Spin Cycle: What’s different about the 2022-23 Giants? 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talks to New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll after an NFL football game at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. Giants won 27-22. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

The New York Giants are 5-1 through their first six games of the 2022-23 NFL regular season. It’s a turnaround that many — not even Giants fans — were expecting, as the team finished last season with a pedestrian 4-13 record and has only made the postseason one time since winning Super Bowl XLVI in 2011. This start is their best since 2009, having already compiled three victories in games which they trailed by 10+ points. That number is tied for the most in a single season in franchise history. The other three seasons that the team won three such games were in 2016 (last playoff appearance), 2011 (won Super Bowl XLVI), and 2007 (won Super Bowl XLII). So what changed? 

The most notable difference between this year’s Giants and the teams from the past several seasons is the insertion of Brian Daboll at the team’s head coaching position. The franchise has desperately needed to find a staple at the head coach position after grinding through seasons of mediocrity under the jurisdictions of Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge, and it appears that Daboll can fill that role. Prior to this season, he coached for the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills for 21 seasons and was most recently with the Bills as their offensive coordinator. With his guidance, Buffalo was able to grow their offense into a dynamic, all-around unit that could score points at will. He was a key component in the development of quarterback Josh Allen, a perennial MVP-candidate and one of the most talented players at the position. Daboll has never been a head coach before, but New York saw enough potential in him to hand him the keys to the franchise. 

The plan that Daboll brought to the table in the spring has worked tremendously in the early-goings of the new campaign: work on today, no big-picture thoughts. Stress mental and physical improvement ahead of win-loss results. The result has been a clear revitalization of energy on the field, something that the franchise had been lacking as they anchored near the bottom of the NFC East standings in the past. While his team rarely is the best team in the first quarter or the second quarter, by the end of the four quarters, the Giants have been the team with more points. That’s a testament to Daboll’s ability to analyze the game on the sidelines and make the necessary adjustments in the locker room in order to give his team the best opportunity to win. While he’s energetic, compassionate, and electrifying to watch coach on the sideline, he’s also poised, controlled and respectful in front of the media. It’s the type of energy that has been lacking in New York’s locker room. In fact, the energy amongst the players and around the team’s facility has already escalated so much that players that have been with the team through their years of uninspiring play have taken notice. 

“I think his approach has been great,’’ safety and one of the longest-tenured Giants, Julian Love, told reporters. “I’ve told that to him. When we win games, when we lose games, it stays constant. His mindset and his mentality and his approach to us stays really constant. There [are no] super high-highs when you win or super low-lows when you lose. I told him ‘Man, that’s an approach I haven’t seen in recent years.’” 

In addition to the magic associated with Daboll’s presence, New York’s players themselves have taken a tremendous leap in helping them achieve success. The team has stepped up to make game-changing plays time and time again this season, another aspect of their attack that has been lacking in the past. On Sunday, it looked as though the Giants would have a hard-fought loss against the Ravens. Then, in the span of eight plays – starting with a third down conversion nullified by penalty, and finishing with Kayvon Thibodeaux’s strip-sack — the Giants went from having a 17% chance of winning to a 99% chance of winning. This comes on the heels of a giant play in the team’s Week 5 win over Green Bay, when the defense blitzed quarterback Aaron Rodgers on a fourth-down play that would have sent the game to overtime if the Packers had scored. The pass was batted down by defensive back Xavier McKinney. 

The Giants are blitzing 40% of the time this season, which ranks second in the league, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. One player in particular that has benefited tremendously from New York’s aggressive approach has been defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence. According to SBNation, “He is currently 10th in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate among defensive tackles, just behind Christian Wilkins and Kenny Clark with a 16 percent win rate. NFL NextGenStats is even higher on Lawrence, crediting him with the fifth-highest pressure rate among defensive tackles at 12.1%. While players like Chris Jones and Aaron Donald might beat blockers faster than Lawrence, he’s one of the best at applying pressure once he does get past blockers. Lawrence is quickly becoming a game-wrecker, and his pressure helps make the rest of the Giants’ pressure packages go.” 

The Giants are good. They’ll be a good team for the remainder of this season. They’ve proven through six games that they have acquired a new identity, led by new head coach Brian Daboll and his system of accountability. Big-plays and consistent contributions are what have kept New York chugging along in the early going and has been amongst the most notable differences between this year’s squad and last’s. The NFL is more fun when the Giants are competitive, and it sure seems that they are. 

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