The New York Football Giants are 4-1. You read that right. After five straight sub-.500 seasons, including three different head coaches with a collective record of 22-59, it seems that the Giants have finally found the right men for the job. Head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen are changing the culture in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Giants Find their Future in Upstate New York
The Giants took an offseason journey to snowy western New York and nabbed two of the NFL's most sought-after head coach and general manager candidates. Daboll and Schoen are fresh off of recent success with the high-powered Buffalo Bills and have led the Giants to their best start since 2009. The offense, led by first-time play caller and former Chiefs QB coach Mike Kafka, is currently one of the best rushing offenses in the league. The defense, steered by NFL coaching vet and frightening human Wink Martindale, is ranked second in the NFL in opponent third-down conversion rate, as well as in the top 10 in pass defense and points allowed. A lot of things are going right for Big Blue, and after an upset over the Green Bay Packers in London, it is starting to look as if the Giants are the real deal.
The unbelievable part about it all is that just five weeks ago, the Giants were widely considered one of the biggest dumpster fires in the NFL. QB Daniel Jones came into this season a dead man walking, playing on the last year of his rookie contract after three underwhelming seasons and a declined fifth-year option. Saquon Barkley seemed to be the only person who believed that he could return to form after his 2020 ACL injury and a hobbled 2021 season. The former regime left the organization in cap space hell, forcing Schoen and Daboll to make some tough decisions regarding the roster -- including releasing captain Logan Ryan, star cornerback James Bradberry and middle linebacker Blake Martinez. To the naked eye, the Giants were a shell of a team. Their personnel was worse than their 4-13 season the year before. They were coming off of their fifth straight losing season. They were being led by a first-time NFL head coach, their fourth head coach in five seasons. So how the hell is this team 4-1 just five weeks later?
Giants in Their Own Right
The New York Giants are a winning football team, and everyone in the building believes it. They have believed it since before they even touched the field this season, thanks to the leadership of Daboll, Kafka and Martindale. The new coaching staff has this Giants team playing tough, disciplined, hard-nosed football that is aggressive yet sound. On offense, they beat you at the line of scrimmage in the run game, and they execute unique play-action packages built off the run game's success. On defense, they show multiple looks before the snap, they load the box, they bring the house, and they force the other team to make difficult throws on third down. It's classic Giants football, reminiscent of the Tom Coughlin and Bill Parcells eras.
When it comes to the offense, guys are stepping up across the board. Barkley has returned to his 2018 Offensive ROY form, leading the league in scrimmage yards and second in the league in rushing yards. He looks more comfortable top to bottom, and he has put the team on his back multiple times through the first five weeks. He is the heartbeat of the Giants' offense and is making his case for a hefty new contract come the offseason.
Daniel Jones has had an up-and-down season but played like the No. 6 overall pick on Sunday against the Packers, leading the Giants on a 91-yard game-tying drive without Barkley or a single starting wide receiver. He was bloody and battered, running on a bum ankle, and still got the job done. He looked like a true NFL starter, a leader, and a guy you want under center for your football team. Say what you want about Jones, but that guy has guts, and he may be playing himself into a franchise tag situation.
Finally Fixing Problem Areas
But the real star of the Giants offense has been big left tackle Andrew Thomas. Thomas, according to PFF, is not only the highest-graded offensive lineman in the NFL but is also one of the highest-graded players, period. He has been almost perfect, protecting Jones' blind side, moving well in the run, and setting the physical tone for the Giants' offense. He is the biggest key to the Giants' success right now, especially in the run game -- and that is not an understatement.
Defensively, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is in the midst of a breakout season for the ages. Sexy Dexy is playing at a Pro Bowl level, with three sacks in the first five games to go along with 21 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery. He is setting the tone on the defensive line and getting to the quarterback more efficiently, drawing double teams left and right. Other defensive bright spots have been free safety Xavier McKinney and cornerback Adoree' Jackson, with surprises from defensive end Jihad Ward, linebacker Oshane Ximines and strong safety Julian Love. The defense believes and trusts in Martindale's schemes and has shown it can hang with anyone, no matter who in Blue is starting.
The most impressive thing about the Giants' 4-1 start is that this team is winning without three defensive stars from last year, as well as injuries to stars Leonard Williams and Kenny Golladay, cornerback Aaron Robinson, 2021 first-rounder Kadarius Toney, 2021 second-rounder Azeez Ojulari, 2022 second-rounder Wan'dale Robinson and NFL veteran Sterling Shepard. Guys are coming out of the woodwork and stepping up for the G-Men, which is just a testament to how well-coached and united this team really is. Poorly built teams don't win games with third- and fourth-stringers playing the majority of the snaps on Sundays. But there are always teams with that "next man up" mentality that stir up the league year in and year out. Those are well-built teams, and the New York Giants are one of those teams right now.
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