What Brian Daboll has done with the New York Giants this season is being labeled as a performance worthy of coach-of-the-year honors.
In the New York City metropolitan area, Daboll is being compared to Bill Parcells, the coach who turned around the Giants in the 1980s and led them to their first two Super Bowl triumphs.
“Big Tuna.” “Little Tuna.”
Super Bowl hopes have resurfaced in region. The Giants (10-7-1) have gone from a team that posted five straight losing seasons to one that made the playoffs in Daboll’s first year and then won a postseason game for the first time since its Super Bowl victory under Tom Coughlin 11 years ago.
The Giants beat the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 Sunday to advance to the NFC divisional round and a matchup with the top-seeded Eagles (14-3) in Philadelphia on Saturday night. The NFC East champion Eagles have already beaten the division rival Giants twice, 48-22 on Dec. 11 at MetLife Stadium and 22-16 on Jan. 8 in the regular-season finale in Philly.
Daboll said those results mean little.
“It’s how we go about our business this week, how we prepare, how we practice and then ultimately how we play on Sunday — or Saturday in this case,” Daboll said Monday. “Every game’s a new game.”
The Giants were competitive in the last game, particularly considering it was meaningless for them and they rested many starters. The Eagles played their starters since they needed a win to clinch the No. 1 seed.
The bottom line is the Giants can win if they play well and avoid turnovers, penalties and blown assignments. That’s something New York did after the 2007 season as the No. 6 seed, beating Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay en route to a Super Bowl win over New England, which came in at 18-0.
The division rival Cowboys had beaten the Giants twice that year before New York won in the playoffs.
Can it happen again? Sure.
If the Giants are to win, they will need the same discipline and consistent execution they showed against Minnesota. A lucky bounce or two wouldn’t hurt, either.
Running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones have taken turns carrying the offense this season. Both got it going on Sunday. Jones was 24 of 35 for 301 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 78 yards, a postseason franchise record for a QB. Barkley ran for 53 yards and two TDs and caught five passes for 56 yards. New York had 28 first downs, its second most in a playoff game.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The defensive backs blew a lot of coverages, especially on tight end T.J. Hockenson, who had 10 catches for 129 yards. He caught passes on third-and-9, second-and-12, third-and-7 and fourth-and-2 — all for first downs. There also were blown coverages on the TD passes to Irv Smith and K.J. Osborn.
Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. The second-team All Pro had six tackles, including one for a loss, and a team-high four of the Giants’ 11 quarterback hits. He played 51 of 57 defensive snaps, was double-teamed frequently and was a big reason the Vikings were held to 61 yards rushing.
GM Joe Schoen has done just about everything right in his first season for a team with limited talent and many injuries. One thing he got wrong was not signing Barkley and Jones to long-term deals after they played so well in the first half of the season. It’s going to cost the Giants a ton of money.
Outside linebacker Azeez Ojuari re-injured a calf muscle that cost him games earlier this season. Safety Jason Pinnock took an abdominal hit late and was checked out at a hospital in Minnesota. He returned home with the team. Daboll characterized them as day-to-day, which doesn’t necessarily mean their injuries are minor.
30 — After going 43 games without scoring at least 30 points, the Giants have done it twice in three games. They beat Indianapolis 38-10 on Jan. 1 to clinch a playoff spot and they did it again against the NFC North champion Vikings and their suspect defense.
While the Giants are 7 1/2-point underdogs at Philadelphia according to FanDuel Sportsbook, Daboll won’t alter his approach. He wants his team to prepare and then be consistent. And New York is playing some of its best football.