Giants aren’t afraid of failure: Brian Daboll’s coaching mentality has New York undefeated
12: 00 PM ET
Jordan RaananESPN Staff Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Leading 19-16, the New York Giants could have very easily handed the ball to running back Saquon Barkley on third-and-6 from their own 40-yard line with 1: 50 remaining. Force the Carolina Panthers to use their final timeout, punt the ball and rely on a defense that has played so well the first two weeks.
Not this Giants. Brian Daboll is the head coach.
Daboll instead called for quarterback Daniel Jones to roll out on a bootleg. He had two options: throw to Barkley in his right flat or tuck it under his arm and run. He chose the latter, and Jones gained 11 yards on the play to pick up a first down. Game, set and match for the Giants for the second consecutive week to begin Daboll’s head coaching career, as New York beat Carolina 19-16 in its home opener on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Jones stated that it was a great decision in a situation such as that.
Two weeks ago, the Giants made two statements about the type of team they are. They were unapologetic but imperfect and are finally producing better results. They are the only NFC East 2-0 team entering Monday.
” I think it’s important for players to know that you believe in them,” stated Daboll. He also called for a 2-point conversion in order to win the game in Tennessee last week. They work their asses off throughout the week. They’ve been working their asses off at camp. They are the ones who will be out there on Sunday and you have to give it to them when it matters most. And that’s what [offensive coordinator Mike] Kafka did with Daniel, and Daniel made the right decision.”
This isn’t just an offensive philosophy that Daboll brought with him from the Buffalo Bills. He’s trying to implement this organizational attitude. This is the same approach that the Giants are using to bring in special teams and defense.
It has the defense — which has allowed 36 points in two games — thriving in coordinator Wink Martindale’s new scheme, even without its top two pass-rushers. Outside linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) and Azeez Ojulari (calf) both missed their second consecutive game, and defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee) left Sunday in the third quarter.
It didn’t matter. The Giants’ aggressive defense refuses to be scared. It blitzed in the biggest spot of the game while dropping outside linebackers Oshane Ximines and Jihad Ward in coverage. Safety Julian Love, who had half a sack in his first three professional seasons, sacked Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield on third down with just under three minutes remaining. Carolina never got the ball back.
“Wink has been doing this for a long time. Daboll stated that Wink is not afraid to fail. “That is what we want for the entire organization. We don’t want to be afraid or worried about the consequences. You can live with the results if you prepare well. And I’ll say that over and over again.”
The results so far have been encouraging. The 2-0 Giants are winning games that fans are used to seeing them lose in recent decades. It took until Week 10 of last season for them to win their second game. They won their second game by mid-September this year.
Martindale’s defense has now made stops late in the game in consecutive weeks to preserve victories. The Giants hadn’t won consecutive games decided by three points or fewer since Weeks 1 and 2 in the 2016 season.
“The guys on our team don’t fear failure. We’ve been there. So we experienced all that,” safety Xavier McKinney said. “We don’t worry about making mistakes. Sometimes we hear the boos. It’s not something we are too worried about. We’re going to have a breakthrough at some point.”
This just might be that breakthrough.
” I don’t know, but I guess,” McKinney stated. “We’re 2-0. We have to keep working. I’ve learned in this league things can go south pretty fast.”
But they’re trending in the right direction now, and it is clear the Giants are embracing this new approach. It undoubtedly is different from last year, when former coach Joe Judge called a QB sneak on third-and-9 from inside his own 5-yard line in Week 18.
Daboll, on the other hand, went for victory late in his second career match.
“That pumps up the team, obviously, when the coach believes in you,” offensive tackle Andrew Thomas said. “It’s good for morale.”
In this case, it appears to be good for the Giants’ present and future. Their coach believes in them and they believe in their coach’s new methods.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.