I think Joe Judge’s New York Giants clearly ended the “are they really improved?” debate on Sunday. The Giants ended both an eight-game losing streak to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and a combined 15-game losing streak to the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys with a 27-17 victory over the Eagles.
The game wasn’t pristine and it had its share of nerve-wracking, doubt-inducing moments for the Giants and a fan base used to seeing the Giants snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against NFC East opponents not named the Washington Football Team.
In the end, though, I think this is the signature victory Judge and the Giants have been looking for.
It may be hard to believe after an 0-5 start, but at 3-7, with two straight division victories and as many overall wins as anyone in the division, I think the Giants absolutely have to be taken seriously as a contender for the NFC East title. Heading to a bye week I think they might rather not have right now considering how well things are coming together, the Giants are a half-game behind the 3-5-1 Eagles.
In an admittedly awful division, I think one other thing is clear. Judge’s Giants are the only team in the division that is currently on the upswing.
- The Dallas Cowboys are, well, a mess.
- The Washington Football Team is 2-7, has lost twice to the Giants, and just lost a game on a 59-yard game-ending Matt Prater field goal.
- The Eagles? Well, you saw the game on Sunday. They lead the division, but they look like a disaster. Eleven penalties. Lord knows how many bad shotgun snaps by center Jason Kelce. Doug Pederson clearly out-coached by Joe Judge. You can argue that the Eagles have more talent than the Giants, because they probably do. They are not, though, a better team.
I think it’s crystal clear that heading toward the back end of the 2020 NFL season the only team in the NFC East that can really feel good about itself right now is the New York Giants.
And I think that’s pretty darn amazing, considering that they started 0-5 and really have no business thinking they have a shot at the playoffs.
“We’re taking steps. We still have a long way to go, but we’re taking steps. I definitely feel like we’re a better team today than we were three weeks ago,” said safety Jabrill Peppers. “Three weeks ago, we lost this game in the final minutes. Now we found a way to hang on. You just build off that, man, and keep executing by getting one percent better day in and day out.”
Running back Wayne Gallman has been with the Giants through three years of losing.
“Man, I can’t tell you how good it feels just to come into the locker room and dance a little bit,” Gallman said after the game.
Here are some other things I think in the wake of Sunday’s game.
I think this was clearly Daniel Jones’ best game of the season
That sub-head, in fact, is probably not strong enough. This was probably Jones’ best game as a professional quarterback. He went 21 of 28 for 244 yards. He ran for a team-high 64 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown. He made a number of big-time throws in the second half when the Giants needed them. For the second game in a row, he didn’t turn the ball over. Jones, in fact, didn’t really have any turnover-worthy plays that I can remember.
Jones and the Giants just played their way out of any thought of the team being able to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. If Jones, in fact, plays down the stretch anywhere close to as well as he played Sunday, there will be zero reason for the Giants to even think about selecting a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Judge was asked if he learned anything about Jones on Sunday.
“I didn’t learn anything new about Daniel today. I’ve known that the entire time working with him, and I think we all have internally, that’s why the team has so much confidence in Daniel, that’s why he’s our quarterback,” Judge said. “Daniel continues to be an improving player, he’s a tough dude, mentally and physically, and that spreads throughout our entire team. When he steps into that huddle, there’s 10 guys looking at him knowing he’s going to be the one to give them the answer to the problem on the field.”
Jones has now played two straight games without turning the ball over.
“I think that certainly gives us a better chance to win games. It’s something I’ve been focusing on. I think we did a great job executing and coach (Jason) Garrett called a great game and it’s up to me to understand where to take risks and where not to,” Jones said. “I think it certainly feels good not to turn the ball over and got to keep building on it, keep going, and that definitely helps our chances to win.
“I think it’s just a better understanding in certain situations when to press and when not to press and when to take those risks and when not to.”
I think the Wayne Train is getting crowded
Something no one ever would have expected when the season began is that in Week 10 Giants’ fans would be apoplectic (look it up if you don’t know what it means) when the Giants take running back Wayne Gallman out of the game. Look at the @BigBlueView Twitter timeline, though, and that’s what you’ll find. Fans having a fit when Gallman was getting a rest and Alfred Morris — who actually played really well with eight carries for 34 yards — was in the game.
Gallman, finally getting to shine after 3+ seasons of caddying for Rashad Jennings, Saquon Barkley and Devonta Freeman, has become the Giants’ No. 1 back. He has also come to symbolize these ‘Fightin Joe Judge’s’ with his fight for every inch approach to running the football.
Gallman’s 18 carries ties his career-high, and he has now had double-digit carries in four straight games. He also has touchdowns in four straight games.
“I’m really just going out there being myself and showing who Wayne Gallman is, you know? I’m just trying to do what’s best for this team and capitalize on all my opportunities and just not do too much on a play, but just make the play first,” Gallman said.
I think I loved how aggressive the Giants were on offense
Admit it, you were incredibly nervous after Boston Scott did Boston Scott things (at least against the Giants) at the start of the second half. Then, the Giants went 75 yards in six plays, including brilliant 27 and 38-yard completions to Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate.
You were on pins and needles with the Giants leading by seven points and getting the ball back with 4:52 to play. Then, Jones lofted an aggressive deep shot to Darius Slayton, who made an incredible adjustment, hauled in a 40-yard completion and set up a Graham Gano field goal that gave the Giants a two-score lead with 3:11 to play.
“This is a team where if you think you’re going to watch the clock tick down and it’s just going to run out in your favor, you’re going to be really wrong against the Eagles. They can score points at any point. Obviously in the first game, they scored a lot down the stretch, in the last five minutes. We couldn’t sit back today and in any way, shape or form think that we hadn’t scored enough points,” Judge said. “The emphasis was to keep scoring, keep playing, play the entire game on through. That’s always the emphasis, but with these guys, we knew it had to be very driven towards getting points on as many drives as we can.
“Daniel (Jones) made a lot of big time throws today, we had a lot of receivers make big time catches, contested catches in traffic ... We knew it was going to be a 60-minute game, so we were going to stay aggressive throughout the entire thing. Daniel (Jones) made some big time throws today.
I think I love signing Graham Gano long-term
In case you missed it, the Giants announced after the game that they have signed placekicker Graham Gano through the 2023 season. I think that’s outstanding news. Gano has made 20 straight field goals and places his kickoffs exceptionally well. Right now, he’s as good as any placekicker in the game.
I think the defense came up big again
If you were following anything I was tweeting during the game I was not thrilled with the way the Giants’ defense played at the beginning of the second half, giving up touchdowns to the Eagles on their first two possessions. Bend but don’t break, which the Giants kind of have to play because of their secondary situation, is fine. Until something bad happens and there is a break.
Still, for the second straight week the Giants got a stop at the end of a game when they had to have one. Memo to Doug Pederson — James Bradberry is the Giants best defensive player. Going at him on a fourth and 10 play you had to have to keep your hopes alive was, let’s just say, not a good play call.
“I think all of the defensive coaches have done a tremendous job in bringing these guys along. We talk all the time about the improvement from week to week, and we’re continually seeing that. To me, it’s when the fundamentals marry up with the scheme on the field. The fundamentals are 10 times more important than the scheme,” Judge said. “I see these guys go ahead and understand a big picture concept and move forward with that. I see the players improving across the board. Pat (Graham) has really evolved in what he’s calling based on what we have to do within the game and who is available.”
Jabrill Peppers also got a little bit of revenge, tackling Boston Scott short of the first-down marker with 2:01 left on a fourth and 16 play. It was Peppers who gave up the game-losing touchdown to Scott in Week 7.
I think the Giants have figured out how to run the ball
It’s not quite ‘Saquon Who?,’ but the Giants are proving something I have always believed — that you don’t need a superstar running back to have an effective running game.
The Giants have now rushed for more than 100 yards in five straight games. Gallman’s 18 carries for 53 yards don’t look that impressive, but if you watched the game you know how good he was. Morris (eight carries, 34 yards) is giving the Giants more than they could have expected.
The Giants, to the credit of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, are taking full advantage of the running ability of Jones, who had a 34-yard touchdown run and a team-high 64 rushing yards on Sunday.
Judge lauded both the play-calling and the run-blocking.
“I think it all starts up front with the line. These guys have done a real good job blocking. Run blocking, pass blocking, we’ve improved every week. I’ve been telling you guys that in every press conference we’ve had, you guys keep asking about what we see or what’s going on, I see a lot of improvement across the board,” Judge said. “When you talk about the run game, I think we’ve found our identity in terms of what we are as a team ... I think it all starts up front, we’ve got runners that run the ball hard, the passing game keeps them honest, Daniel (Jones) being able to pull and run the ball out the back gate keeps them honest with some of the fast flow they can have to the ball with the running back; but to me, it all starts up front with the offensive line. Those guys have done a really good job coming off the ball, playing a physical style of football, and finishing blocks.”