A GIANT Surprise

Football is officially back in the Empire State

Jack Christie

This has been an NFL season like no other, with shocking developments occurring seemingly every week. Tom Brady came out of retirement and returned to the Buccaneers, only to start 3-4 with losses to the Steelers and Panthers. The Packers are riding a three-game losing streak, all of which were games they were favored to win by at least four points. However, there has been no surprise quite like the logic-defying record of the New York Giants.

The New York Giants currently sit at 6-1 and have beaten the spread in all six wins. They hold the five seed in the NFC and tail only the lone undefeated team left in their divisional standings, the Eagles. The first question that comes to mind would have to be, “How?” This strong start was impossible to predict when looking at their subpar roster, but the savior of New York just might be first-year head coach Brian Daboll. Daboll and his staff are in their first year coaching the Big Blue, and they have done a magnificent job with what they were dealt. The fiery and competitive spirit of Daboll paired with the brilliant schemes and play calling of Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka and Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale have made this initially bottom-of-the-barrel roster explode and appear as a super team. Daboll’s “next man up” mentality and agenda has certainly rung true as the Giants have been plagued with injuries all year. 

Their offensive line currently misses 2 of the 5 starters, rookie TE Daniel Bellinger looks to miss an enormous amount of time, and the few names in the Wide Receiver room haven’t seen the field much at all. Sterling Shepard tore his ACL in Week 3, and former-1st round pick Kadarius Toney and former- Lions wideout Kenny Golladay have not seen the field since Week 2 and Week 4 respectively. And this is only the offensive side of the ball. The edge rushing corps, consisting of 1st round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, and Oshane Ximines, have all missed chunks of time. Star defensive tackle Leonard Williams has also missed time with a knee injury earlier on in the year. That said, this adversity has given the G-Men the opportunity to use Daboll’s “next man up” mentality. Backups such as DE Jihad Ward, WR Richie James, and CB Fabian Moreau have all stepped up when needed, providing just enough for the G-Men to outscore opponents.

It would be foolish not to mention a player who has helped the Giants get this far. A player who should certainly be considered for the league’s prestigious MVP award with his incredible comeback and miraculous bounce back from injury. I am of course talking about star running back, Saquon Barkley. Barkley currently sits 2nd in the league in rushing yards, tied for 5th in total touchdowns, 4th in rushing touchdowns, and leads the NFL in both rushing attempts and total scrimmage yards. This magnificent season comes merely 2 years after a torn ACL, and still playing behind the 6th worst offensive line in football (per PFF).

Finally, there is one more contributing factor to the Giant’s success. A man who was the laughingstock of the league just last year, Giants QB Daniel Jones. The 4th year QB out of Duke has had his moments of misery in the past, having more turnovers than touchdowns for the majority of his career. Still, Jones’ play this season has been nothing short of remarkable. He currently leads the NFL in both 4th Quarter Comebacks (4) and Game-winning drives (5). He ranks 6th in quarterback rating, and the “turnover-prone” QB has had the 2nd lowest interception percentage in the league (1.1%). The league doesn’t have a “Most improved” award, but if it did, the award would certainly belong to Daniel Jones. This mix of stellar QB play, MVP-level talent, production at the RB spot, and a sensational new culture has led the Giants to hold one of the top records in the league.

The final question that remains, however, is, “Are they legit?” Many have claimed the team has been lucky with their opponents since many opposing teams seem much easier to face. The Giants shut down this theory with their on-field play. They vanquished the back-to-back MVP, Aaron Rodgers, sending Green Bay on a downward spiral and a 3-game losing streak. Then the following week, they came back to beat the Baltimore Ravens, after intercepting and strip-sacking superstar QB Lamar Jackson. These were easily two of the best teams in the league, and the New York Giants took care of them. Statistically speaking, the Giants rank 8th in point differential (+20), and actually possess the 14th easiest schedule. Despite the odds stacked against them at every turn, the New York Giants have managed to turn themselves into a force to be reckoned with. Watch out for the boys in blue, they’re full of surprises!