EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants took this gracious host thing much too far the last five years in MetLife Stadium.
From 2017-21, they were an unpardonable 12-28 in their home stadium. The Giants won two games three times and three games twice, including 2021, when they were 3-5 at home and 4-13 overall.
But this year commenced a new era of Giants football, helmed by general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll. The Giants traveled to Nashville last week for their opener, trailed by 13 points after a first half in which they failed to score and rallied for a 21-20 victory with a touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:06 remaining in the fourth quarter. Saquon Barkley totaled 194 yards from scrimmage to verify he's still one of the NFL's best running backs, the defense smothered two-time rushing champion Derrick Henry and optimism reigns.
Now, the Giants play three consecutive home games, a multi-week opportunity to prove to their fans the enthusiasm is warranted. The MetLife Stadium three-pack begins Sunday against the 0-1 Carolina Panthers.
"I understand how important the New York Football Giants are to a lot of people around here, and they're important to us," Daboll said. "I've come across a lot of great people in this community and had some really good conversations. And I'm looking forward to being on this sideline. Where it's always cool as a coach, you pull up to the parking lots, and you get a sense even before you go into the game of what kind of day the fans are going to have. And I love our fanbase. I love the support. They're on you when it's bad, and they're supporting you when it's good. And that's the way it is. That's this area.
"I grew up in western New York on the other side of it, but New York/New Jersey mentality. And I'm looking forward to having a packed house and them being as loud as they can be on third down or when Carolina's on offense. They're pretty smart fans up here, so the more we can get in there, the better it'll be. They're part of our team on home games, and I firmly believe that. Wherever I've been, the places that have great support like we do, you go into those places, and it's hard. It's hard to communicate as an offense when you're on the other side, and you get a lot of energy when you're playing special teams and on defense. And we've got to give them a reason to cheer, too. And that's why we're working the way that we're working and focused on what we're focused on."
Coaches and players all but stood on Route 3 and handed out invitations to Giants fans this week, and they emphasized those who attend the game should not sit silently.
"I hope it's loud and having a great time," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "That's what I hope it is. That's what I expect the crowd to be like. I know this place loves defense, so we'll do our part. You guys do yours. That's the way I look at it, and it'll be fun. It should be when you come to the stadium."
"I need it to be loud in here, man," said defensive end Jihad Ward, a first year Giant whom the coaches selected as his unit's player of the game in Tennessee. ("That was unanimous," Martindale said.) "I need it to be loud and we need all the fans to show some love and support. Have some faith and believe. I just can't wait to go out there and see what the home atmosphere out here feels like. I don't know what happened in the past, I don't know the fan base, what happened last year, but I'm excited."
Daniel Jones, like most NFL quarterbacks, has heard boos in his home stadium. But he completed a career-high 81% of his passes against the Titans, including all three on the deciding drive.
Jones has also received his share of ovations in MetLife, in part because of his fearlessness when he tucks the ball under his arm and starts running.
"I'm excited to get in front of the fans back at MetLife," Jones said. "Looking forward to the energy and just feeling kind of the juice from them. We've talked a lot about winning at home, protecting home field and we're all excited to do that. So, I'm looking forward to getting out there."
The Giants' most recent home victory marked Jones' last action in 2021. On Nov. 28, he suffered a neck injury in a 13-7 triumph vs. Philadelphia. Jones missed the final six games, all losses, including contests in MetLife to NFC East foes Dallas and Washington in which the Giants scored 13 total points.
Jones is confident the faithful have put those bleak Sundays behind them.
"I expect a lot of energy, a lot of juice from the fans and for them to be riled up," he said. "And we're excited to get in front of them and play. Like I said, talked about defending our home turf, and that's what we're looking forward to doing. I think we all feel that in this locker room, and we're excited to get out in front of them."
The Giants have a chance to generate some momentum in the first quarter of the season. After Carolina, the Giants will host the Cowboys in a Monday night game and conclude the homestand against the Chicago Bears.
"I know we're talking about changing the culture and changing the culture defensively," Martindale said. "This is one of the biggest changes you'll see is this week to bring back great defense in this facility. I've only lived here for a short period of time, but I know New Yorkers are loud. We need to be loud in that stadium. They have to go on silent count. If you want to be part of changing this culture here with the Giants, be loud and have that place rocking where people don't want to come to our stadium. We'll take care of the rest, and we'll give you something to be loud about. But just be loud. I can't wait to see it."
He's not alone.
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers.
*The Giants will begin the NFL's 140th three-game homestand since 2010. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only 31 of them ended with a three-game sweep for the home team:
- 3-0: 31
- 2-1: 53
- 1-2: 41
- 0-3: 14
Those teams were most successful in the final game of the homestand:
- Game 1: 79-60
- Game 2: 75-64
- Game 3: 86-53
*Carolina has the NFL's longest active losing streak at eight games (seven in 2021 and last week). The Panthers' most recent victory was a 34-10 triumph at Arizona last Nov. 14.
*The Giants have a chance to start 2-0 for the first time since 2016.
*The Giants are 50-44-3 in home openers, but just 3-9 in MetLife Stadium. They have lost their last five home openers. Their most recent victory was a 16-13 defeat of New Orleans on Sept. 18, 2016 – six years to the day from tomorrow.
*The game will feature the top two selections in the 2018 NFL Draft, Carolina quarterback Baker Mayfield and Giants running back Saquon Barkley (who was selected the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year). The third choice in that draft, quarterback Sam Darnold, is on the Panthers' injured reserve list.
*Carolina left tackle Ikem Ekwonu and Giants right tackle Evan Neal were the first two offensive linemen selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. Each played 100% of his team's offensive snaps in Week 1.
*The Panthers have several former Giants coaches on their staff.
Head coach Matt Rhule was the Giants' assistant offensive line coach in 2012. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo held the same role with the Giants in 2014-15 and was the head coach in 2016-17. Tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride was the Giants' offensive quality control coach and coached the team's wide receivers (2012-13) and tight ends (2014-17). Quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan was the Giants' offensive quality control coach (2007-09) and coached the wide receivers (2010-11, 2014-15) and quarterbacks (2012-13). Carolina assistant head coach/ defense Al Holcomb was the Giants' defensive quality control (2009-10) and defensive assistant (2011-12).
*The Giants trail in the regular-season (6-5) and postseason (1-0) series. Last Oct. 24, they broke the Panthers' three-game winning streak in the series with a 25-3 triumph in MetLife Stadium.