Expectations, enthusiasm and general belief in the Giants leadership may not be at its lowest point in the franchise’s recent history, but it’s inconceivable that it could be much more disconcerting following the team’s 20-17 road loss to the Kansas Chiefs on Monday. The Giants have been an abject disappointment this season.
“We have to eliminate the mistakes we make down the stretch. We can’t allow a team like this to have extra opportunities,” said Giants head coach Joe Judge after the defeat. “We can’t rob opportunities from ourselves with breakdowns in focus. We have to make sure we do a better job than that.”
Judge was referring to among other egregious lapses a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on fullback Elijah Penny for taunting with 7:28 left in the game after his 16-yard reception from quarterback Daniel Jones gave the Giants a first down on their own 43-yard line. The call pushed the ball back to the 28 and the drive ultimately stalled.
At 2-6, they are already out of the playoff race less than halfway through their 17-game schedule, tied for last place in the NFC East with the 2-6 Washington Football Team. Deadlocked for the second worst mark in the entire conference. Only the 0-8 Detroit Lions have less wins. Deconstructing what has gone wrong would yield many of the same conclusions that undermined the 3-13 2017 season, the 5-11 2018 campaign, the 4-12 2019 calamity and last season’s 6-10 failure to make the postseason for the eighth time in the past nine years.
Injuries, drive-killing penalties, poor execution, uneven quarterback play, a defense unable to get critical stops, suspect coaching, holes on the offensive line. Superfluous analysis has come to characterize the lens through which the Giants are viewed. Accountability starts at the top with co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, filters down to general manager Dave Gettleman and spreads across the coaching staff under the direction of the head coach.
Last season and this season that man is Judge. His seemingly eternal optimism has been unable to bring about tangible results in the form of wins at a high or even moderate rate. Judge is now 8-15 through 22 games. A victory over the 4-4 Chiefs, who no longer have the swagger of a team that has played in the last three AFC Championship Games, two straight Super Bowls, and winning the title in 2019, would have given ardent Giants fans something to feel good about and this Sunday’s matchup at MetLife Stadium against the 5-2 Las Vegas Raiders more meaning than just moving closer to the regular season finale on January 9.
But the offense managed to generate only seven points in the second half facing a Chiefs defense that is allowing 27.5 points per game and 391.5 yards, fourth highest in the league. Even with key members of the unit, most notably running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), wide receiver Kenny Golladay (knee) and left tackle Andrew Thomas (ankle) all out with injuries, the Giants theoretically had enough to manufacture more scores.
“Yeah, we didn’t execute how we were supposed to,” acknowledged Giants rookie wideout Kadarius Toney, who leads the team in receiving yards with 343. “It is what it is. That means we got to come back out next weekend and not do what we did this weekend. We just need to follow the game plan.”
The long and challenging endeavor of the Giants becoming a playoff contender undoubtedly will painfully carry over into next season.