The Giants didn’t just lose a game on Thursday night. They started to lose a little bit of what they want to be.
During the course of and immediately following the 30-29 heartbreaker against Washington, there were several instances when emotions, the kind that Joe Judge and the team have worked hard at suppressing, managed to bubble over. Kenny Golladay yelling at someone – Daniel Jones? Jason Garrett? – on the sideline. Kadarius Toney posting and then deleting on Instagram after he did not touch the football in the contest. That’s to say nothing of the on-field mistakes and missed opportunities that cost them the game.
It leaves Judge fighting two concurrent battles at what feels like a potential tipping point for this young season. He has to figure out how to get the Giants to play and coach better football. And he has to nurse the wounded psyche of a team whose roster has just one player who was a Giant during a season that did not start with at least two straight losses.
He sees them as the same struggle.
"When you want to get those results, it ain’t about being frustrated to get results," he said Friday. "It’s about working to get results."
Judge said he understands the handwringing from fans and wants to see passion from players. He said he spoke with Golladay and Jones and "the coaches involved" in the sideline incident that was caught on camera Thursday.
"Everyone has kind of dismissed everything in terms of there was no conflict," Judge said. "It was more just emotions on the sideline, talking through situations, things going on. Our guys have good relationships, they work together. I don’t really see any issue with that right there."
He also said he wasn’t sure Toney’s social media post was about his playing time or involvement in the game plan.
"I don’t know what it’s in reference to," he said.
That may all be the case. Framed against losing, every emotion can seem like bitterness or anger or frustration. There is a reason for that. It’s because they so often are.
Judge said he planned to maintain as even a keel with the team as possible, whether or not the perception of them as a rumbling volcano is accurate. He vowed to have the same tone in his meetings with them now that he would if they were 2-0… not that most of the players would know what 2-0 meetings are like with the Giants. And he intends to rely on the video of the plays from the games to coach the team, just as he always has.
"The truth is the truth," he said. "Regardless of the outcome, you’ve got to come in and really view it objectively … The truth is not found on Twitter. The truth is not found in the articles you read outside the building. The truth is found on the film and the coaching you’re receiving and how you execute as a player when you’re on the field. That’s what the truth is. And if we understand and we stick to the truth of what it is, then all of a sudden we’ll be a better team."
The quicker they get there, the quicker Judge can win his concurrent battles. Because if it takes too long, the football and the frustration will feed on each other to the team’s ultimate doom.
Notes & quotes: There were two mea culpas from the perpetrators of two of the more egregious miscues in the loss. Sort of. Darius Slayton, who dropped a would-be touchdown in the end zone in the fourth quarter, said it was "a play that I 100% expect to make … I should have ran it down. I’ve ran down a lot of balls in my life." Dexter Lawrence, whose offside penalty allowed Washington a second chance at its game-winning field goal after missing the first as time expired, said "that’s on me" and said he had to "be more disciplined" in that situation. What he didn’t say was whether he thought he actually did commit a penalty. Replays showed Lawrence moving just as the ball was being snapped and it was hard to tell whether he was offside or simply had a perfect jump. "My opinion, it really doesn’t matter," he said. "We lost the game and the refs called what they called."