What would you expect from a meeting between the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 3-6 Giants? A comprehensive beating?
Probably. And that is what happened on Monday night in Tampa.
The Buccaneers thrashed the Giants, 30-10, behind 307 passing yards from Tom Brady. Nothing went right for the Giants, who tied the score at 10-10 after they were gifted an interception in the first half but then watched the game get away.
The Giants managed only 215 total yards, and gave up almost twice as many first downs (28) as they managed themselves (15).
“We didn’t do anything really well enough to win the game tonight,” Giants Coach Joe Judge said after the game. “You can’t make mistakes with turnovers, penalties and mental errors. We’ve got to make sure we put our players in a better position through coaching. Got to make sure we have the opportunity to make plays.”
Judge pointed the finger of blame in several directions, challenging both his team, his coaches and himself to be better. He spoke several times, in particular, of unspecified coaching failures.
“You guys can write that tonight,” Judge said. “Players have to execute. That is their job, right? It is our job to teach them. It’s their job to go out and execute.
“But we’ve got to make sure we put them in position to have success. That has to be consistent, by the way. So, you can go ahead and write that down. I’m not going to debate that.”
While Judge hinted Monday’s result was personally and professionally disappointing, he declined to respond to direct questions about possible staffing changes.
“We’ve got to make sure we sit down tomorrow as a coaching staff and understand how we’ve got to play this game and give our players a chance to make plays,” he said.
The Giants did not make many against the Bucs. Quarterback Daniel Jones was 23 for 38 for only 167 yards and threw two interceptions. No Giant ran for more than Saquon Barkley’s 25 yards.
“That’s on me, that’s on us, to do better,” Jones said.
Judge, who is in his first head coaching job after eight years as a Patriots assistant, talked about a long-term vision for the team. The Giants were 6-10 last season, their best record in four years. But at 3-7 after Monday night’s defeat, he seemed to acknowledge that many fans are beginning to get antsy.
To those fans, Judge said: “I’m not asking you to be patient. That’s not your job. I’m telling you we’re going to put something on the field you’ll be proud of.”
Much of the criticism has fallen on Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator. The Giants rank in the bottom half of the league in several key offensive stats, including yards per pass and yards per run. The team’s defensive numbers, while not at the top of the league, are at least better.
Jones backed Garrett after the game. “I think we were prepared, I think we had a plan, and we didn’t execute it,” he said. “I think we feel responsible as players.”
Asked if he had faith in Garrett, Judge seemed more equivocal. “I have faith in all the people on our team,” he said, adding, “we’ll make any move we need to going forward.”
Asked directly if Garrett would keep his job, or at least his role, Judge replied, “I’m not going to go into that right now.”
For the Bucs, the news was much better. Improving to 7-3, the team seems to have a hammer lock on the N.F.C. South. The return of Rob Gronkowski (six catches for 71 yards) from a rib injury was also a plus.
The Giants now face a short week before a home game against Philadelphia on Sunday. In addition to the specific challenge posed by the Eagles, a divisional rival, the Giants may have to deal with a stadium full of home fans who now have their coach’s permission to be out of patience.
“We have to do everything better,” Judge said.