The New York Giants report for training camp on Tuesday, with the first practice on Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. Here are few ‘things I think’ as we begin a new season of Giants football.
Brian Daboll’s big chance
Except for a one-year return to college with Alabama in 2017, Brian Daboll has been coaching in the NFL since 2000. He was actually a defensive assistant at that time.
Daboll has been an offensive coordinator for four NFL teams. He has been a quarterbacks coach and a wide receivers coach. He took a quick detour to work for Nick Saban in 2017.
Daboll, 47, has paid his dues. He has earned the shot the Giants are giving him to be an NFL head coach.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, 21 years in the National Football League. I’ve been around the block. I’ve experienced a lot of different things. I’ve witnessed different head coaches and how they do things,” Daboll said at his introductory press conference in January. “Do I feel prepared? Yes. Do I know there will be some obstacles and challenges? Of course. That’s this league.”
There are a lot of people who believe Daboll is the perfect coach for the Giants right now. An offensive-minded coach who helped mold Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen into a star, and a man with a personality and style that is the polar opposite of the buttoned-up Joe Judge.
Yet, there is also an undercurrent that voices a legitimate question. Was Daboll really just a middling offensive coordinator who’s ship came in when Allen became a star? Or, was he always a terrific offensive coach who was just waiting to be paired with the right quarterback and the right playmakers to show what he could really create?
Football Outsiders writes this about Daboll in the 2022 Football Outsiders Almanac:
He’s the Giants’ fourth head coach since they forced out Tom Coughlin after the 2015 season. A former assistant coach with the Patriots (2000-2006 and 2013-2016), he comes with the Bill Belichick seal of approval, which the Giants care about way more than they should. Yes, he oversaw Josh Allen’s development into a star quarterback, but was he responsible for it? Before 2019, Daboll wasn’t regarded as a quarterback guru. His stints with the Jets (quarterbacks coach, 2007-2008), Browns (offensive coordinator, 2009- 2010), Dolphins (offensive coordinator, 2011), and Chiefs (offensive coordinator, 2012) were unremarkable (Table 1). His quarterbacks in that span included Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Brett Favre (the too-busy-sexting version), Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy, Jake Delhomme, Matt Moore, Chad Henne, Matt Cassel, and Brady Quinn again. Not one of those teams ranked in the top half of the league in pass DVOA.
What happened? Was Daboll a lousy coach who suddenly became a good coach in Buffalo? Probably not. The explanation might be that he landed in bad situations. From the looks of it, he was taking a tour of the NFL’s worst franchises. Fortunately for him, the Bills stopped him before he could get to Washington or Jacksonville. At the other end of the opportunity spectrum, you’ll find coaches such as Bruce Arians. He crossed paths with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, and Tom Brady. Quarterback whisperer or just extremely fortunate?
Coaches get a lot of credit and a lot of blame, but at this level, the difference between success and failure comes down to the people playing the game. Coaches are the conductors, but as Michael Jordan has said, “the most important part of the process is the players.” We have seen that in the NFL with Peyton Manning, who took four different head coaches (Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, John Fox, and Gary Kubiak) to the Super Bowl, and Tom Brady, who led two once-floundering franchises to championships.
I honestly don’t know the answer. In my view, Daboll is off to a terrific start with the Giants. His personality has provided a needed breath of fresh air after the stifling Judge era. He has assembled a veteran NFL coaching staff that seems to be high quality. He seems to be getting buy in from players. That’s all we have to go on.
The Giants will inevitably lose games and face adversity. What will happen then? We will all find out together.
It’s not really about 2022
With excitement building as we tick down the final hours toward 2022 Giants training camp, this might not be the perfect time for this thought. Here it is, anyway.
The on-field results of the 2022 season are not really all that important. GM Joe Schoen has made it clear that he wants the upcoming season to be as good as it can be, but 2022 is just the beginning of the Schoen-Daboll era. Giants fans should know by now that first-year results, or lack thereof, are not the best barometer for judging a regime’s long-term success.
- In 2004, Tom Coughlin blew up a playoff chance in his first season because he thought it was more important to allow Eli Manning to grow into the job of being the team’s franchise quarterback. That ended up working out pretty well.
- Ben McAdoo made the playoffs in his first season as head coach. That, though, was done on the backs of a free-agency splurge by Jerry Reese and a defense constructed by Steve Spagnuolo. The offense McAdoo guided had little to do with it. When adversity struck in McAdoo’s second year, he didn’t have the willingness to adapt and he was so isolated that when the locker room turned on him — and each other — he could do nothing about it.
- Pat Shurmur’s Giants went 4-4 over the second half of his first season as coach, offering optimism that improvement was at hand. That, though, turned out to be Fool’s Gold. Shurmur was fired after a 4-12 second season.
- Joe Judge’s first season offered hope. He seemed to know where he wanted to go and how he wanted to get there. The Giants played hard and seemed to be at the start of something good. Judge’s second season turned both himself and his team into a national laughingstock, and finally convinced ownership that a full organizational reset was needed.
It will be nice if the Giants win more than four games in 2022. It would be extremely nice if, for the first time since 2016, they did not lose double-digit games. It would be outstanding if they snuck into the playoffs.
The success or failure of the Schoen-Daboll era, though, won’t be judged by what happens in 2022. It will be judged by what comes after. Can the Giants finally build something good that lasts? The upcoming season won’t tell us that.
Xavier McKinney’s explosive comments
I wrote on Sunday about McKinney’s damning comments toward former head coach Joe Judge and his staff in a Q&A with Steve Serby of the New York Post. I am still amazed by the honesty, and how poorly McKinney’s remarks reflect on Judge.
McKinney basically called Judge a liar who didn’t care about his players’ opinions. Judge talked all the time about building relationships with players, being honest with them, and how players always knew the reasons for how and why things were done.
McKinney criticized how practices were organized under Judge, saying players sometimes didn’t know what was going on. He also said the Giants are practicing “harder” under the more relaxed Daboll. Judge was a guy who talked a lot about preparation, organization, attention to detail and was considered a no-nonsense coach. Yet, McKinney says practices are better organized and players are practicing harder now. Amazing.
McKinney said defensive players were afraid to make mistakes. There is a theory that Judge handcuffed Daniel Jones by making him risk-averse and by playing to avoid mistakes rather than playing aggressively to make things happen. Sounds like there was some of that on defense, as well. You don’t win by playing not to lose. Losses in Weeks 2 and 3 last season to Washington and Atlanta were perfect illustrations.
Not riding the Jimmy Garoppolo train
David Carr pushed the Jimmy G to the Giants narrative on NFL Network. Mike Tannenbaum pushed it on the 33rd Team. Las Vegas oddsmakers are all in, making the Giants the second-most likely team to acquire the soon-to-be ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
I think it’s all nonsense. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I don’t have any inside information on this, but I don’t see a world in which Garoppolo is quarterbacking the Giants in 2022 and Daniel Jones is riding the pine, or playing somewhere else.
First of all, Garoppolo carries a $24.2 million base salary. The Giant, per OTC, have $5.446 million in cap space right now. So, you tell me. How is that going to work?
Sure, the Giants can re-negotiate Garoppolo’s deal. Sure, they can probably re-structure Leonard Williams’ deal. Sure, they could save $4.1 million in space by trading Jones. There is no way, though, they can bring in Garoppolo without having to hemorrhage some talent on an already-thin roster. Plus, give up draft capital they need to build with.
Is Garoppolo really good enough for Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll to go through all of that? I think not. I also don’t think John Mara, as far as he has gone to support Jones and as much as he has said he wants to see Jones get a chance with this new staff, would sign off on such a move.
So, Garoppolo to the Giants is nice conversation or gambling fodder. I will be floored, though, if it turns into a reality.
10 players I am interested in this summer
I am not going to go into great detail on these guys, I am just going to list them.
Edge Elerson Smith
CB Aaron Robinson
Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux
TE/FB Jeremiah Hall
WR Darius Slayton
WR Wan’Dale Robinson
LB Micah McFadden
TE Daniel Bellinger
WR Kadarius Toney
P Jamie Gillan
Getting you eady for training camp
I think we have been preparing you for training camp for months now.
- Profiles of every player on the roster.
- Position-by-position breakdowns.
- A pre-training camp 53-man roster projection.
- Public training camp schedule.
- Podcasts previewing training camp battles:
With fans returning to training camp for the first time since 2019, Joe Ruback, better known as License Plate Guy, recently appeared on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast.
Yours truly will be at training camp Wednesday thru Friday. After that, how often I make the trip from Albany to East Rutherford is up in the air. We will, though, bring you as much training camp coverage as we possibly can.