The New York Giants have had a stunning start to the 2023, in the same way that taking a fastball to the chest while walking down the street would be “stunning”.
Unexpected, painful, and confusing.
The Giants suffered another blowout defeat on Monday Night Football, losing 24-3 to the Seattle Seahawks. The Giants are now 1-3 and about to embark on a pair of road trips to play two of the best teams in the NFL.
Most of the concern, and frustration, has fallen on the offensive side of the ball. However, there’s plenty to go around and the Giants’ defense has hardly played up to expectations. Giants’ Pro Bowl and All-Pro defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence normally has a big smile on his face.
But not now. Not after the first four games of the 2023 season.
“Really shocked, you know, thought we would start out faster,” Lawrence said. “Obviously not first quarter [of the season] we’re 1 and 3. [We] just gotta, you know, start off next week stronger and faster and understand that it’s, it’s a week-by-week league. It hasn’t been going our way so far, but if everybody stay on the same track, hold each other accountable and just keep believing and trusting, I think we can do whatever we want to do.”
And what do they want to do? Win, obviously. Nobody likes to lose, and the Giants do have talented players on their defense which compounds the frustrations. But there’s a pretty big gulf between what the Giants want to do and what they are doing. The defense isn’t playing up to expectations placed upon them, or their expectations of themselves.
“I think obviously we’re upset. I think none of us in here enjoy losing or want to lose, so I think we’re obviously upset about that,” Lawrence said. “We just gotta keep coming in every day going to work and believing and trusting and holding each other accountable. You know, hurting some feelings or whatever you gotta take to, get all of us on the same page and the motor running.”
Lawrence talked about “hurting feelings” a few times and the need for the Giants’ leadership to step up — even if it means ruffling feathers and stepping on toes.
“I think, and I’m all about player driven leadership, we gotta be firm with each other. Don’t be afraid to hurt feelings and just, you know, hold each other accountable the right way.
“I mean, I’m not afraid to hurt somebody’s feelings,” he added. “I wanna win. Okay. You know? Yeah. So whatever it takes, that’s what I’m going to do.”
The Giants announced 10 team captains just before the start of the regular season, five of whom are on the defensive side of the ball. Lawrence is one of those captains and is seen as one of the Giants’ core players, and not just for his size and athleticism. His personality is (somehow) even bigger than he is, and he knows that it falls to him and the rest of the locker room leadership to pull the team together.
“Leaders gotta lead,” he said. “Don’t let anybody be down over this. Be off, but don’t be down. And just keep going. Keep fighting for each other. I think the game is bigger than an individual. I think we gotta come together and, you know, and be there for each other.”
Of course, a gentle touch might not suffice with the team seemingly in a spiral. One of the hallmarks of leadership is knowing what others need to get the most out of them. Sometimes it’s support and motivation, but other times a sterner approach is needed.
“You know, don’t be afraid to hurt some feelings. Hold your guys accountable,” Lawrence said. ‘You know, I feel like we all look, show love to each other and you know, have each other’s back. So I think we all can lead in a firmer way and not be afraid to hurt those.”
“I can’t speak for everybody else, but I don’t enjoy losing. And that’s all I really gotta say about that.”