This NFL season has been an even more wild ride than the craziest roller coaster at Six Flags. There have been some divisions that have been very entertaining to watch because of how competitive they are like the NFC West. On the other hand, there is also the bad and the ugly NFC East where the best team in the division has only 5 wins 13 weeks into the season.
That is the case for the New York Giants who are currently in a tiebreaker for first place in the NFC East with the Washington Football Team with a record of 5-7. Despite their below .500 record, the Giants have been a very competitive team this season, as they have been in almost every game battling it out in each game till the very end. A big reason why is because of their first-year head coach Joe Judge.
During the offseason, the Giants were looking for their third head coach in four years, and this time General Manager Dave Gettleman knew that he had to get this one right because if he didn’t he would likely be relieved of his duties.
The Giants interviewed a long list of head coaching candidates, and many thought that Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule was the frontrunner for the Giants Job, being from New York, and having served as an assistant coach for the Giants for one season many years ago.
Rhule ended up taking the Carolina Panthers head coaching job, as he was given a seven-year deal for a whopping $62 million. A contract that the Giants did not have the desire to match. The reason for that was because they found their guy, and his name was Joe Judge.
The hiring of Judge was a bit of a bombshell, as he was someone that flew under the radar, and was not very well known by most. Judge had been with the New England Patriots for the past seven years as a special teams coach and was the wide receivers coach, his last year in New England. Before that, Judge worked as a special teams assistant for two years at the University of Alabama, under legendary Head Coach Nick Saban.
Judge’s introductory press conference as head coach of the Giants was a fiery one, with passion, confidence, and in that press conference Judge proved that he was very buttoned-up, organized, and clearly ready to be a head coach in the NFL, despite the fact that he’s only 38 years old. His press conference performance was one that had Giants fans very excited about the future, as they have been wanting someone who has a bit of an old-school, hard-nosed mentality, with youthful energy, along with someone who has pure leadership qualities.
Going into the season, most people did not have very high expectations for the Giants, as they were going into the season as a young team, with still a lot of holes to fill. Many people thought that the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles would be the teams battling it out for the NFC East.
The Giants got off to a rough start early in the season, as they started 0-5, and four of those losses were by ten points or less. For Giants fans, it had been tough getting off to another slow start, especially when so many of those losses were very close games. Despite that, people watching the games could see that the Giants were getting better and that soon enough, those close losses would turn into wins.
In Week 6 against Washington, the Giants managed to get their first win of the season in a narrow 20-19 victory, in a very hard-fought game. The next two weeks the Giants suffered two crushing defeats on national television, the first was on a Thursday night game against their arch-rival the Philadelphia Eagles, blowing an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost 22-21. The next week on Monday Night Football, they lost another nail-biting game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25-23, which made the Giants 1-7 on the season.
Even though everyone thought their season was over, the Giants didn’t let up, as this started a four-game winning streak in which they beat Washington, got their revenge on the Eagles, then went on the road to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, and this past weekend pulled off a huge upset on the road, with backup quarterback Colt McCoy starting as he managed to throw for only 105 yards, and still beat Russell Wilson and Seattle 17-12.
It took a multitude of changes for the Giants to go on this four game winning streak that saw them climb to first place in the NFC East standings.
1. Daniel Jones started to cut down on the turnovers, and play much better as a result of it. During the first five weeks of the season, Jones had nine total turnovers and was really struggling to take care of the football. Since Week 5, Jones had only turned the ball over seven times over the last six games. That may not sound much better, but it really is considering how turnover prone Jones has been in his short career.
2. Wayne Gallman has been a revelation at running back for the Giants as he has been a touchdown machine as he has scored four touchdowns in the last four games.
3. The defense under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has been superb during the winning streak, as they haven’t given up more than 20 points in the last four games.
4. The offensive line play has been better from the Giants, this is in part because a few weeks back on November 18th Judge decided to fire Offensive Line coach Marc Colombo after he and Judge got into an argument because Colombo did not want to rotate offensive lineman. The Giants hired Dave DeGuglielmo as his replacement and since then, the offensive line has improved.
5. The last thing that is worth mentioning is how Judge has managed to really get this team to buy-in. He has galvanized a team that was going nowhere fast at one point and now made them a playoff contender.
When you watch the games, you can see that Judge is always active on the sideline talking to all the players and coaches, trying to motivate them, and get them going. His old school mentality that many people criticized at times throughout the season is starting to pay off.
The Giants have four games left on the season, against some tough opponents, as they finish the last four weeks of the season with the Arizona Cardinals, the Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Cowboys. It is clear that Judge is here to stay and start a foundation with the Giants that will finally get them back on the right track for the first time in a long time.