According to the players on the field, the energy at New York Giants practice is much “different” this year.
First-year head coach Brian Daboll, who previously served as offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, is already putting his stamp on his new team. The Giants held their first voluntary minicamp last week, and the social media team released a one-minute highlight reel of Daboll wired for sound at practice.
In the short video, Daboll playfully interacts with some of the team’s biggest stars. He tells defensive lineman Leonard Williams that he’s “got leverage” on him, warns cornerback Adoree’ Jackson about his ability to hurdle him in the flat, and even brags about his music playlist to quarterback Daniel Jones. The jury’s still out on whether Daboll will win more games than his immediate predecessors, but at least the Giants know they’ve got a head coach with a decent sense of humor.
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In between cracking jokes, Daboll is praising and motivating his players to be great on the practice field.
“Come on, another great day now 2-6,” Daboll says to running back Saquon Barkley in the video. “You wanna be great, you gotta work at it, right?”
“I’ve seen your max performance clips,” Daboll then says to defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence. “So I got high, high expectations.”
The positive reinforcement on the practice field must be having an impact on the players, because multiple Giants spoke on the healthy energy their new coach — who they call “Dabes” — provided last week.
“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,” wide receiver Kenny Golladay said of Daboll, per the New York Post. “He put his own twist on things, a lot of things. There’s a lot of energy going on in the building. People [are] are staying longer. I feel like we’re more together in a little but of time.”
You wouldn’t get that sense of togetherness just by reading the latest headlines regarding wide receiver Kadarius Toney, but Barkley agreed with Golladay’s assessment.
“When I came back to meet the coaches and just get familiar with everyone, you could just feel the energy was different,” Barkley said, per the Post. “It’s going to be an exciting year. Obviously, we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Third-year safety Xavier McKinney went a little further in his analysis of Daboll’s still-budding culture in New York, comparing it to the one previous head coach Joe Judge tried to instill over the past two seasons.
“The communication part of it, it’s not so uptight, how it was before,” McKinney said on the New York Post’s “Blue Rush” podcast. “You can be yourself, you can be you. When we come in here, we always come in here to work but it’s just fun, everybody being who they are and we’re having fun with it.”
Joe Judge Earned Similar Praise Early On
Before you start counting Daboll’s future Super Bowls with the Giants, think back to two years ago when Judge took over for Pat Shurmur as the team’s head coach. Remember his first press conference? Fans and media alike praised him for the blue-collar mentality he promised his team would adopt.
The players seemed to like him, too, despite the extra conditioning. Remember when he jumped in the wet football drill as his players cheered him on? (The Giants have since deleted this video off Twitter, but it’s still out there floating around.)
Judge ended up going 10-23 and was fired after two seasons, just like the coach before him (Shurmur) and the coach before him (Ben McAdoo). Actually, McAdoo was fired before two full seasons, but really who’s counting at this point?
A lot of Giants fans want to see some winning before they go celebrating the “energy” of another new head coach in New York.
New Regime’s First Big Test Comes on Thursday
Daboll and, more importantly, new general manager Joe Schoen will face their first big test with the Giants during the NFL Draft this week. They’re armed with two top-10 picks (No. 5 and No. 7) in the first round and seven more picks on Days 2 and 3.
Not to overlook what they’ve already done in free agency, but the draft is where you find the long-term building blocks for an NFL franchise. Some positional needs they’re likely to address in this year’s draft are offensive line, pass rush, defensive back and potentially wide receiver.
You can watch the 2022 NFL Draft on ESPN and NFL Network starting at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday.