When in doubt, write the quarterback.
This is an age-old axiom in times like this, when the team is quite bad and the outlook is quite grim. The quarterback is always front and center, even if the quarterback is struggling or not very good. If this is the case, there is always a backup to consider. It is the most vital position on the football team and it is virtually impossible to overstate his importance.
So, write the quarterback.
Even if it is Jake Fromm in and Mike Glennon out.
This is what it has come down to with the Giants, 4-10, losers of three straight games, wobbling to the close of another lost season, stumbling into Christmas week with holiday cheer in short supply. There is no “look at the bright side’’ for a team that is so offensively inept and challenged that there are no guarantees they will find the end zone on any given day.
The Giants have five touchdowns in their last five games, but two of them came in garbage time against the Chargers, trailing 37-7 in the fourth quarter. This is a team that’s averaged 11.8 points over its last five games. That it won one of them, 13-7 over the Eagles, is credit to a defense that competes and limits the damage more often than not and never, ever has the luxury of playing down the stretch with a lead.
The offense was tormented with Daniel Jones and embarrassing without him, making the quarterback scenario about to unfold this week a bit comical and more than a bit bogus.
Riddle me this: How many interceptions does it take from Glennon to get him benched? The answer in Sunday’s 21-6 loss to the Cowboys should have been “two.’’ When Glennon on the first play of the fourth quarter threw way behind Sterling Shepard and into the waiting arms of safety Malik Hooker the hook should have come out for Glennon. Enough was enough.
Coach Joe Judge said “we had discussions about it on the headset as a staff’’ and it was Judge’s call to wait.
“I thought we would give Mike one more drive and see what he can do right there,’’ he said.
No one needed to see one more drive.
One empty offensive series ensued, and then another terrible turnover when Glennon challenged ball-hawk Trevon Diggs, a mixture of bad decision-making and worse physical execution.
“After that, I said let’s go ahead and get Jake in there.’’ Judge said.
Did this alter the direction of the game? Of course not. Fromm completed the first four passes of his NFL career and finished 6 of 12 for 82 yards against a Dallas defense uninterested that Fromm was connecting on short stuff.
“He got in there and moved the ball well, did some good things,’’ Judge said, “That will obviously open up the conversation in terms of what we’re going to do next week against Philly.’’
Translation: There is nothing to talk about. Fromm will start this Sunday against the Eagles. Unless Jones’ strained neck receives medical clearance for contact.
To call this a quarterback controversy is to demean the real, juicy quarterback scenarios that fill airwaves and newspapers and so much website space. Fromm was on the Bills’ practice squad — any team out there could have signed him to their roster. None did until the Giants, desperate when Jones went out, needed another body. It looks as if Fromm gets the ball out of his hand quickly and he is more mobile than Glennon. Everyone around Fromm insists he is a smart guy. How he functions at hostile Lincoln Financial Field — lest we forget, the Eagles are 6-7 and “in the hunt” in the NFL playoff race — will help determine whether he stays around next season. Maybe Fromm can cultivate a Colt McCoy type of backup quarterback career.
When in doubt, write the quarterback, even though there are so many more pressing issues with the Giants than seeing what Fromm can do. He will work with the same shabby offensive line, the same tentative Saquon Barkley and an even more depleted skill-position group with the loss of Shepard to a torn Achilles tendon. Good luck with that.
The Giants need to know if Jones is a quarterback they can win with and that answer is trending in the wrong direction. If they learn something about another quarterback in the closing games here, so be it.
More stuff that came out of loss No. 10 for the Giants this season:
Three quarterbacks starting games in the same season? That does not happen very often with the Giants — especially since Eli Manning never missed a start for 16 consecutive years. If Fromm starts Sunday in Philly, he becomes the third Giants player to start at quarterback this season, after Jones and Glennon. This would be the first time since 1992 for this franchise. That was the second and final year of the Ray Handley coaching fiasco when the Giants started Phil Simms, Jeff Hostetler and Kent Graham at quarterback during a 6-10 season.
Jaylon Smith signed late in the week and did not have one full practice with the Giants, and yet he played 17 snaps on defense for his new team against his former team. Smith was, well, how should we put it? He was active. He finished with four tackles and ran around to make up for his lack of familiarity with the scheme on defense. Smith started every game the past three seasons for the Cowboys and had 121, 142 and 154 tackles, respectively, but he was on the street when the Giants signed him and there is a reason for that. It is where his tackles come that is more important and not nearly enough of them come close to the line of scrimmage. Still, it will be interesting to see what the Giants do with him in the final three games.
How about Jarren Williams? The young cornerback made his first NFL start because Adoree’ Jackson and rookie Aaron Robinson were on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Williams played 70 of the 71 snaps on defense, out of necessity. He held up. The Cowboys did not have a reception of longer than 19 yards. Undrafted out of the University at Albany, Williams is the sort of unheralded player who is developing into someone who belongs in the league.
Leonard Williams played 65 percent (48 of 71) of the snaps on defense, as his workload decreased in the second half, using him mostly in pass-rush situations to lessen the wear and tear on his tricep injury. Williams played with a bulky brace on his right elbow and his presence on the field should not be overlooked. As he said after the game, agents of veteran players often advise their clients not to play in these exact situations — why risk further injury in the final month of a lost season? There are examples throughout the league of players after signing lucrative contracts easing off the pedal in times like this. Not Williams.
Nate Solder started and played 31 snaps at right tackle. Matt Peart was the in-game replacement and ended up with 32 snaps. The Giants absolutely have to continue this job sharing to find out as much as they can about Peart to determine if he is a goner or a keeper for 2022. There are few indications at this point he is a keeper. Peart was called for a false start penalty that killed a fourth-and-1 opportunity.
About that free medium Pepsi the Giants gave to season ticket holders as a fan appreciation gesture: Lighten up. If the Giants were 9-4 coming into the game there would not have been all sorts of sarcastic mocking of this. Losing makes everything seem hollow and out of touch. Should the promotions department have sprung for a large size soda? Sure. There is likely to be more giveaways at the Jan. 9 home finale against Washington. No freebies can make up for another wretched Giants season. But saving a few bucks is never a bad thing.