Four years of midterm grades like these warrant a call to the principal’s office and a stern warning about not graduating.
The Giants have tried new coaches and new players during that span but keep getting the same result: A 1-7 record at the midway point of the season for the third time in four years. The lone exception was an “improved” 2-6 start last season.
In fact, the Giants’ first-half records since 2013 are: 2-6, 3-5, 4-4, 5-3, 1-7, 1-7, 2-6 and 1-7.
So, you are excused if first-year coach Joe Judge’s weekly message about an improving team sounds too familiar … but there’s some truth behind it.
The Giants’ average margin of defeat in the first half of the season was 13 points in 2017, 8.5 in 2018 and 13.6 in 2019. It’s down to 7.8 this season even with the inflation caused by a 27-point loss to the 49ers.
“A loss is a loss,” safety Jabrill Peppers said, “but it’s not like we’re going out there and getting our a– kicked. I definitely think we’re trending in the right direction. Yeah, we would like to be in that win column, but we’ve got half the season left. The weather is about to break and we’re hungry.”
Five of the Giants’ seven losses — and the one win — were decided in the final minute. The losses could be named like episodes of “Friends:” The one with the picked-up penalty flag (Buccaneers). The one with the dropped pass (Eagles). The one with the walk-off kick (Cowboys). The one with the red-zone interception (Rams). The one without urgent clock management (Bears).
It is not easy to beat Judge’s Giants but, for now, it is almost impossible to get beat by them. The Giants are on pace for a 2-14 finish and the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Based on the way they are playing, there is little reason to believe it will be that bad. On the flip side, given the way they manufacture losing into an inevitability, there are no assurances they will win again.
“Close isn’t good enough in this business,” Judge said. “We have to keep pushing forward and get the results that we’re working for. But it starts with eliminating those mistakes to reap the rewards of hard work.”
The Giants have rotated three tackles to get rookie backup Matt Peart experience with starters Andrew Thomas and Cam Fleming. They now will do the same at guard whenever Will Hernandez comes off the COVID-19 restricted list — his streak of 2,523 consecutive snaps to begin his career ended — because rookie Shane Lemieux filled in adequately in his first career start and veteran Kevin Zeitler was not traded.
“I say all the time, ‘I plan on everyone who goes to the game playing for us,’ ” Judge said. “That’s not just lip service.”
Judge, 38, recently joined Twitter. Why?
It’s a necessity as a recruiting tool for college coaches, but a rarity for the NFL head coach.
“We thought it was a good way to kind of get out some of the messages of some of the things the team is doing throughout the communities,” Judge said. “I’m not going to be posting too many pictures of what I had for dinner.”
— With Paul Schwartz
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