Jake Ruderman ’26
The New York Giants’ miraculous turnaround season ended last weekend, with their 38-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The 14-3 Eagles, the NFC’s #1 seed this year, dominated the Giants in every facet of the way, halting their offense with an elite pass rush, forcing Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones into uncomfortable positions, and running all over the Giants defense to the tune of 268 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. However, despite its tough end, this Giants season was a huge success on every single account. Rookie head coach Brian Daboll took over last offseason and absolutely transformed the narrative around this team, turning a lackluster roster with an incompetent coaching staff into one of the most efficient, well-coached teams in the entire league. Daboll’s development particularly of Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones played a key role in their success, as Jones received above-average coaching for the first time in his career and got the opportunity to prove himself, ultimately leading the Giants to a road playoff upset over the #2 seed Minnesota Vikings. Jones, the #6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, was touted as a high-ceiling, low-floor, very raw prospect.
Throughout the first three seasons of his career, Jones had largely been a disappointment, leading the Giants to a 12-25 record amidst two incapable head coaches. Jones’ main flaw, other than the overwhelming lack of offensive success, was his high propensity for turnovers. Jones led the league with 19 fumbles during his rookie season, despite only playing in 12 games. Add onto that his 12 interceptions, and the Giants found themselves with a quarterback who turned the ball over nearly three times a game. And, this remained a struggle for the next two seasons of his career, as Jones tallied 17 more of both fumbles and interceptions over the course of his next 25 games. The fact of the matter was that Daniel Jones had serious potential, but was squandering his career with turnover-prone ball amidst an unsuccessful offense. Daboll solved all of these problems and then some, turning Daniel Jones into a legitimate playoff quarterback. Under Daboll’s new system, Jones dropped his turnover numbers to only 5 interceptions and 6 fumbles, less than one total turnover per game. Daboll put Jones in the right positions on offense, not asking him to do more than he was capable of, and his complex utilization of receivers and tight-ends left someone open on nearly every single pass attempt. And, Jones proved he was capable of finding the open man, or even scrambling himself, which became his deadliest move.
Through the first three seasons of his career, Jones was known as a capable runner, but not a very skilled one, reinforced by the infamous play where Jones tripped over himself and fell on what would’ve been an uncontested touchdown run. Before this season, Jones had exactly 1,000 career rushing yards and five career rushing touchdowns; this season alone Jones had 708 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns, including 57 scrambles for a first down, more than the 54 he had in his entire previous career combined. Daboll unlocked Jones’ ability to scramble for a positive play if his targets weren’t open, and even implemented designed quarterback runs into the Giants’ offense. This fit the Giants’ scheme perfectly, as they squeezed every ounce out of their low-talent roster, grinding out challenging games and outlasting their opponents with a strong rushing attack and solid defense. Jones led four separate game winning drives late in the fourth quarter, as the Giants won 8 out of 12 games decided by one score or less. This gritty style forced teams to slog through long, methodical possessions, as the Giants slowly marched down the field, making the short, but correct, play. The Giants would then capitalize on their opponents’ impatience, usually forcing a turnover or three-and-out, then wasting minutes of clock once they got the ball back; a true recipe for success.
This Giants team still has lots of questions to answer; arguably their four most important offensive players are all free agents: quarterback Daniel Jones, star running back Saquon Barkley, and wide receivers Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard; their roster is still widely lacking in talent and depth, and the NFC East looks to be one of the most dominant divisions in the whole NFL, after sending three teams to the playoffs this season, with no free division wins to be had. How the Giants choose to build off of this season’s success will determine the future of this Giants team for years to come. But the building blocks are there, and the head coach has proven he’s legit. Now it’s time to sit back and see if the Giants can truly become one of the NFL’s contenders yet again.
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