Giants At Vikings Is Like A ‘Blue-Collar Guy Going Against Harry Styles’

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The New York Giants are something of a stat geek’s worst nightmare because so many of their numbers scream they shouldn’t be this successful.

Coach Brian Daboll’s team has been outgained on the ground. And outgained through air.

The Giants have scored 287 points. And allowed 312.

This Giants came into this season unsure about their quarterback, balancing a salary cap that often threatened to be in the red, and lacking talent at receiver and the secondary — where most teams stockpile playmakers to compete in a passing league.

And despite all that suggests the Giants should stink, they’re on the verge of playoff berth.

If they win two of their final three games against Minnesota, Indianapolis and Philadelphia, the Giants will clinch their first playoff spot since 2016 and only their second postseason trip in 11 years.

The Giants can even clinch a postseason spot this weekend if they beat the Vikings and two of three teams — Seattle, Washington and Detroit — lose their games.

Brian Daboll wants Giants players to think.
New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll interacts on the sidelines during the NFL game between New York Giants and Green Bay Packers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 09. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Giants Brian Daboll Majors On Winning

Whatchya think about that coach Daboll?

“I think we’re getting ready to try to win this game,” Daboll said. “That’s about it.”

And there, in that serious, almost stoic answer that makes no room to fluff or distraction, is one reason the under-manned, incomplete, franchise quarterback-lacking, bigtime-receiver-needing Giants are 8-5-1.

Because they ignore — at least publicly — everything they are not and have not while majoring on the things that help them win.

An example:

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is having perhaps his finest season, which has included consecutive 400-yard passing games.

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has eclipsed 400 yards passing only once in his four-year career. And this season he’s gone over 300 yards just once. Jones, in fact, has been under the 200-yard passing mark nine times this year.

And, yet, the Giants are 6-3 in those games.

Giants QB Daniel Jones is avoid turnovers.
Daniel Jones of the New York Giants focused on not making mistakes. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Daniel Jones Learns Not To Hurt The Giants

“I think I have gotten a better idea of what wins in the NFL,” Jones said this week. “I think it has a lot to do with taking care of the ball and staying in good situations for the offense and executing on critical downs and scoring in the red zone.”

That is a grown man answer. It practically ignores numbers that set a stat sheet aglow while concentrating on what improves a team in the standings.

But the idea that it took the hiring of Daboll and his staff this year to drive that point home for Jones is astounding. Like, what were Joe Judge and Pat Shumur doing all those seasons?

Jones has become a good game manager this season. That’s not enough to make him the team’s future, but is definitely good enough for now. And the way Jones has accomplished this is by avoiding screw-ups.

Jones threw double-digit interceptions each of his first three seasons. But this season he’s only thrown 4. And the same quarterback who fumbled 11 times as a rookie has limited those to 4 fumbles this year.

“Protecting the ball is a big part of the game at this position,” Jones said. “So, I’ll try to keep doing that as well as I can.”

Giants running back Saquon Barkley is fourth in rushing.
Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants carries the ball during the game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

Saquon Barkley Is Giants Premier Playmaker

This sounds boring and it probably is compared to feats we regularly see from Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. But Daboll was given this flawed team with this flawed quarterback and found a way squeeze winning ball out them.

“We try to do things that accentuate his strengths,” Daboll said of Jones. “He’s done a good job of operating and executing our offense.”

Daboll has made not losing a significant part of how the Giants win. That means the Giants don’t beat themselves. Their 13 giveaways are tied with the Eagles for the fewest in the league.

Running back Saquon Barkley is easily New York’s most accomplished playmaker. His 1,170 rushing yards is fourth in the NFL. But Barkley delivers that high production with limited risk.

He has fumbled once on 316 touches this season.

Barkley, by the way, doesn’t focus on the idea the Giants lack talent or are incomplete.

“Yeah, you don’t really come to the season or any part of the week where you’re like, ‘Oh, we’re not
good enough,’ or, ‘Oh, this is not going to happen.’ ” Barkley said.

The Giants nonetheless understand this is Year 1 of a rebuild and better days are ahead. But in the meantime they’re comfortable competing against teams with seemingly more talent.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale made that point perfectly this week in drawing an analogy between himself and Vikings coach and offensive play-caller Kevin O’Connell.

“Kevin does a great job calling the offense,” Martindale said. “I said it’s unfair: I’m the blue-collar guy
going against Harry Styles.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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