Winning in New York immortalizes coaches and athletes. Losing gets them fired.
That's the deal.
"You're always on notice," Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said Friday. "This is the New York Giants. We're in a high performance business. So when you don't perform at a high level, that's the way it is."
That's it, and that's where Joe Judge and the Giants (3-7) find themselves as the red-hot Eagles (5-6) come to MetLife Stadium in the wake of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's firing :
The pressure is on them all. And they wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm responsible for everything on this team," Judge said coming out of last week's atrocity in Tampa. "I'm the head coach. I've never shied away from that."
So it's on Judge and new play-caller Freddie Kitchens to improve the offense. It's on quarterback Daniel Jones to take ownership of what this new offense looks like, since his career trajectory is most definitely riding on the results.
It's on Saquon Barkley to be a difference-maker. And it's on Pat Graham's defense to wake up.
Leonard Williams, James Bradberry and Adoree Jackson, the defense's three highest-paid players, all have admitted to playing below their standard in recent weeks.
That's just not going to cut it on Sunday.
"Your best players have to play well," Graham said Friday. "In order to win games in this league, the guys that you see as the star players have to play well. They have to play well because whether you want to look at the salary cap or however you want to look at it, they've got to play well in order for you to be successful."
The Giants' defense unfortunately is going to be in for a long day. They generate no pass rush, and both Jackson and Bradberry have struggled to tackle on the outside, where the run-heavy Eagles can attack by pulling athletic center Jason Kelce.
Backup Eagles running back Boston Scott has absurd career numbers against the Giants in four games: 26 carries for 222 yards and five TDs, and 14 catches for 210 yards and another TD, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Corners by rule are no longer allowed to cut opposing offensive linemen below the knees when they pull outside on running plays. And Jackson and Bradberry won't have safety Logan Ryan (COVID-19 reserve list) available to help for a second straight game.
Jackson admitted coming out of the bye week that coaches were harping on him about "having that edge, being more aggressive by attacking the ball."
Bradberry said this week of his poor tackling: "I've just got to make sure I'm focused when I get up there. I have to make sure I'm actually grabbing a piece of the body instead of sliding off."
But when teams with quality offensive lines have committed to the running game against the Giants recently, they have dominated them, from Lamar Jackson's Ravens last season to Ezekiel Elliott's Cowboys this fall.
The Giants' offense, meanwhile, has to establish a semblance of competence to give the team a chance. It's a low bar but one they haven't cleared in some time.
"It's too late to say this is a fresh start, you know what I mean?" big-money wideout Kenny Golladay said. "I guess you could say [let's] get on track, erasing that last game. We've got another opportunity this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Let's get on track."
Golladay should be a focal point of the offense on Sunday, especially with Barkley revealing that his left ankle injury is "something that's going to nag throughout the season."
Judge said Kitchens has an "aggressive approach" and is good at "creating plays for the player." The under-utilized Golladay no doubt is a player the staff wants to get more involved, and surely QB coach Jerry Schuplinski and WR coach Tyke Tolbert will have input on how to do that.
Of course, so much hinges on a Giants offensive line that was frightfully bad against Tampa, however, and Jones' offense probably will be hamstrung by the absences of Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney and Kyle Rudolph.
No one wants to hear excuses about injuries, though, and Judge and the Giants aren't thinking that way, either. They know they owe the Giants' fans a better product, and they're pulling out all the stops to give it to them.
"I don't see this as the fans' responsibility to be patient for anything," Judge said. "It's our job to work hard and put a product out there that they can be entertained and proud of. Our focus right now as a team is getting ready for Philadelphia and going out there and play a good, clean football game and compete on Sunday."
It's not realistic, unfortunately, for the Giants to make drastic strides down the stretch of this season with such a barren roster.
Dave Gettleman is really under more pressure than anyone here, Judge and Jones included, but it must be a foregone conclusion at this point that the GM will be gone at season's end.
The offensive line is a laughingstock that is hindering the development and evaluation of Jones in his third season at quarterback due to unspeakable mismanagement.
Right guard Will Hernandez had such a bad game against the Bucs that the Giants declined to make him available to the media all week despite multiple requests.
The fact that John Mara signed off on Judge's firing of Garrett seems to reinforce ownership's belief in this head coach's process and vision.
Judge's urgency in firing Garrett is a positive because he's not burying his head in the sand and claiming everything is fine. He's saying this isn't good enough, and he's taking action to fix it.
"This is a business and every day I come in thinking, 'Hey, you could be fired.' That's just part of it," Graham, the defensive coordinator said. "In New York City, it's higher stakes. It's different. And we sign up for that because there's good and bad.
"But if you like living on that edge a little bit," Graham said with a smirk, "you like it."
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