EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A year ago, Joe Judge earned his first victory as an NFL head coach when the Giants defeated the Washington Football Team in MetLife Stadium, 20-19.
This October 18 is not nearly as pleasant because the Giants' latest game in MetLife was nothing to celebrate.
Judge spent Monday reviewing the team and evaluating every player's performance in Sunday's 38-11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The 27-point margin of defeat is tied for the largest in Judge's 22-game tenure as Giants coach. The team is 1-5, including 0-3 at home, and sits four games behind NFC East leader Dallas.
All of which only fortifies Judge's resolve to improve the team's fortunes and his confidence that the turnaround will occur.
"This is definitely going to get better," said today on a conference call today in response to a question about the Giants fans' demand for improvement. "I don't know what kind of guarantee they want, but I can assure everyone out there that's a Giants fan and they want to know when it's going to turn. I can tell them right now we're working tirelessly to make sure we get this thing turned around in the right direction, not just for short-term results, but for long-term success."
Judge has the option to change the team's lineup, schemes, play-calling, and most anything else he'd like relating to what happens on the field. But instead of an extreme overhaul, Judge is seeking improvement from the players and plays that have come up short in the first six games.
"I think the biggest thing is we have to do what we're doing better – coaching better, executing better," he said. "In terms of changes, I believe you're referring to more personnel changes it sounds like and I'd just make the point that we're going to play the most productive players, the players that play the right way, the players that play the way we want to play effort-wise and competitive-wise for 60 minutes, the players that are the most productive. Those will be the guys you'll see on the field."
When the Giants trailed at halftime, 28-3, Judge challenged the players to finish the game strong and demonstrate what kind of fight they have. After the game, he demurred when asked to evaluate the players' effort, saying he wouldn't make any judgments before watching the game tape. After doing so, he stuck to his custom of not publicly criticizing or reprimanding individual players.
"I'd say on the whole, I saw the reaction the right way," Judge said. "Obviously, there are some things execution-wise that we have to do different. I would say in terms of waiting right now for me to single out one player, I think you guys have known me long enough to know that I'm not going to do that. However, the things I didn't like in the second half or the first half for that matter we'll fully address to the team as a whole and independently. We'll make sure to move on from that right there. But in terms of me sitting here right now and giving a list of names of things I don't like, that's not really what I do."
None of that precludes the possibility he will order changes before the Giants host the 3-3 Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
"I'll say that this week of practice will determine a lot of that, to see how guys come out and perform in practice and execute and compete," Judge said. "How you practice is going to have a large impact on how much you do play.
"Our focus right now at this point is on making the corrections from yesterday and plowing forward to Carolina. That's where our focus is right now. You look at the tape, you've got to make the corrections and you've got to move forward with it. Obviously, we spent a lot of time like we do on every Monday talking about the players, talking about the recap of the game, things we did as coaches that we can do better, things we did as players that we have to do better, and we've got to make those corrections and move forward. In terms of the emotion, the emotion is irrelevant. Going forward, it's really about the action that you're going to take to make sure you make the corrections and get going the right way."
Check out the best photos from the New York Giants' Week 6 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.
*Judge said the ankle injury tackle Andrew Thomas suffered is on the opposite leg from the foot ailment that kept him out of last week's loss in Dallas.
"One is on the right, the other is on the left, so both are being evaluated today and we'll discuss that and move forward with him when we have further notice," Judge said. "There's a couple of guys that get secondary opinions later in the day. After seeing the doctors initially, they go for whether it's MRIs or X-rays, things of that nature. We've got a couple of guys this time of day on Mondays that are still getting looked at."
That included running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (knee), who were inactive yesterday, and rookie wideout Kadarius Toney, who reinjured his ankle on his third and final reception on the game's opening drive and left the game for good. Their availability for the Carolina game will likely be determined late in the week.
"I don't have a direct answer on either Kenny or Saquon," Judge said. "We'll see how they go a little bit further into the week. In terms of Kadarius, he's part of that crew that's kind of getting that secondary look. He aggravated his ankle that he dealt with last week a little bit. There was an aggravation when he went out of bounds on that last play, he got stuck on the turf a little bit. We'll see where he turns around and goes."
*Judge said cornerback Aaron Robinson and outside linebacker Elerson Smith – the team's third and fourth-round draft choices this year – are going to return to practice this week. They have been on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. The team will have three weeks to place them on the roster or keep them on PUP for the remainder of the season.
"We're actually going to start Aaron Robinson's and Elerson Smith's clock this week," Judge said. "Bring them both off PUP and they have a few weeks to work out, see where they go physically until they're ready to go ahead and get out there on the field."
*Judge said the Giants will sign veteran linebacker Benardrick McKinney to their practice squad.
McKinney, 6-4 and 257 pounds, played in 80 regular-season games with 77 starts and started all six postseason games in which he played for the Houston Texans from 2015-20. His career totals include 525 tackles (312 solo) and 11.5 sacks in the regular season and 44 tackles (23 solo) in the playoffs.
McKinney, 28 played just four games in 2020 before a shoulder injury forced him to go on injured reserve. He was traded on March 17 to the Miami Dolphins, who released him on Aug. 31.