Can the Giants Finally Get Over the Hump?
The first four weeks of the 2020 NFL season have been a case of what can go wrong, will go wrong for the New York Giants.
At 0-4, the Giants officially sit at the bottom of the NFC thanks to their status as the lowest-scoring team in all of football.
By all accounts, the Giants are at rock bottom, yet there's reason to believe that they can only go up from here.
Despite being winless, the Giants have managed to be competitive in three of their four games so far this season, which reflects well on how they fare against top competition.
The Giants' first four opponents have gone a combined 11-4 so far this season, and each one boasts either a top-10 defense, offense, or both.
When the schedule was released in April, everyone anticipated that the first month of the Giants' schedule would be a grueling stretch for first-year head coach Joe Judge, as his team would be pitted against elite competition without the preparation of a conventional offseason.
So far, those expectations have held up and then some. The Giants' current skid has not only been a winless one, but one in which they've lost key players to injury, including star running back Saquon Barkley, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, and safety Jabrill Peppers.
But through it all, the group has remained motivated under Judge's leadership, and the first-year head coach likes what he's seen from the team, outside of the record.
"I learn a lot about this team every game day," he said. "They’ve been a resilient group up to this point. I’m very proud of the way they work, and they fight together. This team has really put an emphasis on improvement right now on a weekly basis. I see a lot of it on a daily basis. We have to string it together more on Sundays."
The winless Giants are only 1.5 games out of first place in the NFC East, with all six of their divisional games set to be played, and they will play five of those games in the next six weeks.
"I think it's important for us next week as we start our division run that we play our best football," Judge said.
"Obviously, we're going through a little tough stretch right now with the division, so we can't afford to make these mistakes. Obviously, we're anxious to get back on the grass and start working."
The Giants' upcoming six-game stretch is an opportunity for Judge and his young team to quickly change the narrative surrounding their season against teams that have proven to be inferior to their first four opponents.
In three of their first four games, the Giants have proven to hang with top competition. Competitive efforts against the Steelers, Bears, and Rams showed that there are strengths to the Giants' team that, if they can clean up the nagging issues that have cost them wins, they might be more competitive.
A number of those problems are on offense. The Giants are last in the NFL in scoring by a wide margin, and quarterback Daniel Jones appears to have gone backward from his rookie campaign, as he's thrown just two touchdown passes while committing seven turnovers this season.
Poor offensive line play and a lack of running game hasn't helped Jones either. But there were some signs of hope Sunday against the Rams starting with New York stringing their first 100-yard rushing performance as a team on Sunday, with the running backs committee accounting for 88 of the team's 137 yards against a tough Rams defensive front.
The Giants can build on their rushing performance and early defensive success and truly fulfill Judge's vision for a physical, blue-collar team against their division rivals.
There are still plenty of opportunities for the Giants to play meaningful football in the coming weeks, but it will take much more urgency than they've had so far.