Someone has to win it!
Maybe that can be the battle cry for the 2020 Giants. Not as catchy as, “Talk is cheap, play the game’’ from 2007 or as succinct as “All In’’ from 2011. Joe Judge has a bunch of sayings but does not seem too keen on slogans for his team, which his fine. Not everyone is Tom Coughlin.
Just as every move Daniel Jones makes should not trigger a “What would Eli [Manning] do” inquisition, so too should we refrain from too many Judge-Coughlin comparisons. Heck, Judge might connect more closely with Bill Parcells. All this is getting ahead of ourselves after the Giants swept the season series from Washington and, sitting at a still-unsightly 2-7, are alive, if still unwell, in the sickly NFC East.
Coughlin this week would be sharpening his presentation to the team, which always included a refresher as to where the Giants were positioned in the division. It was right there in his PowerPoint. Here is where we are, here is where they are. It was not about false hope with Coughlin, it was about reality, whether that reality was glossy or pockmarked.
Judge is not going there.
“I’m not posting in front of my team what the record is for the season, to be completely honest, here right now,” Judge said. “That’s the last thing we should care about.”
This is wise. There is no sense giving a team more than it can handle. The Giants clearly are getting better and not just because they held on to beat Washington 23-20 after the comfort of a 20-3 halftime lead dissolved and nearly evaporated completely. There will be more winning in the second half of the season than there was in the first. They were 1-7 at the midpoint, meaning this projection is not exactly boldness personified.
Technically, the Giants remain in last place in the NFC East, as they lost to the Cowboys (also 2-7) in Week 5. Washington (2-6) is in second place because it already had its bye and has a higher winning percentage (.250) than the Giants and Cowboys (both at .222). The Eagles (3-4-1, .438) are alone at the top.
Someone has to win it!
If the Giants on Sunday at again-empty MetLife Stadium get some payback for their brutal meltdown loss in Philadelphia they are in serious contention (OK, maybe serious is a bad choice of words) in the NFL’s worst division. Make of this what you will. Judge, at least publicly, is not making much of this and he promises not to make much of this in private, either.
“Throw the record away, it’s irrelevant,” Judge said. “It’s going to be a big game for us no matter who we play, especially with Philadelphia coming in. The record is completely irrelevant this game.”
That is a coach talking. The record is relevant now and it was the first time around. Then, like now, the Giants were coming off a taut (20-19) victory over Washington and the Week 7 Giants-Eagles game was tethered to some sort of bizzaro playoff/first-place line. The Giants could not handle it, wilting in the final 6:17 after amassing a 21-10 lead in a 22-21 loss.
This is a chance for Judge’s team to show how much more grown up it is.
“I’ve been on teams where we’ve had a one-win record by now and you could feel the energy of the team start to drop,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “I feel like that hasn’t happened once, and I think it’s because we’re in these tight games.”
Losing seven times in nine games is supposed to put a team out of it. The Giants are not out of it.
“Obviously it’s a big thing — we know where we’re at, we know where the division’s at,” guard Kevin Zeitler said.
“It’s definitely strange, but the NFL’s crazy,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “Anyone can beat anyone, anyone can be in it at any time. You just kind of go with it week by week, make the improvements necessary and see how the dice falls. You see where we’ve been through this whole season and to know we still have a shot and still have the opportunity right in front of us to do what need to do, it’s an awesome feeling. As a competitor, you love it.”
The Giants in 2020 know they are what they record says they are in their division. Someone has to win it. And they could be that someone.
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