Just as everyone predicted when the New York Giants signed Tommy DeVito as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois, he was their starter on the road against the division rival Dallas Cowboys in Week 10.
Actually, nobody thought DeVito would start for the Giants in 2023. The more optimistic predictions were that the rookie could develop into a successor to Tyrod Taylor behind Daniel Jones after the 2023 season. But nobody thought he’d be starting — and if he was starting games for the Giants then something probably went horribly wrong.
Many things have, in fact, gone horribly wrong for the Giants in 2023. None of that is in any way on DeVito, but he was still the Giants’ starting quarterback in a blow-out loss to one the Giants’ chief rivals.
That lead to some complicated emotions for the young man.
“Bittersweet,” he said. “I felt better as the game went on. In the second half I think the offense did a better job executing but it was too late at that point. But I think we ended off on a good note and we are carrying some of that energy going into practice this week.”
The Giants ended the game on something of a high note, scoring a touchdown to end the game. The 17 points the Giants scored was their second-highest total of the season, and nobody can say that’s a good thing. However, the team still played competitively in the moment, treating the situation as though they were in the two-minute drill with the game on the line. And while commentator Greg Olsen called it the “longest 45 seconds in NFL history”, it still meant something to the players.
DeVito said, “Yeah, it was about pride and just having some kind – I don’t want to say good feeling at the end, but really just showing a positive throughout the game because you know there were positives throughout the game, there wasn’t so many. The negatives kind of overbear the positive, but just to go out with that and just have that kind of feeling that like, we are right there with some of these drives, you put one play here, one play there, one detail here, one detail there, that drive can turn into multiple drives in the end that like. I think that kind of just put that feeling in everybody going out that like we need to start off that way.”
While the game ended on a positive note for the Giants, scoring a touchdown in the closing seconds, DeVito isn’t without things to work on. In particular, he says the interception on a deep pass in the third quarter intended for Jalin Hyatt sticks in his mind.
“That one interception stands out to me the most,” he said. “Again, was just trying to be a little too aggressive. Just got to see that guy, get down to another option that I have. We had a good run play before that, so try to just keep staying in the positive and don’t have any negative plays.”
DeVito noted that he chided himself on the sideline for both being too aggressive with the pass, and not being aware of DaRon Bland closing the receiving window. However, he also says that he tries to have a short memory during games.
He said, “In the moment, I’m very like, ‘on to the next,’ I’m pretty quick with it.”
“After I’m home, I’m always my toughest critic,” he added. “I will beat myself up over a play for a while after that but then I’m like – I flush hit after that. But I’ll sit there and I’m like, ‘Tommy, what are you doing?’ or like ‘you need to do this, you need to do that,’ but I’m always the hardest on myself so when I come in here and get the coaching, I’m able to have an even keel mind and just listen to it and accept it and be able to grow from it.”
Right now, the overarching message from head coach Brian Daboll has been supportive. DeVito said of the expectations on him, “Just to be myself and do what I’ve been doing since I got here. Just get better every day and continue to go out and do what I’ve done to get to this point. Be better all around.”
Overall, his coaches and teammates are encouraging him to be positive despite the team’s lack of success.
Their message to him is to “Just keep being that ball of energy and just keep having that competitive confidence about myself just to help keep the offense going,” he said. “Especially when we are in, if you want to call it some kind of drought or whatever you want to call it, just not playing up to the standard that we want to at all times throughout the game. Just keep trying, just keep everybody upbeat and that’s for myself too.”
DeVito also said that veterans like Justin Pugh and Ben Bredeson have helped him in the huddle, while Daniel Jones joins him for film study.
Ultimately, DeVito is in the unenviable position of being a rookie who nobody expected to play meaningful snaps — let alone start. It makes sense that his coaches and teammates are trying to be as supportive as possible.
But also, DeVito is in the very enviable position of suddenly getting to live out a childhood dream.
“I mean, you always play the scenario out when you’re a little kid. I was probably five years old; I was probably doing that,” he said. “Acting like, when I was playing with my friends in the backyard, like that was playing in the NFL. So I wouldn’t say that changed too much. You understand that there’s a business side of it and it’s not so much fun and all that as you were when you were five years old.”
He understands the pressure involved and the general tenor of the coverage around the Giants. However, he’s trying both enjoy the position in which he’s found himself as well as maintain perspective.
He said, “Just enjoy it, you’re in the NFL, you’re, whatever it is, below one percent. Just enjoy the moment, be here, enjoy playing football for your job and just go out and give it all you have.”