Twice during the second half on Sunday the New York Giants faced reasonable fourth-down situations in Los Angeles Rams territory. One was a third-quarter fourth-and-6 at the Rams’ 43-yard line while trailing, 10-6. The other a fourth-and-4 at the Rams 48-yard line with 9:53 left in the game.
Both times Giants head coach Joe Judge elected to punt.
“It’s just the best decision we thought at the time for the team. Our defense was playing good. You know, we’re winning the field position. You want to put them on down on a long field and let our defense play. I think we’ve gone for it on enough fourth downs. We’re not afraid to go for it at the right time, but I have to call it based on what I think is best for the team at that time.”
I disagree that Judge did the best thing in those circumstances.
At 0-3, with a struggling offense and a team needing some type of a jolt you need to shoot your shot there.
The first choice didn’t necessarily hurt the Giants. Riley Dixon pinned the Rams at their 9-yard line and the Rams reached only the 19 before punting.
The second one? The fourth-and-4 with 9:53 to play? The Rams again took over at their 9-yard line, but this time went 91 yards for a crushing touchdown with 7:02 to play.
“We were playing good defense, we had field position and we wanted to win right there, put them on back there – I thought it was a good time to put the ball to our defense and let them play,” Judge said.
As much as I hate to rely on them, win probability models disagree. Especially with the second fourth-down decision.
On 4th and 4 from the Rams' 48 with 9:46 left in the game, the Giants punted. ESPN's win probability model disagreed with that decision.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 4, 2020
WP go: 35.7%
WP punt: 33.3%
Here is another model that disagreed with both decisions to punt.
So, I guess this would qualify as my first real strategic disagreement with the Giants’ head coach. If you really trust your defense, forget the possibility of giving up the short field. When you’re on the edge of scoring territory — and struggling more than any team in the league to score — going for it is a risk worth taking.
- The Giants might have found their No. 2 cornerback opposite James Bradberry. Ryan Lewis took over for Isaac Yiadom after Yiadom surrendered a couple of early completions. He played 42 snaps (74 percent) and appeared to acquit himself well.
- We may have seen the end of Devante Downs time as a regular player. The inside linebacker played only 4 snaps on Sunday. Rookie Tae Crowder played a season-high 33 snaps (58 percent).
- Markus Golden is another player who really doesn’t seem to be in this staff’s plans. He got only 7 snaps on Sunday.
- I’m starting to wonder why Elijhaa Penny is on the roster. The fullback played only one snap. In fact, when the Giants opened the game with a fullback on the field it was actually rookie guard Shane Lemieux.
- Rookie Matt Peart got 12 snaps at right tackle in the second quarter, but Cameron Fleming returned to that spot in the second half. Of the move, Judge said only that “We’re just going to play all the guys who are at the game. So, there’s really nothing that happened in the game that dictated anything that we did substitution wise on either side of the ball.”
- For the fourth time in as many games, the Giants’ offense did not gain 300 yards. They had 295 yards on Sunday.
- The Giants have not scored a touchdown in consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 8 and 15, 1998, when they were limited to two field goals in a 16-6 loss to Philadelphia and one in a 37-3 defeat to Green Bay.
- The Giants have not scored a touchdown in their last 21 offensive possessions. They have kicked seven field goals during that span.