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Giants look in the mirror for flaws, emphasize self-improvement

Leonard Williams and Azeez Ojulari after a sack

Leonard Williams and Azeez Ojulari after a sack in the fourth quarter against the Panthers on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Joe Judge said he was going to fix it.

He did. For one game, anyway.

The coach who in the course of last week promised things would be better and put the responsibility for that on his own shoulders with a memorable quote about stinky fish, was doing more than just talking about change. He actually applied it to the way he coached the team, returning the focus in practices from game-planning for opponents to fundamentals and techniques.

"Last week there was a large aspect of making sure that we understood that we control the results based on how we perform and execute," Judge said. "Every good play starts with good fundamentals and that was a large emphasis in what we did in practice last week."

It was like training camp. They weren’t worried about the Panthers. They were worried about the Giants.

So they worked on details and communication, on the depths of their drops in zone coverages on defense, on the precision of their route-running on offense.

"It’s really about us," rookie linebacker Azeez Ojulari said. "At the end of the day, it ends up going back to us and what we have to do out there, and how we do it, and just trying to fix everything in that standpoint of us."

Now we’ll see if the fix sticks.

Judge seems to think it might. When they won their first game of the season against the Saints earlier this month he was warning just about everyone he could about the dangers of positive results in the face of inconsistent action.

"Sometimes, the worst thing that can happen to you is doing something the wrong way and having success," he said back then. "Sometimes, you have success and it’s in spite of something you did wrong, and you can’t mistake that for the way to do it."

He went so far as to call that kind of thinking "the most deceiving thing in the history of mankind."

The next two games showed just how deceiving it was. They were crushed by the Cowboys and Rams.

After this victory over the Panthers, however, Judge no longer seems concerned about the fool’s gold he saw in New Orleans. This week they’ll be doing the same things they did in practices last week, fine-tuning general details at full speed and working on game plan-specific skills at a walk-through pace. The biggest difference will be the extra day they have to do so with the next game on Monday night in Kansas City.

"The long week will not change any of that," Judge said. "I would expect to keep staying on that same track . . . We’re not going to lose any time in practice to take away from fundamentals."

The Giants have a string of upcoming opponents far more daunting than the reeling Panthers team they dismantled on Sunday. The next three teams they face — with a bye in the middle of them — have a combined record of 14-7 this season, represent three of the last four Super Bowl participants, and have won the last two Lombardi Trophies.

They’ll spend an appropriate amount of time preparing for what each of those foes does schematically and be ready for the different philosophies they bring, starting with Kansas City this week then Las Vegas and Tampa Bay when their time comes. But mostly they’ll be worried about one team in particular.

The Giants.

New York Sports