They said it couldn't be done, that this Giants team didn't have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with a team like the Seattle Seahawks, who has a winning record.
But the Giants apparently never got the memo, and with their 17-12 win over the Seahawks, they've begun putting some space between them nd their nearest opponents int he NFC East as they seek their first division title since 2011.
Some thoughts on this week's game and how it unfolded.
1. I never understood why the coaching staffs—and I think you have to include the current staff as well, which following Saquon Barkley’s injury, turned to Devonta Freeman—kept ignoring Wayne Gallman as an option.
No one is ignoring Gallman now, and barring injury, he should finish out the season as the No. 1 running back on this team. But I think it’s a crying shame that the Giants seemed ready to toss him to the curb by continually bringing in other options. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t end up with a nice offer from another team when he hits free agency, especially after showing he can be a lead running back for a team that doesn’t have a Barkley-like talent on the active roster.
2. Is there anyone out there who still thinks the Giants were fools for trading away draft picks to acquire defensive lineman Leonard Williams?
Yes, the Giants could have tried to sign Williams to a free agent contract and saved the draft capital. But in retrospect, considering the Giants recent string with third-round picks and some fifth-round picks, was there anyone better in the draft the Giants could have gotten for that kind of investment?
3. Can we finally give some credit to general manager Dave Gettleman and the job he has done in putting this roster together?
Some will say he dismantled a team that went to the playoffs in 2016 (which I’d argue was built on smoke and mirrors, or more specifically, bloated player contracts that would not be sustainable to keep). And yes, he made mistakes in thinking it was possible to rebuild while competing, and by signing performance duds like guard Patrick Omameh and running back Jonathan Stewart, both of whom lent nothing to the team’s on-field production.
When you look at how he’s gone about getting the type of players this coaching staff needs to compete at reasonable market rates (Logan Ryan, James Bradberry over Byron Jones come to mind) and how he passed over some of the more prominent names in free agency (see Jadeveon Clowney who is now done for the year after needing knee surgery), maybe Gettleman does have a clue.
4. I keep singing the praises of this coaching staff over and over, and I’m going to do it again. A big difference between this group and previous groups is they don’t accept defeat, nor do they let the opponent dictate to them.
For proof of that, look no further than the running game. The Seahawks third-ranked run defense was doing a solid job shutting the Giants ground game down, which, as I noted in my preview, made sense from a game-planning perspective given the presence of Colt McCoy in the game.
By half time, the Giants had amassed 32 yards on 11 carries. But instead of abandoning the running game, Judge, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, and the rest of the offensive coaches figured out a way to uncork the running game, and lo and behold, the ground game took over for the Giants in the second half.
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“We talked about it at halftime, but the biggest point of emphasis was to stay committed to the game plan we had coming in,” said Judge. “And they were going to keep running the ball and that we had to keep wearing them down over time. We had to give our runners opportunities to get in space and finish the runs.”
What a refreshing difference from past staffs, who would, for whatever reason, move away from the run instead of trying to figure out how to get it working. And it paid off this week for the Giants in their win.
5. Since we’re on the topic of the running game, let’s talk a little bit about the “minor adjustments” the Giants made to get the ground game going. Specifically, they went with more heavy personnel sets in the second half than they did in the first half, and that helped make a significant difference.
Look no further than Wayne Gallman’s huge 60-yar run down the sideline. Not only did the Giants win at the point of attack, but there was tight end Kaden Smith, back from having dealt with the COVID-19 virus, flattening a would-be Seahawks defender in pursuit, which helped Gallman go for another 15-20 yards.
That’s how you punch a football team in the mouth. You stick with what you have planned rather than retreat and let the opponent dictate what to do.
6. Daniel Jones hasn’t really accomplished anything in his young NFL career, so it would be understandable if he had the slighted bit of reluctance to share too much with his backup, Colt McCoy, out of fear of being Wally-Pipped.
But Jones, whom head coach Joe Judge revealed (not surprisingly) tried to convince Judge to let him suit up for this week, checked his ego at the door. He bent over backward to help McCoy—and by extension the team--as much as possible, something for which McCoy was grateful.
“Daniel Jones is phenomenal guy, he is a great quarterback, he’s the leader of this football team. He doesn’t miss a beat in meetings,” McCoy said when asked who had helped him the most in getting ready to take the reins.
“He knew he wasn’t going to play and from the things he helped me with on the sidelines, to during the week, we have a great relationship. The Giants are lucky to have him, one hundred percent.”
7. What the heck is up with the Giants special teams? Last week it was two long returns, including one for a touchdown, and this week, it was a blocked punt that rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety. Whatever it is, let’s just say it’s too bad that we can’t be a fly on the wall to hear what Judge might have to say when he reviews the film.
8. Things I learned: running back Alfred Morris, who has been in the NFL since 2012, has never had a receiving touchdown until he caught one this week. It’s true: you can see for yourself here unless you’re willing to take the man’s word for it.
9. There were many big plays made by the Giants in this game, but one of the biggest plays that probably won’t maker the highlight reel is Colt McCoy’s 6-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram on third down on the Giants final drive of the game. If McCoy doesn’t make that conversion, the Seahawks end up with about 5:30 left to mount a comeback instead of the 1:48 they got thanks to McCoy not only converting on that third-down play also converting on a 2nd-an-7 to gain a fresh set of downs.
10. First place, folks. I’ll repeat it. The Giants are in first place. How cool is it to know that we won’t have to wring our hands with worry over what the Washington Football Team or Dallas Cowboys do in their respective games over the next two days?