Wins and comet sightings happen with about the same infrequency around East Rutherford.
With 41 losses in the past four years, 28 in the last three, 17 in the last two and five to start this year — all NFL-worsts during those spans — the Giants are not giving back any victories. If they were, it’s easy to choose the one to return.
The Giants “won” the unofficial Chase Young Bowl, beating the Washington Football Team in overtime on Dec. 22, 2019, and sliding to the No. 4 pick in the draft while their division rivals stayed No. 2. A short-term win for the Giants with long-term implications as Young wound up rushing the passer for Washington, but also enough of a twist of fate to be seen as good-luck losers?
“I wasn’t here to say that,” first-year coach Ron Rivera said, chuckling at the unusual concept. “Getting Chase, he’s one of those special guys. … The sky truly is the limit for him. He is a little bit of an old soul in the NFL because he understands what it takes.”
The hype leading into the matchup of 3-11 teams centered on Young — the clear No. 2 pick behind Joe Burrow — and then-Giants coach Pat Shurmur recoiled at questions about the perks of losing. Players scoffed at the idea of tanking — as they always do — because job security, safety and pride are on the line, no matter what ulterior motive best suits the organization.
A social media swarm of Giants fans claimed to be rooting for a loss on gameday, but there was a consolation prize in victory: Daniel Jones threw for 352 yards and five touchdowns, cementing euphoric relief he is a franchise quarterback.
The rearview mirror is not so kind: That is Jones’ only win in his past 15 starts and the only turnover-free performance of his 18-game career. It is starting to look more like an exception than a tease of promise.
“That was a big win for us in a game where we battled and found a way to win,” Jones said in hindsight. “That was a thrilling moment, and that’s what we’re pushing for as a team — to finish these games and have wins like that.”
Giants coach Joe Judge reviewed the tape of last year’s matchup. As the teams enter Sunday’s rematch with a combined 1-9 record, effort is still expected to be high.
“It’s our job to always expect everybody’s best and our players can’t go into a game overconfident,” Judge said. “We want to play for 60 complete minutes every week regardless of the situation or circumstance.”
Young had 2.5 sacks and two quarterback hits in his first two games before missing most of the next two with a groin strain. He returned last week and will be just the latest in a long line of dominant pass rushers the Giants — and No. 4 pick Andrew Thomas — have faced to begin the season.
“Andrew’s capable of being a dominating left tackle in the NFL,” offensive line coach Marc Colombo said. “The amount of pressures he’s seen this year, he’s really going to be better for it.”
It’s the first of what could be dozens of matchups between Thomas and Young, who could have easily been in opposite uniforms had Washington won an otherwise meaningless game while both players were preparing for New Year’s Six bowl games.
“He’s really athletic, which enables him to do a variety of things,” Judge said of Young. “The Eagles chipped him a lot with double teams to slow him down. You watch his ability to spin off and get inside and really make it a one-on-one matchup to get to the quarterback.”
Thomas’ inability to keep rushers from the inside stems from “overshooting his target,” Colombo said. Early advantage favors Young in Round 1.
“When you put that on film you’re going to get a heavy dose of it,” Colombo said. “He’s getting excited, trying to set out there with quickness. He’s got feet to handle the speed. It’s a cardinal sin for an offensive lineman to lose inside.”
Losing any which way usually is a sin.
Except maybe last Dec. 22.
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