New York Giants Notebook | Mixed Emotions, Ebner Emerges, and More
Sunday was a day of mixed emotions for Giants head coach Judge, with very few of them being good.
After running back Saquon Barkley tore his ACL on the first play of the second quarter, Judge decided to come onto the field to help carry Barkley off the football field.
"In terms of carrying Saquon off the field that was just simply he's a big dude and I wanted to make sure we get him over there with the least amount of stress on his leg as possible and tried to just take the weight off," Judge said.
"Obviously we're all praying for the best. I would just say this, regardless of whatever the outcome is going to be and what the doctors say tomorrow. I wouldn't fall asleep on 26, it's going to be a hell of a story either way."
Later on in the day, Judge had no room to be the nice guy at half time during the Giants Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Judge's team trailed 17-0 at the half, but lopsided score aside, the rookie head coach was not happy with the players' energy in the first half.
So in his halftime message to the team, Judge let them know that he wasn't happy with what he had just seen in no uncertain terms.
"Halftime was a lot like the practice you guys wrote about us recently," Judge said, referencing a recent Giants practice in which he made the team start over after they came out flat.
"We didn't come out here with the right kind of energy to start the game. We came out understanding there are 30 more minutes of football and we're going to give ourselves an opportunity to win."
Judge sparked his team a second-half surge in which they showed a lot of resolve en route to cutting the lead to 17-13, but it wasn't enough.
"We go back to work on Wednesday," Judge said. "We start plugging ahead. We got a tough opponent next week. They're going to be hanging on the East Coast waiting for us next Sunday. That's where we go. Our vision has to be forward."
When Barkley went down, veteran running back Dion Lewis became the Giants' primary running back.
Lewis couldn't give the Giants' much consistency on the ground but did score the Giants' only touchdown on a fourth-down carry from the Bears' one-yard line.
"It was 4th-and-goal on the 1-yard line--gotta do whatever you gotta do," Lewis said.
"They did a great job getting a lot of push, I think I fell like three or four yards inside the endzone. So, the O-line did a great job; that was a key play for us in the game."
For Lewis, being thrust into the starting running back role in the event of injury is nothing new. His poise and experience should ensure that the Giants have a player prepared to pound the rock when needed and run routes out of the backfield when needed.
"Probably, I would say, what, 2017 or ‘18, my last year with the Patriots," Lewis said of the last time he had to take over as a starting running back.
"I didn’t get the ball much at the beginning of the year, but things changed, and I just started getting it.
"So, you know, just keep the same approach I always keep, like I said before, work hard every day. Study and prepare for the game like I’m going to be in there every play, whether it happens or not, and it’s gotten me this far, so far."
Judge's familiarity with Lewis will be a valuable asset as the offense prepares over the next couple weeks without Barkley.
While the Giants might explore other options at running back--they're looking to work out former Falcons running back Devonta Freeman--Judge feels comfortable with letting Lewis lead the position group, as he posses a similar skill set to Barkley but with a refined veteran's poise.
"I've been around [Lewis] a long time," Judge said. "One thing you know about Dion is he's prepared and the guys really respond to him because he is a tough dude and he's got that look in his eye that he's going to do whatever it takes to work with the team and benefit the team so, I was proud for how he played out there today."
Giants defensive back Nate Ebner is primarily thought of as a special teams ace but saw snaps at safety.
Ebner only played one snap on defense dating back to 2017 according to Pro Football reference before Sunday, but played five snaps for the Giants defense against the Bears (most of those on the first series), making one tackle.
"There were some situational calls where we thought that he was a good fit with what we were looking to do both with his communication awareness on the defense," Judge said.
"Nate's a very, very smart player, very smart player. You put him on the field, he's a guy that players can play faster when he's around because he kind of calms everything down.
"That being said we had some specific roles for him within the game plan. He happened to be in it early in the game. But we won't hesitate to play Nate in any situation."
Giants veteran cornerback James Bradberry hauled in his first interception as a Giant on Sunday, pulling the ball away from Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson near the sideline in the fourth quarter.
"I was in man-to-man on that side of the field," Bradberry said. "[Robinson] gave me an outside release, I tried to get hands on him at the line, then I felt the ball in the air.
"I didn’t see it because I had my eyes on him. I was going to make a play through his arms and I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time."