You don’t want to jump to conclusions. Jumping to conclusions would be wrong. Jumping to conclusions is what they do in hick sports towns after Week 1. We are not a hick town. We are Gotham City. We are Metropolis. We are a most sophisticated sports city — just ask us.
No. You don’t want to jump to conclusions.
But if you want to start easing your way there …
It was that bad. It was that depressing. MetLife Stadium was so ready as the clock hit 4:25 p.m. Sunday, so eager to embrace the new football season. How beautiful did it look to see the people inside again, Giants fans clad in their sacred blue vestments, joy filling their lungs, the usual optimism — however unwarranted — filling their souls?
Old friend Justin Tuck was there to ring the bell, wearing his old blue firefighter’s helmet.
Three hours later, they were racing for their cars, trying to empty the joint in record time. They were grumbling as they fled. It wasn’t just that they’d endured a catastrophic, noncompetitive 27-13 eyesore of a loss to the Broncos.
It was that every fear, every anxiety, every ounce of disquiet and angst and unease that filled the most cynical segments of their souls had been played out in brilliant technicolor.
“We have to earn the fans’ cheers,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “We’ve got to do something more as a team. We have to play better. We have to coach better. We have to be better for them. It’s not their job to show and cheer just to cheer.”
The quarterback fumbled again. The offensive line evaporated again. The defense was impotent in the face of a Broncos attack that’s perfectly professional but isn’t going to make anyone forget the Chiefs, Teddy Bridgewater nevertheless slicing up the Giants with Mahomesian efficiency. The star running back doesn’t look anywhere near himself yet.
Even Judge, celebrated more than any head coach ever with a 6-10 record, had himself a poor day as that mark slid to 6-11.
But it’s even worse than that.
The Giants are now, somehow, 9-24 in their last 33 home games. They are now 3-11 in September going back to 2017, the year the whole program started to go sideways. They have been rebuilding for close to five years now and based on Week 1, are no closer to where they want to be, where John Mara insists they must be.
John Wooden used to preach a Pyramid of Success; the Giants have become experts at the Trapezoid of Terrible, awful games piled on top of horrid seasons piled on top of one more stumble out of the gate to start another year. It’s like Groundhog Day from Hell.
“It’s a long season ahead of us,” Judge said.
That’s true in a literal sense — 17 games this year instead of 16 — and also in an ominous one, if the Giants can’t start looking better by the time they take the field in Landover, Md., Thursday to play the Washington Football Team.
“We have players on this team to make plays,” quarterback Daniel Jones said. “We just have to make them.”
The Giants actually led this, 7-3, seemed to take a stranglehold when Logan Ryan recovered a fumble in the shadow of the Giants’ goal line late in the half. But after an ultra-conservative possession the Broncos bookended halftime with touchdown drives that not only put them up 17-7 but kept the Giants’ offense off the field for 55 minutes of real time.
By then, the narrative was set. Jones fumbled again, and until he stops that horrible habit everything else he does will be looked at as a footnote. It was good seeing Saquon Barkley back, even though the Giants never did let him test his knee by letting him wander far from the tackles. Judge had a Mickey Callaway moment, throwing a red flag after the Broncos went up 17-7, a Coaching 101 no-no that needlessly cost his team a timeout.
By then, a few folks already made the mad dash to the Turnpike. Soon enough it would be a full-blown evacuation.
“Our job is to give them a better product, and give them a reason to stay all 60 minutes,” Judge said. It is a small goal, but an essential one. The fans are impatient and restless and don’t want to jump to conclusions, it’s too early in the season. But they probably didn’t want to listen to another fourth quarter on their car radios, either.