By rights, the Giants shouldn’t have won this game. They were out-manned at multiple positions by the Packers and the personnel disparity got worse as the game went on. Yet, the Giants managed to be resilient while the Packers’ crumbled in the second half.
It’s one thing to top a Chicago Bears team that can barely find its way out of the tunnel, but this was a convincing win over a play-off caliber team.
What can we take away from the Giants’ unlikely win over the Packers?
First down: Tricksy Giants
The biggest breath of fresh air on the offensive side of the ball for the Giants has been the creativity and adaptability of Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka. Gone are the days of predictable offense and stubbornly refusing to make changes.
We saw the Giants break out the Wildcat package last week when Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor were injured against the Chicago Bears. The Giants apparently liked it so much that they kept it in the game plan against the Packers. While the results from the play were mixed, simply showing the Packers multiple looks gave the Giants the opportunity to catch them off-guard. We also saw the Giants break out a double-reverse to tight end Daniel Bellinger for the touchdown at the end of the first half.
We’ve gotten used to the Giants being unpredictable on defense, but seeing them be unpredictable on offense is novel.
The Giants can’t play conventional “Pro Style” offense at this point. But their willingness to accept the limitation and work around it has taken opposing defenses off guard. We’ll have to see if the NFL’s defensive minds will begin to pick up on the Giants’ tendencies, but so far their unconventional offense is working.
Second down: Competitive coaching
Even more than the Giants’ trickeration and willingness to play like a mid-level college program, the Giants’ coaching is the single biggest reason for their turnaround in 2022.
Time and again this season we’ve seen the Giants hang tough through the second halves of games — and that’s on the coaches. The Giants’ roster really isn’t significantly improved over previous years, and they’ve been massively depleted by injuries. The Giants were scraping the bottom of their depth chart at wide receiver and cornerback by the end of the game, and yet they were able to perform. The Giants continue to win with guys off the street and practice squad players. That isn’t due to Joe Schoen’s brilliance as a scout, finding players the other 31 GMs missed, but rather the Giants’ coaches preparing them and putting them in position to succeed.
But while the Giants have played tough and maintained their composure, their opponents have consistently fallen apart. There have been opportunities for offenses to gash the Giants’ defense, but they haven’t been able to take advantage of them. Opposing defenses have helped sustain Giants’ drives with bone-headed penalties. This game we saw a pair of sacks wiped out by penalties, a Daniel Jones run extended by penalty, and the Giants put in scoring position by a penalty.
The Giants still feel as though they’re always on the knife-edge of disaster, but so far Daboll, Martindale, and Kafka have kept the Giants from beating themselves. Brian Daboll pretty much has to be the frontrunner for Coach of The Year at this point.
Third down: Injuries continue to mount
I’m getting incredibly tired of writing about injuries, but they just keep coming. The Giants had Saquon Barkley leave the field with a shoulder injury, Adoree’ Jackson knocked out of the game with knee and neck injuries, rookie DT D.J. Davidson left the field on the cart, and LG Ben Bredeson left briefly with an injury.
The Giants have remained remarkably resilient and their coaching staff has done an incredible job of getting their depleted depth chart ready to play and executing on game day. But we still have to wonder how long they’ll be able to keep it up. Will all the injuries catch up with them eventually?
Hopefully the injuries suffered today will turn out to be minimal and the players who left the field will be good to go against the Ravens.
Fourth down: Is this sustainable?
All season long we’ve been saying that while the Giants are winning, the way they’re winning isn’t sustainable at the NFL level. Their playing around massive holes in their roster, their passing game remains anemic, and big plays are there to be had against the Giants’ pressure packages.
Teams should not be able to consistently win by playing this type of football in the NFL. The NFL is a quarterback-driven passing League and you win with the ball in your hand. And while we say “any given Sunday”, the unspoken subtext is that teams that play football like the Giants — like a college team trying to compete with recruiting powerhouses — should be losing more than they’re winning.
But after beating the Green Bay Packers, we need to start wondering if “hey, maybe this is sustainable.” Maybe this Giants team won’t come crashing back to Earth. After all, one of the enduring chestnuts of the NFL is that more teams lose games than win them. And if the Giants can keep from beating themselves, they can stay in position to capitalize on other teams’ mistakes and keep the Cinderella story going.
To be fair, the Giants have had their share of breaks go their way this year. But we’ve also seen plenty of instances over the last decade of bad breaks compounded by dumb mistakes go against the Giants. Maybe it’s time the pendulum swings the other direction. There’s still plenty more football to be played, and the Giants have some dangerous teams coming up. But right now, the Giants might be the one team in the NFL that nobody wants to see come to town.