EAST RUTHERFORD – Brian Daboll would rather be coaching in a bubble this week, embracing the challenge of facing the best team in the NFL with a singular purpose of finding a way for his New York Giants to compete at their best.
If only things were that simple.
In reality, Daboll has so much more to think about, to juggle and to compartmentalize between the short-term showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at MetLife Stadium and the big picture of the Giants’ pursuit of a playoff berth, significant ramifications looming over both.
What happens over the next two weeks will likely be what defines Daboll’s first season as head coach of the Giants.
He’s suddenly being criticized for decisions in a game the Giants did not lose – they tied Washington, 20-20 – although it certainly felt that way. Two players took to social media to voice their displeasure with playing time – it’s debatable as to whether the pleas from Tae Crowder and Rodarius Williams, perceived as somewhat disgruntled, are isolated instances or a sign that there is a more significant issue brewing.
The question as the Giants (7-4-1) hit the practice field Wednesday and begin prepping for the 11-1 Eagles:
How will Daboll weather this storm?
“Well, adversity and criticism come with the territory,” Daboll said. “I’ve been in [the league], not this seat as a head coach, but as a coordinator for a long time, and it’s a popular game followed by a lot of people. And I appreciate the support. You also appreciate the negativity or criticism. If you want to be mentally tough and strong, this is the sport to be in, whether you’re a coach, whether you’re a player. And really, you can’t focus too much on that. You appreciate it. I think we’re all thankful for the support you get, but you just get back to work.”
Some coaches would have the Giants’ schedule of their remaining five games hanging in the locker room. Tom Coughlin would want his players to know the stakes of each game, and the ramifications of how those results affected their postseason and divisional chase.
Daboll’s consistent approach with his team has been lauded all season, and the leaders have followed suit.
“If you’re running any organization, it’s important that you keep a majority of people on that short-term focus, short-term goals. Then it creates a long-term effect,” Giants co-captain Julian Love said. “Yeah, right now I’m a captain; I’m a part of that group that needs to look at things going forward. That’s been going on the whole year, whether it’s scheduling stuff, and that’s just kind of generally how it is. Dabs has done a great job of keeping us focused on each week-to-week but also letting us know – I mentioned before how we quarter out a season. We’re done with really the third quarter now; we didn’t play as cleanly as we wanted to as we did in the first quarter and second quarter. So now the fourth quarter of the season, we’ve got to lock in and really get what’s in front of us.”
The Giants’ rematch against Washington has been flexed into prime time on Sunday, Dec. 18, and that will be billed as a winner-in, loser-out continuation of their overtime deadline. Before that, while Washington rests and resets on its bye, the Giants must put that on the backburner and instead focus on a game that will test them in all facets.
“There’s going to be ups and downs, and to stay mentally strong and focused on the task at hand, that’s not an easy thing to do all the time,” Daboll said. “But you need to do it. It’s a week-to-week league, so have we got the results we wanted? Absolutely not. Have we prepared, worked and done the right things to give ourselves a chance? We have. We just haven’t finished; we haven’t done enough to win those games.”
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