New York Giants’ season story: painful mistakes in key moments – New York Giants blog
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – It keeps happening. Again and again late in the game for this New York Giants team.
In week two, an offside in a last-second field goal attempt against the Washington soccer team gave kicker Dustin Hopkins the second chance he needed to beat New York. On Monday, another offside penalty nullified what would have been a game-changing interception in the fourth quarter of a 20-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The second and 20 no less.
“We’re just shooting ourselves in the foot. Making bad mistakes at key moments,” said cornerback James Bradberry. “This is how we lose games.”
Linebacker Oshane Ximines was the culprit for the costly penalty this time around, but he wasn’t alone on Monday. Full-back Elijhaa Penny has been called up for taunts, ending a promising fourth-quarter workout. Linebacker Tae Crowder was flagged twice late in the game – for a face mask and unnecessary roughness. Coach Joe Judge had exhausted his time-outs with more than three minutes to go in the first half, then pinned him on a helmet problem.
These are things that happen to bad teams, and the Giants (2-6) are currently qualifying.
In a season when the owners expected the Giants to compete for the playoffs, only the Detroit Lions (0-8) have a worse record in the NFC. Games against the Las Vegas Raiders 5-2 (1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-2 (November 22) are the next opportunities for New York to get it right.
“We can’t bring these things back,” the judge said.
He knows it. The players too. So why do the Giants keep losing / skipping those close games?
You can watch the losses against Washington, Atlanta (week 3) and now Kansas City. All winnable games turned by late error. Each committed by a different player.
In addition to offside penalties from Dexter Lawrence (Washington) and Ximines (Kansas City), Adoree Jackson’s abandoned interception was a crucial blunder at the end of the home loss to Atlanta.
Defensive captain Logan Ryan has a theory.
“We just need to have a better balance at the end when the stakes are high,” he said. “Unfortunately, not all of us get a ‘Bad Mon!’ We don’t get that in this league. We have to learn from it. We have to do better. “
The results indicate that the Giants don’t have the right mix of players and coaches. Having veterans and stars on the roster delivering those games that make a difference in the clutch is something that winning teams seem to have. They instill confidence in the rest of the team and improve every player.
Where are these guys for the Giants? Quarterback Daniel Jones has played much better this season, but doesn’t seem able to carry the team on his own.
He set his target on his first passing attempt on Monday and threw an interception deep into Giants territory that led to a Chiefs touchdown. And he had no chance on the last drive when his offensive line failed to protect in a mandatory overtaking situation.
“I think we’ve done some good things here and there but ultimately not enough and not consistent enough,” Jones said.
Coaching isn’t absolute either. Not having any downtime for their two-minute drive in the first half on Monday was prohibitive.
What’s disappointing is that Judge prides itself on his attention to detail. It was supposed to be his strength.
“Mental discipline, I guess,” said rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney, explaining why mistakes keep happening. “We just have to pay attention to what we are doing.”
A troubling admission eight games in the season and 24 games in the judge’s tenure.
Lack of aggressiveness
The Giants have collected 20 points in three of eight games. This in a league where five teams (maybe the top five in the NFL) mean more than 30 points per game.
Given that limitation, one would think the Giants would be ultra-aggressive when scoring opportunities present themselves. But perhaps the biggest surprise of the Judge era is its conservative approach.
Fourth and 2 off the Kansas City 5-yard line with just under three minutes to go in the first half is a place where the scans say it’s not a bad decision. The judge chose to hit a basket, reducing New York’s deficit to 14-10.
An argument can be made against kicking the basket given the Giants’ scoring issues.
“Some people say it’s aggressive to go there, but I’ve said it before, sometimes it’s aggressive to hit and play aggressive with our defense,” Judge said. “We’re going to stop you and get the ball back and finish in a better position on the pitch with the offense.”
This thinking seems to downplay the possibility that being aggressive offensively could also produce positive results. Opting for a touchdown or fourth down to keep a practice alive can lead straight to points, without so many outside variables coming into play.
“You can come in sometimes, shoot yourself in the foot and say you have to score every point, whenever it’s available,” Judge said. “You can fall back on those analytical sheets that we have talked about in the past.”
It’s a fine line, especially for a team with apparently so little margin for error.
You can say injuries are an excuse, but it helps explain why the Giants have such a hard time scoring consistently.
Think about it for a minute: running back Saquon Barkley, receivers Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Toney, and left tackle Andrew Thomas all missed at least two games. They are their top four playmakers and the most important lineman.
The Giants’ 25 games missed by their Week 1 offensive starters are the most in the NFL, according to the Elias Athletic Bureau. That’s five more than Washington and seven ahead of everyone else.
And the hits keep coming in, with Shepard sidelined during his week off after sustaining an ATV injury on Monday.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Jones conceded.
Better offensive health could have helped the Giants overcome other issues. Instead, they appear to be heading for a fifth straight season out of the playoffs.