Joe Judge has one win to show for his first half-season as an NFL head coach.
Good thing he and the Giants aren’t measuring themselves by that standard.
"I see a lot of improvement," Judge said after Monday night’s 25-23 loss to the Buccaneers. "I’m proud of the way our guys are working day by day, sticking together. We’ve got a really good foundation and culture being built in this building right now, and we’ve got a lot of really good guys to build this thing with for the long term. So if you were going to ask me, the first year, how I’d classify it, I see an improving team that is developing in the division going forward."
That philosophy is clearly being adopted by the players.
"Me personally? I don’t care about the record," safety and special teams captain Jabrill Peppers said. "If you watch our tape against the teams that we’ve played, it’s a play here or a play there. It’s not like we’re just going out there and getting our [butt] kicked, you know what I mean? We’re playing some good football, we’ve just got to tie it all together, we’ve got to execute and we’ve got to be better situationally."
The Giants have been remarkably close to a vastly different record, especially over their past four games. They are 1-3 in that stretch and all of the games have been decided by a combined seven points. Their last three losses have been decided by a total of six points.
That’s not to say the Giants are satisfied.
"I think any competitor that’s playing in this league wants to win and wants to improve and show that by results," linebacker Blake Martinez said. "It’s a results business. So yeah, it’s definitely tough, and you want to go out there, after all the hard work, and come out with a win."
Nor do they think you should be satisfied, either.
"We’re not asking for moral victories. We understand the people of New York deserve better, so we got to keep working to be better for them," Judge said.
Still, he continues to be pleased by the progress.
"Long story short, I’m proud of the way our players played tonight," he said. "I’ve seen a lot of improved football, seen a lot of fight from our guys throughout the season. I continuously see an improved team on the field at all positions and guys playing for each other for 60 minutes. That being said, we were able to make some big plays tonight down the stretch; ultimately, we have to overcome some mistakes, and we have to improve collectively as a coaching staff and as a team to give ourselves the best chance to be successful."
In his mind, that doesn’t necessarily mean next week or the week after. Judge has made it clear he is trying to right this franchise into long-term winners.
Some short-term victories now and then would sure be helpful, though.