The Brian Daboll ‘twist’ that should give Giants fans hope
Look, a game hasn’t been played yet.
The draft isn’t until Thursday. The 2022 NFL schedule hasn’t even been released. A full practice has yet to be conducted with the purpose of defeating an upcoming opponent.
So, any bold predictions of the Giants resurrecting themselves from a malaise in which they’ve won a mere 22 games in the past five seasons and have no playoff appearance since the 2016 season should be considered pure folly.
Yet, there is reason to be cheerful if you’re a hopeful Giants fan. That reason is Brian Daboll, the newly hired head coach who might just have something special to him.
Daboll carries what has potential to be a successful blend of confidence, humility, discipline and fun. He’s the quintessential everyday man. It’s a combination that I believe will resonate inside the Giants locker room and help lead to success on the field.
Daboll is in the early days of setting a culture, putting his stamp on the team and shaping the attitudes of the returning players, many of whom are still feeling the sting of last season’s awful spiral to an embarrassing 4-13 finish.
Even a mere few weeks into Daboll’s tenure, his players are getting a sense for the stamp he’s putting on the program. And, by a number of accounts, they like it.
One word kept coming up on Wednesday, the second day of the team’s voluntary offseason practice sessions, when speaking to players: energy.
There may not have been a team in the NFL that lacked more energy than the Giants did by the end of last season. They were a dead team walking by the time they finished the season losing their final six games.
“Speaking as far as Dabes, he comes in with a lot of energy, pretty much showing us this is not going to be the same Giants as last year,” receiver Kenny Golladay said. “He put his own twist on things, a lot of things. There’s a lot of energy going on in the building. People [are] staying longer. I feel like we’re more together in a little bit of time.”
Running back Saquon Barkley also used that word “energy,” saying he’s feeling it “in the building from everybody — from the lunch staff all of the way up to the top.”
“When I came back to meet the coaches and just get familiar with everyone, you could just feel the energy was different,” Barkley said. “It’s going to be an exciting year. Obviously, we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Energy, of course, doesn’t throw touchdown passes, make tackles, intercept passes or kick field goals. Energy can help you win games, but it doesn’t win games without players making plays. Daboll, with his keen offensive mind from him, just might be able to help the same players who failed to make enough plays last season to make them in 2022.
Daboll is big on having his players buy into his program but have ownership of it as their own.
“I think that’s part of leadership — building something that the guys can be proud of, take ownership, then finding ways to unite them as their head coach … finding different ways to inspire ’em,” he said.
Daboll is a chemistry builder. He’ll invite players over to his house for a barbeque, a swim in the pool or a beer in the hot tub. He’ll have them out for a basketball or hockey game.
“I think that’s important — off-field relationships,” he said. “They don’t have to be best of friends, but it helps because you have each other’s back when you do. When things are tough — they’ll get tough [because] they always do in this league — you can lean on the guy next to you when you are having a tough time. You know that guy has got your back. That’s important.”
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams, in a short time, has absorbed that message and he likes what he’s heard. Williams, who spent four-and-a-half seasons losing with the Jets before he was traded to the Giants in 2019 and continued to lose, is also accustomed to change.
“Sometimes change is good,” Williams said. “At the same time, it’s not the rebuilding that I’m sick of, it’s the losing that I’m sick of. I’m ready to win. I’m going into year eight and I haven’t even been to a single playoff game yet. This game doesn’t last forever. It goes by very fast.”
Daboll is a players’ coach, but no pushover. He called being the head coach of the Giants “a dream come true,” adding that he’ll “try to lead ’em the best way that I can.”
Even though no one’s keeping score yet, he appears to be off to a good start.