The Giants are 0-2 for the fifth consecutive year, coming off a heartbreaking 30-29 loss at the hands of Washington.
Losses are never easy.
Losses that come in the form of Thursday night’s Giants defeat hit different, however.
A putrid New York defensive performance along with an offsides penalty on what would’ve been a missed game-winning kick led to Washington converting on a 43-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.
The Giants dropped their first divisional game of the year and second overall to start 0-2.
There were some positive takeaways though — it wasn’t all bad during what was a forgettable night for Big Blue.
Surprisingly, the good came from the offensive unit, which encompassed a line dealing with numerous injuries. Left guard Shane Lemieux (knee) is on injured reserve while center Nick Gates (who started at left guard Thursday night) exited the loss with a lower leg fracture. Gates is now out for the remainder of the season.
Despite numerous reserve linemen on the field, the five-man unit held its own against a talented Washington front.
“In terms of the offensive line as a whole, I was very encouraged by a lot of things,” head coach Joe Judge told the media Friday afternoon. “I thought mixing some different people in there, obviously [center] Billy [Price] in there for the first time, getting Ben [Bredeson] back in at left guard. I thought [right tackle] Nate [Solder] and [left tackle] Andrew [Thomas] did a solid job on the edges. I think that unit is really moving in the direction we want it to.
“And although we’re far from a finished product, far from perfect right now, I’m very encouraged with how those guys continue to work and support each other and take coaching and go out there on a weekly basis. I think they obviously had two very very talented fronts to start the season [Denver and Washington], I don’t think any of them will be more talented than what we saw Thursday night. And the ability to go out there and operate together and allow Daniel [Jones] to get the ball out on time and get the ball downfield.”
While the offensive line did indeed protect its quarterback and provide him with enough time to operate on various occasions, running back Saquon Barkley still failed to consistently locate holes to produce on the ground.
The fourth-year back, who’s returning from an ACL tear, conjured up just 26 yards in Week 1 before rushing for 57 Thursday night.
Barkley’s production (or lack thereof) isn’t intriguing thus far, but Judge at least likes the way he’s been moving after last year’s major injury.
“I was really pleased with Saquon [Thursday] night. I haven’t seen him [Friday], I’m sure every player has nicks and bruises after games. But I thought his football conditioning really looked good — that’s something we’ve had to try to push and build him into. He’s really done a good job for us working,” Judge said. “When you jump over from rehab to practice, that’s a different animal…he’s worked real hard at that. I was pleased with how he moved around last night. He did some good things for us in the game; he played tough for us; he ran the ball hard; he had an explosive run for us; he did some nice things in the passing game.
“Obviously, he’s going to be a key part of our offense and our team; he’s a key leader on our team. We’ll keep finding ways to be creative and get [the ball] to him. But this guy getting out there and getting his feet wet in the first couple of weeks, I’m really encouraged with where he’s at right now.”
What seemed like a common theme Thursday night, especially in the wide receiver room, was frustration among players. Not only was Kenny Golladay shown on the NFL Network broadcast screaming on the sideline but Kadarius Toney additionally posted a cryptic message to Instagram after the game. Toney also seemed irritated on the sideline during Thursday’s loss.
Kadarius Toney posted this to Instagram. He was visibly upset at one point on the sideline in the second half after speaking with Joe Judge.
Nothing at a Golladay-Jones level, but clearly wasn’t happy. pic.twitter.com/L29NEjdSI6
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) September 17, 2021
Kadarius was used sparingly through the first two games and was on the field for just 24 total offensive snaps. This amount of playing time has led to him recording only two receptions in as many weeks for negative-two yards (both in Week 1).
Judge is keeping the faith in the first-round draft pick, though.
“I talk to all of our players all the time, especially our young players in terms of getting in and how the game flow may go and the differences from the league and college. But that’s no exception for any player,” Judge explained. “I would say in terms of KT, I see a guy that shows up every day and works hard. That’s what I see. So instead of trying to gauge somebody’s emotions, I judge them based on their actions and how they work. I see a guy that’s come to practice every day and in the meetings has been attentive. He’s worked hard on the field. He’s got to continue to improve as a player and build himself in as an integral part of our offense.”
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