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The New York Giants lost their fifth straight game by double digits on Sunday, and this was the ugliest of them all.
Facing the 5-10 Chicago Bears, a team widely expected to fire their head coach after this season, the Giants weren't just bad on offense, they were historically putrid. With starting quarterback Daniel Jones shut down for the season, back-up Mike Glennon finished the day 4-of-11 for 24 passing yards, two interceptions and four fumbles (two lost).
Of Glennon's four completed passes, two gained yards. Throw in the four sacks allowed by the Giants offensive line for a total loss of 34 yards, and the Giants passing game gained a grand total of -10 yards.
That is the fewest passing yards gained in a single NFL game since the then-San Diego Chargers "gained" -19 yards in 1998 (Ryan Leaf was involved), according to Stathead. It's also the first time since 2009 that a team finished in the red.
The Giants ended up losing 29-3. They went into the game with a clear handicap, but teams have lost their starting quarterbacks before and, you know, gained positive yards. Between that performance through the air, an embarrassing gaffe on a kickoff return and some other odd decisions, Giants head coach Joe Judge had plenty to answer for after the game.
Then he took things in an even weirder direction.
What was Joe Judge talking about after Giants loss?
When asked by a reporter why fans should have faith that he is the person who can right the ship for 4-12 Giants, Judge reportedly launched into a 10-minute rant in which he claimed, among other things, that he frequently receives calls from players who were on the Giants last year and are now making more money playing elsewhere.
The apparent consensus among these players is they really wish they were back in New York. You can read the full transcript here, including this claim:
"I can tell you we’re got more players here who are going to be free agents next year, all right, they’re coming in my office every day begging me to come back. I know that. I know that. I know players that we coached last year still calling me twice a week telling me how much they wish they were still here even though they’re getting paid more somewhere else. Ok? So I know we’ve got the right foundational pieces right there. "
Now, we're not ones to openly doubt an NFL head coach clearly going through some things, but "NFL players openly saying they want less money" is the kind of claim that can't just be passed along without any scrutiny.
ESPN's Bill Barnwell was one person who sat down and questioned if what Judge was saying was true, and the results were ... interesting.
Basically, of the 34 players who appeared on the Giants active roster last year and are no longer part of the team this year, the only player who could fit Judge's description of having signed elsewhere for more money is defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who left the Giants this offseason on a two-year, $22 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings.
So unless Judge fudged his criteria a bit or Tomlinson is the kind of person to make multiple calls to an ex-head coach in the middle of the season, Judge's claims seem to be along the lines of a girlfriend from Canada or a dad who works at Nintendo.
Will Joe Judge actually return for 2022?
Making the Giants' free fall all the more interesting is the report that Judge (and Jones) will be steering the Giants in the 2022 season as well. That was reported two weeks ago, before two more embarrassing losses for the Giants.
There is a very good chance Judge's job security is tied to general manager Dave Gettleman's job security, and both keep looking worse as New York looks overwhelmed on a weekly basis with little hope for the future. Even Scott Simonson, who played for Gettleman when he was the GM of the Carolina Panthers and then joined him with the Giants, is publicly teeing off on his old boss.
Dave Gettleman is an atrocious GM and not a good person IMO. The fact he’s had this much time to not be good at his job, while deciding others’ fates, and indebting one of the most historically respected franchises is embarrassing, and also a strong example of karma existing 👎
— Scott Simonson (@scottysimes83) January 2, 2022
This could very well be an offseason of change for the Giants. If it is, the calls Judge gets could suddenly become very real.