As the Giants fan drops back and scans the field and looks to complete the socially distanced 6-foot gravy pass at the Thanksgiving table, there is more to be thankful for on this day than the fact he or she is not a Jets fan.
This isn’t 2017, when your Ben McAdoo-Steve Spagnuolo Giants were 2-8 and on their way to 3-13. This isn’t 2018, when your Pat Shurmur Giants were 3-7 and on their way to 5-11. This isn’t 2019, when your Shurmur Giants were 2-8 and on their way to 4-12.
This is 2020, when 3-7 gets you an invitation to the NFC Least division sweepstakes and the automatic playoff — Playoffs? Playoffs? You kiddin’ me? Playoffs? — berth that goes with winning it.
Joe Judge: “This is really the starting point for the division. Everyone’s really on equal ground. The only thing that matters is what we do from this point forward.”
Bring on the Bengals.
Bring on Brandon Allen.
Logan Ryan: “This game is the biggest game of the year in my opinion.”
Logan Ryan again: “We’re getting better as a team, we’re believing in one another, and regardless we have to play our best football now.”
So as you, the Giants fan, drops back the obligatory 6 feet and passes the yams at the dinner table, awaken here and now to the idea that there are reasons to believe in your team.
“We feel like we’re a much better team than we were in the beginning of the season,” Daniel Jones said, “and the challenge is to continue to do that.”
In no particular order:
Let the Jets fan dream about Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. This is your quarterback today, and this is your quarterback tomorrow. After losing Saquon Barkley, and losing the football on a weekly basis, he is beginning to master Jason Garrett’s offense and growing as a player and leader and dual threat (slide, Daniel, slide) and there is reason again to believe the best is yet to come.
“I think Daniel’s just done a good job of really growing in this system, I think he’s done a really good job of growing as a player right now,” Judge said. “There’s a lot of things you guys don’t see behind the scenes that we’re not always gonna share, but the way this guy is outward with his teammates, or the reception he gets at team meetings or locker rooms and things like that, you could really see the team growing around him. We all have confidence in him, and we love putting him on the field on Sunday, letting him go out there and compete.”
A head coach for John Mara and Steve Tisch to be thankful for. I have extolled his virtues as a CEO with a Parcellsian ability to understand what makes each player tick, for being a fearless leader who demands that everyone in the building is rowing in the same direction, for being both unyielding in his Coughlinesque obsession with team and being compassionate at the same time, for building a football factory culture where egos are left at the door and the white noise is not allowed to infiltrate, that fosters a resolute army of true blue believers. And most recently, for connecting with fawning, socially distanced season-ticket holders over Zoom on a video on the team’s website … hashtag TogetherBlue.
“I think what gets lost in the shuffle sometimes is the connection that we have with the fans, and this has definitely been a year we haven’t been able to have that connection,” Judge said, “so any opportunity I had to be able to just interact or speak with any of the fans, look, that to me is critical, and it’s critical for our team. … Listen, it’s been a very tough year around the country for a lot of people, and the fact that we have people willing to invest their own hard-earned money in this time, into us, it’s important they understand that we’re invested in them as well and the product we want to put on the field had to reflect them and what they’re fighting through as well.”
Judge is restoring Giants Pride. Scout team players of the week were given the honor of wearing jerseys of Honor Giants on Wednesday: Carter Coughlin selected Lawrence Taylor. Colt McCoy opted for Frank Gifford.
Big Blue ‘D’
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has been a grandmaster chess player. The imminent return of second-round safety Xavier McKinney will give him a play-making pawn to join Ryan and Jabrill Peppers. “We have a lot of versatile players,” Ryan said, “and we’re getting healthier, we’re getting better.”
Big Blue has showed the first encouraging signs that it has learned how to finish, and the Dave Gettleman All-Stars — Leonard Williams, Blake Martinez, James Bradberry, Peppers and Ryan — have led the way. “We’re gonna disguise a lot,” Logan said.
Still not fixed, still a work in progress, but the worst should be behind Andrew Thomas. It’s yet to be determined how the rotation strategy will work, and it will be up to Judge and new O-line coach Dave DeGuglielmo to quell the aftershocks from the firing of Marc Colombo.
“I know those guys up front will be playing hard and playing well,” Jones said.
After years of being The Forgotten Man, this is his moment. He has been reborn under this coaching staff, which clearly trusts him when he can smell paydirt (five touchdowns over the last four games). The Wayne Train (275 yards) is running angry, and it would be optimal if he could at least challenge Jones (384 yards) for the team rushing lead. His rejuvenation has come at a critical time in place of Devonta Freeman. “I told him straight up, ‘This is an opportunity of a lifetime, go get it,’” Sterling Shepard said.
Pass the cranberry sauce. And then, pass the Eagles, pass the Cowboys, and pass the Washington Football Team, too.
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