Giants coach Joe Judge still 'encouraged' by his program's direction despite loss

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- The New York Giants' performance Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers solidified what was already assumed. This team will finish with a losing record and it is not very good, as evidenced by a 37-21 loss that wasn't as close as the final score indicates.

The Giants (4-9) couldn't stop the Chargers from compiling 423 total yards and needed two late touchdowns from running back Saquon Barkley and backup quarterback Mike Glennon to top 20 points for the first time in more than a month. It was an ugly afternoon of football in every phase of the game.

It doesn't mean Joe Judge, in his second season as coach, believes his program is moving in the wrong direction, even if he didn't like the final result.

"There are a lot of things I see week after week with our players and where we're going that I'm encouraged in a lot of ways," he said after a loss that guaranteed the franchise's fifth straight losing season. "Sometimes that is tough to see externally. The key foundational pieces have been put in place. There are a lot of things we're making progress on pushing forward."

What Judge was talking about was more culture and process than on-field results. He worked hard during his first year to make sure the foundation was put in place, and most of what he did was well received by players, ownership and the fan base.

The Giants went 6-10 last season. They might finish with a worse record this year.

That doesn’t necessarily indicate to Judge that his program has regressed, even if the fan base seems to have largely jumped ship.

"I've been fortunate enough to know what it's supposed to look like and I can see the direction it's going and I can see the foundation being poured and solidified," he said.

Does ownership see it the same?

"Yeah. I'm sure they do," Judge said. "They're at practice every day. They're out there as well. But we also have to go out there and do a better job on the field."

Cornerback Logan Ryan has been in programs similar to what Judge is trying to build with the Giants. He doesn't look at it as a culture or coaching problem.

Ryan put Sunday's debacle on himself and those on the field following a week in Arizona where the Giants raved about the work they put in and the bonding experience that came with the trip.

"I feel like we were prepared to win the game," Ryan said. "You want to feel confident in what you're doing and you have to go execute. Obviously that is the third and most important part. That is what you trust in the coaching staff -- to get you prepared. ... When you practice a play in practice and you see it in a game and don't make it, that's on you."

So, 13 games into this season it appears the coaches and players are still looking in the mirror instead of pointing fingers. That is a positive sign for Judge's program.

Still, he knows his job comes with pressure to win. This is a production business. The Giants haven't done that consistently enough since he's taken over. They are 10-19 since the start of last season and on the field Sunday they didn't look like a team that was close to competing for anything serious, which doesn't reflect well on the coach or program. He knows that.

"I don't shy away from that," Judge said. "I don't make excuses. I don't hide from that. I'm not a finger-pointer. I'm not an excuse-maker. I'm not trying to deflect it."

He seems to be asking for time. Rome wasn't built in a day is a saying that general manager Dave Gettleman has used plenty since his arrival before the 2018 offseason.

The tricky part here is Gettleman's time almost certainly is about to run out. He's had four years to get it right. Judge isn't even done with Year 2, and Giants ownership does not want to continue the trend of changing coaches every couple years.

Judge has been clear since he was hired that he's thinking long term.

"My scope is always big picture," he said. "I told the team a second ago, I look every week, week to week, I'm very conscious of what's going on around the league, where we are with the standings. But ultimately my vision goes beyond that. ... The first time I ever got in front of a microphone for you guys I talked about putting a foundation together and pushing and building the right way. I never talked about taking a shortcut or wanting immediate gratification. But we have to put a product on the field that we're proud of. I've said that a million times as well.

"We have to put guys in the right position, we have to execute plays, we have to keep finishing games. We have to have success."

In the end, wins are what will determine if his program truly is heading in the right direction.