‘The season starts now’ – Brian Daboll’s message of urgency for NY Giants hits right tone
EAST RUTHERFORD – Brian Daboll welcomed the New York Giants back from their post-Thanksgiving break and offered what rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux promised was a message for his team that resonated.
“The season starts now,” Thibodeaux said, recalling what Daboll told the team as the Giants returned to their training facility after a three-day weekend. “Everything we’ve done has put us in position to go for it all. So, we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. But it is a big task at hand that we have.”
In his first season as head coach, Daboll has centered his philosophy on certain tenets as the foundation to what he and general manager Joe Schoen are trying to build here with the Giants.
Maintaining a standard of consistency and preparation has Big Blue sitting with a 7-4 record and smack dab in the middle of the NFC playoff race. But as the calendar flips to December this Sunday and Washington visits MetLife Stadium for the first of six pivotal games to close this season, Daboll reminded his players of the urgency required to get to where they want to go – echoing comments he made the day after the Giants fell 28-20 to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
“The whole season obviously is in front of you right now. We have a long way to go,” Daboll said. “Obviously, the rest of December here and the early part of January. So, we have to focus on getting ready to play Washington, but you’re sitting at 7-4. You put yourself in a position to play meaningful games in December, which is important.”
The Giants are in the hunt as they prepare for a stretch run that will certainly be challenging, given the fact that five of their final six games are against opponents currently in the playoffs.
Stay consistent, Daboll says, but a young team that has lost three of its last four must embrace the urgency of the moment and with appreciation for what’s at stake.
“We’ve just got to be playing consistent football and everybody has to be on the same page,” Giants offensive lineman Nick Gates said. “First off, we’ve got to start by going 1-0 against Washington and winning this game this week. That’s where our focus is for the week, and we’ve just got to play good football. Definitely nice to play meaningful football in December. It’s the first time that’s happened in my career, so it’s definitely nice. It makes it mean something to you.”
The NFC East is a combined 32-13, which is tops in the NFL.
Two seasons ago, after Week 12, the NFC East was a combined 14-29. Last year, they were 21-24.
If the season ended today, the entire NFC East would be in playoffs with the Eagles as the division champ and the No. 1 seed in the conference, and the Cowboys, Giants and Commanders holding the three wild card spots.
The Eagles (10-1) and Cowboys (8-3) appear headed for a collision at the top of the NFC East, while the Commanders are nipping at the Giants’ heels. The Giants host Washington (7-5) and Philadelphia in their next two games before heading to Washington, and those three games – especially the two with the Commanders – will go a long way toward determining their playoff fate.
The Giants could get as many as seven starters back in the lineup from injury, including right tackle Evan Neal and tight end Daniel Bellinger. Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, guard Ben Bredeson and safety Tony Jefferson were designated to return from injured reserve, and all three will be on the practice field Tuesday.
Center Jon Feliciano (neck) and cornerback Fabian Moreau (oblique) also have a chance to work their way back into the lineup.
“I don’t think our swagger is gone,” Thibodeaux said. “I don’t think anything about who we are and our character is gone. I just feel like it’s going to take more confidence for a lot of guys who have to step up, and take on these bigger roles.“
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