Through the first six games of the 2022 season, the Giants have displayed a great sense of moxie.
Brian Daboll has led his team back from numerous second-half deficits in order to get the Giants to 5-1, their best start to a season since 2009. The Giants have done this all while dealing with a rash of injuries, in addition to their rookies playing some of the most snaps among any rookie class across the NFL.
No matter the adversity they have faced, the Giants have been able to overcome it. They will look to keep the good times rolling this weekend as they travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars. Doug Pederson's team fell to the Indianapolis Colts, 34-27, after allowing Matt Ryan to have the strongest outing of his season.
Here are five storylines to follow in the Week 7 matchup:
1. Overcoming adversity
The ability the Giants have shown to overcome deficits this season has truly been impressive. The Giants are the only team in the NFL with three victories this year after trailing by 10+ points, and only the fourth NFL team ever to do it within the first six games of the season. Each of those double-digit comebacks came in the second half.
The numbers are even more outstanding when going more in-depth. The Giants are 3-0 when trailing after three quarters after going 2-48 in the same situation the previous five seasons. They are also 4-1 when their opponents score first, the only team in the league with four such wins. The Giants were 6-29 when their opponents scored first from 2017-21.
"I'd just say we work hard," Daboll said when asked about the team's identity. "We try do what we need to do each week, put the time, effort and energy into our preparation, into our process and then go out there and leave it on the field on Sunday – empty the tank, so to speak. And then we come in and do it again the next week. Don't get too far ahead of yourself. Don't really concentrate on things that have happened in the past. Turn the next page and focus on that page."
View photos from Wednesday's practice as the Giants prepare for their Week 7 matchup against the Jaguars.
2. DJ's consistency
There are numerous different factors that have led to each of the Giants' comebacks this season, but one remains constant – the steady play of quarterback Daniel Jones. After falling behind, 20-10, early in the fourth quarter, Jones calmly led the Giants on a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive that finished with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Bellinger and brought the Giants within three. He did the same thing in Week 5, when he quarterbacked the team down the field on a 15-play, 91-yard touchdown drive to tie the game before leading a six-play, 60-yard scoring drive to put the Giants on top.
Heading into Week 7, Jones leads the NFL with four game-winning drives this season. He totaled three game-winning drives in his first three years in the league. His 67.3 completion percentage would be the highest of his career, while his two interceptions and two fumbles through six games are both on pace to be career-lows. According to Pro Football Focus, his adjusted completion percentage (which accounts for dropped passes) of 81.2 percent is the highest in the league. In last week's win over Baltimore, Jones completed over 70 percent of his attempts for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
"His job is to compete, to lead his football team down, particularly the offense, make good decisions with the football, take care of it, execute in the red zone," Daboll said about Jones after the Week 6 win. "And this was another fourth quarter one for him. Again, when you're a quarterback, you love to throw it 60 times a game. But we have to, each week, we have to play the way we think we have to play. Look, it was far from perfect. It really was. That's a hell of a football team over there, but I appreciate the way he competes. And I think his level-headedness really helps him."
3. Rookies heating up
The Giants have gotten solid production out of their rookie class all season, but the first-year players are really starting to heat up. Giants rookies have combined for 1,336 offensive and defensive snaps through six weeks, tied with the New York Jets for the fourth-most in the NFL. Not only are they seeing a lot of playing time, but they've also been performing well.
Appearing in his first game since suffering a knee injury in Week 1, Wan'Dale Robinson caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown and finished with one of the highest overall PFF grades on offense (76.6). Meanwhile, right tackle Evan Neal had one of his finest games of the season after he allowed just two hurries on 34 pass block snaps, good for a season-high 70.5 overall grade. Then there's tight end Daniel Bellinger, who led the team with five receptions for 38 yards, scored his third touchdown of the season and contributed in the run game with his blocking (74.5 run block grade).
"It really starts from OTAs, particularly with rookies," Daboll said. "You teach them how we want to do things here, not just inside the building but outside the building. And then you constantly build on what you teach them from the day before. They get experience as they go. A guy like Bellinger. I think he's improved since he's been here. He's been available; he's worked hard. He's done a good job inside and outside the building. But you also look when you're evaluating players, too. You look at skillset, but you look at intangibles as well to make sure they fit what you want to try to build…
"When you come out of college as a tight end, there's a lot – there is for every position – but there's a lot to learn: how we run block, how we pass block. We've asked him to do a lot of different things. We've put a lot on his plate. I think he's picked it up well. And each game, he gains more experience. He's far from a finished product; he'll be the first to say that. But I think, not just to single out Daniel, there's a lot of our rookies who are doing a good job right now of continuing to grow, improve, learning from their mistakes. And that's all you can ask for."
On the defensive side of the ball, No. 5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux made one of the key plays in last week's win. The outside linebacker strip-sacked QB Lamar Jackson on Baltimore's final drive. Thibodeaux totaled three pressures, his third consecutive game with at least three total pressures, and earned a 70.0 pass rush grade. He currently leads all rookie edge defenders with his 70.0 pass rush mark on the year.
Dane Belton also played a role in last week's win. The rookie safety was on the field for 71 percent of the team's defensive snaps and finished with six total tackles, the third-highest on the team, along with a pass breakup.
4. Scouting the Jaguars
The Jaguars have improved significantly from last season, starting with Trevor Lawrence. The second-year quarterback has completed 65.5 percent of his passes this season for 1,397 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He also added two rushing scores in last week's game against the Colts. Lawrence, along with the talented running back duo of James Robinson and Travis Etienne, have helped lead Jacksonville to No. 15 in points and No. 11 in yards this season.
"I know Trevor; I recruited him, too," Daboll said Wednesday. "It was the same year (Chicago Bears quarterback) Justin (Fields) came out. From Cartersville, Georgia – tremendous high school football player. You go down there and watch a practice. He can play on Sundays when he's down there in high school. He was really, really talented. He's really talented now. I think he's doing a great job in Coach Pederson's offense. He's big. He can throw it accurately. He can move. They run him on some quarterback, not just keepers, but also quarterback designed runs, too. So, athletic, smart. He's a really good person, too. He's going to be a good player in this league for a long time."
The defense will be going up against a familiar face on Sunday. Tight end Evan Engram, who was with the Giants from 2017-21, has 24 receptions for 208 yards in his first season with the Jaguars.
"I got a chance to meet Evan. I think he's a talented player," Daboll said. "He's got good speed. He's got good quickness. He was a good young man. It was just for a short time that I got a chance to talk to him, but I thought he was a good player."
Moving over to the defense, Jacksonville has spent some top draft assets on the edge rusher position in recent years. Josh Allen was the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the fourth-year OLB has gotten his season off to a strong start. Allen has a team-high three sacks, 10 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles in six games. While Travon Walker, the first overall pick in this year's draft, has recorded just one sack, he also has an interception and two pass breakups.
"They're really good," Daboll said about the two pass rushers. "Walker is the first pick of the (2022) draft, and Josh Allen is a dynamic edge rusher. He has a knack for getting to the quarterback, being a ball disrupter. He can drop. He's a really good player. He's done a good job there for a while. And Travon, having seen him at Georgia, he's very stout on the edge. Long. He's a good player. We'll have our work cut out for us."
Rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd has also made an impact on the defense. Lloyd currently ranks second on the team with 56 total tackles (31 solo), while adding six passes defensed and two interceptions.
5. Injury updates; Azeez limited
After briefly departing the team's Week 5 game in London with a shoulder injury, Saquon Barkley was a limited participant at practice last week. He ended up playing 88 percent of the team's offensive snaps against the Ravens and was productive, totaling 95 yards and a touchdown on 25 touches (22 carries, three receptions). Daboll told the media Wednesday that he has no concern about giving the running back, who was limited on Wednesday, a full workload.
The team was able to emerge from Week 6 relatively unscathed on the injury front. Left tackle Andrew Thomas (elbow) and center Jon Feliciano (groin) were limited Wednesday after getting nicked up against the Ravens. Staying on the offensive line, Daboll shared that Nick Gates has made good progress and is "getting closer" after a "good couple weeks of practice." Gates returned to practice on October 5 after being placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list to start the season. The Giants have until Oct. 26 to activate him or put him back on the PUP list for the rest of the season.
"I think he's made progress each and every day," the head coach said about Gates. "Learning our system, it's different when you're practicing in a new system. You can sit in a classroom all you want, but I think he's made good progress."
Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari (calf) was also limited on Wednesday. After missing the first two games of the season, Ojulari returned for Weeks 3-4 and picked up a sack and forced fumble. However, the calf injury has sidelined him the past two games. Ojulari was limited throughout the week last week leading up to Sunday's game against the Ravens.
Wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney did not participate in Wednesday's practice. Golladay has been out since suffering a knee injury during the Week 4 win over Chicago, while Toney hasn't played since Week 2. But Daboll told the media that the second-year receiver is improving. "He's getting better, doing a good job rehabbing. Hopefully we'll see him out here soon."
Outside linebacker Oshane Ximines (quad), safety Jason Pinnock (ankle), and CB Cor'Dale Flott (calf) also did not practice.
View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars.