What happens when a parent can no longer discipline their child? When the voice that once bellowed and fear filled the room like fog rolling in to San Francisco on an early weekday morning, is no longer feared?
I am not saying that is what happened to Joe Judge in his second year as the head coach of the New York Football Giants, but it is starting to smell like it.
After all, lack of focus or discipline falls on the head coach, correct? It is the head coach’s job to make sure that every player has what they need to succeed. It is the head coach’s job to make sure his coaches are locked in, the game-plan is known, vetted, practiced, ran through a million times. Preparation is a head coach’s watchword.
So why, if we have a disciple of discipline, an apostle of preparation in Joe Judge, why do the Giants look so sloppy? So unprepared on defense and special teams?
Did defense and special teams cost a victory last Thursday against a back-up quarterback and an unproven offense? Did the defense allow journeyman Teddy Bridgewater look like Aaron Rogers (from any season besides this one so far) the week prior? Unfortunately yes, yes they did. In a game where Daniel Jones took the offense on his shoulders and led the Giants to 29 points, they lost due to a missed extra point, and lack of discipline during a game-clenching field goal try (that was missed, initially).
In the 1st game of the season, the Giants could not get Teddy and Co. off the field. 3rd and longs were converted relentlessly. 4th and 5 became a scoring drive. No matter how many exciting plays were done on D, they were followed up with blown assignments, undisciplined gap protection etc. While the world blamed Danny Dimes and his 1 fumble, it was the defense and special teams that let the offense down.
Jason Garrett is getting blamed for vanilla offenses, and while that may be an issue, it is not the most damning at this point in the season. The wrong coach is being targeted, well because it’s Jason Garrett. Where is the “blow a coverage and run laps” guy at? Where is the mental discipline coach we thought the Mara's hired? Is Joe Judge hype or substance? Is he a mean-mugged cheerleader with Twinkie filling inside? I had high hopes for him as a Belichick apostle and a ‘Tom Coughlin’ guy but perhaps he had us all fooled. The last Belichickian disciple to don head coaching duties only to be embarrassed to the hilt (and not just because of his sloppy sweatshirt game) was Matt Patricia.
The Belichick coaching tree is not exactly dripping with hall of fame resumes (Aforementioned Patricia, Josh McDaniels, Bill O’Brien, Brian Flores, and Mike Vrabel), but Judge seemed to have a handle on things, at least during the offseason. He says the right things but when you see undisciplined actions and silly mistakes as a constant theme, it is hard to say the message is working.
Daniel Jones was poised, did not turn the ball over, dropped two “dimes’ to Darius Slayton (one went for a touchdown while he dropped the other that could have potentially sealed the win ) and orchestrated what should have been a game-winning drive but the defense allowed Heinicke and Washington to score a touchdown off of 2 plays immediately after.
Even after all that, the Washington Football team initially missed a field goal which would have sealed the victory for Big Blue, but another undisciplined penalty cost the Giants the game.
If Judge wants to turn this season around, he has to get off the rah-rah antics and shore up these mental lapses or the Giants will be the butt of the division and more groans and questions about the head coach, quarterback, General Manager and in essence, ownership will continue to swell.
It is time to be about what you say you are about.