New York Giants players are following head coach Brian Daboll’s lead this week. Meaning that they are trying not to look at this week’s ‘win and get in’ the playoffs game against the Indianapolis Colts any differently than they have approached their first 15 games of the season.
Still, the only Giants’ draft pick on the current roster who has playoff experience is Landon Collins. So, when the Giants made Julian Love, Darius Slayton and Andrew Thomas — all draft picks on the verge of their first NFL playoff games — available via Zoom on Tuesday the p-word was the natural line of questioning.
“I think everybody’s aware of our situation and kind of what the reality is for a lot of teams around the NFL this time of year,” Slayton, a 2019 fifth-round pick, said. “At the end of the day, you can only focus on the week you have, and the opponent you have ahead of you, and the rest of that will take care of itself.
“I’m mostly just excited to be playing competitive, meaningful football. I think that’s something that since I’ve been in the league, I haven’t really had a chance to do very much. I’m just grateful for all these games that are going to be highly contested. And obviously, we’re going to go out there and do our best to get the win in all of them.”
Julian Love, taken in the fourth round in that 2019 draft, is another player in this situation for the first time.
“None of us are naïve in the sense that we don’t know if we win this game what it means. That’s on the back of all of our minds, but you’ve got to stay true to what we’ve been doing all season,” Love said. “For me that’s to stay in my routine, that’s attacking, playing with high effort, and giving our defense a place to stand at all times. If I just do my job, hopefully we get the win we all know what happens if we do that.”
Love did acknowledge what it would mean to him to make the playoffs after three losing seasons.
“It would mean the world to me. I’m a competitor. I’m a guy who has tried to be as consistent as I possibly can during good times, during bad times, I think you know what to expect when it comes to me. That’s been a constant for years, for the past four years,” Love said. “I haven’t been to the playoffs in the league yet. I’ve achieved that goal in college, I’ve achieved that goal in high school of course, so I’m excited. I’m excited to have a shot. This position is pretty exciting that we can control our destiny. It’s going to mean a lot, but I know I have to lock in on the process of this week just so I can be that consistent guy I’ve always been for the team as we prepare for the Colts.”
Third-year offensive tackle Andrew Thomas is another of the players who had only experienced NFL failure prior to this season.
“It definitely means a lot,” Thomas said. “I’ve never played in the playoffs as long as I’ve been in the league. It’s definitely something you look forward to.”
The Giants are favored by 5.5 points after having been underdogs in most of their games this year. Slayton said that and the game’s implications won’t change the team’s approach.
“I don’t think it changes anything because, like you said, we’ve been the (under)dog a lot in games this year that we’ve won,” Slayton said. “So, being the favorite or being the dog ultimately doesn’t determine whether or not you win or lose the game. It’s the NFL. They’ve got good players. So, you got to go out there and play and execute, take care of the football, and do the things you got to do to win the game.”