If you had Janoris Jenkins in the office pool as the first player to lose his cool over the Giants’ performance this season, congratulations! It may be the only victory associated with this team for a while.
The veteran cornerback unloaded on his defensive teammates after Sunday’s 28-14 loss to the Bills in which quarterback Josh Allen threw for 253 yards. The Giants have allowed nine touchdowns in their first two games.
“When you have time [as an opposing quarterback] and we don’t get any pressure, I can’t cover nobody for 10 seconds,” he said in response to a question about the wide-open Bills receivers who dotted the field for much of the game. “Who can cover somebody for 10 seconds? Go look at the first five seconds of the route, he’s not open. If there ain’t no pressure, what do you want me to do? I can’t cover this side and that side. Like, come on, bro. You gotta play football around here.”
He would have fit right in with the Giants fans at MetLife Stadium for the home opener who spent most of the afternoon booing. The main difference between the two? Jenkins was around when the game officially ended.
“It’s really discouraging,” Jenkins said. “Nine touchdowns? Yeesh. I don’t even know what to say, man . . . It’s just frustrating.”
Jenkins insisted he was not calling out his teammates, just stating facts, and the linebackers who are supposed to be providing pressure had little defense against Jenkins’ words.
“I mean, [expletive], it’s true,” edge rusher Lorenzo Carter said. “It takes all 11.”
The defense did find its legs for a bit in the second half when, captain Alec Ogletree said, they recognized their plan was not working and made adjustments. They started to reach Allen in the pocket and force him to throw the ball sooner. The result was a temporary halt to the Bills’ march, and it opened the possibility of a comeback win.
The offense, however, was unable to provide the necessary points, and the Giants never got closer in the second half than a seven-point deficit.
After the Giants scored on a 4-yard pass from Eli Manning to TJ Jones with 11:56 left in the game, the Bills answered with a touchdown drive to seal the win.
Even when things seemed to go well for the Giants, they spoiled things. They downed a punt at the 2 only to see the Bills drive 98 yards for a touchdown. They recorded a sack and knocked the ball loose from Allen, but the play was whistled dead before the fumble and couldn’t even be reviewed. They scored on a crisp, effective opening drive — just as they did last week when they took a 7-0 lead against Dallas — then didn’t alter the scoreboard again until the fourth quarter.
And of course, there was the defense that allowed the Bills to convert five key third downs, had trouble tackling and looked to be in general disarray.
“It’s just knowing what you’re doing when you go out there,” Jenkins said. “I don’t know if they know what they’re doing or they don’t, but we have to step it up, man . . . We have to make some changes, we have to make fixes. Everybody has to make corrections.”
How will such an outburst play in a locker room that prides itself on keeping its cool, even in the face of some of the most horrific football from this franchise in recent years?
Maybe it’s what is needed. Shrugging off mistakes, calling them correctable, that didn’t work very well after the Week 1 loss to the Cowboys. Somebody had to say something to snap the team to attention and make them notice its shortcomings. Perhaps it will help the team, not divide it.
“We have to get back to the drawing board and be realistic with each other in the locker room,” running back Saquon Barkley said. “I think we all gain that respect from each other when we’re realistic.”
Clearly something has to spark a turnaround, because the Giants’ season already is going nowhere. It’s still officially summer, even if the mood around the team is as heavy as a winter’s snow.
“If you like losing, you won’t last long in this league,” Ogletree said. “Everybody should be [upset] that we are losing. But we have an opportunity to continue to work and write our own story.”
So far it’s been a horror story.
The Giants are 0-2 for the sixth time in seven seasons. Their stadium has become a meeting place for fans of opposing teams to gather and celebrate. And the one beacon of hope for the organization is moored on the sideline; coach Pat Shurmur said he is not yet ready to start having conversations about lifting Manning for Daniel Jones.
“Yeah, I’m angry,” Jenkins said. “It’s my second year, third year of going 0-2. Third in a row. I gotta get somewhere. I’m trying to win something.”
Two games may be too small a sample size, but so far, that doesn’t seem feasible.
The Giants have scored touchdowns on each of their opening drives in the first two games of the season. They haven’t been nearly as successful in the 20 other possession over the two games:
1 Missed FG
1 End of game