Now you’re in New Yorrrrrrrrrrrk…concrete jungle where coach speak is made of!
Sorry to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys for jacking a line from “Empire State of Mind,” but when it comes to where both Joe Judge and Robert Saleh are as New York’s NFL head coaches, well…what else can you call it?
It’s been discussed by every show that’s been on air since Shaun Morash followed Giants coverage Sunday night, but it bears repeating: if you listened to either or both of Judge and Saleh’s postgame pressers, you’d come to the same conclusion about different phases of their teams: either they’re in denial, or they’re resigned to the fact that their units lack whatever it is that’s necessary to succeed.
For Saleh, it was the Jets’ defense, which gave up 33 points to a Philadelphia offense that had scored just seven the week before in the same stadium, and had topped 33 only once this season (two weeks prior against New Orleans).
“First half clearly wasn’t good enough, but second half, I thought we showed some fight, just some self-inflicted wounds on later downs that sustained drives, and we need to be better than that. We have to be better in those regards, because the ones we have control of are the most frustrating.
Obviously they were able to kick field goals, but to hold them up in the red zone like we did shows the fight, grit, and pride this group has. Obviously we don’t want to allow any points, but it was good to see them continue to fight and keep points to a minimum.”
That mash-up of multiple monotone answers is a stark contrast to the Saleh that was seen on the sidelines screaming and yelling at officials all game, and also a stark contrast from what actually happened: the Eagles had eight drives during the game, four in each half, and scored on the first seven.
Yes, the first half was three touchdowns and a field goal while the second half was three field goals and a punt – but the fact remains that the punt came under dubious circumstances, given the Eagles were possibly in field goal range before an errant snap from a new center on third down forced a punt, and they got points on 87.5 percent of their drives.
CJ Mosley took blame for 10 of the points, seven for losing Dallas Goedert on his first score and the three the Eagles got after his encroachment penalty on fourth down at midfield kept the Eagles’ sixth drive alive, but if you ask Saleh, everything was…working well?
“Everything was working really well, and if we could’ve gotten a stop early, I felt like our offense could get points. It was a little bit of everything, but third down especially. Philly has a really talented offense, but again, I wish we could’ve got a little more pass rush. At the same time, we have to cover and find ways to get the ball on the ground or win 1-on-1s.”
So, they couldn’t rush the passer, couldn’t win 1-on-1s, and, despite the total being 6-for-13 on third downs for Philly, couldn’t get off the field…so where was the fight?
“Every week is a proving ground, but what’s disheartening is that I know when we watch this tape, we’ll see a lot of missed opportunities to get the ball back to our offense,” Saleh said.
Indeed, because of the 13 third downs the Eagles faced, they converted six, kicked four field goals, ended up converting on two fourth downs – both on the same drive, actually, as Mosley’s encroachment and a conversion of a fourth-and-one came just a few plays apart – and had to punt after a bad snap on the final drive, which was the only one that didn’t get inside the Jets’ 30.
If that’s growth, well, Jets fans might be in for quite a few more whoopings.
As for Judge, well, he finally got his offensive coordinator fired after scoring just 10 points against Tampa Bay out of the bye, but over the two weeks since, they’ve scored 22 points (including just one touchdown, scored by a little-used tight end on his first NFL catch), and didn’t get in the end zone at all in a 20-9 loss to Miami Sunday where they had 250 total yards and the most positive thing you can take from backup quarterback Mike Glennon’s performance was “he played the whole game.”
And yet, here’s the quote(s) you’ve heard destroyed on every show today:
“There was a lot of things that I saw today in the way we played, a lot of things that are moving in the right direction. I'm pleased with a lot of the things on the team. I saw a lot of players make a lot of big plays.”
Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker averaged 5.4 yards per carry collectively, so why did they only have 17 carries in a game that was 10-9 in the fourth quarter? The answer to that is simple, although Judge won’t tell you: take out each of their longest runs (23 for Saquon, 17 for Booker) and Booker’s seven-yard run against a prevent zone on the final play of the first half, they had 14 carries for 43 yards, which is not great.
If “a lot of players made big plays,” how come the Giants had all of three pass plays of 15 yards or more, two of which were mostly YAC and one of which got Kenny Golladay hurt? Probably because the leading target-getter out of Mike Glennon’s 44 passes was Barkley, who was targeted NINE times and had six catches for 19 yards.
Judge was right in praising Evan Engram, whose four catches for 61 yards paced non-Barkleys on the team, but he liked “a lot of the things Booker did on catch and runs in the screen” (he had four catches for 18 yards), “a lot of the catches Kenny was able to come up with” (after the 20-yard grab, Golladay had two catches for 17 yards and missed a good chunk of time), and thought Kyle Rudolph did “a good job with some of the balls getting vertical, producing first downs” (Rudolph had two catches for 18 yards, one of which was a seven-yarder on 3rd-and-10…aka not a first down).
Unless Judge was watching a different game than everyone else – and in the one we saw, the Giants had 64 plays and nine points on 12 drives – the coach’s praise is as hollow as praising a kid who threw a football through every window in the house for having a perfect spiral on one of the passes.
The two coaches are in different spots, given that Saleh is 12 games into his tenure and Judge is 28, but it might not be a bad idea for Saleh to forge his own path to talent evaluation – because it’s entirely possible that less than 40 days from now, he’s the only current head coach in New York.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN