EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Kent Graham has certainly had his share of memorable Thanksgiving Days in his 53 years, none more than Turkey Day, 1992.
That day – Nov. 26, 1992, to be precise – Graham, a rookie eighth-round draft choice who had thrown 32 passes, was the Giants' starting quarterback when they were the visitors for the Dallas Cowboys' annual Thanksgiving home game.
The Giants began the year with Phil Simms as their starter, but he suffered a season-ending elbow injury in the fourth game. They turned to Jeff Hostetler, who lasted seven games before a concussion knocked him out of a loss to Philadelphia four days before the holiday. Graham finished that game.
That left Graham or fellow rookie Dave Brown, a first-round selection in the supplemental draft who had yet to take a snap, as the potential starters against the Cowboys. Graham won the assignment against a Dallas team that finished 13-3 and annihilated Buffalo, 52-17, in Super Bowl XXVII.
The Giants trailed just 9-3 at halftime. But Graham's Cowboy counterpart was future Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, who threw two second-half touchdown passes, one of them to Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, who also ran 68 yards for a score. The final was 30-3. Graham, who started two more games before Hostetler returned, completed 12 of 28 passes for 151 yards and was sacked once. Brown played the final series and was sacked three times.
In the 29 years since then, the Giants have never started three quarterbacks in the same season. That streak will end tomorrow if Jake Fromm takes the first snap when the 4-10 Giants visit the 7-7 Philadelphia Eagles in Lincoln Financial Field.
Coach Joe Judge has declined to say publicly if Mike Glennon or Fromm, the second-year pro from the University of Georgia, will start.
If Fromm does start, it will be another step in a meteoric journey since, well, Thanksgiving. On that day, he was a practice squad player for the Buffalo Bills who had yet to throw an NFL pass.
The Giants signed him on Dec. 1, three days after Daniel Jones suffered a neck injury that officially became season-ending when he was placed on injured reserve Monday. Glennon started the next three games, but Fromm made his pro debut on the Giants' final series in their loss to Dallas last week. He completed six of 12 passes for 82 yards.
Judge has praised both quarterbacks.
"We've seen more of Mike than Jake," Judge said. "Jake's been new to the offense. We saw a little bit of Jake in the game the other day. There's a drastic difference between starting an NFL game and just coming in at the end, so there's a lot of things you're going to see structurally, defensively, the situations in the game that pop up. Playing the entire game is a lot different than coming in at the end of the game and just playing a snapshot for us as a team to see. Both guys have worked hard, both guys have done very good things for the team. I'm pleased with the way both guys showed some leadership with the groups around them."
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Though he's an NFL novice, Fromm had great success at Georgia, where he was 35-7 as the starter and threw for 8,224 yards and 78 touchdowns.
College achievement is an imperfect predictor for professional success, but Fromm is confident he will thrive if given the opportunity.
"Hopefully just for me and the way I played my entire career, (I will) just (make) good decisions," Fromm said. "Let's get the ball out, let's get everybody on the same page and really just trying to move the sticks, move the sticks, move the sticks. If we move the sticks enough, we'll get close enough and we'll score a few points."
The identity of the Giants' quarterback is the most significant but far from the only storyline attached to Sunday's game. The Giants will try to win in Philadelphia for the first time since 2013 and sweep the season series for the first time since 2007.
Their most recent victory was by a 13-7 score against Philadelphia on Nov 28 in Jones' last appearance. The offense did just enough to win, while the defense forced four Philadelphia turnovers, including three interceptions of Jalen Hurts' passes.
But the Eagles rushed for 208 yards in the game, part of a streak in which they have topped 175 yards on the ground in seven consecutive contests, the longest streak by any team since the Super Bowl champion 1985 Chicago Bears. Philly ran for 238 yards in their 27-17 victory against Washington on Tuesday night and leads the NFL with 165.6 rushing yards a game.
Hurts has run for team-high totals of 733 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"Their quarterback is a good runner," said safety Logan Ryan, who missed the first Eagles game while on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. "When you have a running element like that like the Ravens (with quarterback Lamar Jackson), they're going to rush for a lot. It's just how they move the ball. This is a unique challenge with a quarterback that can move the ball with his arm and his legs. Schematically, we have to take it away the best we can."
The Eagles' 208 rushing yards were the most allowed by the Giants this season.
"I'm an old D-line coach," defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. "It never feels good. The win feels good, all right? When we win, I'm happy for about five minutes and then I think about the next opponent. No, I don't want to concede that (many yards) in any way shape, or form. Absolutely not. Now, I want the win more than anything and if they run for 400 yards and we win, I'll smile probably about for a few minutes then I'll be upset for the rest of the day. But no, I don't want to concede that. They've got good players."
"We've got to do a better job this week. We've got to limit the effectiveness. We've got to finish on tackles. We've got to get off blocks better. We've got to make sure we're lined up in position better on some of the plays. They've got a lot they do. It's probably simpler for them, but the presentation creates a lot of problems for defenses, so we've got a real challenge ahead of us."
*The Giants declared three players out of the game due to injury: rookie running back Gary Brightwell (neck), wide receiver Collin Johnson (hamstring) and guard Ben Bredeson (ankle).
*Four players are questionable, defensive lineman Austin Johnson (foot) and three players who were activated off the COVID reserve list: rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (who is also recovering from an oblique injury), linebacker Oshane Ximines and safety J.R. Reed.