EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants remain in contention to win the NFC East title with two weeks remaining in the season, despite several numbers that suggest they shouldn't be.
Their record is 5-9. They have thrown nine touchdown passes in 14 games – one in the last five contests - the NFL's second-lowest figure (New England has eight). The Giants' 244 points (17.4 a game) rank 31st in the league.
Joe Judge knows that's not good.
"I've done a lot of studying on this - 100 percent of NFL games, the team that scores more points wins, so we're going to try to do that as much as we can," the Giants coach said in response to a Zoom call question today. "Not to be a complete wise guy to you, at this point in the season we have to know what our strengths and weaknesses are. That being said, the focus has to remain on being the best football team we can be. We've got to make a lot of improvement in these next two weeks to give ourselves a chance at anything beyond. The goal at the beginning of this year was to be the best team we could possibly be at the end of the year. We still have a lot of work to do. We have two weeks of work to really get in."
If the Giants win their final two games – Sunday at Baltimore and Jan. 3 at home against Dallas – they will win their first division title since 2011 if Washington loses at least one of its last two (home vs. Carolina and at Philadelphia).
But the 9-5 Ravens are fourth in the league in points allowed (20.5 a game). And there's no question the Giants have a scoring issue.
The Giants finished with a season-low point total in their 20-6 loss last night to the Cleveland Browns – one week after setting the previous low in a 26-7 defeat to the Arizona Cardinals. Last night marked the fourth time this season the Giants scored in single digits and was the third game in which they did not score a touchdown.
The loss to Cleveland was the fourth consecutive game in which the Giants scored fewer than 20 points, their longest such streak since Nov. 19-Dec. 10, 2017. The Giants totaled 49 points in those four games but won the first two of them with 19 points in Cincinnati and 17 in Seattle.
"We have to do a good job as coaches putting them in the right position to do a good job of executing on the field," Judge said. "Finishing plays and finishing drives. We're absolutely capable of more points."
"It's definitely not a testament of the work we're putting in," tight end Evan Engram said of the team's point totals. "I think we work really hard and we have a great plan, and we execute all week. We just have to capitalize on the opportunities that we get. It's tough, but at the end of the day, we just need to get back to work."
The Giants played last night without quarterback Daniel Jones, who was inactive with hamstring and ankle injuries. Colt McCoy replaced him for the second time in three weeks. In Seattle, McCoy threw for 105 yards and one touchdown and the Giants pulled off an upset. Last night, he passed for 221 yards, but the team never crossed the goal line.
Judge won't know until later in the week if Jones will play in Baltimore.
"Hopefully, we have three practices to be able to evaluate him," Judge said. "We're going to decide tomorrow as a staff what we think the best course of action is going forward this week in terms of getting these guys on the field. Obviously, with Christmas, that kind of throws a little bit of how to manage the week. We've got a couple plans in place. I'll talk to the captains tomorrow and iron out what the best plan is going forward. We have a pretty good idea of what we're going to do anyway.
"In terms of Daniel himself, the standard remains the same. My concern with him has been his health. Making sure he can go on the field and protect himself. Because of any change of number of games remaining in the season, that doesn't dictate what we would put him at, in terms of risk on the field. I still want to make sure we can put him out there and allow him to move around and protect himself."
Judge is also hopeful of having offensive coordinator Jason Garrett return to the sideline Sunday. Garrett did not attend last night's game after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens called the plays in his absence.
"We're waiting on final details," Judge said. "From what I understand, he'll be available for the game. There's still some gray area in terms of the travel with the team or without the team, what it could entail. We're hoping that everything goes well. Obviously, we're hoping that Jason remains in good health. We have been checking out with him. He's been very active in our meetings. One unique thing about this year I would say, even being out of the building, we've become so accustomed to using Zoom and working virtually. There hasn't been a main difference other than when you're actually on the practice field and obviously at the game last night."
No matter who is calling the plays or who is executing them, the Giants need to score more points.
"We don't really care where the points or production come from," Judge said. "We don't care what player gives it to us. We're going to work every week to make sure we go ahead and get it out of them and put our team in a position to be successful."
*Cornerback James Bradberry was activated today off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. He
did not play last night after being placed on the list last week after he was deemed a high-risk close contact of an individual who tested positive.
*Defensive back Montre Hartage, who was released on Saturday, was re-signed to the practice squad.