changes going forward?

A: Well look, every week based on a player’s practice and performance, we’re looking to put the best players on the field. We spent the day reviewing the tape as a staff. We’ll go through the rest of this week in terms of how guys are implementing the plan we put ahead for the Rams, and we’ll see who the best guys to put on the field are.

Q: If I may follow up, are you happy with this unit right now the way they’re run blocking?

A: There is work we have to do and we have to improve as a team. Everyone has to play better, everyone has to coach better. I like the urgency they come to work with every day. There are things we have to improve on, and we have to get moving fast on that.

Q: If you guys are going to struggle to run the ball without Saquon (Barkley), are you worried, concerned here that teams are going to kind of tee off on Daniel (Jones) until you guys can prove that you can run the ball better, whether that’s the offensive line or the running backs or both?

A: We have to work to be a balanced team. That’s balanced whether it’s running and passing, balanced offense and defense, balanced with the kicking game, playing complementary football. There are a lot of things right now that we have to make sure the Ying and the Yang factor out for each other. But we have to do a better job overall as a team, and we have to do a good job complementing each other on offense to help out the passing game and the running game.

Q: Any injury update? Anything from Jabrill (Peppers) or Andrew Thomas or anything maybe we didn’t see coming out of the game?

A: Nothing significant. I’d say with Andrew, you guys asked about him yesterday, he did finish the game. There was nothing significant to really go over today with the trainers. Jabrill, I don’t have a timetable on him for anything. We’re going to evaluate him day to day. We’ll see where he is. He had that lower leg. They’re going through a couple more things with the doctor this afternoon, but it looks like it could go either way at this point right here.

Q: I just want to know how you think Daniel Jones played and what you made of his turnovers? Obviously, two turnovers in each of the first three games. Separately, curious about your feelings on the penalties? (Darnay) Holmes, (Darius) Slayton, (Lorenzo) Carter. I know you guys are coaching these things, but how can you ensure that those are eliminated and they don’t happen?

A: Yeah, that starts with fundamentals and technique and making sure we execute at the right time. I think they were good calls. Look, you turn the tape on, it was a hold. Call it what it is. It was a hold. We need to make sure we don’t do that. The illegal contact part, that’s something we stress all the time. Darnay is a player we have a lot of confidence in. He’s a talented guy, he’s a young guy, he competes at a high level. One thing he really does, he learns from his mistakes. Obviously, he’s a guy that I don’t expect to see much of that from him going forward. But look, they made the calls. It’s what the rules are. We have to play within the rules.

Q: I’m kind of a big picture guy. A lot of people would look at 0-3 and be discouraged. I kind of look at the NFC East and say you’re a game out of first place. How do you approach it?

A: For us, it’s game by game. Right now, I’m really just emphasizing to our team just weekly improvement, starting with fundamentals and execution. That’s really it. We need to focus on what we’re doing day by day to really take care of our own jobs and make sure that we’re improving as a unit and as a team, and then all of the other things will start taking care of themselves.

Q: But doesn’t it make it easier if the guys see that there’s something reachable in front of them?

A: There are 13 games left. It’s the NFL. There’s a lot of ball left to be played. I’ll tell you right now, I’ve been on a lot of teams that have started off 5-0, 6-0, 7-0, 10-0 and I’m telling you right now, it’s the same feeling in every building across the league right now. All they’re thinking about is things you have to improve on, things you have to work on. It’s not sunshine and rainbows. To me, Mondays are always a day where it’s a tough day on everybody because all you can think of as a coach is what you have to get better at. It doesn’t matter what the result of the game is and how well or disappointing something may have been. You’re just focused on what you have to correct and fix and get it going fast. To be honest with you in terms of how all that goes, does anything make it easier? In the NFL, not a lot of things get easier as the year goes. We have to improve to make sure that as the year goes, we can be competitive and put our team on the field with a chance to be successful.

Q: How do you view the mental state of your team right now?

A: I think we’re fine. I think the emphasis has to be for our guys on moving forward and executing, and that’s the biggest thing. We have to be better teachers and coaches, and we have to execute better on the field for 60 minutes. That’s really it.

Q: I know you said you’ve been on teams that were 5-0, 6-0, 10-0. These guys, a lot of them have been on teams that were 0-2, 1-6, the other end of that. How much does that concern you that you don’t go down that rabbit hole with these guys?

A: Look, I’ll tell you right now, those years we started off with a lot of wins, we didn’t always finish those years as successful as the years we started off pretty rough. Sometimes early on, you really get a vision of what you are and your identity by how you have to correct your mistakes and what you have to learn from. We had a lot of years we were the most successful team in the world where it started off really, really rough. There are a lot of times you look around the meeting rooms and the locker room halfway through the year, regardless of your record, and it’s just doom and gloom. You have to make sure you kind of bring it back into perspective and understand it’s a day by day process as a team, and you’re all you got. You need to stand together as a team and you have to go ahead and make sure your guys move forward on a weekly basis to make improvements. It’s the NFL. It’s the most competitive league in all of sports in the world. It’s at the highest absolute level. It’s not supposed to be easy. What we’re trying to do here isn’t easy either. But we’re going to try to keep it simple for our players that we can improve on a weekly basis and keep moving forward.

Q: How does that work for you? It’s been a long time since you lost three in a row. How are you handling this?

A: I look at the film the same way every week regardless. Win, lose, whatever in between, I turn the tape on and I’m focused on what we have to correct going forward. Yesterday is gone. It’s done. There’s nothing we can do to bring back yesterday. There’s nothing we want to do to bring back yesterday. Our only focus right now is on the Rams. We’re moving forward with that. We have a lot of things that we know (Sean) McVay is on the other side and he’s watching. We have to make sure that we correct what’s on the tape because they’re watching the same tape right now.

Q: When you have a game-wrecker on the outside, there are things you can do with chipping and double teams and things like that. With the Rams, their game-wrecker is right in the middle. How do you kind of scheme to give Nick (Gates) as much help as you can give him against Aaron Donald?

A: I’ll tell you what, Aaron Donald is one of the best players in the NFL, and he’s definitely a force. You’re right. A lot of times, you see those guys that are game-wreckers on the edge, and they have their share of them out there as well. But with Aaron in the middle, it makes you be a little more creative in terms of how you protect and how you use some different tools in your toolbox to make sure your guys don’t always get isolated up on him. He’s definitely a guy that lives for that one on one matchup. He’s very competitive. He’s a high motor guy, he’s as explosive as can be, and he can really ruin the game inside out if you don’t give some help to whoever’s on him.

Q: I don’t think we’ve asked you about David Mayo since he went on IR, but obviously now with three games down, there’s an opportunity to possibly bring him back. I’m just curious if you could provide an update as to where he is. Do you expect to bring him to practice this week with a chance to be activated?

A: Actually, we’re going to make that decision probably sometime tomorrow. We’ll kind of look and see where that goes. He’s with the trainers. I know he’s been working hard. I see him around the building. I don’t get a lot of time with him on the grass, but they say he’s working his butt off every day and improving on a daily basis. We have to look and see where he’s at. For us, it’s in his best interest to make sure that when we start that 21-day clock, that he’s in a position that he’s not going to have any setbacks that would take him past that 21-day clock. I want to make sure we do the right thing by him by not rushing him back before he’s fully ready, and that would keep him possibly off the field for the entire year. I want to make sure we go ahead and do right by him.

Q: Has he been able to be in meetings, position meetings, team meetings, or is he just strictly with the trainers?

A: No, he’s with us in all the meetings. That’s been great. In terms of him staying up to date on the game plans, the terminology, getting mentally into the scouting reports, that’s all been really good. But David, him (Xavier McKinney), a bunch of other guys, they’ve all been very present in the meetings and involved with the team. Just once we hit the grass, they’re on their own separate program.

Q: You keep talking about areas you need to improve in. One of the areas you guys have really struggled in defensively is getting off the field on third down. What are you seeing on third down? You seem to be doing okay on first and second down, but you’re just not making those plays on third down.

A: It’s never one thing. We’re going through that right now as a staff, making sure we find the common thread and identify that. There has been a lot of times we’ve been a step away here, a step away there, but that to me is really a symptom of what are we doing on the front end of the play, and make sure we start in the right position and we can finish in the right position. But we definitely have to make more plays on third down to get off the field to shorten the drives for the opponents right there and give our offense the chance to get on the field and get some points.

Q: Just a general question here. You mention that the team has to play better, you have to coach better. I’m just wondering, though, at what point do you say to yourself ‘this just isn’t happening. We have to consider a change’? Is there a cutoff point for you? What tells you that you have to go to plan B, so to speak?

A: I’m not exactly sure what you’re clarifying as plan B. I would say this, I’d say we consider change on a daily basis. But that’s change within what we’re doing schematically, change in what we’re doing conceptually within the game plan, change in how we’re approaching something as a coaching staff, or changing how we’re using somebody on our roster personnel wise. We’re always looking for change and to evolve. We’re not looking to go ahead and be hardheaded and keep forcing the same thing in the same position. We’re looking on a daily basis at what we can do different to always improve.

Q: I’m really curious, when you look at the amount of turnovers that Daniel Jones has had, when does this become kind of a five-alarm fire for you guys? What went wrong on that pitch play there with him?

A: We just have to have better execution on that play. We thought it was a good thing to have in the game plan. Obviously, we didn’t carry through the way we needed to. These aren’t things we’re going to go ahead and completely abort going forward. We’ll look and see and make sure we execute it going better. But it’s never one person. It’s multiple guys that have to execute better, so we have to get that corrected.

Q: Do you have to talk to him? With the interception, it seemed like he was kind of locked in on Evan (Engram) the whole time before he threw it. Is that something you need to go back on the tape and kind of drill into him that he can’t telegraph throws? It just seems like this is an on-going issue with him.

A: Look, we work with him on a daily basis, obviously, every day. We’re not going to leave anything to chance with that position especially. But look, he’s a guy that works extremely hard. It’s very important to him. Everyone here has to coach better, everyone has to play better. We need to raise our level of execution, and we’re committed to doing that as a team.

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 players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday. The assistant coaches will be available to the media on Tuesday.

Sep 092020
 
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Joe Judge, New York Giants (August 28, 2020)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

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 on YouTube.

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:

NOTES…
Under special 2020 Practice Squad rules, teams are allowed to protect four Practice Squad players from being signed by other teams on a week-to-week basis. This week, the Giants have protected QB Cooper Rush, WR Johnny Holton, OL Chad Slade, and CB Ryan Lewis.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday afternoon (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge, the team’s coordinators, and select players will also address the media.

Aug 312020
 
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Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans (January 19, 2020)

Logan Ryan – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN LOGAN RYAN…
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent cornerback/safety Logan Ryan (Tennessee Titans). The deal is supposedly a 1-year, $7.5 million contract.

The 29-year old, 5’11”, 195-pound Ryan was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has spent time with the Patriots (2013-2016) and Titans (2017-2019), playing 109 regular-season games with 85 starts. In 2019 with the Titans, Ryan started all 16 regular-season games and accrued 105 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 18 pass defenses, and four interceptions. A career cornerback, Ryan has indicated he would like to be moved to safety.

AUGUST 31, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media and team sources:

  • Early part of the practice emphasized the running game.
  • QB Daniel Jones was sharp throughout practice. In 11-on-11 drills, Jones threw a long pass to WR Darius Slayton. Jones later connected with RB Saquon Barkley on a deep pass for a touchdown.
  • WR Corey Coleman has been difficult to cover for all of the defensive backs.
  • WR Alex Bachman caught a diving touchdown in 11-on-11 drills.
  • RB Dion Lewis continues to show good quickness as a runner and receiver.
  • In 11-on-11 drills, WR Derrick Dillon made a twisting, finger-tip reception on a pass from QB Colt McCoy.
  • CB Dravon Askew-Henry knocked away a short QB Colt McCoy pass intended for WR David Sills.
  • CB Corey Ballentine defended a QB Daniel Jones pass intended for WR Alex Bachman.
  • CB James Bradberry showed great timing in breaking up a QB Daniel Jones pass intended for WR Sterling Shepard.
  • Defensive linemen Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence batted down passes at the line of scrimmage.
  • LB Kyler Fackrell “sacked” the quarterback a couple of times during team drills.
  • TE Eric Tomlinson made a twisting touchdown reception on a pass from QB Colt McCoy against linebacker. T.J. Brunson.
  • LB Devante Downs leveled RB Sandro Platzgummer.
  • LT Andrew Thomas clobbered LB Devante Downs on a run block for RB Saquon Barkley.
  • PK Graham Gano made 5-of-6 field goals, missing a 50+ yard effort.
  • The Giants provided a video overview of today’s practice on YouTube.

INJURY REPORT…
Safety Xavier McKinney (left foot fracture), linebacker David Mayo (torn meniscus in left knee), safety Jaquarius Landrews (unknown), and tight end Rysen John (unknown) did not practice.

Wide receiver Golden Tate (hamstring?), defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (ankle?), and safety Montre Hartage (hamstring?) all left practice early.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Monday 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 Tuesday afternoon (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media after practice.