It has been a brutal decade for the Giants fan. There are times when you about feel like flying a “10 Years of Lousy Football We’ve Had Enough” banner over MetLife Stadium. But hold off for now on any plan to wear a bag over your head.
Because you might miss the Kadarius Toney Show.
Giants fans have witnessed his breathtaking, jaw-dropping gifts from afar, first a hint of them in New Orleans, then that wondrous breakout inside Jerry World last Sunday.
It has only been one shining moment, but when the Rams arrive as 10.5-point favorites, Kadarius Toney stands on this Sunday as a beacon of light amid the darkness that has enveloped the New York Football Giants franchise.
An oasis of hope in the middle of a desert of hopelessness.
Toney has a different skill set than Odell Beckham Jr. had, and catches the ball with both hands, but now we know that whenever he has the ball in his hands, he can make amazing happen.
At any moment, an explosive moment, a dynamic moment, and after Daniel Jones was cleared Friday through the concussion protocol and removed from the injury list, the faithful will undoubtedly implore the maturing franchise quarterback to just give him the damn ball!
And it is promising that Toney now knows the last thing Joe Judge will tolerate is getting suckered on Sunday by Rams instigator Jalen Ramsey into the kind of riotous WWE tussle that the mercurial Beckham engaged in once with Josh Norman.
Toney caught 10 balls for 189 yards against the Cowboys, and hell from Judge for throwing a punch at Damontae Kazee, which could result in a punishment timeout of sorts at the start of the game.
Toney, who has been learning on the fly how to be a pro, apologized for his ejection, but he is currently one of the few Giants who does not owe Giants fans an apology.
Some outside the organization following the draft questioned his commitment to football given his Yung Joka rapper alter ego, then this tweet from him: “Ongod, football is some i do…it don’t make me who Iam.”
Yung Toney has suddenly revealed himself as a gamer, a baller, someone thirsting for knowledge to perfect his craft, someone who values winning as much as anyone, and Judge is a good bet to harness any wild child in him better than Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur did with Beckham.
Instincts: check. Vision: check. Tough to bring down: check. Burst: check. Decisive cutting ability: check. Hands: check: Versatility: check. And more:
“Maybe the biggest thing that really helps him, more so than the physical attributes, is how intelligent he is on the field,” Judge told the team’s website. “We always say, ‘He speaks ball.’ ”
Toney, who was nursing an ankle injury this week, doesn’t just speak ball. He talks ball. He missed most of training camp primarily because of COVID-19 aftereffects, and Giants fans at MetLife Stadium only got a bird’s-eye view of their underutilized first-round pick against the Broncos (two catches for minus-2 yards) and Falcons (2-for-16).
The way most of the past decade has gone for them, you can forgive Giants fans for wishing for the Age of Kadarius.
While Toney was jitterbugging his way past defenders at Florida, Judge fielded a Giants team last season that delivered on his promise: “We’ll punch you in the nose for 60 minutes.”
Now? With the Giants 1-4, the natives are restless, to put it mildly, because to them it feels as if the team they love is punching them in the nose for 60 minutes.
Giants Stadium was a house of pain for the visiting team. Remember? The house that LT built? Bill Parcells stalking the sidelines wearing a relentless scowl? The wind that blew away Washington in the 1986 NFC Championship game? Dee-fense … dee-fense … dee-fense?
MetLife Stadium, where the Giants have lost 25 of their past 34 games, has become a house of pain for Giants fans.
Three weeks after the Eli Manning jersey retirement, six weeks before the Michael Strahan jersey retirement, the Giants will throw their championship-starved faithful a Big Blue bone when they celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Super Bowl XLVI championship.
If those disheartened Giants fans are gripped with a touch of melancholy at the sight of Manning and Victor Cruz and Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, it would be because they are as tired of living in the past as John Mara is.
This was supposed to be the year when the rebuilding gave way to resurgence and resurrection. The talent was upgraded, and good enough to challenge in the NFC Least. The franchise quarterback was entering his third season and second in the same offense. The offensive line may have been young and inexperienced, but so what? Just wait until you see what we see. The defense would be even better in the second year under coordinator Pat Graham. The coaching staff had what it took to teach the team how to win.
If the last four years of Manning’s career were wasted, there is grave danger that the first four years of Saquon Barkley’s career will be wasted. You can be labeled a “gold jacket guy” by the general manager who drafted you second overall, but you won’t impact the win-loss record if the offensive line is never fixed. Needless to say, Barkley’s inspirational comeback bid and designs on a long-term contract have been rudely interrupted by his current ankle sprain.
The essence of modern-day Giants defense, defined 40 years ago by a rookie named Lawrence Taylor, was an intimidating pass rush. If Leonard Williams (1.5 sacks) can’t get near Matthew Stafford, who can? The Super Bowl XLVI Giants boasted a second-year player named Jason Pierre-Paul who recorded 16.5 sacks. Ah, memories.
Since Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants are 31-43 at home. Even the team being honored on Sunday was just 4-4 at home in 2011. Giants fans waved white towels the afternoon the Giants whipped Matt Ryan and the Falcons, 24-2, in the wild-card game that sparked their championship run. It was the lone home playoff win of the Manning Era. Forgive Giants fans for wondering whether it will be another 10 years before they will get the chance to cheer the next one.
But for now, we interrupt the boobirds to let some sun shine in. Let’s see if maybe, just maybe, a star has been born.