If you are already in a foul mood, New York Giants fans, you might not want to read this edition of ‘Kudos & Wet Willies.’ I took no joy in writing it. I won’t blame if you choose to do something other than re-live Sunday’s pitiful performance by the Giants in an awful 38-11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Anyway, here we go.
Kudos to ...
The 2011 team — They showed up to celebrate their title, took a bow, and suffered through another afternoon of awful football like the rest of us. At least there was a good Giants’ team in the building on Sunday. It was nice to see Tom Coughlin, who is going through a difficult time at home as his wife, Judy, is dealing with a progressive brain disorder.
Xavier McKinney — The second-year safety came away with his first two interceptions of the season. That’s great, and it earns him a “Kudos.” I mean, somebody has to get one. Unfortunately, neither pick made any difference in the game. The first was off a tipped ball on the final play of the first half with the Giants already hopelessly behind, 28-3. The second came off Rams’ backup quarterback John Wolford in the fourth quarter after the Rams had taken many of their key players out. McKinney also had two passes defensed.
Leonard Williams — The veteran defensive end at least made a couple of impact plays while it still mattered. Williams and Dexter Lawrence combined on a sack to end the first LA possession. A Williams sack ended the Rams second drive. He finished with 1.5 sacks and a pair of quarterback hits, along with 7 tackles.
Sterling Shepard — Perhaps the only Giant offensive player who had a good day. Shepard ended up with 10 receptions in 14 targets for 76 yards. Unfortunately, he also slipped down on a Jones’ pass in the second quarter that ended up being intercepted by LA’s Robert Rochell.
Wet Willies to ...
Giants’ offensive line — No place for Devontae Booker (12 carries, 41 yards) to run. No place for Daniel Jones (4 sacks, 2 fumbles, 3 interceptions, 7 quarterback hits and a whole lot of running for his life) to hide. Nate Solder wasn’t good — he got run through by Leonard Floyd on the first lay of the game for a strip-sack. Matt Peart was probably worse. Korey Cunningham got to play a little, and that wasn’t a good thing. Neither Matt Skura not Wes Martin impressed at guard. The more time he misses, the more we’re finding out how well Andrew Thomas really has played. So, there’s that.
I get that the Giants have a ton of injuries and that the line has never been the one the Giants hoped to have. I get that injuries have forced constant shuffling. The amount of rotating the Giants do, though, has become ridiculous. Virtually every offensive series on Sunday featured a different offensive line configuration. At some point the Giants have to figure out who their best guys are, what spots they should be in, and let them play. The constant, too often unforced, juggling isn’t helping anything.
Giants’ defense — Just a few days after defensive coordinator Patrick Graham excoriated the defense for unacceptable play, the defense turned in yet another unacceptable performance. I’m not even going to single out anyone individually. The run defense (131 yards allowed) wasn’t good enough. Ram wide receivers were wide open all day.
PFF wrote: “The Giants secondary allowed an 80% completion rate, 11 first downs, six gains of 15 or more yards and two scores on 20 coverage targets.”
The Rams did pretty much what they wanted whenever they wanted.
The players weren’t very good. A game plan that had Jabrill Peppers trying to cover Cooper Kupp from the slot wasn’t so hot, either.
Leonard Williams’ whining — It was hard to sit in the interview room Sunday night and listen to Williams complain about fans booing the Giants. Yes, they tried. It’s the NFL, though, you don’t get a participation trophy. The Giants are 0-3 at home, and have played three awful football games in front of home fans. They are 1-5 overall. They are the worst team in the NFL since 2017. Fans who don’t have the millions of dollars Williams has, pay their hard-earned cash and give their time to watch this team. They have gotten little to nothing in return for the past several years. They have every right to boo. If I had been in the stands I would have been booing, too.
Daniel Jones — I hate putting him here, to be honest. Jones was under siege from the first snap, when Leonard Floyd ran through Nate Solder like he wasn’t there and crushed him for a sack-fumble that resulted in an 11-yard loss. Jones should have been out of the game instead of taking a slew of unnecessary hits in the fourth quarter. Still, he threw three interceptions, two of which were bad throws/decisions that led to Ram touchdowns. Sterling Shepard fell down on the third one. Jones fumbled twice, losing one at the 12-yard line. That also led to a Los Angeles touchdown. His longest completion of the day went for 17 yards. He finished with a 44.7 passer rating. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass and didn’t get the Giants into the end zone until a meaningless late-fourth quarter score when the Giants trailed by 35 points.
In the first four games of the season Jones played like a guy who was becoming a franchise quarterback. Not Sunday.
Coaching — If you have been reading K&WW posts for a while, you know that I try to avoid including coaches in this post. Today I can’t.
Joe Judge gets a ‘Wet Willie’ first and foremost for failing to do the right thing and get Jones out of the game in the fourth quarter. Asked why Jones was still in the game taking hits at the end, Judge said “I watched how the game flow was going. We’re going to compete for 60 minutes.”
Sorry, not buying. The game was clearly over when the fourth quarter began. There are 12 games left in the season. Jones was a week removed from a concussion. The offensive line was terrible. The “game flow” clearly indicated there was no point in the quarterback you are trying to build around taking hits in a game that wasn’t competitive.
The fact that the Giants weren’t competitive is also part of the problem. Yes, the Rams are better. Yes, the Giants were without several players, and lost more.
Twenty-two games into his tenure, Judge is 7-15 as Giants’ head coach. He continues to talk about progress and week to week improvement. The Giants, though, continue to lose games they should win and continue to look as though they don’t belong in the same league as the NFL’s better teams.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett belongs here, too. At the beginning of the game it looked like the Giants’ entire offensive plan was ‘throw the ball to Kadarius Toney.’ He played six snaps. The Giants threw the ball to him three times. He made two outstanding plays, catches of 17 and 16 yards. He limped off before the end of the first drive. Toney, and the offense, were both done. The Giants looked like they had no Plan B, unless that Plan B was ‘get the quarterback killed.’
The Giants had two short-yardage plays, a third-and-1 and a fourth-and-1, that I don’t understand. The Rams’ defensive front was better than the Giants’ offensive line. Clearly. Yet, the calls on those plays were a dive up the middle by Devontae Booker and a quarterback sneak — the kind of plays you run when you know you can dominate the opposing defensive line.
Patrick Graham also has to be here. The defensive coordinator lambasted his team for “unacceptable” play during the week, using the term a half-dozen or so times. The defense has not looked anything like the top 10 group it was a season ago. It has too often looked helpless and confused. The secondary was supposed to be the strength of the defense. On Sunday, Rams wide receivers were wide open much of the game. That’s been the case much of the year. Per Pro Football Focus, the secondary allowed an 80 percent completion rate, 11 first downs, six gains of 15 or more yards and two scores on 20 coverage targets. Why is Jabrill Peppers in man-to-man coverage vs. Cooper Kupp in the slot? Why can’t the Giants stop anyone in the final two minutes? Why is inside linebacker Tae Crowder 1-on-1 vs. running back Darrell Henderson when he is split wide, which resulted in a 25-yard touchdown? In general, why do the Giants not look like they know what they’re doing — especially in coverage?
Maybe the Giants overachieved on defense a year ago. They have to be better than this, though.