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Giants Q&A: Who is to blame for this mess of a football team?

Daniel Jones #8 of the Giants looks on

Daniel Jones #8 of the Giants looks on with his teammates in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sep. 17, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Whose fault is this Giants mess?

When they lose by 27 points to a team that came into the game without nine of its starters and in some cases was deploying backups to backups in key roles, it’s hard to not look at the way the roster is constructed. That falls on general manager Dave Gettleman, under whose leadership the Giants are 9-26. The Giants were playing the game without three of their most impactful players — Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard are on injured reserve and Jabrill Peppers left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury — but they clearly need an infusion of talent. Coach Joe Judge wasn’t using the lack of personnel as an excuse. "We have players," he said. "We have players. We have players who are on our roster and were on that field who can help us win games." That statement might need a re-examination at some point.

What happened to Peppers?

He hurt his ankle trying to block a field goal early in the first quarter. He was able to walk off the field and tried to gingerly work through the pain with some walking and light jogging on the sideline immediately afterward, but he quickly disappeared into the locker room and did not emerge for the rest of the game. Judge had no update on his status afterward. Nor did he have anything to say about a late injury to first-round pick Andrew Thomas, the rookie left tackle who limped off late in the game. Thomas did return to action.

Should the Giants have gone for the fourth-and-1 at their own 30 late in the third quarter?

They were down 23-9 at the time, so it was not an awful decision, though Judge defended it against any criticisms. "I challenge these guys to come out and be aggressive and fight," he said. "At that moment in the game I wanted to be aggressive. You can look at me as a coach and say it might not be the best decision at the time, but I’m not going to apologize for being aggressive in that situation." The Giants were 5-for-5 on fourth downs before that play, which came up short.

Couldn’t the Giants have run a more creative play there, though, than a quarterback sneak?

Probably. "We consider all things," Judge said. "At the time, that’s the best call we thought was in our plan right there. They made a play, we’ve got to go ahead and make the play."

Was Judge going to challenge the spot on that play?

He had the red flag in his hand during the commercial break after Jones was stopped short of the first down and the Giants turned the ball over on downs. It seemed as if Jones might have been able to gain the required foot or so of ground on a second effort, despite the spot on the field. "I was looking at the replay to see if it was close enough to drop the red flag," Judge said. "The angle we had on the field and the information we were getting from up top was giving me the indication that it would be a wasted timeout there. That’s why I held it."

New York Sports