Giants fans in general have been pleased by the team’s improvement in recent weeks and their unlikely entrance into an uninspiring NFC East race.
One fan in particular is especially enthusiastic about what he’s seeing.
"I’m fired up about them," Bill Parcells told Newsday from his home in Florida. "They’re getting better. They’re improving. I like their coach. I just know he has established some law and order, and I think that’s a good thing."
Parcells knows it’s too soon to make any sweeping predictions about whether the Joe Judge Era will flourish like the Giants of his own era, when he coached the team to Super Bowl wins after the 1986 and 1990 seasons. But he is encouraged by how the team has responded to the new coach, who is built in the Parcells mode of a disciplinarian who also has a human touch with his players.
"[Judge] can only do what your players let you do right now," Parcells said. "I don’t know that that’s going to be his style ad infinitum. Let’s get some better players in there. Let’s see what he does. He’s trying to win games now."
Parcells chose not to comment about Judge’s run-in with offensive line coach Marc Colombo, who was fired Wednesday after he bristled at Judge’s decision to bring in Dave DeGuglielmo to help with the line. But the Hall of Fame coach does believe that Judge has his old team headed in the right direction and that his work with quarterback Daniel Jones and the defense is paying dividends.
"I like [Jones] athletically," Parcells said. "Big son of a gun runs around there. I like him."
He especially likes the direction the defense is headed in.
"Defense is improving," he said. "That’s good coaching. They seem like they know what to do. They’re certainly behaving better and they’re getting more things done and they’re playing with confidence. That’s all good. I like what I’ve been seeing."
Parcells has spoken to Judge only once, but the advice he gave the first-year head coach was taken to heart. They had a phone conversation shortly before Judge’s introductory news conference in January.
"I told him, ‘Don’t say anything about the players. [The media] is going to ask you about them, but just tell them you have to evaluate the players,’ " Parcells said. " ‘That’s going to save a lot of questions, because you don’t know right now.’ "
How did Judge do on that front?
"He did that perfectly," Parcells said. "He didn’t say [expletive]."
Judge didn’t even refer to Jones by name until several weeks after taking the job, explaining to reporters that he wanted to get a feel for how his quarterback did once he practiced in front of the coaches.
"I love it," Parcells said. "It saved him a lot of trouble. You’re talking about something you don’t know. You’re just talking about something you think. You have to give everyone a square chance."
Parcells’ reverence for the Giants remains as strong today as it was when he was a kid growing up in north Jersey.
"That’s my team," the 79-year-old Parcells said. "Been watching them since I’ve been 10, almost 70 years. I remember [announcer] Marty Glickman’s ‘Giants Quarterback Huddle’ show. I couldn’t wait till it came on. I’d be sitting in front of my TV on the carpet with my legs crossed waiting for it to come on."
He vividly remembers the 1958 NFL Championship Game, when the Giants lost to the Colts in overtime, 23-17, at Yankee Stadium in a game that helped catapult pro football to national prominence.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," he said. "We’re at Lake Hopatcong, and my friends are ice skating. But I’m sitting in my car listening to the game. Crying.
"I remember going to my first game," Parcells added. "Polo Grounds, Giants-Steelers . . . Charlie Conerly was the Giants’ quarterback. Charlie was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1956. I still got that picture in my house."
So yeah, Parcells is a Giants fan for life. And a Hall of Fame coach who delivered the franchise’s first two Super Bowls victories. His protégé, Tom Coughlin, earned two more. With another no-nonsense coach in the mold of Parcells leading the team, might there be a fifth?
"Hey, I’m just hoping they win next Sunday," he said. "That’ll be tough. Let’s get to that next game. That’s as far as I can go. At Cincinnati? It could be snowing."