Giants players’ frustrations bubble to surface after prime loss to Browns

·4 min read

Sunday night’s 20-6 Giants loss prompted some of the most visible frustrations of the season when Sterling Shepard, Logan Ryan and Colt McCoy spoke in postgame interviews.

Shepard’s and Ryan’s gripes were with critics. McCoy’s seemed to be with the Giants’ gameplan.

Shepard first did not appreciate a question about the receivers’ lack of separation from defenders on routes. The Giants have scored just one touchdown in the last two weeks, and they’ve failed to score 20 points in four straight games. So everything is under the microscope.

“I don’t know where people are getting that from to be honest,” Shepard said. “Creating separation, is that what you’re saying?”

Shepard was told that the NFL’s NextGen Stats reflected Giants receivers didn’t separate meaningfully from opposing cornerbacks.

“That we’re getting what, two yards of separation?” Shepard said, seemingly familiar with some of the Giants’ numbers. “In the NFL, that’s open. So I don’t know what the analytics say, but you can go off that if you want to. I know what I see on film. And for those (people) that think that way, go look at the film.”

As of Sunday night, Shepard ranked 53rd in the NFL averaging 3.0 yards of separation, followed by tight end Evan Engram 2.9 and wideouts Darius Slayton (2.3) and Golden Tate (2.1). The 49ers’ Deebo Samuel leads the NFL averaging 4.6 yards between him and the nearest defender when he makes a catch.

McCoy, meanwhile, seemed to be directing his frustrations inward at the Giants’ game plan rather than at critics on the outside.

McCoy surprisingly said of Joe Judge’s fake field goal play call: “Yeah, I didn’t know it was coming to be honest.” He said there were “ups and downs” with Freddie Kitchens as play-caller, and he referenced the fake field goal dismissively a second time.

“We were moving the ball but we were shooting ourselves in the foot,” McCoy said. “We went for it on fourth down and came up a half (yard) short. Those are huge plays in a game like this that we gotta make. If we wanna go for it on fourth down for a fake field goal, we’ve gotta convert it. If we want to win football games, that’s what we’ve gotta do.”

McCoy did take accountability, saying: “If you want to point the finger at anybody you can point it at me. I need to be better.” But he also didn’t miss an opportunity to say that the Giants’ halftime adjustments never found their way onto the field to make a difference, either.

“In the second half we just didn’t run the ball that well,” McCoy said. “And some of our adjustments and some of the things we wanted to do in the second half, as far as play action, we never got to it.”

Ryan, meanwhile, got uncharacteristically testy and intimated that the Giants are surrounded by front-runners who have jumped on and off their bandwagon all season.

“We fought, were counted out, left for dead,” Ryan said of the Giants’ trajectory. “We won some games, surprised some people that didn’t believe in us, then everyone believed in us, now people don’t believe again. So honestly it doesn’t matter.

“We are where we are,” Ryan added. “We have two games in front of us where we have to go out there and win… I was never a front runner, I’m not a front runner now. So I have no problem with the position we’re in, as long as we can believe that we can win next week.”

Ryan also adopted an accusatory tone when explaining that teammate James Bradberry’s high-risk close contact and absence on Sunday was not a mistake to blame on Sunday’s result.

“You’re not gonna find one mistake or one excuse in this franchise. I know you guys are gonna try,” Ryan said, “but I don’t think we’re making that. They just did a better job on third down, they did a better job in the red area, and we didn’t get any turnovers tonight. And that’s a recipe for losing in this league.”

Ryan took a potshot at advanced stats before he was through, as well, when asked about how much zone the Giants defense had played against the Browns.

“Just as much as we did any other game,” Ryan said. “Look at the Seattle game, how much man did we play? I don’t know what the analytics say. We could look it up on PFF (Pro Football Focus) or NextGen Stats or whatever you got. But look: we’re calling the game to win the game.”

Understandably, the Giants are frustrated because their calls aren’t making a difference lately.

They can’t score points. They’re not getting results. And they’re midseason resilience has been replaced with a harsh snap back to reality.

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