It was a tremendous achievement for this 2022 NY Giants team to make the playoffs in a rebuilding year. It still is a rebuilding year. That the Giants were somehow competitive despite so many obstacles in their way is a harbinger of the legacy that this franchise will inherit in coming years. You have heard it a number of times by now… “The Giants are making their first playoff appearance in 6 years.” The comparison to 2016 could not be any more stark. It really is no comparison at all. Let’s have a closer look.
2016 was Jerry Reese’s ultimatum year. Coughlin was gone. Reese had overseen the corrosion of the franchise (which we chronicled in many blog posts over that period). He had a directive to fix it fast- and the wallet opened up in a way Giants fans had never seen before. Olivier Vernon. Snacks Harrison. Janoris Jenkins. Unfortunately it ended with a one and done in not only an abbreviated playoff appearance but also a failed 2017 season.
2022 was a direct contrast to 2016, 2018 and 2021. Joe Schoen, the new GM, took the cap pain with discipline. If 2016 was profligate, 2022 was thrifty. The NY Giants have more flexibility in 2023 and 2024 while the 2017 and 2018 Giants were left hamstrung.
After 2017, the coach was gone. The GM was gone. Going into 2023, Daboll is Coach of the Year, if not in name. Schoen has done it right and is firmly in control of a budding franchise on the rise.
In 2016, the Offense finished the season running on fumes. In 2022, The Offense has found its franchise QB and has overachieved despite lacking any true starters at Wide Receiver (and multiple positions on the OL).
Dave Gettleman has left the NY Giants with at least a few key players. For the first time since 2012 (TEN YEARS!) the GMen finally have an Offensive Lineman going to the Pro Bowl. Andrew Thomas is the first OLman since Chris Snee to get that nod. For Thomas’s part, he is All Pro in our eyes, whether he gets that elite honor in name or not. This is significant. 2016’s Offensive Line was trouble; 2022 is headed in the right direction. If Evan Neal can continue to improve, the Giants could have bookend Tackles, which solidifies EDGE protection for Jones.
2016 vs 2022. McAdoo vs Daboll. No comparison. Some will point out that McAdoo was firmly in control in 2016, yet in 2017 McAdoo had already lost the respect of players and the locker room.
- 2016 Built for Today 2022 Built for Tomorrow
- 2016 Leveraged Cap 2022 Disciplined Cap
- 2016 No Offensive Line 2022 All Pro Left Tackle
- 2016 QB Sunset 2022 QB with a Future
- 2016 Head Coach? 2022 Head Coach!
- 2016 Free Agent Players 2022 Rookies and Youth
- 2016 Desperate GM 2022 Patient GM
- 2016 Import Players 2022 Develop Players
Player Development in 2022 is huge. Dan Schneier of the Big Blue Banter podcast is this blogger’s first source for film breakdown. I have a day job and frankly do not even have all the time to listen to 1.5 – 2 hour breakdowns of the offense AND defense (3-4 hours!) each week. Yet I listen to Dan and Nick Falato as much as I can. I am going repaste their Twitter thread of the breakdown of Daniel Jones’s player development this year:
Most of the Daboll COTY talk focuses on his roster maximization. Gettleman left him with more than 25% of his cap allocated to players off the roster or not playing. AND he burned multiple 1st-round picks (Baker, Toney). But I want to focus on his actual coaching. The key to Daboll’s success has been his (w/ help of Kafka/Tierney) development of DJ. We’ll get to that. But his decision in Week 1 to go for the win (2-pt conversion call) was momentous. The #Giants hadn’t had a winning record at any point since 2016 before that W.
Daboll’s development w/ DJ stands tallest. It starts w/ Daboll’s recognition of DJ’s biggest weakness on tape and his solution for it. What did he recognize? In the past systems, DJ had a tendency to sit in the pocket and lock into reads, often waiting for a WR to get open. This tendency led to sacks, forced fumbles, late throws that got tipped and at times intercepted and not a lot of successful plays. So the first thing Daboll did was hammer home: if you don’t like what you see, check the B gap and if it’s open take it (as a runner).
As @BenjaminSolak did a great job pointing out earlier, EPA on “scrambles (non-designed runs)” is higher than just about anything else. So Daboll took away the long waiting periods in the pocket that led to sacks & turnovers and morphed them into scramble runs. That’s not all. There was a focus in camp on drills that required DJ to move his feet, leave the pocket & keep his eyes down the field. The latter is key here. It’s impossible to watch DJ film this year and not notice a massive jump in his ability to create plays off platform with his ARM.
The biggest difference is that DJ is now keeping his eyes down field the entire time on the move + not moving at 100%. He patiently moves out of the pocket (mostly right, he’s righty), keeps his eyes downfield and allows things to develop. And it’s no coincidence that #Giants WRs have developed a plan now for when DJ is on the move. Darius Slayton talked about this w Art Stapleton. Each WR has his own plan for scramble plays and DJ and his WRs are perfectly in sync with this plan. That hasn’t been the case at any point from 2019-2021 under two diff coaches. It showed up almost immediately under Daboll. Those are the main areas Daboll has developed DJ but not the only ones so here are a few more…
– Less burping the baby (Andy here, patting the ball, inefficient waste of time in delivery) (specifically as of late)
– Better footwork (he used to have a drifting issue in the pocket under pressure, now he steps through and either runs or flows right)
– Faster eyes post snap (DJ confirming the safety & second level defenders)
Overall, the job Daboll and staff have done revamping a QB’s game in Year 4 is in a lot of ways unprecedented. The improvement he helped DJ make w/ pocket manipulation and off script play success are enough alone for me, but taking this #Giants roster to the playoffs is it.
If you enjoyed this thread, please consider checking out the Big Blue Banter #Giants podcast and YouTube show. You’ll find Xs and Os film based analysis from myself and@DanSchneierNFL
… Needed to promote Dan’s link to his podcast in return for quoting that fantastic thread on Jones’s development here in 2022. It is not just Jones, obviously. I just love what Andre Patterson has done with helping Dexter Lawrence get to the next level this season. Back in 2019, our Draft Analyst loved Dexter Lawrence out of the Draft:
Immovable object. Will be special in the NFL. The quintessential NT. Ran a 5.00 weighing 340 lbs. Unbelievably quick for someone of that size. Great footwork and agility. Despite size, can push pocket and rush the passer up the middle. If you run a 3-4 and have trouble stopping the run, this is your guy. Will immediately change the feel of your whole defense. No telling his potential if he hits weight room, loses 20 lbs, and gets experience with his hands. If the Giants can trade for Rosen, take White at 1.06 and Lawrence at 1.17, it will instantly change their team. Comparison: Bigger, stronger and faster than Haloti Ngata.Wonder 2019 NFL Draft Board
Note how Wonder wanted Lawrence under the Nose in the 1-technique. This is where Peterson is (pardon the pun) leveraging Lawrence. Dan Schneier talks incessantly about the hidden value of Lawrence in his SNAP COUNT NUMBERS. The quickness for his size is not supposed to come with that many snap counts, but this is what you get for this special player. Note also that Dan’s #1 need for the team is… LINEBACKER. And look what Wonder tagged for at 1.06- LB Devin White. As it turned out, the Bucs took White at 1.05. If the Giants can pick up a good LBer in the 2023 draft, there will be plenty of music being made between that player and the effects of Lawrence in the interior DL.
One other player I want to single out in player development in 2022 is Isaiah Hodgins. The Giants picked this guy up off of WAIVERS in November. While it certainly helps that Hodgins was from the same system in Buffalo, he plugged right in and delivered 350 yards in 8 games plus 4 TDs. All for the low price of $800K/yr. Golladay cost $18M/yr and somehow has managed to deliver 0 TDs. Buy or develop? Once again, Dan leaves us with little doubt-
Hodgins is for real, man. His footwork for a WR his size is bordering on special. Joe Schoen said hell no to the Claypools of the trade deadline, kept all his draft picks and may have found the best in-season WR acquisition for free.
He’s a must re-sign player for me.#Giants https://t.co/2b1Z4hWEra
— Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL) January 2, 2023
The Giants were NEVER in a situation at the trade deadline to consider buying. Do you know who obtains value for buying? A team that thinks that extra piece (whether replacing an injured player or otherwise) will give them a difference-maker for WINNING a Super Bowl. This is not about becoming a viable playoff team, which by itself was no certainty for the Giants in October. This is a rebuilding year. The Giants still have holes in plenty of places, too many to name (see other posts this season). They are not one hole-filling away. Yet they are building for the future with a guy like Hodgins who can be a good WR on your roster. This is why 2022 is so different, and so special. It is a gateway to bigger things in 2023+. What a contrast from the 2016 spending spree. No comparison.