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Random thoughts about the Giants: Brian Daboll’s future, winnable games, more

There are still seven games to play

NFL: New York Giants at Las Vegas Raiders Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

There are still seven games left in this torturous New York Giants season. Here are some random thoughts on an off day for players.

‘I own it’

Brian Daboll is not puffing out his chest and telling everyone he is built for handling adversity, a la Ben McAdoo. He is not going on 11-minute rants and telling media that he sees mysterious behind-the-scenes progress in the organization despite mounting losses on the field, a la Joe Judge.

Daboll is being realistic, and accountable.

“We should make no excuses about where we’re at. I own it. I own it,” he said on Monday. “You make no excuses about it. We are at where we are at and that’s where we’re meant to be right now, relative to what we’ve done. So, you don’t feel sorry for yourself, you got about it with the right mindset and your head down. You work as hard as you can work, you prepare as hard you can prepare. You teach, you work, you practice, you do the necessary things you need to do to give yourself a chance and you move on to the next week. So, you are real about where you are at, this is where we are at, but we control our actions, our attitudes, our emotions, our approach. That’s what we can focus on.”

There were visible signs of frustration from players like Saquon Barkley and Darius Slayton on Sunday. What is Daboll’s message as he tries to hold together a locker room filled with players who experienced better a year ago, and expected better this time around?

“We have control over our actions and our attitude and our emotions and that’s what we control. So, we control how hard we work, we control how hard we prepare, we control our approach, coming in with a positive attitude,” Daboll said. ‘Look, no one’s happy. I’m at the top of that list. So, you don’t work as hard as you work in this business to be where we are at, but we are there and make no excuses. We haven’t been good enough, that starts with me, and we’ll continue to work the right way with a positive mindset, a great approach, continue to evolve our processes and get ready to play this week.”

This season has been a massive disappointment. I have been clear that I believe Daboll — and Joe Schoen — should get more time to build a program. If the Giants are ever going to get out of the malaise they have been in since their last Super Bowl victory, they need some stability. Sticking with Schoen and Daboll is the best chance they have had to get it.

Despite some of the frustrations shown recently, I don’t think Daboll is going to the lose the locker room. It is just one player’s comment, but consider this from Dexter Lawrence:

“I respect Dabs a lot. He’s just as or more competitive as the players, and he wants to win and create an environment of winning just as much as the players do. This year is not going that way. I think for him, I think he’s doing a good job of just perspective. I think that’s the biggest thing about everything, putting things in perspective.”

Here are two current examples of patience paying off:

In Cincinnati, Zac Taylor went 2-14 and 4-11-1 in his first two seasons. The Bengals have won double-digit games the past two seasons and are probably headed back to the playoffs again this year.

In Detroit, Dan Campbell went 3-13-1 in 2021, his first year as coach. The Lions are now one of the best teams in the league.

If Schoen and Daboll are given the time, they will make that decision pay off.

How bad is it?

This is how bad:

Honestly, the fact that there has been regression from last season is not a major shock. The Giants were surprisingly successful last season, but that never meant they were fixed or had suddenly become an annual playoff contender. If you had told me the 2023-2024 Giants would win six or seven games this season, I would have found that plausible.

This, though? No way I saw this level of dysfunction coming.

There have been a great many things about this Giants season that I haven’t understood. I will get into all of them at some point. Suffice it to say, though, that what we have seen this season is not easy to comprehend.

A few winnable games

There are Giants fans who hope the Giants don’t win another game this season. At 2-8 with seven games remaining, the Giants currently sit with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Those fans would like to see 2-15 and the Giants landing the first overall pick.

The Giants won’t tank. Players are playing for their futures. Coaches are coaching for their jobs. Daboll and GM Joe Schoen are trying to build a long-term winner. Things have gone off the rails this season, winning always has benefits. The Giants will do their best to try and win a few games down the stretch.

I think the schedule makes it possible for them to do just that.

The Giants are 10-point underdogs this weekend to the Washington Commanders, but they do own a victory over Washington this season. The New England Patriots are 2-8. The Green Bay Packers are 3-6. The New Orleans Saints are 5-5. The Los Angeles Rams are 3-6.

Yes, there are two games on the schedule with the Philadelphia Eagles. I think, though, it is possible the Giants could win a couple of games down the stretch. I hope they do. If it comes them a few spots in the draft order, so be it.

It’s still all about the offensive line

Tony DelGenio made the point on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast that the genesis of everything wrong with the Giants comes down to the lack of a functional offensive line.

I think that is 100% right. If you can’t block, you can’t play functional offense. Part of the problem has been Andrew Thomas missing seven games, but it’s far beyond that. Nine different starting groups in 10 games. Three left tackles. Five different starting left guards. Three starting right guards. Two centers. Two right tackles. Players flip-flopping from position to position.

Pro Football Focus grades are not the be-all and end-all, but they can be telling. In this case they definitely are. Eight of the nine lowest full season offensive grades for the Giants, including the bottom seven, belong to offensive linemen. The only offensive lineman other than Thomas (with a less than his best 68.7) with an acceptable PFF score is Mark Glowinski (64.1). And the Giants have been unwilling to play Glowinski unless they had no other choice.

Injuries have been a major issue, but I have not understood the Giants’ approach to the offensive line at all this season.