EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants began their offseason conditioning program on much firmer ground than where they stood a year ago, when Brian Daboll was a new head coach and Daniel Jones a quarterback with an uncertain future.
Daboll's debut season included a 7-2 start, a 9-7-1 final record, the team's first postseason berth since 2016 and first playoff victory in 11 years.
Perhaps the most important player in that success was Jones, who played the season on the final year of his rookie contract. His 92.5 passer rating was a career high, his 1.1 interception percentage an NFL low, and his 708 rushing yards were a franchise quarterback record. The Giants rewarded him with a four-year contract extension. With job security and an intimate knowledge of Daboll's offense, Jones is far ahead of where he was in 2022 and eager to lead the Giants to great success this season.
"Last year at this time, you are trying to learn everything for the first time," Jones said on a Zoom news conference. "There's a lot of information, a lot of early memorization, the basic information of the system and kind of learning the alphabet, learning the first step.
"This year, obviously, we got a little bit of a jump start there, knowing the system, but you're always learning and you're always adapting, seeing what's new, helping the newer guys learn, so in some sense you start over again and you don't want to overlook anything or skip any of those critical steps. … I think last year at this time, you're trying to learn the very basic part of the offense, the simple language, and memorizing a lot of those terms having learned them now, you're a little bit further ahead. Definitely in a better spot."
View photos from the Giants' offseason workout program at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Jones impressed Daboll from the first hour they worked together. But because the Giants had not picked up his fifth-year option, Jones had no guarantees beyond the 17-game season. Jones responded by playing well from start to finish and Daboll quickly became his strongest and most vocal advocate.
"You learned a lot when you come in," Daboll said. "We learned a lot about Daniel. I think he learned a lot about us. (Now), you're not going through day one cadence in the quarterback meeting room or maybe some installation of some basic plays. You have a good feel for what the quarterback feels comfortable with, and now it's adding new wrinkles here and there are things that you study in the off-season. But the language and the terminology, he has that down. You jump into some other things, maybe some technique things, maybe in new plays, maybe some things you saw when you really broke it down at the end of the season and the past few weeks of, hey, let's take a look and make sure we understand the why behind this play a little bit better.
"But he's done a good job. He's a consistent person. I'm glad we have him."
Daboll and Jones hope to expand the offense's versatility and productivity this season. They've added weapons such as tight end Darren Waller and wide receiver Parris Campbell and will certainly augment their group of playmakers in the NFL Draft next week.
Will the offense look significantly different?
"It's tough to say where we'll end up," Jones said. "I think something Dabs has talked about since he got here is we're always growing and we're always evolving, adapting and how it looks today will be different than how it looks a week from now and a week later and as we get through the off-season program. We are always adding stuff, taking things out and adjusting here and there and that's the process. You're always trying to learn and keep up and stay on top of it."
Unlike last year, Daboll and Jones have the advantage of familiarity with each other, and with most of the key players on offense.
"I think once you're around a team like we were for the last year, our first season, the people that you have on your team, you kind of know some of their strengths and you know their weaknesses," Daboll said. "You also know that they know a lot more than they did last year when you came in and I'd say the same is for me just being in my position. Do experience and togetherness help? Yeah, to an extent. But you have all these new pieces that you are trying to integrate into your system. Albeit, day one, but that's the challenging part of building a team.
"You have maybe a few pieces that have a good understanding of how you do things and they know the playbook and they know the ins and outs of the program and all those types of things and then you have some players that have been in the league, call it four years, five years, maybe some have been 10 years. They have been around to different spots and really the only thing that matters is how you do things in your building and making sure that everybody gets on the same page and that's my job."
Jones recently led a group of old and new Giants players – including Campbell, Sterling Shepard and Isaiah Hodgins – for informal workouts in Arizona.
"(It) was great to get the guys together and get on the field and spend some time around each other," Jones said. "I think all the new guys you can tell just how excited they are to learn the system and to be here and be part of the group and how eager they are to get started. It's good to get that energy from all of them. That's certainly the case with each of the guys, and they all bring something different. They all bring a certain skillset that we'll look to use the best we can and from my perspective, I'm trying to learn them to get on the same page to communicate here how they see things, how they want to run certain routes, how they see themselves getting open and then work through it so that we are seeing it the same way and moving forward together. So, I'm excited, excited for each one of them."
Daboll is excited about the team, but as he reminded reporters on the call more than once, it's only April 17.
"You can collect all the talent that you want but teams win in this league," he said. "Teams that do things the right way and we're just getting on - started on that process of building our team. You know, some of the defensive guys don't even know what Parris looks like. Have to stand up and introduce himself, a new coach, (running backs coach) Jeff Nixon, whoever it may be. There's so many things that go into building a team, and I know most of you all have been part of a team at some point in your life. You'd like to just pick up where you left off, but unfortunately that's not how it works."
View photos of the Giants arriving for the start of the offseason workout program.