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23 Questions in 23 Days

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23 Questions in 23 Days: Expectations for Giants

23-QUESTIONS-BRIAN-DABOLL is counting down to the start of the team's 2023 training camp with 23 questions in 23 days.

1) What are your expectations for the 2023 New York Football Giants?

John Schmeelk: I don't like to put win-loss expectations on a team because there are so many small things throughout a season that can turn wins into losses and vice versa. The Giants were 9-4-1 in one-score games last year, which might be difficult to repeat. Injuries can also contribute to a team's record, which is out of a team's control. Luck is also involved.

I prefer to focus on areas of improvement that show the organization is on the right trajectory. For a team to be a true contender, more often than not, the passing attack needs to be one of the best in the league. Will the young players on the offensive line continue to improve, helping Daniel Jones get to that level? I want to see that.

On defense, I want to see young players at key positions blossom into stars. Dexter Lawrence did it last year inside. Can Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari do it on the edge this season? Can Xavier McKinney continue to improve at safety? Will Deonte Banks show that he can be an elite cover cornerback as a rookie? There are young players at premium positions that the Giants need to become cornerstones of their franchise for years to come.

If the Giants can check those boxes on offense and defense, no matter what their record is, they will be an improved team, and I will feel very good that the organization is on its way.

Dan Salomone: I have been asked this question a lot this offseason, and my response is always the same: There is no reason they shouldn't be better than last season other than the fickle nature of the NFL. Sustaining success year to year in the NFL is more difficult than any other professional sports league, and that is the mountain ahead of the Giants. Year 1 under Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll was nothing short of remarkable, from the on-field success to the culture they have built in such a short time. With that said, the former has worked under Bill Parcells and the latter under the likes of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, so they have been drilled in never getting too high or too low. The records are all reset to 0-0 now. The Giants, like the 31 other clubs, will have to prove themselves all over again.

Lance Medow: If there were two areas the Giants needed to address this offseason, one was producing more explosive plays on offense, and the other was stopping the run. The additions of A'Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Bobby Okereke should help the latter cause, and the arrival of Darren Waller, Parris Campbell and Jalin Hyatt the former. With that being said, life in the NFL doesn't occur in a vacuum. While you're looking to improve across the board, the rest of the league is doing the same. That's why the turnover rate in the NFL is unlike anything we see in the other three major U.S. professional sports. Seven teams that missed the playoffs in 2021 punched their tickets in 2022 highlighted by the Giants. That's half the postseason field. To take it a step further, since 2002, there's been at least five new playoff teams in 19 of the last 21 campaigns including at least seven in 11 of them. The point is: one season's results are far from guaranteed the next.

I think the Giants will once again be in the mix for a wild card spot, but let's not overlook that, at least on paper, the schedule is more challenging this season with the AFC East instead of the AFC South and the NFC West in place of the NFC North. It's also important to note they played eight games decided by six points or fewer and went 5-2-1 in those contests. You must consistently win those close games. Record aside, the most important expectation this season is the continued development of their young nucleus. The last few draft classes need to stay on the field and produce. That will be the best indication of team success.

Matt Citak: The 2023 season can go in a lot of different ways for the Giants. They surprised many people around the league with their much-improved play last year, which led to nine regular-season wins and a spot in the postseason. But the Giants' schedule is a lot more difficult in 2023. Of course, they have their six division games, but they also face off against the talented AFC East, which contains four possible playoff teams. Add in matchups against teams such as the 49ers, Seahawks, Raiders and Saints, and it's easy to see why the Giants have one of the toughest strength of schedules this year.

The schedule might be tougher, but the Giants should also be better in 2023. A problem area last year was their run defense, which led to the signings of linebacker Bobby Okereke and defensive linemen Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A'Shawn Robinson. The offense also lacked speedy playmakers, which was remedied by the addition of players such as Darren Waller, Parris Campbell and Jalin Hyatt, among others. Perhaps more importantly, both offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale returned after each garnered some head coaching interest from other teams. Both the offense and defense should benefit tremendously from playing another year in the same system, and I expect both to take a step up in Year 2.

Overall, Brian Daboll has proven to be one of the league's top football minds and leaders, evidenced by his Coach of the Year award from last season, while Kafka and Martindale could easily find themselves in discussions to run their own teams come next offseason. With the talent on the coaching staff, along with the roster on both sides of the ball, the Giants could get into the playoffs for the second consecutive year, the first time they would be able to accomplish the feat since 2007-08.

The New York Giants have reported to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for the start of training camp.

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