I think that John Mara and Steve Tisch cannot feel good about anything connected to the New York Giants as the final Sunday of the 2021-22 NFL season bleeds into Black Monday.
Following Sunday’s season-ending 22-7 loss to the Washington Football Team, this line from Emily Iannaconi in her game recap tells you everything you need to know about the state of this once-proud franchise:
“The Giants are now 10-23 under Joe Judge, 19-46 under Dave Gettleman, 22-59 since their last winning season (2016) and 61-100 since their last Super Bowl championship.”
Mara explained back in August what he was looking for in the 2021 season:
“I’ll look at that at the end of the season and see whether I think we’re continuing to make progress and moving in the right direction ...
“When I walk off the field after the last game, whenever that is, I want to feel like, do we have a chance to win a Super Bowl with this group? Does this group give us a chance to win the Super Bowl? Are we moving in that direction. If the answer to that is yes, then we’re not going to consider making any changes. If I feel like we’re going backwards, that’s another discussion.”
It is, quite obviously, time for the Giants to have that discussion.
- The Giants have now lost 10 or more games in five consecutive seasons.
- The Giants finished the season with six consecutive double-digit losses. They were outscored 163-56 in that stretch.
- They went 1-7 over their final eight games.
- Against two teams that also finished the season with double-digit losses, the Giants lost their final two games by a combined score of 51-10.
Yes, you can look at those last six games and say quarterback Daniel Jones did not play. Yet, there are many people who don’t believe Jones is any good to begin with. The loss of the quarterback can’t excuse the complete ineptitude we have seen from the Giants over the past six weeks.
Judge said after the game that he would “immediately” start working on the things that needed to be corrected going forward. He said that what the Giants put on the field this season was “not good enough” and that “the fans deserve better.”
Well, duh. It’s not, and they do.
Judge refused to answer “hypotheticals” about his job status in his post-game presser. It is obvious, though, that Mara and Tisch have to have a serious discussion about Judge’s future after the past six weeks.
The Giants have just suffered one indignity after another, embarrassments caused not only by the awful product Judge has sent to the field, but at times by the head coach’s own words and actions.
Sunday, Giants fans showed their embarrassment as it looked like 82,500-seat MetLife Stadium was maybe one-quarter full.
Those who bothered to watch in-person or on television saw yet another embarrassingly inept offensive performance. It was punctuated by Judge showing so little faith (maybe justifiably) in third-string quarterback Jake Fromm and the team’s offensive line that they ran back-to-back quarterback sneaks from the 2- and 4-yard-lines just to have room to punt.
It is hard to argue with this sentiment from New York Post columnist Ian O’Connor:
Sorry, even for those of us who were OK with a Year 3 for Joe Judge a few weeks ago, it's no longer OK. He made it easy on John Mara. He fired himself. The Giants absolutely need a new head coach to go with their new GM.— Ian O'Connor (@Ian_OConnor) January 9, 2022
Or this sentiment:
Two weeks ago, he was safe. Now, the clock ticks toward a possible Joe Judge firing. He'd be the third straight Giants coach to last two years or less (i.e., maybe the problem is the people hiring the coaches). https://t.co/r9fv7GksSC— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 9, 2022
I am one of those people O’Connor is referencing. A couple of months ago I would have said it was a certainty Judge would be back for a third season. Five or six weeks ago I said that keeping Judge was the decision ownership obviously wanted to make, and all he needed to do was give them something, some sign of progress or learning or a brighter future to lock down a third year as head coach.
Instead, all he provided was six weeks of embarrassment.
Players continued to support the coach:
"I've been a part of teams that haven't fought as hard as we do, haven't practiced as hard as we do every day. We practice hard, we fight for each other. Judge squeezes it out of us every day."— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) January 9, 2022
- Lorenzo Carter pic.twitter.com/odS6xdWSF1
If Judge coaches them so hard and demands so much and squeezes so much out of the players, how do they look so inept and unprepared week after week?
“Last year there was a number of things I learned how to do on the job,” Judge said after the game. “Probably this year some of the things I learned there was a lot more of what not to do ... there’s also a lot of things I’ve learned of ‘that’ll never happen again ... sometimes the more valuable lesson you learn is what you can’t do again or what you can’t allow to happen again.”
"Last year there was a number of things I learned how to do on the job... Probably this year a lot of the things I learned was more of what not to do."— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) January 9, 2022
- Giants coach Joe Judge
Judge has done the exact opposite this season of giving Giants ownership reason to believe he is the “right guy” to lead them forward.
The Giants did not progress this season. Blame whatever and whoever you want, but they regressed. Judge can say he believes they are closer to where they want to go, but that’s fantasy. That’s a coach trying to convince ownership to give him another chance. They lost 13 games, nine by double-digits. Judge said a lot of embarrassing things. He embarrassed his offense on Sunday with the back-to-back quarterback sneaks from an exceptionally tight formation. That’s the coach throwing up his hands and saying even he knows nothing good can happen here by running a real play.
A sign of difficult times for the Giants’ offense as they run a QB sneak from their own 4-yard line on 3rd & 9 from this formation. pic.twitter.com/zFHSHsJikA— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 9, 2022
Jay Glazer reported on the FOX pre-game show that Joe Judge was “50/50” to return as Giants head coach, a number that might be 60-40 or 70-30 against after Sunday. Glazer also reported that Judge was angling to get assistant GM Kevin Abrams promoted to replace Dave Gettleman.
That, I believe, is the scenario Mara has always preferred. He probably still does, despite the way things have gone recently and increasingly-loud calls or full-blown change — at least in the front office.
That would mortify a huge chunk of the Giants already angry fan base. I also think it would be a mistake. Realistically, it can’t happen.
I have never talked to Abrams. He might be a great guy. Making him GM, though, basically turns Judge into what Bill O’Brien was for the Houston Texans, and we know that worked out horribly. He would be the de facto GM and would wield almost all of the power, and he certainly has not shown that he deserves it.
It is hard to argue that Judge deserves to be back at all, much less with increased power. The only argument to make in favor of keeping him is that he would be the third straight coach fired after just two seasons. As I have said before, you can’t keep doing that and get anywhere.
Continuity, though, for the sake of continuity is also not going to get the Giants anywhere. You can’t bring Judge back if he is not the “right guy.” Right now, that’s a hard case to make.
The Giants are ending this season in a place they didn’t want to be, and they might have no choice but to do something they don’t — or at least Mara doesn’t — want to do.