The normally reliable Brad Wing has fallen into the cesspool of Giants struggles, but he’s ready to put the past aside as Big Blue comes home.
Punts are difficult enough for fans. It’s an admission of defeat, an ever-so-brief admission of surrender. New York Giants’ fans concerns about punts are somewhat mollified by their character punter Brad Wing.
He of Nicki Minaj shoutouts and premature celebrations, Wing has made himself a fan favorite in New York after coming over in a 2015 trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Unfortunately, the normally reliable roommate of Odell Beckham Jr. has become another casualty of the Giants’ downright shocking 0-4 start.
In back-to-back weeks, the Giants have been done in by last-second losses, dropping their past two contests in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay by a combined five points. The Giants’ problems on both sides of the ball have been well-documented and special teams have been no better.
Against the Eagles, Wing seemed to channel his inner Matt Dodge, as a shoddy punt in the final minute set up a Philadelphia win. Wing’s kick at least went out of bounds, but a short 28-yard kick to the Eagles 38 allotted them enough time and yardage to set up Jake Elliott‘s deep game-winner.
An even shorter punt doomed Wing on Sunday against the Buccaneers. With the Giants clinging to a 17-16 lead, Wing put momentum back in the Buccaneers’ corner with a 15-yard fourth quarter clunker that allowed the Bucs to travel just 57 yards for the go-ahead score.
Despite the struggles, Wing, a two-time NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award winner last season, remains calm, only looking forward to his next opportunity.
“There’s two ways to respond,” the Australia native said. “You can go back and watch (the film) a hundred times or you can just trust the body of work you have and kind of move on. Those two punts are out of character for me. I didn’t spend too much time watching (the bad two). I know what I can do. I trust my ability.”
While he has indeed viewed film of the damning kicks, Wing has not obsessed over the missed opportunities, refusing to let those kicks define him as a player.
“I just know how good I am,” says the specialist. “There’s only 32 punters in the NFL and I have one of those jobs. So yeah, the last two weeks, there’s been some negatives but I have a lot of confidence in what I do and I’ve done a lot more good than bad I think. I’m not going to let two bad plays determine me as a punter. I know what value I bring to this team and I look forward to having another chance this weekend.”
Two days into preparation for the Giants’ Sunday tilt with the equally winless Los Angeles Chargers (1:00 PM, CBS), Wing mentioned he got a good day of practice in and is ready to make the past the past. He may, however, want to remember a few things.
Last season, he posted a 46.7-yard average, a career-high, and 28 of his punts landed inside the 20. With 33 down within the 20 in 2015, Wing is tied for the Giants’ single-season mark alongside Brad Maynard.
“It’s tough because you only get four or five reps a game,” says Wing. “You can’t think ‘I’ll get it the next play’. You kind of have to see it and think about it a little. It was good to get out there today and get my foot on the ball. I’m really looking forward to this weekend.”
Wing expressed thanks to those around him, particularly head coach Ben McAdoo, who came to the punter’s defense during Sunday’s postgame.
“Anytime anybody in the organization comes in and sticks up for you, it kind of gives you good confidence,” Wing said. “It makes you want to go out there and work even harder to protect him and help the team as much as I can.”
The current Giants punter has also found some guidance from one of the past, Jeff Feagles, who served in the position from 2003-09, helping the Giants win Super Bowl XLII. Feagles has remained active in the organization since his retirement in 2009.
“It’s good because he’s been through the gauntlet, he’s seen it all,” Wings said. “It’s good to have conversations with a guy who has been in the same situations you’ve been in.”
In the midst of this tough stretch, Wing did have some good news to share. He praised the development and chemistry he’s had with new kicker Aldrick Rosas, and also revealed he had his braces removed. Wing became a viral sensation last season when he revealed his brace-face last season, showcasing them in style on Twitter.
Yeah I got braces, and ya girl loves em! Lmao yall are too funny!!!! GOOOOO GIANTS!!!!! pic.twitter.com/xrSkSeAYaH
— Brad Wing (@bwing38) November 20, 2016
Wing will likely be looking forward to returning to the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium on Sunday. In the Giants’ only home game thus far, a 24-10 loss to Detroit in Week 2, Wing put up a 47.8 average on five punts, his season-high thus far. His long at 60 yards, however, was taken back for a score that more or less put the game away.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490