The Giants’ 30-29 loss to the Washington Football Team last Thursday on the road was a stinging defeat and reinforced the gravity of discipline and a laser-like focus on critical details such as technique, a keen awareness of time and situations, and maintaining responsibilities on each snap.
The Giants are 0-2 but should be 1-1. And it wasn’t just the offsides penalty by defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence in the game’s closing seconds on a missed 48-yard field goal by Washington’s Dustin Hopkins that gave the kicker a second attempt from 43 yards that was successful as time expired. A sure touchdown dropped by wide open receiver Darius Slayton in the end zone with 6:25 remaining and the Giants up 26-20 was also consequential.
They have put it all behind them as the Giants look towards this Sunday’s matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, who have also started the season 0-2, at MetLife Stadium. It’ll be a special day for the franchise as their two-time Super Bowl MVP, former quarterback Eli Manning, will have his No. 10 jersey retired and be enshrined in the Giants’ Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony.
Of the evident issues impacting the Giants thus far, the unexpected struggles of the defensive unit are the most concerning. Under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, the Giants have allowed 28.5 points per game—the Broncos scored 27 against them in Week 1—and are surrendering 287.5 passing yards per game, eighth most in the NFL.
“Not good enough, obviously. Just not good enough,” responded Giants defensive back Logan Ryan when asked to assess the defense’s performance. “Not to the standard we want to be, but we want to improve all year anyway. We obviously want to start better, but we want to make strides from week to week.
“I thought we started the game off well with some three-and-outs,” Ryan elaborated regarding the matchup with Washington. “Our rush defense improved. We still have to improve in our two-minute, some of our tempo stuff, so that was a lot of emphasis today is working out the communication. All that stuff needs to get better, and I trust that it will.
“We’ve got good players, we’ve got good coaches and we’re working hard, man. I want to let people know that in times of adversity or what not, just double down on yourself. I’m not going to be the type of person to change and start trying something new and trying something I never did before or panic.”
An encouraging takeaway for the Giants from the defeat versus Washington was the play of quarterback Daniel Jones. Playing under intense scrutiny from fans, media and the Giants’ most prominent decision makers in his third year in the league after two seasons of subpar output, the 24-year-old Jones had one of his best games of the early stages of his career.
Deleteriously turnover prone, Jones, who has 30 fumbles—18 lost—and has thrown 22 interceptions in 28 games—27 as a starter—displayed prudent decision making and strong ball protection in passing for 249 yards and rushing for a team-high 95 yards against Washington without a giveaway.
“[I] saw him do a lot of good things,” said Giants head coach Joe Judge minutes after the loss to Washington. “Get the ball out on time. Throw some good accurate passes. Throw some good balls into tight coverage…These are the things I’ve talked about Daniel growing, progressing throughout his career.
“…I love the way he ran the ball. Very effective run force tonight. That’s a part of our offense. I thought he did a good job with the ball security, getting down when he needed to protect it, getting out of bounds at times, sliding at other times. So, there are a lot of positive things right there.”