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Giants look to 'close that gap' with competition

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Given the uncertainty regarding a new coaching staff and the subterranean expectations seemingly everyone outside their headquarters had for them, the Giants' 2022 season could be considered a resounding success. Their nine regular-season victories were five more than their 2021 total and they advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

But the flip side is, they were 1-6 against NFC playoff teams – beating Minnesota in the wild card round – and 0-3 against the NFC East champion and No. 1 seeded Eagles, including a 38-7 season-ending loss Saturday night in Philadelphia.

The 15-3 Eagles and 15-4 San Francisco 49ers will meet Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. Giants general manager Joe Schoen conceded today the Giants have some catching up to do before they reach their level, particularly in the pursuit of the Eagles.

"I know Philly more intimately and I would say yes, there's a talent gap there that we need to close and to me it's the NFC East," Schoen said today. "I mean, we're 1-5-1 against the NFC East and if you win the division the rest takes care of itself. So, that's always going to be a goal of ours, to close that gap and be NFC East champs. That's the goal and that's what we're going to work toward."

That gap-narrowing process has already begun. The players yesterday underwent their postseason physicals and exit interviews before scattering. On Thursday, the Giants will have their first postseason staff meeting to begin preparing for the months ahead – all-star games, free agency, the NFL Draft. The offseason conditioning program begins on April 17.

The Giants finished 4½ games behind the Eagles – and 2½ games in back of second-place Dallas – and were a combined 0-5 against them. They scored 112 fewer points than Philadelphia and 102 fewer than Dallas and their 371 points allowed was more than any of their three division rivals gave up.

Can Schoen and Co. improve those disparities one offseason?

"We're going to try to do the best we can," Schoen said. "We're always going to try to build a better roster, players, whatever it may be, whatever it is – resources around here – whatever it is. Anything that we can do that's in the best interest of the franchise is going to make us better. You can't put a timeframe on that, but we're going to be relentless in the pursuit of building a championship team here."

Several prominent Giants players are unrestricted free agents, notably Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and Julian Love. Left tackle Andrew Thomas and defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence – both second-team All-Pros – are eligible for contract extensions. The Giants will bolster their roster through free agency and the draft.

Coach Brian Daboll declined to specify where the Giants most need improvement.

"We'll dive into that as a coaching staff here, spend a lot of time on self-scout and process and things we can improve on, whether that's night before meetings, whether that's practice, whether that's situational playballs, techniques, drills," Daboll said. "I think you close the chapter on last season, but you need to figure out some of the things you need to do a better job of. Certainly, there will be a significant amount of things that we sit back, and we say, 'Boy, we could've done this a little bit different or improve on this,' and take a deep dive into it. Take your time doing it. And then once you get back in April 17 and start going through it, you try to implement those new things or corrections that need to be made or scheduling differences.

"There's certainly players that will be out there – whether it's free agents, whether it's draft picks – that are talented players. But it's how you put together the team, how the team responds to adversity, how it comes together in the offseason, leading up to training camp the things you do in training camp – all the things that you go through each season, that's what defines a team early … and how you handle a lot of different things, the coaches, the players, the support staff. It's just a new year. Every year is just a new year."

Daboll has coached in the NFL since 2000 and has learned that good or bad, one season can have no effect on the following year.

"Every team is different," he said. "Just because you won one year doesn't guarantee you anything the next year relative to what players you have, what players you don't have. You take a look at last year's playoffs – I think seven of them didn't make the playoffs the following year. Two top seeds (Green Bay and Tennessee) had losing records. Our goal will always be just get better each day, try to put the best team we can together, work at it each day and not get too far ahead of ourselves. I appreciate all the people that had a hand in this year. Obviously, it didn't end up where we wanted to end up. It took a lot of work, it took a lot of energy, it took a lot of people in all areas of our building. Offseason started the day after we lost, unfortunately. That's where we're at. We'll do the best job we can of building up our team the best way we can, our organization and then going out there and taking it day by day."

Re-live the season with the best photos from the Giants' 2022 playoff campaign.