A restless crowd gave the Giants one offensive possession before the booing started during their last home game.
It’s easy to forget because the noise turned to cheers during a second-half blowout of the Panthers, but there was a hostile mood in the building as the Giants slogged through the first half on the heels of getting blown out one week earlier by the Rams. The goodwill isn’t likely to carry over after the Giants squandered a chance to beat the Chiefs and then stayed quiet at the trade deadline.
The Giants return home Sunday to face the Raiders, which raises the question: Is that even a good thing?
“Yeah, we enjoy playing at home,” said tight end Evan Engram, the most frequently booed individual player. “I think the fans were pretty electric against Carolina. We got things going, defense played well, and we dug out a win. We just have to be consistent with our play and give them a good product on the field. They’ll be the good fans that they are.”
The Giants are 4-8 at home and 4-8 on the road during coach Joe Judge’s tenure, but the numbers suggest a stark contrast in performance. For starters, the Giants have averaged four fewer points per game (16.2) at home than on the road (20.2) through their last 24 games.
“The location has nothing to do with it,” Judge said recently. “It’s about how you go out there and produce for 60 minutes, and how you compete. In terms of playing at home — it’s our stadium, our crowd — you enjoy being there.”
There is no quicker path to booing than a slow start on offense, and the Giants have scored an NFL-worst 13 first-quarter points this season. More than 97 minutes of first-quarter playing time has elapsed since their lone touchdown in Week 2 against Washington. They have two field goals to show for their last 13 drives that started and ended in the first quarter.
So, as offensive coordinator Jason Garrett scripts his first handful of plays for Sunday, will he consider a need to be more aggressive? To turn around the fortunes and also to strike first against fans expecting to see a bunch of three-and-outs?
“I don’t think much about that,” Garrett said. “We love playing and coaching for the Giants, and one of the reasons we do is because our fans are passionate about football and we love that.
“The biggest thing that we try to focus on is playing and coaching to the best of our ability and what we need to do each day to prepare, regardless of where we play, who we play and when we play. That’s what our job is, and I thought our guys did a really good job the last time we played at home against Carolina. They’re excited to play at MetLife again this weekend.”
The 24-game offensive splits reveal the Giants are a significantly better rushing team (4.5 yards per carry to 3.81) on the road. The passing attack boasts a higher completion percentage, a better touchdown-to-interception radio and fewer sacks allowed on the road. Daniel Jones’ quarterback rating has gone from a marginal difference last year to a huge gap (98.6 on the road compared to 76.8 at home) this season.
The Giants are better defensively against the run at home, but not enough to offset the alarming pass defense. Opposing quarterbacks at MetLife Stadium have completed 68.1 percent of passes with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions, with ratings of 97.9 in 2020 and 95.6 in the first half of 2021.
Defensive tackle Leonard Williams expressed his displeasure with booing two home games ago and then engaged in a playful exchange with a fan over the booing when he came up big against the Panthers. It’s such now that the fan-player relationship has become a central game-day storyline.
“You don’t want those factors to affect you,” safety Logan Ryan said recently. “Playing at home will never be a disadvantage. You execute like [the Giants did against the Rams] you’re not going to win wherever you’re playing. We have to play well, we’ve got to execute, play urgent — and definitely got to do that at home.”