First time the Giants have won a season opener since 2016. First victory of the Brian Daboll era. First time in a long time Saquon Barkley has looked like SAQUON BARKLEY. And, yes, first place.
It is a great time to think that maybe, just maybe, the arrow is finally pointing up for the Giants. Still, something Daboll said Sunday evening is worth keeping in mind.
“If things are going really well, you don’t get too high,” he said. “This league will humble you real quick. Trust me, I’ve been humbled a bunch.”
It is easy to overreact and think the Giants are fixed. They aren’t. They are still a work in progress, and there will be plenty of bumps in the road.
Enjoy the week. Enjoy being 1-0. Enjoy the Dallas Cowboys’ misery right now. Enjoy the fact that the Giants might finally be pointed in the right direction.
Just remember, we have been fooled before.
Daboll’s dance moves
I am certainly not going to be critical of Daboll’s dance moves. They are probably better than mine.
You know what I loved about this? I think it was another sign of the mutual respect between the coach and his team.
Here is what Daboll said about the celebration:
“It was a Biggie song, and it was a good win. These guys worked hard. They were dancing before I got in there. So, I don’t know if I was really dancing very much if you want to call it that. But it’s good to celebrate with your guys. They put a lot of work (in). And again, credit to the guys that are out there playing. They had a lot of juice after that game, and rightfully so. They played a tough 60-minute game and had some good plays and had some bad plays that you had to bounce back from. They brought me in the circle there; I don’t think I’d call it dancing.”
Whenever I do something like this I always have to remind you that I can’t break down film the way Nick Falato or Chris Pflum can. That is not my strength, and I won’t pretend otherwise.
I do try whenever possible, though, to re-watch games. Here are some thoughts from a second look at Giants-Titans.
- The Giants made a complete mess of the 46-yard Kyle Philips punt return. Gunner Matt Breida seemed way out of position, too far inside. Chris Myarick, Carter Coughlin and Casey Kreiter all missed tackles. It was ugly.
- Speaking of special teams, Nick McCloud was tremendous as a gunner. McCloud, though, injured a hamstring on Sunday. If he misses time, that will be a loss for special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey.
- This one seems obvious from the Pro Football Focus grades, and expected, but whatever offensive line issues the Giants had on Sunday they came from the inside trio of Mark Glowinski, Jon Feliciano, Ben Bredeson/Joshua Ezeudu. There was good work at times, too, but it’s apparent that the interior offensive line play could be problematic.
- When you re-watch and focus on them, it really is amazing how well edge defenders Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines played. They both had a lot to do with why Derrick Henry averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, holding the edges so the star Tennessee back could not escape into space.
- When an underdog team like the Giants is going to pull off an upset against a quality team like Tennessee, they have to get some help. The Titans offered plenty, not just Randy Bullock’s missed field goal on the final play. Dropped passes, a muffed punt, a silly third-and-1 tight end around that the Giants blew up, a dropped Wildcat snap. The Titans opened the door. To their credit, the Giants stepped through.
- Initially, I thought Saquon Barkley made one Tennessee defender miss on the game-winning 2-point conversion. There were actually two. By all rights, the Titans should have blown that play up. The fact that it succeeded was all Barkley.
Let’s talk about Ximines
I think this is a young man who deserves some props. Many, like yours truly, did not think there was much of a chance the 25-year-old would be part of the 2022 Giants.
Ximines was a third-round pick in 2019. He started off in promising fashion, but saw his playing time steadily decrease during his rookie year. A shoulder injury limited him to just four games in 2020. After a devastating offside penalty late in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs last, Ximines played just one defensive snap over the final nine games.
When you looked at the edge defender group — Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Quincy Roche — it seemed Ximines would be the odd man out. That wasn’t the case.
“He earned his spot. He had a good camp. I know that (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) and (outside linebackers coach) Drew (Wilkins) the rest of the coaches have a lot of confidence in him on defense and when the other guys that we had at those spots couldn’t play, like I said the guys on the team are here for a reason,” Daboll said. “Sometimes you just need a fresh start. I think that we gave him a fresh start, and I think he made the most of it up to this point. He doesn’t say a whole lot, works really hard. I think he’s taking to the coaching and I’m glad he’s on our team.”