Giants’ big Daniel Jones decision sets stage for critical test
The games get bigger and bigger now — these final four games in a meaningful December that Giants fans have been longing for, a meaningful December watching a team growing up sooner than they expected before their eyes, led by a precocious rookie head coach who is already bringing back memories of exhilarating days when Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin ruled the roost and roamed the sideline as football Gen. Pattons.
Joe Judge’s vision of Giants fans proudly wearing their hats and T-shirts and jerseys again has come to fruition, the prospect of discovering the surprise gift of a dream team beneath their Christmas tree giving them a dream season during this pandemic nightmare making their Big Blue hearts sing and dance again.
And his tough young franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones, desperately wanted the fortunes of his franchise in his hands again and gets it back from Colt McCoy at this moment of playoff truth.
On the heels of that monumental takedown of Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Seattle, this is no time for Judge’s Giants to take bows and let up or suffer a letdown, not that Judge would ever allow it. This is no time for them to think they’ve accomplished anything just because the NFC Least reveals them as a first-place team.
The Washington Football Team’s upset of the previously perfect Steelers leaves them 5-7, same as the Giants. The Giants have won four in a row, and before the WFT visits the 49ers, it would be a good idea for them to drive for five against Kyler Murray’s reeling 6-6 Cardinals team that could be in competition for that seventh and last (wild-card) playoff berth.
A good idea for them to show up as Card sharks.
Giants fans will have their fingers crossed that when Daniel Jones runs through the MetLife Stadium tunnel, he will not tweak his questionable hamstring, that Judge’s most critical decision of the season involving the quarterback position will be proven right.
Jones was a full participant at the Friday practice, the hamstring checked out just fine on Saturday, and barring an unforeseen setback, will be back in the saddle of the Big Blue horse.
There are never any guarantees with hamstrings from one day to the next, from one exerted movement to the next, so Colt McCoy was placed on red alert all week in the event Jones starts and cannot finish.
To start or not to start Jones is only Judge’s most critical decision of the season, one with potential short-term and longer-term ramifications.
Giants fans watching from afar now know this about their team: It will rally around the quarterback on both sides of the ball.
Gen. Judge has molded the Giants into a well-trained army — tough, smart, disciplined — that fights together and fights to the finish, and has learned how to finish.
What surely titillated Giants fans last week was a team that imposed a brand of bully-ball on a formidable opponent — Wayne “The Train” Gallman choo-chooing behind an evolving and feisty young offensive line, and a Patrick Graham defense long on brain (think Logan Ryan, Blake Martinez and Dalvin Tomlinson) and brawn (think Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence and Tomlinson).
Jones, even if he is discouraged from using his legs as a weapon, would (unlike McCoy) threaten the entire field, a boon to the ground game, and would be trusted more to win the game in the fourth quarter. Chandler Jones, who recorded four of the Cardinals’ eight sacks against him 14 months ago, is lost for the season with a right biceps injury.
You would have to believe that if Graham’s camouflage defenses could confuse Wilson, it should be able to torment the less experienced Murray — who has been struggling lately, particularly against the blitz, and accounted for just 128 combined yards in the Cardinals’ 27-21 win a year ago.
If ILB Martinez (lower back, questionable) can make it, Big Blue will field just three starters (Tomlinson, Lawrence, Jabrill Peppers) from last season’s matchup. If Murray’s barking throwing shoulder proves vulnerable to Williams’ predatory assaults, it will help mitigate the threat of DeAndre Hopkins for James Bradberry.
It bodes well for GM Dave Gettleman’s future that he and Judge have been working so well together. Gettleman has been proven right on Williams, Ryan, Martinez, Bradberry, Peppers, Lawrence, Nick Gates, Lorenzo Carter and Graham Gano, and there is optimism that with the drafting of Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux, the offensive line might finally be fixed. We can debate drafting Saquon Barkley with the second-pick all day for now. Has Gettleman made mistakes rebuilding the Giants? Of course he has. Every GM does.
Most of all, Gettleman was right on Jones.
And also most of all, the franchise decision-makers were right on Judge.
One voice. One heartbeat.
Football junkies and gym rats building the only kind of culture that gives you an opportunity for sustained success.
Because Judge and his staff have developed the players that Gettleman has gotten them.
The future looks bright.
And razing Arizona would be further evidence that the future might very well be now.