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In a ‘humbling league,’ Giants trying to keep early success in perspective

Early success doesn’t guarantee anything, the Giants are trying to remember that

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are flying high with a 5-1 record that would have them as the No. 5 seed if the NFC playoffs began this week. Brian Daboll is being touted as a potential Coach of the Year. With the next four games being against teams that are a combined 7-14-1, fans are dreaming of a 9-1 start to the season.

It is, however, worth remembering something that Daboll said on Monday:

“It’s a humbling league. You’re one week from falling off a cliff.”

The Giants have spent six weeks climbing the mountain and becoming relevant. The cliff, though, is ever-present.

The Giants’ 5-1 record is the team’s best start since it went 5-0 to start the 2009 season. That team finished 8-8 and did not make the playoffs.

Placekicker Graham Gano has been in the league for 14 years. He has seen great starts fizzle and bad starts turn into successful seasons.

“I’ve been on both sides. You play long enough, you get to see a lot and I’ve been on teams that had a terrible record and ended up making the playoffs. And then I’ve been on teams have started out great and finished poorly,” Gano said. “I think the biggest thing is don’t think too far ahead. Don’t look behind at what you’ve done and feel good about it, just keep the hungry mentality and focus on getting better every day and, and worrying about your opponent that you’re playing that week.”

Veteran defensive tackle Justin Ellis played for the Baltimore Ravens a season ago. That team started 5-1, reached 8-3, then stunningly lost its last six games to finish the season 8-9 and out of the playoffs.

The Giants started the season with the league’s fifth-youngest roster at an average of 25.5 years of age. There are several young veterans on the roster who have experienced nothing but losing with the Giants.

Ellis and others are on guard, watching to make sure those who haven’t been through it understand that things can turn in a hurry, that the Giants haven’t accomplished anything yet.

“Me, a couple of other older guys, some of the coaches that have been on teams that flip flop, we constantly let people know,” Ellis said. “So I think the young guys understand what we are saying here. We constantly let them know it’s a long season, things can flip. So you just got to keep getting better. And you got to be playing your best ball late.”

Daboll said this week that a key is to approach each week the same way.

“I’d say the biggest thing for us is just to be consistent with how we do things during the week, whether it’s after loss after when, after a close win, after a big loss. It’s such a week to week league. So, our approach from a coaching staff and really from an organization is be as consistent as you can, regardless of result if you’re doing the things you need to do during the week,” he said. “And that’s my job is to make sure we’re trying to do that along with the coaches. And that’s really where our focus is.”

Dexter Lawrence, the fourth-year defensive tackle who is having his best season, is one of those players who has only experienced losing as an NFL player.

“You’re always gonna be more confident after winning. You just gotta make sure that you just stay humble as a whole and don’t get cocky,” he said. “Winning, has to become a habit. You have to do it every day. We’re kind of understanding that and trusting the process. Just gotta keep doing it.”

Lawrence said this week that he doesn’t feel anyone is taking the team’s early success for granted.

“Xavier [McKinney] just kind of said it during practice. We’re winning, but we’ve got to play better,” Lawrence said. “And I think we all feel that way. We play good enough to win. I mean, that’s the ultimate goal, you want to win. So I feel like we just got to just hone in on a little details, continue to do that and continue to play our techniques with aggression and be smart.”