Tag Archives: Joe Judge

The Giants lost to the Rams 17-9 this past Sunday. Is there still reason to cheer?

It’s OK, Nick.  I do believe you are telling it like it is.  Having been a Giants fan since 1970, I can remember many more bad years than good.  The past four seasons, as you have stated, have been garbage.

It’s not for lack of trying.  More likely, bad hiring decisions by the Mara/Tisch ownership group.  Starting with the decision to keep coach Coughlin on for too long as well as an aging Eli Manning, management thinking should have turned proactive.  The decisions to hire Ben Macadoo and then Pat Shurmer as head coach were both bad moves.  Neither one of these hires was ready to be a true head coach.  Unquestionably competent as position coaches, they did not operate with the vision needed by a head coach.  Quite frankly, they lacked the overall management skills required to keep their teams together.

Now let’s fast forward to present day.  I actually like what I’ve heard coming out of the mouth of Joe Judge. Coming from perhaps the most respected coaching tree in the league, namely the New England Patriots, as well as the Nick Saban college ranks, Judge will eventually see success in the NFL.  Giants fans of course hope this will be sooner as opposed to later.

Believe it or not, the defense is improving

On Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, the Giants became closer to becoming a winning team.  Their defense is improving.  Notable stars are emerging on the D-line, in the linebacking corps and in the secondary.  Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams are providing some push up the middle. Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell are making names for themselves from the linebacker group.  (Who doesn’t like the addition of Martinez, who always seems to be around the ball?).  Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham appears to be doing a good job with his personnel. Although they are likely to be a few players away from being consistently competitive, I do feel the defense is headed in the right direction.

No real threats on offense

With Saquon Barkley in the game (and as was the case when we had O’Dell Beckum Jr. on the team), there was the belief that the GMEN could score on any play in which they touched the ball.  The closest thing the current team can claim to having a home run threat is wide receiver Darius Slayton (3-48 against the Rams). Slayton is off to a quiet start of the season thus far.  The talented yet extremely unreliable Evan Engram is not doing the job at Tight End and the often- injured Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are, often injured.  Without the game-breaking talent of a Barkley or a Beckum, the current squad is having difficulty scoring touchdowns at the moment.  Kicking field goals, as we know, is a recipe for losing games.  Thus, the 0-4 start with 2 defeats (Bears and Rams) which were winnable games.

The GMEN are still feeling around for their best five offensive lineman. This is something that teams often do during the preseason (oh that’s right, there wasn’t a preseason this year!).  Well, the shuffling around of linemen on the roster is likely to continue until there seems to be consistency on the offensive line with some inkling of ability to run and/or pass block, hopefully both.

I do believe there is talent on the offensive line. If Marc Columbo can unlock the motivational key on Will Hernandez (am I the only Giants fan who thinks that he should be playing better than he is… ?), along with rookies Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux, the core of the offensive line might be set for a few years.  Imagine if the Giants don’t have to focus on drafting offensive lineman in the next NFL draft ?

I know that Pro Football Focus has Cameron Fleming rated as the top offensive lineman for the Giants thus far this season.  If that’s the case, yikes!  I have found his contributions to be serviceable at best. I liken him to a Kevin Booth. (Booth could take up a lot more space though). It will be interesting to see if coaches try to work in Shane Lemieux in to one of the guard positions or swing new Center, Nick Gates out to the Right Tackle position which I believe he played in college.  Inserting Lemieux would bring a bit of nastiness to the offensive line (something we thought would be provided by Will Hernandez) which this team could undoubtedly use.

Back to the offense, the backfield consisting of the newly acquired Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis is not likely to inspire too much fear in the minds of opposing defenses.  Coaching has to be more creative in using their running back’s best attributes  (screen passes?). Handoffs from the line of scrimmage aren’t going to do the job until the offensive line demonstrates the ability to open running lanes.  Devonta Freeman’s workload should increase each week as he is learning more of the playbook.  The good news is that it appears that he has something left in the tank.

Last but not least

Now let’s talk about Daniel Jones.  Is the glass half-full or half-empty?  Both, I guess. He certainly does appear to be a work-in-progress.  Having grown up during the Phil Simms years, I have seen the evolution of a Giants quarterback.  It took Simms 4 or 5 seasons trading starts with his backup Scott Brunner before he took command of the position and went on to greater things, including a victory and mvp in Superbowl XXI.

So does Daniel Jones have a Superbowl victory in him?  Impossible to tell at this point. You have to believe he is doing his best to control his turnovers at this point.  Improvement on the offensive line will be essential to his development.  We must also see better decision making from Jones, especially in the Red Zone. Personally, I want to see more of the fire that we saw in Phil Simms turnaround as the QB for the GMEN.  Jones needs to take control of this offense and show his linemen that he has the ability to lead this team to winning games this season and beyond.

If the Giants don’t win any games this season, fans will be calling for Jones head on a plate as well as those of head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.  They are facing an underachieving yet offensively talented 1-3 Dallas Cowboys team this week. Always a favorite rival, this game will be a good barometer of how much the Giants defense has improved thus far in the 2020. season.  Stay tuned and get your popcorn ready…

Huddleball.com welcomes all fan insight and opinions.  If you want to blog with us this season, please email us at huddleball@gmail.com.

Run Forrest Run !

When your quarterback is the leading rusher for your team, as was the case with Daniel Jones of the New York Giants this past Sunday against the San Francisco Forty Niners, this is usually telling of the outcome of the game. Jones was the Giants leading rusher with 5 carries for 49 yards. When this appears to be the best play that you have going for you on offense, it is likely to be a long day.

Week 3 against the San Francisco Forty Niners offered very few positives for the New York Giants. The GMEN were thoroughly dominated by the Forty Niners on both sides of the ball. Time of possession said it all. The Niners had the ball 39:44 to the Giants 20:16, their lowest time of possession since a December 24, 2006 game against the New Orleans Saints.  Worst of all, the Giants were soundly beaten by a team comprised on backups. No Garoppolo, no Kittle, no Mostert.  The Niners backups Nick Mullens (QB), Jerick McKinnon, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, J. Wilson Jr. (RB & WR’s), and Ross Dwelley (TE) torched the GMEN to the tune of 25 completions on 36 attempts passing in a thoroughly dominant 36-9 victory.

What is wrong with the Giants?

Pretty much everything.  Whereas most analysts predicted that the Giants were at most a 6-game winner this season, it is possible they won’t win any games.  This season is not for the faint hearted.

The Giants are at best a work-in-progress.  They look competent on some plays but don’t sustain drives. Their defense makes the occasional sack, deflection or run-stop, but can’t seem to make any critical plays when needed.  As the statistics indicate, the defense was on the field for what felt like the entire game on Sunday against the Niners, unable to make any needed key third down stops.  This makes it easy to say this is a horrible team.  Perhaps they are, at the moment.  Their record and stats for the 2020 season thus far would indicate as much.

It isn’t like the Giants don’t have any talent.  They do, on both sides of the ball.  A number of players have shown signs of playmaking capability. Perhaps they simply needed the offseason and 4 preseason games, all lost to the Coronavirus epidemic.  Perhaps they need more direction from their coaches and head coach.

Some defensive linemen and linebackers have flashed.  Leonard Williams finally appears to be wrapping his arms around the quarterback (2 sacks); Lorenzo Carter has shown the ability to pressure the quarterback although the sacks have been slow to come.  Oshane Ximinez and Kyler Fackrell have to get home more in their limited opportunities.  Is it as simple as saying that their play is the result of not having an offseason or any preseason games to assess their strengths and weaknesses?  Perhaps to an extent, but at some point coaches have to start making a difference.  Kyle Shanahan’s play calling gave the Giants fits all game. The Niners scored four touchdowns and two field goals on six visits to the red zone.  The Giants, on the other hand, did not run one play inside the Niners 20 yard line.  Total domination by the Niners!

The secondary has been spotty at best. Free agent cornerback signing James Bradberry has made several pass breakups in addition to a few interceptions.  Julian Love has an interception and has been involved in some quality defensive plays.  I think I saw Logan Ryan check in for a play or two against the Forty Niners. However, the other corner position, as expected, has yielded too many key plays.

The Giants are too predictable.  When their opponents need a key third down reception, an opposing receiver can always be seen steaking across the middle of the field untouched.  The fact is, nobody is making key stops.

The offense has been equally unreliable.  As easy as it is to say the team’s fate rested in Saquon Barkley’s hands, they must move on after his devastating season-ending injury.  All teams are experiencing a plethora of major injuries this season.  The who’s who list includes Christian McCaffrey, Nick Bosa, Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman, Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, Julio Jones and others.

The injury wave can’t be the result of coincidence.  It is the ramification of forcing a league to begin on time without the benefit of an offseason as well as preseason games.

As for the GMEN, growing pains had to be expected for Daniel Jones in Season 2.  The bloom has come of the rose. It is time to determine if Jones has what it takes to be the quarterback of the New York Giants. His “dear in the headlights” face from operating behind an offensive line that lacks coherence and continuity is growing thin on fans.  He is going to have to make plays on his own.  He has definitively shown us that he has the running ability to do so.  He must also demand play-calling which keeps opposing teams guessing.

It is indeed a trying time to be a Giants fan.  Even though we have been spoiled with 4 Superbowl wins in the last 30 years, we have not had a winning season since 2016 when they went 11-5. It is not too much to ask for a team with a winning record.  Look at the models of consistency in the NFL.  Look at the Patriots, Saints, Seahawks and Forty Niners; teams that have consistently winning records.

I am not asking for this team to be in the Superbowl this year.  Far from it.  I am simply requiring progress in some areas; offense, defense, special teams.  Just show me improvement week to week that can be built on regardless of the outcome of the game. That is all I am asking for.  Without progress, you become a lesser franchise perennial cellar-dweller.

If you watch Sean Payton (head coach, New Orleans Saints) call a game, you know to expect the unexpected.  Although he does have a Superbowl-winning quarterback at the helm of his offense, he brings in another quarterback turned jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill in on offense to mix things up.  I am not saying that gadget plays are the key to a New York Giants turnaround.  I am saying that more creativity from the coaching staff will be required if the Giants are to achieve any wins in this bizarre virus-impaired season.  Up next week:  a visit to the Los Angeles Rams.

Huddleball.com welcomes all fan insight and opinions.  If you want to blog with us this season, please email us at huddleball@gmail.com.

Do you remember when we traded for this running back?

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, New York Giants General Manager George Young pulled the trigger on a trade with the Houston Oilers for a backup running back named Rob Carpenter.  A fifth year pro, Carpenter became relegated to fullback duties when the Oilers drafted Earl Campbell in 1978.  Apparently the Giants had their eyes on Carpenter for a few years.  He was a good blocker, good runner and had excellent hands.  Perhaps most importantly, he was tough. Carpenter had been averaging 300 yards per season for the Oilers in his 3 + seasons with the team but was deemed expendable in head coach Ed Biles scheme which featured Earl Campbell and Tim Wilson as the blocking back.

I have some not-so-fond memories of this time as a young Giants fan.  I remember full-well hearing Leon Perry’s name being called on third and one.  The result more often than not was Fourth and One. The Giants were forced to punt the ball. (Going for it at that time was all but unheard of).

The Giants traded undisclosed draft picks for Carpenter, thought to have been as low as a third round pick.  As it turned out, the trade was a good one for the Giants.  Lifting up a weak running game that featured Billy Taylor, Doug Kotar and Leon Perry, Carpenter went on to have the best season of his career rushing for 833 yards including 4-100 yard games.

Carpenter led the Giants to their first playoff victory in decades with 33 carries for 161 yards as well as 4 receptions for 32 yards in a 27-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He continued to play for the Giants until 1985.

Fast forward to present day.  The Giants have lost their all-world back Saquon Barkley to a season-ending acl injury.  As if anything more could go wrong in the world this season, the best player on the Giants went down with a major injury in Game 2.  Barkley was the key to the Giants offense.  So heavily relied upon to move the chains for the Giants, his backup, Wayne Gallman was not even activated for the game.

The Giants slept walked through the first half against the Chicago Bears making the Mitch Trubisky-led offense look better than they were. The Bears wide receivers featuring Allen Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Anthony Miller and Darnell Mooney effectively offset the run game led by David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen.  The Bears led the Giants, 10-0 before the Giants’ Daniel Jones threw his first interception of the day. Total yardage thus far in the game was entirely in the Bears favor; 81 yards to the Giants 4.

On their final drive of the first half, Trubisky operated like a surgeon.  Using weapons Darnell Mooney, Javon Wims and Ryan Nall, Trubisky ended the drive with a touchdown pass to Moody over struggling cornerback Corey Ballentine.  Trubisky was 5 of 5 on this drive for 56 yards.  The Giants pass rush on this drive was nowhere to be found.

The Giants, on the other hand, were rumbling, stumbling and fumbling.  Their first three possessions featured a fumble, a punt and an interception before Barkley went down with his season-ending injury. The Giants attempted a 57-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in the half.  The result was a miss. The GMEN had 31 passing yards in the first half.  The score was 17-0 at the half.  For those of you scoring at home, the last time the Bears shutout the Giants in the first half was 1991.  Surprising as it was, the Giants were still in the game.

In the words of NFL coaching immortal Knute Rockne, “build up on your weaknesses until they become your strong points”.  Perhaps these words were among the half time speech given to the team by head coach Joe Judge as the Giants made a valiant effort in the second half.

After an opening drive that included a third down sack of Daniel Jones by the Bears’s Akiem Hicks, the Giants showed some life on the next drive when Julian Love intercepted a Trubisky pass that was tipped by cornerback James Bradberry.  The Giants proceeded to turn the drive into 3 points and they were on the board… score 17-3 in favor of the Bears.

After losing wide receiver Sterling Shepard to what would be a season-ending toe injury, the Giants used an assortment of players including Wide Receiver C.J. Board and Tight End Kaden Smith on an 8-play, 91 yard scoring drive resulting in a Dion Lewis touchdown for the GMEN.  The Giants were back in this one, 17-10.

On the Bears next drive, Giants cornerback James Bradberry proved his worth with an amazing interception of Trubisky.  Using his newest favorite weapons, CJ Board and Kaden Smith, Daniel Jones drove the Giants down to field goal position where new kicker Graham Gano made the score 17-13… game on!

The Bears followed up with a drive that caught the Giants defense off guard with 57 yards on the ground.  They attempted to end it with a long field goal attempt which was no good.  With 2:02 left in the game, the Giants would get the ball back on what would wind up being their final drive of the game.

The GMEN proceeded to keep to keep their drive alive with two fourth down conversions. Finally, with time winding down to 8 seconds left, the GMEN were called for offensive pass interference as Wide Receiver Golden Tate pushed off his defender.  Game over.  The Giants lost 17-13.  Although nobody likes a loss, it is easy to see the positive in the Giants second half performance.  One can’t help but believe that they could have pulled out a victory with additional time on the clock.

Moving forward, the Giants signed free agent running back Devonta Freeman to fill-in for the injured Saquon Barkley.  Freeman is a 28-year old two-time Pro Bowler who can do it all; run, catch and block. Some think Freeman’s best years are behind him.  I ask all fans to remember the Rob Carpenter lesson. An early-mid season key addition to your team can infuse energy and enthusiasm.

Whereas I am not necessarily looking for a playoff visit this year for the 0-2 Giants, I do think that the addition of Freeman will help the GMEN on putting a few more W’s on the board this year. I do see some positive signs on both sides of the ball for the GMEN and loved the second half effort displayed in the Bears game, albeit in a loss.  With the addition of Freeman and continued improvement on both sides of the ball, I think this team might surprise.  Just some thoughts from an ignorantly optimistic Giants fan!

Huddleball.com welcomes all fan insight and opinions.  If you want to blog with us this season, please email us at huddleball@gmail.com.

Giants vs. Steelers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Before we begin this version of the Sergio Leone classic, allow me to say how great it was to enjoy NFL football this weekend.  In light of the year we are all experiencing, NFL football is a much welcomed diversion from Covid- related news updates.  Amazingly enough, it appears that the NFL has found a way to provide us with a revised version of entertainment, albeit with few-to-no fans in the stadium and sideline personnel wearing masks.  (One recommendation I do have to make; lay off the closeups of Chiefs coach Andy Reid if he continues to wear the plastic mask shield.  His shield was covered in an unappealing moisture fog cloud).  And let’s all keep our fingers crossed that there are no health repercussions as a result of the games being played this past weekend.

Now for the much anticipated season opener between the Giants and the Steelers, whose outcome came at no surprise.  The Steelers won the game, 26-16, but for Giants fans, it could have been worse.  The truth of the matter is that the GMEN were in the game much of the first half and were actually leading the Steelers 10-3 after their third drive of the game.   Then reality set in. There was a tougher, more polished team in this game that was not from New York with a Superbowl-winning quarterback leading them named Ben Roethlisberger. Truth be told, the Steelers were manhandling the Giants on several fronts.  After the Giants held a brief 10-3 lead, an impressive New York drive was stalled when the Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt intercepted a Daniel Jones pass.  Ben’s pass to Ju-Ju Smith Shuster over new Giants cornerback James Bradberry made the score 10-9. The tide had indeed turned.

The Giants were unable to get Saquon Barkley going pretty much the entire game.  Run blocking was  non-existent.  The Steelers stated after the game that their primary mission was to render Saquon Barkley ineffective during the game.  They succeeded in achieving this goal. This is how the Giants linemen fared against the Steelers:

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Linemen Rankings From Pro Football Focus:

LT-Andrew Thomas:  60.8

LG-Will Hernandez:  46.3

C- Nick Gates:  54.4

RG- Kevin Zeitler:  49.6

RT- Cameron Fleming:  51.6

=====================================================================================

The Giants proceeded to go nowhere on their next possession.  Saquon continued to get stuffed on or near the line of scrimmage. At this point in the game, he had 7 rushes for -6 yards.  This is not a recipe for winning the game.  And when James Connor went down with an injury for the Steelers, his replacement, Benny Snell ran hard on the Giants to the tune of 19 carries for 113 yards.

The Giants and the Steelers exchanged possessions leaving the ball in the hands of the Steelers. Big Ben looked to be in form as he continued to find Ju-Ju Shuster Smith open.  Rookie Darnay Holmes was unable to stay with him. A 13-yard pass from Ben to James Washington made it 16-10 at the half. Ben was 5-7 for 67 yards and a touchdown on this last drive.

With the Giants trailing 16-10 in the third quarter, Daniel Jones ended a heroic 19-play drive that could have put them ahead with an awful interception just outside of the end zone.  This blunder was a key point in the game for the Giants, who never recovered. Pittsburgh took control of the remainder of the game.

The Steelers went on a 9-play 62 yard drive that made the score 19-10, Steelers. The inability of Barkley to gain positive yards on offense combined with the inability to stop linebacker Bud Dupree from getting to Daniel Jones was a theme that remained constant throughout the second half of the game.

The Giants did score again on Darius Slayton’s second touchdown reception of the day. The Steelers added one more score. The final score was 26-16 Steelers.   Now for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly !

(cue music)

The Good

  • The Giants were in this game, for the most part
  • Rookie LT Andrew Thomas was not abused by TJ Watt and Bud Dupree. The remainder of the Giants O-line were.
  • Darius Slayton is a star. He picked up where he left off last season with 2 TD receptions and over 100 receiving yards
  • Both Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence registered sacks in this game
  • LB Blake Martinez was all over the field in this game. As advertised, he recorded 12 tackles (8 solo)
  • We didn’t really expect to win this game, did we?

The Bad

  • Nick Gates struggled in his first attempt at the Center position for the Giants
  • Cam Fleming struggled in his first outing at Right Tackle for the GMEN
  • The Giants run-blocking was non-existent against the Steelers
  • The Giants could not stop the Steelers from converting any key plays, a disturbing issue that                               seems to have carried-forward from last season.
  • Both Cornerbacks James Blackberry and Isaac Yiadom were beaten for touchdowns

The Ugly

  • Saquon Barkely had 15 rushes for 6 yards
  • Evan Engram continued to no-show in key games with 2 receptions for 9 yards. He dropped                          passes and missed blocks.

Next week we are off to Chicago.  It will be interesting to see if  Joe Judge’s young squad can build off this outing against the Steelers.

Huddleball.com welcomes all fan insight and opinions.  If you want to blog with us this season, please email us at huddleball@gmail.com.