We’ve enlisted experts to answer an essential question as a weekly service to readers: Are the Jets and the Giants good yet?
Devin Gordon, the author of “So Many Ways to Lose: The Amazin’ True Story of the New York Mets, the Best Worst Team in Sports,” offered his locally focused observations.
Diante Lee, an N.F.L. analyst at Pro Football Focus, delivered a pulled back view from a leaguewide perspective.
With their top two quarterbacks out, the Giants (4-13) could not score until the fourth quarter, on Jake Fromm’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton, and ended the regular season with a 22-7 loss to the Washington Football Team (7-10) in East Rutherford, N.J.
Hundreds of thousands of New York metropolitan area sports fans tuned in to watch a third-string quarterback, Jake Fromm, and the Giants close out yet another lost season on Sunday afternoon, and I would like to use this space to address all of those people directly:
To what end? For what possible purpose? I was paid by The New York Times. What was your excuse? Self-loathing? Force of habit? Ironic detachment?
2021 N.F.L. Season News and Analysis
Please don’t attempt to shift the conversation to the fans who showed up in person at MetLife Stadium — I admire them. One can only assume they bought their tickets months in advance with the adorable notion that the N.F.C. East was available for the taking or might come down to this face-off, in which a youthful dual threat, Daniel Jones, would go up against the Washington Football Team’s aging gunslinger, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Instead, they got stuck with an in-person view of Jake Fromm versus Taylor Heinicke.
Those fans are legends, especially the ones who stuck around to watch Fromm throw his second interception of the game on the season’s final play. But for TV viewers, who had the option of changing the channel, I ask again:
This Giants game had zero playoff implications. It offered no glimpse of the future, since most of these Giants will not be back. The next time Washington plays a regular-season game, the team will be called something else. This was a game between ghosts. Dull, low-scoring ghosts.
The Washington Soon-to-Be-Something-Else won, 22-7, and the Giants’ first 17th regular-season game was just a bonus week of bad football, the N.F.L. equivalent of a free but stale doughnut. And if you watched it, you ate it.
Verdict: In honor of this dreadful season, how about a dreadful pun? This one was over Fromm the beginning.
Third-and-9, backed up to the 4-yard line, there are few good options. The probability for converting a first down is low, but bad things happen when a punter’s heels are on the edge of the end line. Most teams in such a position run a screen, a quick throw at or behind the line of scrimmage, or hand the ball off and take whatever the defense concedes. There’s a tasteful way to give up on a drive.
The Giants, though?
The Giants decided to put three players in the backfield with quarterback Jake Fromm, creating a phalanx of bodies, and plowed ahead with a quarterback sneak — for a 1-yard gain — before trudging out the punt unit. Fans in the stadium belted out their groans and jeers, sick of a home team that has been going through the motions for weeks on end.
What was there to feel good about?
The defensive coordinator Patrick Graham adjusted and evolved over the course of the season, blitzing more often and keeping defensive end Leonard Williams in a position to affect games. The defense battled week over week. Daniel Jones, when he was healthy, wasn’t the same turnover machine as in past seasons. Saquon Barkley finished the season, for crying out loud!
With some squinting, it wouldn’t have been hard to envision a much better outcome to the 2021 season than the sad 4-13 record that resulted.
It doesn’t matter what Coach Joe Judge’s talking point was in the aftermath of this final week, but I will give Judge this much: He’s not a liar. The Giants are closer to their goals now, much like that quarterback sneak.
From 96 yards to go to 95. All progress is positive, I guess.
Verdict: I’m going to act as if I never watched a snap of the Giants in the 2021 season.