The Giants' 2023 campaign did not begin how they planned, but Brian Daboll's squad has an opportunity to put it behind them when they travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals in Week 2.
"There were a few things you can build on, but when you get beat like the way we got beat, no excuses," Daboll said on Monday, a day after their 40-0 loss to Dallas. "I'd say there's a lot of work that needs to be done, a lot of corrections that need to be made and that's what we'll do today."
This weekend's game is the second consecutive NFC East matchup for the Cardinals after traveled to FedEx Field to take on the Washington Commanders in Week 1. Despite leading for majority of the second half, the Cardinals lost in Jonathan Gannon's debut as head coach, 20-16.
Here are five storylines to follow in Week 2.
1. Turning the page
Throughout the 2022 campaign, Daboll preached the importance of staying even-keeled during the ups and downs of an NFL season. While the Giants were riding the highs for a good portion of last season, they have been undoubtedly dealing with some of the lows following last week's loss.
"It was a poor performance," Daboll told the media Monday. "You learn from the things that you can learn from and then you really got to get focused on the next week. Whether it was a win or a loss, it really has no effect on the next week. Your job is to be honest, to show them some of the things that we can do better as a team. Whether it's a staff, whether it's players and then to get on to next week.
"Like I said, it's a humbling league and one week doesn't have much effect on the next week. Your preparation, your performance ultimately on Sunday, or whenever that day is, does. That's what we will focus on, a lot to learn. We'll do our best to teach it, to learn from it, to go out there and have a good week of practice and to get ready for the next week's opponent."
According to NFL Research, the Giants became the eighth team in NFL history to lose its season opener in a 40+ point shutout. Two of the first seven teams ended up making the playoffs and winning a postseason game.
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 2 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
2. Injury updates; Thomas DNP
Daboll updated the Giants' injury situation on Wednesday, starting with standout left tackle Andrew Thomas. The second-team All-Pro is dealing with a hamstring injury and did not participate in practice to start the week.
"He will not practice today," Daboll said before practice. "He's making progress, I'd put him in day-to-day."
Matt Peart is listed as the backup left tackle on the unofficial depth chart, but he is dealing with an elbow injury himself and was limited on Wednesday. Another option is Joshua Ezeudu, a versatile second-year pro who was on the field for 12 pass block snaps at left tackle during the second half of last week's game and did not allow any pressures. Ezeudu started six games at left tackle across his three seasons at UNC.
"He did good, he's been practicing there for a while," Daboll said about Ezeudu's performance at LT last week. "You guys haven't seen it, but we practice him, we move guys around. He's certainly an option at that spot too."
Kicker Graham Gano is working through an ankle injury that he suffered during the blocked field goal return, but the veteran was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. Rookie cornerback Deonte Banks, who left Sunday's game early due to cramps, was also back on the practice field as a limited participant (calf).
Wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee) was activated off the physically unable to perform list prior to cut down day. The second-year wideout was inactive for the season opener and may not be ready for this weekend's game either, but Daboll told reporters that Robinson is progressing from last year's torn ACL.
"We'll see how he does in practice," the head coach said. "I thought he looked good at practice last week. We have, I'd say, an initial plan with Wan'Dale, but we'll take it here day-by-day and see where he's at."
Tight end Darren Waller was given a veteran rest day, something Daboll told reporters has been planned for a while and will likely occur once a week throughout the season. Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) was also limited Wednesday.
3. Protecting the football
One of the Giants' strengths last season was the ability to protect the football. They turned it over just 16 times, the second-lowest mark in the league, led by Daniel Jones' NFL-best 1.1 interception percentage. The success in that department did not carry over to the start of 2023.
Jones threw two interceptions against the Cowboys. On the first, Saquon Barkley was hit hard as he caught the football over the middle, causing it to pop up into the air and into the hands of DaRon Bland, who ran it back for a Dallas touchdown. On the second, Jones scrambled out of the pocket and attempted a pass to Darren Waller, which Stephon Gilmore intercepted. Jones took responsibility after the game, admitting that the pass was "a poor decision in a situation where I was trying to force something that wasn't there and needed to throw the ball out of bounds and move on to the next play."
On top of the two interceptions, the Giants also fumbled the ball five times on Sunday, one of which was lost.
"It was a collective effort," Daboll said Monday on what went wrong. "I think seven times the ball was either in their hands or on the ground, which you start with ball security. We didn't do a good enough job with that."
The Cardinals forced three turnovers in their Week 1 loss to Washington, including two from Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (one interception, one fumble). Washington running back Antonio Gibson also lost a fumble.
4. Getting after the QB
Due to touchdowns by their defense and special teams, the Cowboys jumped out to an early 16-0 lead on Sunday night. This led to quarterback Dak Prescott not needing to do much for the rest of the game, as Dallas leaned on the rushing attack. Prescott finished the night 13 of 24 for 143 yards and a passer rating of 72.0, but was not sacked the entire game.
Wink Martindale's unit ranked 13th in the league last season with 41 sacks, and that was with Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams missing a combined 18 games. All three, along with Dexter Lawrence, are healthy, but the D-line struggled to get after Prescott last week. The defense totaled six pressures against a strong Dallas O-line, four of which came from Lawrence.
Arizona surrendered three sacks and 11 tackles for loss to the Commanders last weekend. Washington generated 11 total pressures against the Cardinals, according to Pro Football Focus. Last season, Arizona was tied for 23rd in the league with 46 sacks allowed.
5. Scouting the Cardinals
Earlier this week, Gannon named Joshua Dobbs the team's starting quarterback for the second consecutive game. Dobbs was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns just a few weeks ago, but quickly won the QB1 spot over rookie Clayton Tune. In his Cardinals debut, Dobbs completed 21 of 30 passes for 132 yards and a passer rating of 78.8.
Meanwhile, veteran running back James Conner carried the ball 14 times for 62 yards (4.2 avg.) against the Commanders, adding five receptions for eight yards. Conner has rushed for 750+ yards in each of the last two seasons while totaling 22 touchdowns on the ground during that span, in addition to 675 total receiving yards.
Wide receivers Rondale Moore (33 yards) and Marquise Brown (28 yards) each caught three passes from Dobbs in the season opener. Veteran tight end Zach Ertz led the team with six receptions but for only 21 yards, while second-year tight end Trey McBride added two receptions for 23 yards.
On defense, the Cardinals racked up six sacks, including two from linebacker Dennis Gardeck. The veteran recorded seven sacks in 14 games during the 2020 campaign, but recorded just one sack total across his other four NFL seasons prior to this year. Fellow linebacker Zaven Collins, a first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in 2021, registered an interception in the opener.
Linebacker Kyzir White, in his first season with the Cardinals, led the team with nine tackles (five solo) last week. Three-time All-Pro safety Budda Baker picked up five tackles (three solo).
"They had a defensive touchdown, another interception, another fumble recovery," Daboll said about Arizona's defense. "They turned the ball over, they're fast. Budda, you've got to know where he's at. He's a really good player. I thought they played a really good game, that first game against Washington."
View rare photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Cardinals.