Former New York Jets coach Herm Edwards once famously exclaimed, “Hello! You play to win the game!” In order to win games, you need to score more points than your opponent. However, New York Giants head coach Joe Judge recently suggested that scoring points isn’t always the best strategy for a football team.
The New York Giants lost a very winnable game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8
At 2-5, the New York Giants had a chance to impress on national television during a Week 8 Monday Night Football matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. They also had an opportunity to move up to second place in the NFC East. This would seriously bolster their playoff hopes as well.
The Giants’ defense played very well. They stuck to a tried and true game plan of paying two deep safeties against Patrick Mahomes. The strategy made the former MVP hold the ball and force throws. The Giants took advantage of this, which resulted in three sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception.
The unit held Mahomes and company to 20 points. This is a respectable number that gave the Giants offense a chance to win the game.
Unfortunately for Giants fans, the offense couldn’t get the job done. Even against the much-maligned Chiefs defense, QB Daniel Jones, and the offense only managed 228 passing yards and 300 total yards of offense. That is the second-lowest total the KC D has given up all season.
Several factors have led to the Giants’ offensive struggles this season. Jones’ questionable decision-making at times, injuries to Kenny Golladay and Saquon Barkley, and a below-average offensive line are all culprits.
However, the play-calling — specifically the conservative nature of the play-calling — by head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett might be the biggest issue.
Joe Judge said he isn’t always in favor of scoring points
The Giants had several instances of overly conservative play against the Chiefs.
The most egregious example of this came in the second quarter. On 3rd-and-4 from the 7-yard line, Jason Garrett called a 2-yard pass play. Then, on 4th-and-2 from the 5-yard line, Joe Judge decided to kick a field goal instead of going for six points.
After the game, the second-year head coach explained the decision by saying:
I thought points were going to be at a premium. Our defense was playing good right there. … I was going to play to our defense a lot tonight. I had a lot of confidence in how they were playing as a unit. … You can come in sometimes and shoot yourself in the foot by saying that we’ve got to score every point every time it’s available. You can fall back on those analytics sheets. … Ultimately, I would say that’s not where the factor of the game was.Joe Judge on settling for a field goal
While the assertion that scoring more points isn’t always better than scoring more points is ridiculous on its face, the point Judge was trying to make was about old-school football thinking vs. new-school analytics.
It was not a good point, nor did his plan to accumulate enough field goals to beat the Kansas City Chiefs work out.
The Giants next opportunity to not score points comes in Week 9 vs. the Las Vegas Raiders
No lower-tier teams in the NFC are running away with the division’s Wild Card spot. Right now, even at 2-6, the G-Men are just two games out of the last playoff spot (currently held by the 4-4 Carolina Panthers).
This means that Joe Judge and the Giants are still in this, but the team’s next game, a home contest against the Las Vegas Raiders, is a must-win situation.
The Raiders are in the midst of one of the most unprecedented seasons in NFL history. In addition to the standard Raider-related drama, the team is recovering from the Jon Gruden scandal and, this week, the team released last year’s first-round pick Henry Ruggs III following a fatal car accident that resulted in two felony counts of DUI and reckless driving and a misdemeanor charge of possession of a firearm while under the influence, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
It’s impossible to predict what the Raiders’ focus will be like coming to New York after all this drama, but if the team of the last few weeks shows up, the Giants will have their work cut out for them.
Derek Carr’s team is coming off two consecutive blowouts of the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles. The Raiders have excelled on both sides of the ball… and scored touchdowns instead of settling for field goals under interim head coach Rich Bisaccia.
If Judge doesn’t get with modern football and follow the former special teams coach’s lead, it could spell the end of the Giants season and maybe even Judge’s time as head coach of Big Blue.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference