All Rise! There's a New Judge In New York
Updated: Jan 13
The New York Giants are starting to emerge from their four-year hibernation. The last six weeks have seen Big Blue play competent football.
By Tayyib Abu.
After a 1-7 start, New York has ripped off four wins in a row. That streak has rocketed them to the top of the NFC East. Their division rivals are busy all beating themselves.
Therefore, the Giants are now in prime position to win the division and punch their ticket to the playoffs. With a win on Sunday against a supposed contender, Giants fans from Manhattan to Moonachie, Harlem to Hoboken are dreaming. It all stems from one man.
MENTALITY, NOT CULTURE
Joe Judge is from the area; he has Giants fans in his family. He understands the mentality you need to play for New York. In the Super Bowl era, the Giants have won championships through hard work and an iron will.
Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin had those traits coursing through their respective locker rooms. Players such as Phil Simms, Mark Bavaro, Amari Toomer and Michael Strahan had it in abundance.
For 20 years, that mentality defined Giants football.
But since Super Bowl 46, it had vanished. The likes of Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora had gone, no one could fill their void. It became a team of individuals; how can anyone ever forget the infamous boat photo before a playoff game?
The Giants had become a sideshow, the circus act to warm you up before the main event. Pat Shurmur and Ben McAdoo let it fester in the locker room. Those two coaches lost their jobs.
Now, Joe Judge has changed that completely. These Giants are battling in the trenches for one another. The ’Hogmollies’ upfront blocked all for backup Colt McCoy. Wide receivers kept making themselves available for him. Even with all the flaws and blunders, the Giants players still trust their teammates. Daniel Jones has become the locker room leader, while veterans such as James Bradberry and Blake Martinez have stepped up.
Joe Judge has also helped build this by creating accountability within his squad. He benched Andrew Thomas when the tackle turned up late. He dropped Golden Tate after a trade talk dispute. Usually, these moves alienate players. That is a crucial reason as to why so many ex-Patriots fail as a head coach. Judge has bucked that trend due to him making himself accountable. He doesn’t carry an ego like a Patricia, or McDaniels did.
The first-year head coach has put immense faith in his staff and players. He is letting them work, rather than dictating everything. Judge has sold a lot of ideas in 13 weeks; the Giants players have bought all of it. Forget culture; the G Men now have the right mentality.
That has taken them from the bottom to the top in the East. They have displayed incredible battle to right their season. Joe Judge has created a gutsy team who run through brick walls for each other.
DEFENSE FORGED FROM NEW JERSEY STEEL
Just like Parcells and Coughlin, this Giants team’s personality comes from defense. James Bradberry is having an All-Pro year. Logan Ryan is locking up everything in the backfield. Meanwhile, Blake Martinez is 2nd in tackles made in the NFL. The linebacker is surging from sideline to sideline. All that has combined to place New York 8th in scoring defense. Even more so, the last three games have seen the Giants give up an average of 15.3 points. This unit is playing phenomenally well.
Russell Wilson had a torrid day against the Giants. New York sacked him five times; they also grabbed an interception and a recovered fumble. Defensive coordinator Pat Graham is blending youth and experience to significant effect. 7th rounder Tae Crowder notched his first career sack, while Jabrill Peppers spent four quarters knocking Seahawk players into next week.
The Giants defense has given the team the foundation to compete. Now, this defense is taking over games. Big Blue has found its engine.
DON’T SLEEP ON 8-8 JASON
Jason Garrett is many things. Most of them bad, but he has always been a talented coordinator. This year has seen him help Daniel Jones mature. Jones is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback. He possesses good speed for his size, plus he is a brave passer from the pocket. For the personnel they have, the Giants offense is a competent unit. Garrett is the right man to develop Jones, plus he has done this without superstar Saquon Barkley. Jones and Jason Garrett don’t sound like the perfect recipe for the Giants, but it is working thus far.
HOWEVER, THE JURY IS STILL OUT
However, the Giants have not finished the job. New York still has critical games against Cleveland, Baltimore and Dallas. Those games will decide their fate. New York must stay consistent in each game. The team has hauled themselves off the canvas and into contention. That is to the players and coaches’ credit.
Nevertheless, the games only get more important from here on in. Suddenly, the Giants are divisional favourites. We will see how good these Giants are over the next four weeks. The bang of the Judge's gavel has reverberated around both sides of the Hudson River. And the gallery is now believing. Move over Aaron; New Yorkers are rising for a new judge.