EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It's understandable for NFL fans to muse about how the story of the 2022 Giants will ultimately read, but right now the team's hierarchy is focused only on chapter one.
General manager Joe Schoen made that clear this morning when he was asked what Daniel Jones must do to prove he is the team's long-term quarterback.
"Really just coming out and executing the offense is what we're looking to do," Schoen said. "You know, getting better each day. And that goes for the entire position group, Tyrod (Taylor) and Davis Webb, as well."
Coach Brian Daboll is also focused on the here and now and not season-long projections.
"I learned a long time ago you have to take care of today," Daboll said. "Being in the league for 20-plus years, there's teams that people thought that were going to go all the way and didn't make the playoffs. And there's teams that people thought they weren't going to. And what we try to focus on is getting better each day, like Joe said. Focusing on the things that we can do, and we control, which is going out there, having good meetings, having a good practice, trying to string good days together. And that's really where our focus is going to be."
View top photos from practice as the Giants kicked off training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
That was true today, when the Giants held their first training camp practice, a fast-paced, 90-minute session that emphasized the red zone.
Schoen and Daboll are both new to their positions and in their first year with the Giants. They arrived six months ago and have since overhauled the coaching staff, front office and roster. Though confident they've made the correct decisions to improve the team's fortunes, Schoen and Daboll are aware the revival is in its infancy. Because of that, their aggressive actions to improve the team are accompanied by cautious talk.
The Giants installed their new offensive and defensive systems in what the coaches said was a productive spring. How do they maintain that momentum with the start of training camp?
"I think just being yourself and taking things day-by-day and working as hard as you can with a good, positive attitude and being able to deal with things when they come your way," Daboll said. "And it's fine, and I appreciate the energy and all those types of things. But you really find out what kind of team you are when you start fighting through adversity and a loss or a bad thing happens. But we're going to try to be as consistent as we can as a leadership group – scouting department, coaching staff, organization. I think consistency is key. Have high energy, be positive, but also be real about where we're at and what we need to fit."
Schoen exhibited his restraint was asked to reflect on what he's accomplished thus far.
"I would say revamped roster, just looking at some of the players we've brought in and some of the guys we've had to move on from for various reasons," Schoen said. "We haven't been in pads yet. We get in pads on Monday. So again, from an O-line and D-line standpoint, seeing guys actually blocking with pads on. There's a lot of things we still need to evaluate that you can get a feel for in the spring, but again to Dabs' point: How are we going to respond to adversity? How are we going to respond to success? Every year the team is different, and they have a different identity and a different attitude. And those are all the things that we look forward to evaluating and find out what we're going to be about over the next month."
Schoen and Daboll came to the Giants from the Buffalo Bills, who were 34-15 while earning postseason berths the least three seasons, including two straight AFC East titles. They would like to the Giants to develop an identity similar to what those Bills teams had.
"We talked about this during the draft, and we talk about it now," Daboll said. "We're looking for smart, tough, dependable people in our organization. People that make good decisions on and off the field in terms of intelligence. Doing what they're supposed to do when they're supposed to do it all the time. And then have some mental toughness, some resiliency about them. Those are three qualities that we covet when we're looking, whether that's a draft pick, free agents, coaching staff, players. That's the identify of what we're trying to build."
The Giants have a core group of leaders that includes five captains from the 2021 team: Jones, Saquon Barkley, Nick Gates, Blake Martinez and Graham Gano. But they would also like to identify a new group of players who can set an example for their teammates.
"We talk all the time about leadership, and we would like to have leadership in each room if you can," Schoen said. "But it doesn't always work out that way. If you can add leadership to each room, you will look to do that, but it's not a must. There are some players, maybe it's the tight end room or whatever it may be, you look and say do we have enough leadership in there? Do we need to add somebody to maybe show these guys the way? Those are conversations we are having on a daily basis, and we'll continue to evaluate those positions.
"We will have a weekly meeting where the coaches and the personnel staff will get together and we'll just go through the roster, player one to 91. We'll talk about each guy, where they are, how they are learning, how their health is, and their contribution. Then, if there is somebody we need to move on from or we are interested in, we will have another workout and see if we can get better at certain positions."
So…what exactly can Giants fans expect this season?
"I don't want to get into the predictions," Schoen said. "But to Dabs' point earlier, we are going to come out this week, we want guys to run to the ball, play hard, not beat ourselves, take care of the football, and be fundamentally sound. If they can do that, the rest will take care of itself. We've got a lot of evaluating to do, we haven't been in pads. Again, the continuity part, some guys are still learning the defense, Daniel hasn't thrown to some of these receivers. We just signed four new players, so there are a lot of moving parts right now. So, that's what training camp is about. We may run some plays that we throw out and that's what this time is for, to test things and see how they work. Again, just the biggest thing is to not beat ourselves, play hard, smart, tough, dependable. Other than that, the results will take care of itself if we can do that."
Daboll acknowledged the journey will include some bumps and detours.
"There always is in an NFL season, right?" he said. "Whether you go 15-2 or (not), it's a results business, we understand that. It's our job to make it a process for our team and for our organization. We are just taking steps and the next day we want to take a bigger step. I don't look too far ahead; I've already told you that before. We've got a red zone practice today and tomorrow we've got third and two to five (to go). After that I'm not even sure because I'm just focused on this and that's what the players need to be focused on too, is their individual improvement and collectively building a team together.
"It just doesn't happen. You have to go through some ups and downs and work as hard as you can, be a good pro, do things right and give everything you got each week. That's what it takes in this league."
Giants Fan Fest returns to Metlife Stadium
Free and open to the public, the Giants Fan Fest will feature a Blue & White intrasquad scrimmage, autographs by Giants Legends, and a fireworks show.