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Joe Judge: Giants can’t use rough COVID-19 week as excuse vs. Raiders

Joe Judge: Giants can’t use rough COVID-19 week as excuse
vs. Raiders 1

They do not want to hear it.

“They’’ are Giants fans. They do not want to hear about the process or the issues, they want to see the results that are simply not there often enough.

He does not want to hear it, either.

“He’’ is Joe Judge, the head coach, who told his team and his coaching staff during a turbulent, difficult and head-spinning week he does not want to hear a peep about how tough the Giants had it the past few days and how all this uncertainty could hurt the product on the field on Sunday.

“I’ve told the coaches, we could get to Sunday morning and they could tell us we lost a dozen people,’’ Judge said. “I don’t want to hear any excuses, have the next guy ready to go, have a game plan ready that includes changing personnel, changing scheme.

“Whatever we have to do, be very fluid in this. That’s our job as coaches, make sure we have the best plan available regardless of who’s available.’’

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Joe Judge
Robert Sabo

At various junctures in the past week, there was no way to know who might be available to face the Raiders at MetLife Stadium. That’s because the COVID-19 testing resource the Giants use, Bio-Reference Laboratories, was sending out an unusually high number of false positive tests, resulting in a topsy-turvy week for the team.

Players with the false positives — they did not initially know they were false, of course — had to stay away from practice. Team meetings went back to remote-only and masks were required for everyone in the facility. It was back to the bad-old-days of the pandemic, circa 2020, all over again.

“Definitely brought back some PTSD a little bit from last year, any red flag was a big deal,’’ tight end Evan Engram said. “Definitely a lot of the guys are vaccinated and there was no mask requirement, so this is a shake-up. Probably getting a little bit too comfortable maybe, just got to stay on top of the rules.’’

It remains to be seen how the Giants will come out of this wacky week. Their bye finally arrives in Week 10, but before then, there are the Raiders (5-2), legitimate playoff contenders, well-rested off their own bye and already proving their resilience.

They are 2-0 since head coach Jon Gruden resigned after the release of emails he wrote during a 10-year period revealed misogynistic, anti-gay and racist messaging. Rich Bisaccia, the special teams coordinator, was elevated to interim head coach, and the Raiders responded with victories over the Broncos and Eagles.

Wednesday, the Raiders released wide receiver Henry Ruggs III after he was charged with driving under the influence and reckless driving after he was at the wheel in a fatal car accident Tuesday night in Las Vegas that killed a 23-year-old woman.

The Giants have their own football issues. Their defense last week played well enough to win most games, but their offense played poorly enough to lose most games. The result — a 20-17 loss at Kansas City — knocked the Giants to 2-6, which falls into the “What else is new?” category. This franchise has been 2-6 or worse after eight games in five consecutive seasons.

It takes a toll.

“The morale is in the middle, I would say,’’ safety Logan Ryan said. “I don’t think it’s sky high after a loss, but at the same time I think there’s something to learn from that one. I think we learned how well we can compete with some of the best in the league, and we’re ready to go out there and get a win this week. We’re heading into the bye week. This is a big game for us on our schedule. They’re a very big opponent, like I said, and we’re ready to go out there and play well in front of our fans like we did last time we were at home.’’

Yes, indeed, the Giants did find it within themselves to put forth a strong effort the last time they played at MetLife, a 25-3 beating of the Panthers. That helped the morale. But the uplift did not last. It rarely does with this team.

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