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Brian Daboll’s good start, frenzied fans, more ‘things I think’ before Giants-Cowboys

Here are a few thoughts before the Giants try to start the season 3-0

Carolina Panthers v New York Giants
Brian Daboll
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Despite whatever issues Kenny Golladay has right now, this is undoubtedly a honeymoon period for New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll.

The Giants are 2-0. Fans are in a frenzy. Daboll has thus far pushed all the right buttons. He has been aggressive. He has trusted players rather than taken games out of their hands. He has talked about giving players fresh starts or clean slates, and backed up those words. He has tried to shoot players straight, whether they wanted to hear what he was saying or not.

“We’ll try to do what we think is best for our football team. I think that’s the most important. I think you just are open and honest with the players of what their role is, what they need to do to improve and let those guys go out there and compete it off each week,” Daboll said on Monday. “Again, we’re kind of at the introductory stages of our program and what we’re trying to do, and I think competition is the best thing for everybody.”

I think players, Golladay aside, are buying what Daboll is selling thus far.

I had the opportunity during the week to talk to some of the players who may not have gotten full opportunities from previous regimes or during previous NFL stops. Here is some of what they had to say.

Wide receiver David Sills, of course, has been the most direct beneficiary of the Golladay situation.

He said “I do” when I asked him if Daboll’s message has helped the locker room.

“I think that competition is the best for the team. I think when people have competition, it makes everybody better. I think that’s good,” Sills said. “I think it is very good for our team culture. And I think it showed the first two games of what culture they’ve been trying to build.”

Richie James, a backup wide receiver and kick returner previously for the San Francisco 49ers, leads the Giants in receptions after two games.

“Sometimes you live in a world where some coaches don’t live up to their words and you leave the players confused. It’s hard to play for a coach like that, when you really don’t know what’s going on,” James said. “Most guys like us, we’d rather hear the real stuff. Okay, are we competing this week? Or, are we playing this week or whatever the case may be instead of sugarcoating it. For me, it helps me a lot when I know what am I expecting.”

Ben Bredeson has split time at left guard with Joshua Ezeudu the first two weeks. Both Daboll and offensive line coach Bobby Johnson have said that has been the case simply because both guys have earned the right to get on the field.

“It’s a great feeling when you’ve got your coaches behind you,” Bredeson said.

Bredeson said it “absolutely” helps when players believe what coaches are telling them.

“I feel like that’s the culture here now,” he said. “Trust runs rampant through this building. I think everybody feels that, and it’s helping us play better on the field.”

Daboll and the Giants have yet to deal with much adversity, though we all know there will eventually be some. We will have to wait and see if that trust holds when it strikes.

White Out

Saquon Barkley had experience with ‘White Outs’ while playing for Penn State. He’s looking forward to what Monday’s MetLife Stadium White Out looks like.

“If it’s anything like State College, it’s unbelievable. Words really can’t describe it,” Barkley said. “Literally when I found out we were going to do that, went right back to memories of playing in State College. I had a lot of good memories in the White Out. Hopefully, that can rub off this Monday, too.”

I think this could — no, should — be the wildest we have seen MetLife Stadium for a Giants’ game in a long time. Monday Night Football. Dallas Cowboys. Induction of seven men into the Ring of Honor, including four 1980 and 1990s era players.

“We expect it to be rocking,” said defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. “It should be like an avalanche once they get in that stadium.”

If the Giants win to go to 3-0? Oh, boy!

Will Wink ever get his chance?

Martindale is 59. He has been coaching full-time since 1994, and has been in the NFL since 2004. I think Martindale would love to be a head coach, and every so often he lets a little bit of his feelings about not having gotten that opportunity yet poke through. I think that happened Thursday when he was talking about Dallas quarterback Cooper Rush.

“I see a guy that’s a starting quarterback in this league. Honestly, I do,” Martindale said. “And I made the comment just watching him and the decisions that he makes, I think he’ll have a long career as a quarterback in this league, and then he’ll be one of those cats that become an offensive coordinator and a head coach by the time he’s 38 or 39. That’s how it usually works.”

I have no idea if Martindale could be a successful head coach. His career somewhat parallels that of Vic Fangio, a long-time successful defensive coordinator who finally got a chance to be a head coach of the Denver Broncos in 2019 at the age of 60. Fangio was fired after the 2021 season. I do hope Martindale gets his chance one day.

Dane Belton’s versatility

In addition to finding out that the rookie safety neglected to keep the ball after recovering a Carolina Panthers’ fumble last week on his first NFL play, I talked to Belton about his role on the Giants’ defense.

Per Pro Football Focus, Belton aligned at free safety on 39 of those snaps. I think it has to surprise people that Martindale aligned him as a single-high safety on 29 of those plays. Coming out of Iowa, pre-draft scouting reports indicated playing the 6-foot-1, 205-Belton that way would be a bad idea.

From The Draft Network:

“Belton is at his best getting involved in run fits and playing in the shallow areas of the field as an add-on who can zone up shallow spaces if needed on passing downs ... There’s plenty to like in Belton’s game so long as you don’t charge him with being anything that he’s not, such as a single-high free safety.”


“Belton has average size, can line up over tight ends and excels in short-zone coverages, where his ball skills and anticipation bring him to the action. He lacks the suddenness to stay with route breaks underneath and will be exploited if asked to cover on the back end.”

Belton knows seeing him aligned at single-high safety raised some eyebrows.

“Going into the league a lot of people had doubt with me playing deep safety just because I didn’t show that much in college,” Belton said. “That’s a fair assessment. I played the position I did in college for team need. I feel like I had the ability to play a deep safety, a single-high, Cover-2 safety.

“I wasn’t surprised at all. I trusted my ability, the coaches saw it in practice. I was comfortable back there.”

Martindale was comfortable enough that he used Belton, rather than Xavier McKinney, in that role.