Joe Judge left fuming after Giants are routed by Bucs
TAMPA, Fla. — This was supposed to be the game in which everything changed for the Giants.
On the field, it wound up being a 60-minute display of many of the same fundamental errors that have haunted the team for most of the past two seasons. Another example of them being outmanned, outplayed and outcoached. The stagnancy of the stench is what stood out more than any start to a second-half push or glimmer of offensive explosion they might have been hoping for.
But Monday’s 30-10 loss to the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium may yet be the turning point it promised to be. Perhaps a bigger one than even a victory over the defending Super Bowl champs would have been. It may become the rock-bottom moment that forces systemic alterations and shuffling on the coaching staff that to this point have been avoided and off the table.
A game in which Saquon Barkley, out since Oct. 10, returned from an ankle injury and receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney were close to full health wound up with only one player on the team reaching the end zone. That it was offensive tackle Andrew Thomas who pulled in a 2-yard pass from Daniel Jones seemed to have brought coach Joe Judge to a tipping point with the offensive schemes and play-calling under coordinator Jason Garrett.
Add to that the reality that key plays in the second half with the game still within reach targeted receiver Collin Johnson and practice squad tight end Chris Myarick — all while Golladay was targeted just twice, and four times total in the last two games — and Judge clearly had had enough.
"We have to do a better job of putting our players in position to make plays," he said. "We have too many good players . . . We have to sit down tomorrow with the coaching staff and understand how we have to play this game.
"As a player, I would be frustrated, too."
For the most part, those players put the onus on themselves. Jones said he has to do a better job than the 23-for-38 performance for 167 yards and two interceptions he put forth. Barkley said it’s up to the men on the field to execute. They both said they continue to have faith in Garrett as the leader of their unit.
Whether Judge does, though, is the only opinion that matters. On Monday night, it certainly seemed to be waning.
When asked about Garrett’s role with the team in the past, Judge has always batted the question away with a clear response that Garrett will continue to call the plays. This time, his reply was a bit less definitive.
"I’m not going to go into that right now," he said.
He warned not to read too much into that response, but he never pulled it back, either.
"I’m going to watch the tape and evaluate every player and every coach and make decisions that are the best for the team," he said.
Judge did say his message in the locker room after the loss was that he is intent on fixing the problems.
"We’re going to get this right," he vowed. "I’m in charge of this team. I just told the players: ‘You show up on Wednesday ready to go. That’s it. Just show up ready to go.’ "
Thomas, the left tackle activated off injured reserve earlier in the afternoon, caught the 2-yard pass that tied the score at 10 in the second quarter. It was his second career reception; he pulled in a two-point conversion last season. He said both came on the same play.
The touchdown was set up when an actual receiver was unable to catch the football. Tom Brady tried to hit Mike Evans on a quick screen from the Bucs’ 15 but the pass went through his hands, ricocheted off his shoulder pads and was intercepted by Adoree’ Jackson.
Other than that brief segment, the Giants were steamrolled by the Bucs. Brady diced them up for 307 yards and two touchdowns (including one to Evans) and even scrambled for a 10-yard first down.
The Giants (3-7) had 215 total yards, their second-lowest total since Judge became head coach. Only two of the Giants’ 54 offensive plays gained more than 16 yards, and one of them was a 28-yard catch by tight end Kyle Rudolph on which he was injured. It was their 10th straight prime-time loss, eight of them with Jones at quarterback.
Jones tried to throw to Johnson on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter but his pass fell incomplete. He threw two passes in the vicinity of Myarick, both of which were intercepted.
Ideally, the time for wholesale changes would have been during the bye that just concluded rather than with just five days to prepare for the Eagles on Sunday. The urgency of the coming time line did not seem to temper Judge’s temper.
"I expect us to produce at a higher level," he said. "We’re going to correct that."