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‘Things I think’ after the Giants get embarrassed by Los Angeles Chargers

Joe Judge says there is a “foundation being poured.” But, what is it being poured with?

New York Giants v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Before playing the Los Angeles Chargers, the New York Giants had a nice little vacation as they spent a few days in the warmth of Tuscon, Ariz. On Sunday, though, the Chargers rudely brought the Giants back to the cold, harsh reality that they are a terrible football team.

Let’s get to more of the ‘things I think’ after the Giants dropped to 4-9.

4-13?

Watching the Giants play on Sunday, it is hard to imagine them winning another game this season.

Maybe quarterback Daniel Jones, who Joe Judge confirmed will have more imaging done on his injured neck Monday, will return and help the Giants at least play functional offense.

If that doesn’t happen, maybe the Giants will think Jake Fromm knows enough of their offense by next Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys that he deserves a chance to replace Mike Glennon.

Maybe the Giants finally showed some signs of improvement in the running game Sunday, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Maybe, though, that was just the Chargers being ahead by 30 and not really caring as the Giants handed the ball off.

Maybe Riley Dixon will stop hitting terrible punts. Or air-mailing passes on fake punts.

Maybe Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Toney or someone who plays the wide receiver position will make a couple of plays before the season ends.

Maybe one or two of the Giants’ final four opponents will lay an egg and the Giants will somehow stumble into a couple of victories.

Maybe. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I have to think the Giants will accidentally get at least one more victory the rest of season. I think, though, that I wouldn’t be shocked if they don’t.

Joe Judge’s seat warming up?

I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to the Giants’ head coach. I continue to believe that Giants’ ownership wants desperately to have Judge succeed. They do not want to go looking for another head coach, removing yet another head coach after a failed two-year stint.

I continue to say that Judge simply needs to give co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch something to believe in, something to hang their hat on, some evidence that things are going to get better.

I continue to wonder when that is going to happen.

Judge was extraordinarily late for his post-game press conference. The coach is the anti-Tom Coughlin. He is ALWAYS late for sessions with the media after games. He is supposed to be at the podium about 12 minutes after games. That never happens. Sunday evening, it was more than half-hour before he addressed the media.

Judge was somber, but he still did not express any anger at the non-competitive performance he had just witnessed. He still didn’t say that the product the Giants put on the field was unacceptable.

Judge continued to talk vaguely about signs of organizational progress and that he continues to think about the “big picture” and the “long-term” rather than the week-to-week.

“In terms of the big scope of where we’re going internally you can see a lot of pieces being put together” Judge said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to know what it’s supposed to look like and I can see the direction it’s going and I can see the foundation being poured and solidified and we’re going to get in the right direction.”

Still, Judge also acknowledged that it’s a results-oriented business.

The results have not been good. The Giants are 10-19 in 29 game with Judge as head coach. They continue to make the same mistakes and have the same issues week after week. Rather than getting better, they look increasingly non-competitive.

“I’m the head coach. Everything in the program reflects on me. I don’t ever shy away from that. I don’t make excuses and I don’t hide from that, either.

“In terms of the direction the program’s going there’s a lot of things I see week after week with our players and where we’re going that I’m encouraged in a lot of ways. Sometimes that’s tough to see externally, but there’s some key foundational pieces that are being put in place and there’s a lot of things we’re making progress on.”

What we see is a team that is now guaranteed a fifth consecutive losing season, and that will almost certainly lose double-digit games for the fifth season in a row.

We see that the results aren’t getting better. The head coach is stubbornly unwilling to shed his conservative skin, shown by a refusal to go for it on fourth-and-2 at midfield on the Giants’ opening possession. We see that there are a lot of things the Giants do poorly, most of which they have done poorly all season. About the only thing we see them do well is kick field goals.

I think it is becoming increasingly difficult to say that Judge is doing anything to earn a third season as head coach of the Giants. Odds are he will still get one, and that might even be the right decision, but he certainly is not running a strong campaign.

Justin Herbert is ridiculous

Watching this really had to hurt Giants GM Dave Gettleman. Before he was in “full bloom love” with Jones, it was pretty obvious Gettleman’s heart belonged to Justin Herbert. Herbert, though, spurned Gettleman and the Giants by going back to Oregon for the 2019 season.

What the Giants missed out on was on full display Sunday evening. To put it mildly, Herbert is RIDICULOUS!

Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers might be the only other human beings who can do this:

Logan Ryan and Xavier McKinney made the cardinal sin of letting Jalen Guyton get behind them in the closing seconds of the half. Still, Herbert could be the only person on the planet who would have made them pay for that transgression.

Herbert also had a couple of insanely good across-the-field completions — you know, the kind of passes quarterbacks are not supposed to throw. He finished 23 of 31 for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He became the first player ever with at least 30 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons.

In the process, he broke the Giants’ hearts all over again.

More two-minute embarrassment

The end of the first half couldn’t have been more embarrassing, and more emblematic of this Giants’ season. The raw numbers are unbelievable, showing that the Giants have been outscored 59-0 in the final two minutes of the first half this season.

I think you would be right to wonder how that is even possible. Then, I think all you have to do is watch the final 1:40 of Sunday’s first half to realize “oh, that’s how.”

After Riley Dixon managed to do something right, hitting a 63-yard punt that Keion Crossen downed at the Chargers’ 4-yard line, the Giants’ defense engineered a three-and-out. A terrible Charger punt gave the Giants the ball at the Los Angeles 41-yard line with 1:40 left in the half.

This had to be the time the Giants would FINALLY score at the end of the first half. Right? Well, no.

All the Giants had to do is run the ball for 5 or 6 yards, give Graham Gano a chance at a field goal and go the locker room trailing by a touchdown, 17-7. The Giants went incomplete pass, pass for a 2-yard loss, incomplete pass, punt in 44 seconds.

Then, Justin Herbert happened and the Giants ended up down by 17 at the half. The second half was simply academic.

Micah Parsons and Rashawn Slater

What Herbert did to the Giants was bad enough, making it impossible not to think about what could have been if Herbert had entered the 2019 NFL Draft and fallen to the Giants at No. 6.

Then, there are Rashawn Slater and Micah Parsons to think about.

The Giants, of course, traded down from No. 11 to No. 20 in the 2021 NFL Draft. They selected wide receiver Kadarius Toney, leaving Parsons for the Dallas Cowboys to select at No. 12 and Slater for the Chargers at No. 13.

Toney has flashed brilliance — at least he did in one 10-catch, 189-yard performance against Dallas. Still, he has now missed four games and really has barely been fully healthy all season.

It is impossible to judge the wisdom of the trade down the Giants made — something most analysts, including myself, supported at the time — until we see what happens with the additional top-10 pick the Giants have in next season’s draft.

Still, it’s hard to watch Slater and Parsons star while Toney sits and the offense flounders, without wondering if the Giants erred.

New York got an eyeful of just how good Slater is on Sunday. Yes, there was one play on which he might have been guilty of a hold but the kid is a terrific offensive lineman. Entering Week 14, slater was the seventh-graded offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus, and you could see why against the Giants.

If you watched Red Zone, or were fortunate enough to be in a locale where the Cowboys-Washington Football Team game was being shown, in the 1 p.m. window, you got an eyeful of just how phenomenal Parsons is.

I’m not trying to say ‘I told you so,’ because I did not think the Giants should have drafted Parsons. What I did say consistently in the pre-draft buildup was that Parsons was the best defensive player, and best edge rusher, in the draft class.

He keeps proving that.

Sunday, he had two sacks, including a strip sack that created a defensive score, and two quarterback hits. He now has 12 sacks, and might be Defensive Player of the Year and not just Rookie of the Year.

I think the Giants better hit a home run with that first-round pick from the Bears this coming April.

A few more random thoughts

  • Riley Dixon cannot be the Giants’ punter next season. He has let the Giants down again and again this season. Sunday, after Judge made his weekly ultra-conservative fourth-and-2 choice at midfield, Dixon blasted a punt into the end zone. He hit an 18-yard punt from the Chargers’ 43-yard line. He air-mailed a pass on a fake punt he had apparently thrown well in practice all week.
  • It took Matt Peart two plays on Sunday to show why Nate Solder plays. Given a chance, Peart whiffed on a run block that caused Saquon Barkley to lose yardage.
  • Remember when 16 carries for 64 yards was a bad day of work for Barkley?
  • How did Kyle Rudolph catch a pass for 60 yards and not have another ball thrown his way the remainder of the game?
  • I don’t ever want to see that double reverse screen pass again.
  • Of course the Giants would get a fourth-down stop only to see it be nullified by a Los Angeles false start penalty that enabled them to kick a field goal.
  • Whether it is Mike Glennon’s fault, Kenny Golladay’s fault, or both, it’s kind of sad to see how hard the Giants are trying to get the ball to Golladay and how little production they are getting out of it. Sunday, Golladay had two catches in eight targets for 15 yards. He caught a pass on the first offensive play of the game and then did virtually nothing the rest of the game.
  • Once upon a time, Darius Slayton was a fifth-round find by Gettleman. Now, he’s just another unproductive wide receiver. Slayton had no catches on three targets, and you could probably call two of those incompletions drops.