The score was Rams 38, Giants 3, it was early in the fourth quarter, and Joe Judge had long decided to keep throwing Daniel Jones to the Rams, who could easily have been confused for wolves.
“I challenged the guys at halftime: I want to see who’s gonna finish the game … I want to see what kind of fight some of these guys had,” Judge said.
It was Rams 28, Giants 3 at the half, and 38-11 when it ended, with Judge lucky that Jones was able to leave MetLife Stadium on his feet two days after clearing concussion protocol.
All well and good looking for a Few Good Men, but 38-3 was no time to monitor the fight of your young franchise quarterback, who has proven that he is a fighter, who had to that point fashioned a regression day to forget … it was time to get Mike Glennon in the game.
Asked what his thought process was keeping Jones in the game, Judge said: “Because we’re gonna compete for 60 minutes.”
Asked if there was any concern given that left tackle Andrew Thomas had been ruled out and the fact his offensive line is his offensive line, Judge said: “I watched how the game flow’s going right there. We’re gonna compete for 60 minutes.”
Bad Judgement, Joe.
“I appreciated the opportunity to be in there and compete,” Jones said. “Coach Judge preaches 60 minutes. That’s what the game is, that’s how long we’re gonna compete for, so appreciated the opportunity to be out there.”
He was raw meat being fed to the Rams, who could easily have been confused for lions. Jones worries not about the beatings.
“No, that’s part of the game. I gotta do a good job of communicating and getting the ball out of my hands,” Jones said.
Judge is trying desperately to build a program the right way, and teach his team how to win, but he dodged a bullet on Sunday by throwing caution and common sense to the wind.
Jones (three interceptions, one lost fumble) will remember everything about a day when he handed the Rams 14 early points, when the lone cheers from the stands came when Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning’s Super Bowl XLVI Giants were celebrated, and well-deserved boos otherwise were reserved for him and his teammates.
A day when he lost only his second fumble of the season and threw only his second interception of the season … and then his third.
(After he had telegraphed a sideline interception in front of the Giants bench in the third quarter, his RTG was 25.3. He finished at 44.7.)
A day that could give the dwindling number of glass half-full Giants fans worry that the rubble around him from one week to the next will stunt his growth, in a way that ruined Sam Darnold’s Jets career.
The Giants anointed Jones the heir to the Manning throne in part because they deemed him mentally tough enough for the responsibility, and for the New York market. And he has been. But every ounce of his soul is being tested.
“Daniel’s a guy that we’re gonna have success with,” Judge said. “This is a guy that that’s made a tremendous amount of improvement for us,” Judge said, “and obviously he’s gonna help us have success going forward in the future.”
The Judge and Jones Giants are 1-5 for the second straight season and there is no end in sight to the Losing Syndrome that has strangulated the franchise:
Judge is 7-15. Jones is 9-24.
The Giants are 9-26 in their last 35 home games.
And you can also begin to wonder why Judge’s messages are going in one earhole and out the other, and how much longer he can keep the team from splintering.
“I just don’t feel like we have that type of cancerous locker room where guys are starting to break away,” Logan Ryan said.
One year after earning the respect of Giants fans, Judge’s Giants have lost it.
No man is an island, of course, except for poor Daniel Jones, who must feel the way Tom Hanks felt in “Cast Away.”
Jones began the day without Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay, and then his lone difference-maker, Kadarius Toney, was ruled out after his tender ankle gave way after three catches on three targets in the first quarter. So much for that game plan.
“He was a big part of it going in,” Jones said. “We missed him, but we got good players and those guys stepped up and … gotta execute better,” Jones said. “I gotta do a good job finding ’em.”
When Thomas (ankle) went down early in the second quarter, that left Jones (2019) as Last No. 1 Draft Choice Standing — Barkley (2018), Thomas (2020), Toney (2021) — on the offensive side of the ball.
Matt Peart replaced Thomas and was promptly beaten by Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, whose strip-sack of Jones was recovered at the Giants 12 by Leonard Floyd after Peart had muffed the recovery. And soon it was 14-3.
Sterling Shepard lost his footing on Jones’ second interception.
“I thought Daniel played well. … It’s on the surrounding cast, we have to do a better job to help him out, and I don’t think we did that today as a unit … we could all say we had a, ‘My Bad’ play, and that just can’t happen, not in this league.”
Jones took the blame for the other two to Taylor Rapp.
“Bad decisions on my part,” Jones said.
Judge can’t do much about the injuries, but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett can’t do much of anything with Next Man Up, and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham (Matthew Stafford, four touchdown passes) didn’t do a thing about rallying the defense from the previous week’s unacceptable performance.
Even when Judge had turned into Riverboat Joe going for it fourth-and-1 at the Giants 41 in the first quarter, Jones was stuffed on a keeper for no gain. And a short time later, Devontae Booker was stuffed on third-and-1 for no gain.
Did we add a running into the kicker penalty against Cam Brown late in the fourth quarter?
“We don’t have a room full of guys who are waiting for next year,” Judge said.
“We don’t have a room full of guys who are waiting for somebody to show up and save us,” Judge added. “Something happens when we’re on that submarine, it’s gonna be someone on the ship to step up and save that thing right? You spring a leak, someone’s gotta plug that thing for ya.”
Who? When? How?