If there is anyone on the Giants’ defense who can accurately state how poorly the unit played on Sunday, it’s Leonard Williams. He was a member of the Jets for the first half of this season, so he knows firsthand just how dysfunctional and unproductive that offense had been.
That floundering unit, which had been averaging less than two touchdowns per game, scored 27 points against the Giants in the Jets' 34-27 victory at MetLife Stadium. The Giants allowed the opening 14 points to put the team in a hole and then -- after taking the lead in the third quarter -- allowed the final 13 in the game.
“It was definitely disappointing on the defensive side giving up that many points,” Williams said.
It also might have been the breaking point. While Pat Shurmur said there will not be any changes to the coaching staff during the upcoming bye – despite a bull's-eye on the back of coordinator James Bettcher — it’s hard to imagine the Giants returning in two weeks with the same schemes, personnel and philosophies in place.
The Giants have allowed at least 27 points an NFL-high nine times in 10 games this season. They have given up at least 31 points six times, tying Tampa Bay for the league high.
“Gotta be,” safety Michel Thomas said of the possibility of changes. “Do I expect it? I don’t know what’s going to happen, and whatever happens we’re going to take it in stride, but at this point, yeah. Gotta be.”
Added safety Jabrill Peppers: “We all know this league is a business and winning is everything in this league. When you don’t win, everything starts to look different.”
For most of this season, it’s been maddeningly predictable. Sunday’s game fell right into the pattern that has doomed the Giants for most of their six-game losing streak.
They were unable to get off the field early on. The Jets converted a third-and-11 and a third-and-1 during their opening drive and a fourth-and-1 on their second, which ended with a 23-yard touchdown catch by Jamison Crowder in which he cut inside the over-pursuit of veterans Alec Ogletree and Antoine Bethea.
The Jets’ second-half scoring binge started with a 24-yard scramble by Sam Darnold on third-and-7 from the Jets' 39 to set up a field goal. Then a 33-yard pass-interference penalty against struggling rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Le’Veon Bell.
The Giants have tried just about everything, from players-only meetings that didn’t seem to work (“We’re still losing,” Peppers said of the effect of that gathering two weeks ago) to harping on the concept of urgency (which served as little more than a buzzword).
Peppers, who played well, was asked if he thought the rest of the defense shared his proper level of passion and urgency.
“I’d like to think so,” he said.
That’s not a yes.
Was this defensive performance unacceptable? Frustrating?
“Yes, sir,” Peppers said.
Forget the playbook. The Giants and those around them need a thesaurus to come up with new ways to describe what is happening.
“We’re trying to win every game,” Thomas said. “But there was definitely a sense of urgency with this game.”
A sense of it, perhaps. Just no show of it.