Maybe New York Giants head coach Joe Judge would prefer to look at the bright side regarding where his young team stands. Or perhaps he truly sees something on the tape that sometimes shows up on game day, but of late hasn't done so as much.
Whatever the case, Judge told reporters on his postgame conference call that this Giants team is making progress, that it's headed in the right direction even though it was dominated in every phase of the ball by the Baltimore Ravens in a 27-13 beatdown down at M&T Bank Stadium and now have their playoff hopes hanging by a frayed thread.
“In terms of where this team is headed and what we have been able to accomplish this year, in terms of the foundation, the culture – we have improved a lot of playing across the board," Judge said.
"A lot of players, a lot of development from young guys and new guys in this program. So no, the end result is where we are looking to get going in this program, I feel that we are on the right track and moving in the right direction.”
Yes, even though they've lost the last three games.
"The results of the last three games are what they are. We are paid to win games, that is what it is, professional football. We have to do a better job coaching, better job playing, we have to do more things to help us win the games," Judge said.
"Ultimately in terms of the character of the team, the work ethic of the team, the toughness of the team, we have the right start to who we are working with and the direction we are going right now. We just need to make sure we do more on the field to get the tangible results.”
Judge has never wavered from his position that the Giants are making progress every week, but at times it's been difficult to see the forest through the trees. But Judge has held steady with his belief that there's been progress even though the Giants have failed to score 20 points in nine games this season, have been outscored 73-26 in its last three games (all losses, by the way), and, which except for its upset win over Seattle has not looked worthy of being on the same field as any of the teams they've faced that are likely playoff-bound when they should be playing their best ball, Judge turned defensive.
“I don’t have to make an argument on that end," he said when asked how he can continue to justify saying the team is improving. "I can turn the tape on every week, I can watch with our players. I can see what we improve on every week. I can see what we are deficient in and need to improve on that week and put the focus on the next opponent coming up.
"Look I am not trying to make an argument for anything. The tape really tells the truth. Our guys are big believers on watching what is on tape and addressing what we have to internally and moving forward by working hard.”
Receiver Sterling Shepard, who finished with a team-leading nine receptions for 77 yards this week, agreed with Judge's take.
"We have guys that will fight until the end, no matter what the scoreboard looks like. It doesn’t matter how well we played previously--we got guys that will keep chomping at the bit to play football. When you have a close-knit group like we have, you can only think that things will be on the up from here."
Unfortunately for Judge and the Giants, their definition of "progress" doesn't align with what those outside the building--including their opponents who continue to exploit weaknesses--consider as progress.
And until such time when the progress made on tape translates into tangible results, the Giants have shown they still have a long way to go before they can be thought of as a competitive ball club capable of standing on the same field with the upper echelon teams.