EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — With a 19-16 lead, the New York Giants could have handed the ball very easily to running back Saquon Barkley in third and sixth from their own 40-yard line with 1:50 left. Force the Carolina Panthers to use their last time out to pot the ball and rely on a defense that has played so well the first two weeks.
Not these giants. Not with Brian Daboll as head coach.
Daboll instead called on quarterback Daniel Jones to roll on a bootleg. He could either throw Barkley in the right apartment or pocket it and run himself. He chose the latter, and Jones gained 11 yards in the game for a first down. Game, set and match for the Giants for the second straight week to begin Daboll’s head coaching career as New York beat Carolina 19-16 in their home opener at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
“I think it was a great decision in a situation like that,” Jones said.
Two weeks, two statements from the Giants about what kind of team they are — an uncompromising but imperfect group that’s finally getting better results. It might not have been pretty, but they are the only 2-0 team in the NFC East going into Monday.
“I think it’s important to show the players that they’re trusted,” said Daboll, who also claimed a 2-point conversion to challenge for the win late last week in Tennessee. “They work their ass off during the week. They worked their ass off during camp. They’re the ones out there playing on Sundays and you have to put it in their hands when it matters most. And that’s what [offensive coordinator Mike] Kafka did it with Daniel, and Daniel made the right decision.”
It’s not just an offensive philosophy Daboll brought with him from the Buffalo Bills. It is an organizational attitude that he is working to install. It’s the same approach the Giants are taking to defensive and special teams.
The defense – which has conceded 36 points in two games – is thriving in coordinator Wink Martindale’s new scheme, even without the top two pass rushers. Full-backs Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) and Azeez Ojulari (calf) both missed their second straight games, and defender Leonard Williams (knee) left the team in Sunday’s third quarter.
It does not matter. The Giants’ aggressive defense refuses to play fear. It flashed at the biggest point of the game while full-backs Oshane Ximines and Jihad Ward took cover. Safety Julian Love, who had a half-sack in his first three pro seasons, sacked Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield in third with just under three minutes to go. Carolina never got the ball back.
“Wink has been doing this for a long time. Wink is not afraid of failure,” said Daboll. “That’s really what we want from the whole organization, which is not to be afraid of failure, not to be afraid of the consequences. If you prepare properly, you can live with the results. And I say that over and over again.”
The results so far are encouraging. The 2-0 Giants are winning the kind of games fans have gotten so used to seeing them lose over the past few years. It wasn’t until week 10 of last season that they won their second game. This year they made it to mid-September.
The Martindale defense has stopped late in the game to preserve victories for consecutive weeks now. The Giants had not won a consecutive game decided by three points or fewer since Weeks 1 and 2 of the 2016 season.
“Yes, the guys we have on our team are not afraid of failure. We were at the bottom. So we experienced all that,” said safety Xavier McKinney. “We’re not afraid to screw it up. Sometimes we hear the boos. We’re not too concerned about that. At some point we will have a breakthrough.”
This could be the breakthrough.
“I don’t know, I guess,” McKinney said. “We’re 2-0 up. We have to keep working. I’ve learned that things can go wrong pretty quickly in this league.”
But they’re trending in the right direction now, and it’s clear the Giants are embracing this new approach. It’s certainly different from last year when former coach Joe Judge called a QB sneak in third and ninth place inside his own five-yard line in Week 18.
Daboll, on the other hand, was late in striving for victory in his second career game.
“Of course that drives the team when the coach believes in you,” said offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. “It’s good for morale.”
In this case, it seems good for the Giants’ present and future. Their coach believes in them, and they seem to believe in their coach’s new ways.
https://www.espn.com/blog/new-york-giants/post/_/id/63981/the-giants-arent-afraid-of-failure-brian-dabolls-coaching-mentality-has-new-york-undefeated The Giants aren’t afraid of failure: Brian Daboll’s coaching mentality has New York undefeated – New York Giants Blog