Bring all your situation memes and your DJ Pauly D gifs.
Tommy DeVito’s here for all of it.
And if you don’t believe it, listen to him explain how he shot a postgame video for the Giants’ social media team—with a very distinct flavor—after his first win Sunday against the Commanders.
“Yeah, I grabbed the phone, saw Saquon,” the New York quarterback says. “He was like, Yo, say Jersey, because he knows that’s always my thing. I always say I’m from Jersey. I’m prideful about it.”
Sure enough, the video’s out there now, with Cedar Grove’s own holding the phone and Barkley, who grew up in Pennsylvania, both yelling Jerrrsssseeyyy into the screen.
So, yes, DeVito’s into all of your jokes.
But guess what? He’s also starting to play pretty well. And it’s one of the funnest stories of the 2023 season after the Giants were able to, finally, win their third game of what’s been a pretty disastrous year.
The undrafted free agent out of Illinois went 18 of 26 for 246 yards, three touchdowns and a 137.7 passer rating against the Commanders after uneven performances over his first three weeks (twice in relief due to injuries to Tyrod Taylor and Daniel Jones, and then starting last week against Dallas). And more than just that, the kid who moved back in with his parents when he signed with the Giants and commutes to MetLife Stadium from there—“It’s closer for me to drive there than it was to drive to high school”—gave his hometown team a spark.
Based on his story, and how he’s gotten here, it’s pretty remarkable that he’s even in this spot. He signed after the draft, seeing limited reps through the spring and summer behind Jones and Taylor before being cut at the end of August, and signed back to the practice squad. He was first elevated to the active roster for the Week 8 game against the Jets, going in when Taylor got hurt.
The Giants then signed him to the 53-man roster Oct. 31, and he got in again when Jones tore his ACL against the Raiders in Week 9. In all of those spots—because practice reps are hard to come by for third-string quarterbacks, especially once the season starts—his appearances were a little like fire drills. This one against Washington, with a second full week of first-team reps during practice under his belt, was less like that.
“It’s just more snaps under my belt,” DeVito says. “Being in a lot of those situations already, and then being able to get out and work with them, and be comfortable around them, that’s really it. [It was] just having another game with my receivers, having a feel for it; that’s all it was.”
The difference, as DeVito told me about his performance, showed up on four plays we picked apart, three of which went for touchdowns.
• The first came on a first-and-10 at the Washington 24 in the first quarter. Barkley ran a wheel route out of the backfield, and DeVito dropped a perfect pass into his arms for the game’s first points.
“Yeah, perfect defense versus perfect play that we had drawn up,” DeVito says. “It was one-on-one with Saquon and a linebacker. I’ll take that matchup 10 times out of 10. He ran a great route, [and the] O-line protected. All of the other receivers ran the routes that they were supposed to in order to get that route to Saquan completed, and I put it up for him, and he made a great play.”
• The second came on a third-and-1 from the Commanders 41, with Darius Slayton running a corner route through a dead spot in the coverage, and needing only to beat one man once DeVito found him off play-action, and a deep drop.
“Another perfect play versus a perfect defense,” he says. “We had that drawn up for a while. As soon as they called it, I go on my wristband, and I call it. I knew it was going to be good, so I was excited for it. Everybody did their part. That’s what it was. Good defense that we called it against, and it was a touchdown.”
• The third was another throw to Barkley, this one into a very tight window in the flat, for a 5-yard score.
“Same deal—I’m confident with 26 back there running against anybody,” he says. “It was a big play, man. It was a linebacker chasing him. I trusted him. He ran the right route that he was supposed to run. He ran it with speed. O-line had great protection. Everything cleared out like it was supposed to. Just gave him a chance and he got into the end zone.”
• And the fourth one? He couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it happened—but he did remember how it felt to throw it.
“We had a shot called,” he says. “I think the last two weeks I’ve been very aggressive with it. We had two plays. We had two interceptions that were thrown. I got to my checkdown and got a positive play out of it. I think that was a good learning point, something that I emphasized a lot in practice, something that was emphasized in the film room. So taking a step from the film to the field is good.”
For all of the fun everyone’s had with the stereotypes that DeVito seems to embody—and he, by the way, sure seems like he’s having fun with that, too—it’s to forget that the guy played in the ACC (at Syracuse) and Big Ten, and that’s to say this isn’t that much of a Cinderella story. Even the high school he played for in Jersey—Don Bosco Prep—is a local powerhouse that’s produced a lot of high-end football talent.
So, at least for him, all of this isn’t exactly out of left field.
When I asked if he thought he was capable of this, he simply answered, “Yes, I did.” Even in the spring and summer, he thought he could play right away in the NFL? “Yes.”
And maybe that’s why he’s so comfortable with all of the jokes.
In fact, the “Jersey!” video wasn’t the only such display he put on Sunday. There was another celebration after a touchdown where he pinched his middle finger and index finger on his right hand together with his thumb, and raised them to the sky, a nod to his Italian heritage—and also something he admitted to me afterwards that the trainers and his offensive linemen put him up to beforehand.
“They thought I should do it,” he says, laughing. “Hey, I roll with it.”
And all kidding aside? This is all pretty cool for Tommy from down the street.
“For sure,” he says. “Just being home in my backyard, having my support system here. Obviously, everybody ran with the whole Italian thing. Living at home and being in the area, I couldn’t wait for this to be a good story and for me to get my first win. I haven’t even been able to look at my phone. I literally just stepped on the train right now getting back home. I’m sure I’m going to have a lot of text messages from friends and family, and a lot of support from back home.”
And, maybe, just maybe, his next step will be to move out of his parents’ place. But not yet.
“I live 10 minutes away from the facility,” he says. “Rent’s expensive in Jersey. Saving money, staying at home, got everything that I need there. It's kind of a no brainer, especially for this year.”