The 1980 Ray Perkins Giants finished fifth and last in the NFC East with a 4-12 record. But the 1981 9-7 Ray Perkins Giants ended an 18-year drought and beat the defending champion Eagles in a wild card match.
It helped that General Manager George Young was fortunate enough to use the second overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft over Lawrence Taylor.
Joe Schoen’s Giants have a huge talent gap to close with the Eagles (and 49ers and Cowboys), and LT doesn’t walk through the big blue door.
But it’s no more of an impossible dream than the 2022 Giants reaching the playoffs with a new system after reaching the Rock Bottom in 2021. Not in this weird week-to-week, year-to-year NFL. Ask Trevor Lawrence Jaguar. And ask all the teams who can empathize with Humpty Dumpty and his mighty downfall: ask the Rams’ Sean McVay. Ask Aaron Rodgers of the Packers. Ask the Cardinals’ Cliff Kingsbury. Ask Mike Vrabel of the Titans.
So how did Joe Schoen and Brian Dabul bridge the gap?
He always starts with the midfielder. You either have someone who can get you to the Super Bowl or you don’t. Daboll has worked with Daniel Jones, but realizes he’s not Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Galen Hurts, or whatever Trevor Lawrence is destined to be – and sooner rather than later.
But look, Brock Purdy has 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The lesson here is that if you surround your quarterback with enough playmakers and protectors, you give him and yourself a chance.
Purdy undoubtedly feels like a kid in a candy store and one project and one free agency isn’t going to enable Jones to feel that way, of course. But the Giants would pay him to take another leap forward toward Eli Manning’s Eliteville, NJ residence in his second year in the Daboll system. Wan’Dale Robinson’s return, Isaiah Hodgins’ revelation development and right tackle Evan Neal will help.
It was not lost on Schoen that the Eagles threw money and resources into ditches on both sides of the ball, and he began to follow this model in his first draft (Kayvon Thibodeau, Neal, offensive linemen in the third and fifth rounds and a defensive lineman in the fifth round). Yes, the Giants need inside linebackers to help Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams (pay cut) stop runaways, but trench warfare has a premium on the Eagles, Cowboys, and Chiefs, too.
Get Danny Dollars A Go-to-Guy
Schoen volunteered that there are No. 1 receivers in the house right now dismissing the fact that Ja’Marr Chase (Bengals), AJ Brown (Eagles), and Deebo Samuel (49ers) are still alive for a Super Bowl berth. Mahomes Tel Terek lost to the Dolphins but it was Mahomes.
If the Giants were one player away, a DeAndre Hopkins deal would make sense, but he’ll be 31, and the Giants aren’t one player away. Stefon Diggs was 26 years old when Brandon Bean traded his former boss Schoen for him.
The Giants draft with No. 25 and can find a No. 1 receiver there (see Justin Jefferson, 22nd pick, 2020), or perhaps with the No. 57 pick in the second round (see Browns, see Depo). Schoen, who is committed to building through enlistment rather than turning into a drunken sailor in free agency, has nine draft picks — four of the first 100.
Find a way to keep Saquon Barkley. He helps Jones the way Christian McCaffrey helps Purdy. Jones called him the best running back in the league.
“I appreciate that,” Barkley told the newspaper. “It’s a numbing compliment when it comes out of a guy like that, when that comes out of his mouth. And (smile)… I agree with him a bit.”
Everyone in and around 1925 wants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to get the dribbling head coaching job and simultaneously hopes and demands his return. Make him an offer he can’t refuse if the pressure is delayed. And even if it doesn’t.
Smart, Touch and Dependaboll
In the summer of 1999, after the devastating 1998 AFC Championship loss in Denver, the Bill Parcells Jets coaching staff wore T-shirts that read START OVER. It was a reminder that just because the 1998 Jets were so close to the Super Bowl, the 1999 team accomplished nothing and should not take anything for granted. Vinny Testaverde was tearing his Achilles in the opener and that was that.
Brilliantly invigorating and unifying the building, Daboll was named NFC Coach of the Year on Tuesday at the annual panel of the 101 National Media Awards. Getting approval from players suffocated in the strangling grip of loss syndrome was beyond John Mara’s wildest dreams.
When training camp opens for 2023, Daboll will need to get the same involvement he did with a rookie HC squad from a freshman squad with a host of fresh faces in the face of greater expectations. Jim Fassel was 10-5-1 and lost in a wild-card playoff as a rookie in 1997 but stumbled to 8-8 in 1998. Parcells, on the other hand, was 3-12-1 as a rookie in HC in 1983 and rebounded with a 9-7 team in 1984 that lost in the divisional round.
So no, there are never any guarantees, especially nowadays in this NFL.
But fans of Mara, Steve Tisch, and the Giants have every reason to believe their franchise is in good hands. The sight of NFC 2023 shouldn’t scare anyone. If anyone can bridge the gap to the Eagles (and 49ers and Cowboys), you’d think Schoen and Daboll could.
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