Twice. In nine weeks.
That is the frequency the Giants this season reported for work the day after winning a game. So, they can be excused for not feeling entirely comfortable with what to do, how to act.
After all, it takes repeated behavior to form a habit. The Giants lost five games, won one, lost two games and then won another. Here they are. Not quite a sense of familiarity. Not yet. They do know is it is preferable to the alternative.
“It definitely helps,’’ veteran guard Kevin Zeitler said. “Coming in after a win, it just has a better vibe in the building. It always helps push you forward. Obviously, you can never let that be a distraction. You have a lot of things to fix and we need to keep working every day to get better.’’
The Giants lost games this season on four Sundays afternoons, one Thursday night and two Monday nights. In the first half of the first season of Joe Judge’s coaching tenure, perhaps his greatest achievement is winning The Day After.
Dominated in the second half by the Steelers. Falling short in the final seconds in Chicago. Getting blown out by the depleted 49ers. A last-minute interception by Daniel Jones in Inglewood, Calif. Blowing a lead and getting beat by a last-second field goal in Arlington, Texas. Blowing a bigger lead and getting beat by a last-minute touchdown in Philadelphia. Mounting a comeback and falling short on a failed two-point conversion against the Buccaneers.
The way Judge handled each defeat was not dissimilar to the way he processed the two lonely victories, both coming against Washington, which tells you something about Washington. This is why this past Monday was more pleasant, certainly, but not a departure from modus operandi after the seven setbacks.
“I think one of the things that’s most pleasing about our guys, to be honest with you, is they’re very consistent, they’re very steady,’’ Judge said. “They came in [Monday] with that same attitude we’ve seen in the previous weeks. There’s a little more joking around and laughing at different times, but really ultimately, they came in the room and they’re very easy to coach. They’re very receptive, they’re looking for a better way of doing things.
“Look, we told them right at the beginning of the meeting, ‘Hey listen, we had success yesterday. Let’s not mistake that for thinking everything is perfect. There is plenty that we have to watch on this tape and we have to correct. Philadelphia is watching the same tape we are, and they’re looking to expose everything we put out there.’ ’’
What about winning spawning confidence and confidence spreading swagger and swagger creating an expectation of more winning? Yeah, sure, maybe after an extended winning streak. The Giants have not sniffed that yet. Beating the Eagles in Week 10 would be a start, especially heading into a bye.
These Giants focus on the corrections that need to be made, regardless of the outcome of the game, and this is one of Judge’s best installs in his first year.
“A guy that can’t take those moments of ‘Oh we won, we’re all good, we’ll just go to the next week,’ ’’ inside linebacker Blake Martinez said. “You have to be able to take a seat, see what small, little aspects that you can improve on that also would have allowed the game to be over in the third quarter, be over in the second quarter, and so on and so forth. That’s where this team is different. We go into each week no matter win or lose, we’re making sure we’re improving on whatever aspects that us as individuals messed up, or us as a whole defense messed up.’’
The “little more joking around and laughing’’ Judge referenced lightens the mood and then it is back to work. Judge is not a robot; he joins in. Somewhat.
“I’m always kind of myself,’’ Judge said, almost sheepishly. “Win or lose, I’m going to kind of bust your chops a little bit either way, throw something at you. In a lot of ways, after a win, it can be tougher to coach. Our guys have been very good with that in that they’ve been receptive. Sometimes you walk in after a win, you have to tell a team this is the toughest it’s going to be to coach all year because you think you have all the answers. After a loss, people can be more receptive at times.
“In terms of me laughing or joking or whatever that may be, if I think the team needs to kind of lighten the mood a little bit, I may throw something in there. If sometimes it has to be a little bit more serious tone, then I’ll approach it that way right there. But I think the guys know what to expect from me on a daily basis. Win or lose, practice or game, I’m kind of approaching everything with the same mentality and personality.’’
The Giants are following the lead of their head coach. If they get on any sort of winning streak, Judge will have to deal with that.
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