EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Joe Judge appears to have the support of his locker room despite a rough season and a rambling 11-plus-minute answer that made eyes roll across the NFL.
Judge went all over the map in the much-discussed rant after Sunday's 29-3 loss to the Chicago Bears. He was trying to outline why fans should still have faith that his second-year program is still heading in the right direction but instead became a walking punchline.
It still didn't make two of his captains flinch.
"What I took from it, the message is that this place is going in the right direction. It may not look like it from the outside looking in but, internally, we know what we have here," running back Saquon Barkley said. "We know what we're doing in the locker room. The characters we have, the personalities we have, the work ethic we have, sometimes it doesn't automatically transfer to the football field. ... As players too [the losing], it's frustrating. But you have to keep working, believe and have faith. That is the message that I took from it. I really don't know the criticism that came behind it. I try my best to stay out of the media, to stay out of the he-said, she-said things.
"Obviously I'm active on social media and saw some stuff come to my attention, but this week the message I got from it is the belief that he has in this locker room. The belief that he has internally. I think all players would come out and agree with that."
The Giants finished 6-10 last season in Judge's first year as head coach. They weren't eliminated from the division race until the final week. So there was a belief the organization was finally headed in the right direction.
This season has been a struggle, though, especially since quarterback Daniel Jones went down with a neck injury. The Giants (4-12) have dropped all five games since, including Sunday in Chicago, when they finished with minus-10 net passing yards. It was the lowest total since 1998.
It has left a frustrated fan base that has seen the once-proud organization accumulate double-digit losses in each of the past five seasons. It has increased the public pressure on Judge with the belief that general manager Dave Gettleman will already be fired after the season.
"We haven't been winning in New York, and that is just a big spotlight and it's a tough place when you're not winning because of the passion and the amount of support we have for this organization," safety Logan Ryan said. "I just think Joe is a passionate guy. I think he's an honest guy and truthful guy, and I think that was some of that coming out right here [in the passionate answer on Sunday]."
The Giants have already changed coaches three times over the past six years. They wanted to avoid a fourth change. The plan, as of several weeks back, was to bring Judge back for a third season.
It might have become more difficult in recent weeks as they've made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Judge's postgame answer was viewed as shots at the Washington Football Team and former coach Pat Shurmur.
Washington coach Ron Rivera found Judge's comment about not having fistfights on the sideline "interesting." WFT had Jonathan Allen throw a punch at fellow defensive lineman Daron Payne several weeks back. Shurmur, now the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator, disagreed with Judge's assessment of what was going on internally during his final season in New York.
It hasn't caused any noticeable wavering from Judge's current staff, however.
"I'm here because of Joe. I trust in Joe's vision," defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. "Again, leadership has to have vision, and with vision, you can't be worried about the stuff that tries to sidetrack you from there. ... I just know this. I know Joe's strong. He's a good leader, smart dude and he'll handle it how he needs to handle it. But to me, just ignore the noise. That's what you have to do."
The Giants host Washington on Sunday in their season finale.