There are hotspots in every NFL head coach’s career, moments that define his legacy – good or bad.
For Joe Judge, this is one of them.
With his Giants battling for the second year in a row, now 3-7 and dangerously close to falling out of the playoffs, referee decision to fire offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is a crucial move that will help shape his reputation.
Good or bad.
It was a move he had little choice to take, given that the Giants’ offense averages just 18.9 points per game. match and comes after a deadly 30-10 loss to a Buccaneers team that is hardly reminiscent of the ’85 Bears defensively.
One could even argue that Judge should have taken this step before now, perhaps before the team’s farewell week. . . maybe even before the season began.
But here he is, trying to find a spark that will get his team going, starting with Sunday’s NFC East match against the rising Eagles, who are 5-6 after winning three of their last four. What happens from here will go a long way toward determining if Judge is up to the challenge and if he really is the long-term answer the Giants so desperately need.
Or whether the team should start all over again after parting ways with a third coach in a row who did not reach his second year on the Giants’ sideline. Ben McAdoo. Pat Shurmur. And now judge?
He is fighting for his coaching life, determined to inject his offense with anything – anything – that can work in the next seven games.
The referee left Daniel Jones close to tears as the third-year quarterback accepted his share of responsibility for Garrett’s exclusion. General manager Dave Gettleman put his own reputation at stake by choosing Jones with the sixth overall election in 2019, and now the fate of these three men hangs in a balance.
If Judge can fight his way through this mess and get the Giants to play as he had promised – a team that this area could be proud of, built in the image of the tough, tough-handed teams that have had success in the past – he will get the chance to continue rebuilding a team that has been in the playoffs once since their 2011 Super Bowl race.
If not, then this decade-long scammer will continue and there are no guarantees he will not be swept out in yet another out-of-season cleanup.
“My responsibility is to make the best decisions for this team at all times,” Judge said. “I have made it clear that I expect more from our offensive. I expect more from our players and production. It is the coach’s job to put our players in a position to succeed. Coaches coach, players play. Players must out there and execute. At this point, I felt the best move for the team was to make a change. ”
It’s a brave move at a critical time, a move that will shape his future – and how long that future will include being the Giants’ head coach.
New beginning for Wilson
Zach Wilson is ready to return from a knee injury in Sunday’s game against the Texans, and he will see if it helps to see from the sidelines last month now that he is back. Sometimes it’s good for a young quarterback – especially a rookie – to get a different vantage point. Like it was for the Jets’ last rookie starter.
Consider: Sam Darnold missed three games with a sprained foot in 2018 and was much more effective after returning. In his first 10 games, he had 17 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions and a rating of 77.6. After returning, he had six touchdown passes, an interception and a 99.1 rating.
Darnold may not have struck out in the long run, but his rookie experience can be instructive for Wilson, who remains confident he can improve his game.
“One thing that was cool was watching the guys play, especially Mike [White] in that Cincinnati game was how fast he gets the ball to some of our playmakers, especially off the backfield, “he said.” The ability to just get through your progressions without feeling like you have to force anything. What is the highest completion rate you can find on the course? That must be the mindset of the future. ”
Jets coach Robert Saleh tried to impress Wilson earlier in the season, telling him it was OK to play “boring” football by checking the ball down if the opportunities are not there with the longer passing game. We’ll see if Wilson learned the lesson, especially after White, Josh Johnson and Joe Flacco showed they can move the offense consistently.
Can Belichick beat Vrabel?
It’s not often you see Bill Belichick not getting better over an opponent, but that’s exactly the case with the Patriots’ six-time Super Bowl winner against former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel.
Vrabel has done fine work with the Titans, who are 8-3 despite losing All-Pro running back Derrick Henry to a foot injury. Vrabel has been overtaken by Belichick in their previous two meetings when he beat the Patriots in 2018 and again in the wildcard round of the 2019 playoffs – also known as Tom Brady’s last game in a Patriots uniform.
But give Belichick the edge in this one, set for Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots have won five just like rookie quarterback Mac Jones, and a resurgent defense has combined to bring them back into the playoffs. New England has allowed the fewest points per. match (16.1) by any team, and has not scored a point in the opponents’ last 19 possessions. The last teams to do so: The Patriots, who kept opponents pointless in 24 ball possession in 2019, and the 49ers, who were not scored on in 19 balls that year.
Jones, meanwhile, looks set to become the first rookie quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs since Dak Prescott of the Cowboys in 2016. Jones looks like a runaway pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He leads all rookies with 245 completions, a completion rate of 70.2, 2,540 passing yards, 14 touchdown passes and a rating of 94.7.
Priest a revelation
The Giants traded down with the Bears as No. 10 in this year’s draft and secured Chicago’s first round pick in 2022. Fine. But the player taken after the Bears ‘selected quarterback Justin Fields – Micah Parsons of the Cowboys – may be the Giants’ biggest regret in that transaction.
The Giants got wide receiver Kadarius Toney as No. 20, and while he has flashed his talent in spots this year, he has struggled through injuries. Parsons, meanwhile, has been one of the NFL’s best defenders, not just defensive rookies.
The former Penn State star has nine sacks, a league-leading 15 tackles for losses and two forced fumbles and has been the Cowboys’ most versatile defensive player, playing both inside and out of Dan Quinn’s system. The Giants could certainly spend such a guy on a defense that has underperformed through most of the season.
The resurgent AFC North
The Bengals, 6-4 and come from an away win over the Raiders, and the 5-4-1 Steelers are to meet on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium in an important division match that could go a long way towards deciding playoff placement. That Cincinnati would be mentioned at all in connection with the post-season is not something that has happened much lately, but it is an expression of the collective improvement in AFC North.
In fact, all the teams in the division have winning records when they enter week 12, just the fourth time since 1970 that all the teams in a division have been over 0.500 so late in the season. The last time this happened was in 2014 – again with AFC North – and all NFC East teams had winning records at this point in 2008. The only second time before that: 1977, when the Steelers, Bengals, Browns and Oilers were in AFC Central.
The 7-3 Ravens and 6-5 Browns will fight in Baltimore on Sunday.
Taylor as MVP?
The race for The Associated Press Most Valuable Player usually comes down to which dominant quarterback gets the nod. In fact, a quarterback has won the award every year since 2013.
But Colts running back Jonathan Taylor has been so good this season, especially in recent weeks, that he is getting some well-deserved buzz for the most prestigious honor in regular season for an individual player.
Last week, the Taylor Colts led to a disturbance by the Bills in Buffalo with five touchdowns on 204 scrimmage yards (185 rushing, 19 receiving). He was the first player to produce at least 175 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns and one touchdown catch in a game. Ever.
Taylor leads the NFL with 1,122 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, taking over after the injured Derrick Henry as the NFL’s prominent running back. He may face the toughest test of the season when the Colts face Tampa Bay, who lead the NFL in the rushing defense, allowing 78.4 yards per game. match. The Bucs have only allowed one 100-yard rusher this season. Tampa Bay has shown some vulnerability in the secondary, which has led teams to try to attack the Bucs through the air. But Indy’s offensive is all about the running game, so look for Taylor to get his chances.
Sunday’s game is just the fifth time since 2000 that the league’s leading rusher will face the NFL’s top rush defense in week 12 or later. In two of those games, the Jets and Curtis Martin were beaten by the Steelers in 2004 and 2001.
Tom Brady needs a touchdown pass to reach 30 for the ninth time in his career. That would tie Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in second place after Drew Brees. . . When Aaron Rodgers meets Rams and defensive Aaron Donald on Sunday, it will be the sixth time since 2000 and the first time since 2011 that the reigning MVP will meet this year’s defender from the previous season. . . Still no touchdowns on punt returns through 12 weeks. There have been at least two return TDs from points each year at this time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. . . 39 matches have already been decided in the last two minutes of regulation or overtime. . . Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is the first player in NFL history with at least 80 catches, 1,100 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in the first 10 games of a season. He leads the NFL with 85 catches for 1,141 yards and is a tie in the NFL lead with 10 touchdowns. . . Rams coach Sean McVay has 3-1 after goodbye weeks.
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