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Giants-Titans: 5 Week 1 storylines

There will be a lot of things to consider when Sunday arrives — here are a few

Cincinnati Bengals v New York Giants
Saquon Barkley
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The New York Giants open their season Sunday in Nashville, TN. against the Tennessee Titans. Here are five storylines to consider as the 2022 NFL season finally gets underway.

Another new beginning

Truth be told, this is a tired story for the Giants. They are on their fourth head coach (fifth if you count 2017 interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo) and third general manager since the beginning of the 2016 season.

This is what happens, though, when you are a bad NFL team, which is exactly what the Giants have been the last five seasons. They are tied with the New York Jets for the worst record in the NFL since 2017 at 22-59 (.272 winning percentage).

So, Giants ownership has once again spun the Roulette wheel of NFL GMs and head coaches, this time landing on former Buffalo Bills lieutenants Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll.

Will it work this time? If it doesn’t, the franchise’s current streak of futility could end up rivaling the Wilderness Years when the Giants went 17 straight seasons (1964-1980) without reaching the playoffs. The Giants are at 10 years with just one playoff appearance, in an era with expanded playoffs that did not exist during the Wilderness Years.

Do the Giants FINALLY have the right people in place to right their sinking ship? We are about to begin finding out.

Mike Kafka, play-caller

Head coach Brian Daboll said this week that he will allow offensive coordinator Mike Kafka to call plays. That is significant because Daboll, a first-time head coach, got the Giants’ job based largely on his work as an offensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills. It is also Kafka’s first coordinator gig, and the first time he will call plays that count.

This seems like the right move for the Giants. Kafka has been handling the role since the Giants began practicing in the spring, and it allows Daboll to focus entirely on game management.

Now, will it work? Truthfully, the bar is not all that high when you consider how terrible the Giants have been on offense the past two seasons.

How much did the Giants keep under wraps?

The Giants showed a lot of motion and quick throws on offense early in training camp. When they got to preseason games, though, Daboll and Kafka kept a lot of that stuff under wraps.

We know that the Giants’ offense is going to look vastly different than it did under the direction of Joe Judge and Jason Garrett. Going back farther than that, different even than it was under the direction of offensive-minded head coaches Pat Shurmur and Ben McAdoo.

Giants fans are wondering. The Titans are no doubt wondering.

It is going to be interesting to see just how different the Daboll-Kafka Giants’ offense looks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Derrick Henry and Saquon Barkley

Both big-time running backs have something to prove entering the 2022 season.

Since this is a Giants site, we have spent a lot of time talking about Barkley. He really has not been a star since his record-setting 2018 rookie season, with injuries and incompetence around him wrecking three straight seasons.

Barkley is as healthy as he has been since early in the 2019 season. He has looked explosive on the field, and he has been combative with critics off the field. He looks primed for a good season. Will that start Sunday?

Henry has been the game’s busiest (1,115 rushing attempts) and most productive back (5,563 yards) since 2018. He is a 6-foot-3, 247-pound tank who has also led the NFL in yards per carry (5.01) and yards rushing per game (101.1) during that span.

Henry, though, is now 28 and coming off a significant foot injury that cost him nine games last season. Is he still DERRICK HENRY? Sunday might give us a hint.

Season-opening success?

The Giants have not had any in a long time. They have not won a season-opening game since defeating the Dallas Cowboys, 20-19, in 2016. That, not co coincidentally, is the only time since 2011 that they reached the playoffs.

Here is how the Giants have started the last five seasons:

  • 2017: 0-5
  • 2018: 0-2/1-7
  • 2019: 0-2
  • 2020: 0-5
  • 2021: 0-3

Check out the odds for today’s matchup courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

After Tennessee, the Giants play three straight games at MetLife Stadium against the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears. There are opportunities for a couple of victories in there. Let’s see if the Giants can get the Schoen-Daboll era off to a decent start.