With OTAs and minicamp in the books, the Giants.com crew discusses what stood out on and off the field this spring:
John Schmeelk: Brian Daboll has made it abundantly clear that jobs are not won and lost in the spring. It is important for the players to go through installation and learn the offense, but there is no way to know for any of us on the outside looking in how that process is truly going.
My other major takeaway is simple: guys looked right. No one was out of shape. The new additions looked like they did on tape. The rookies flashed what you thought they had from watching them play college football. No vet came back and looked different in a bad way. My mind wasn't changed on much this spring as I still think this team is made up of serious, smart, football-minded players who take their job seriously and will be ready to hit the field when camp begins. Oh, and they have a real chance to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
Dan Salomone: The Giants are keenly aware that last year's success will not automatically lead to this year's success, but there is no question having a year under the belt of the new regime has benefitted the building. Lance will get into that more in terms of Xs and Os next, but the familiarity applies to all tentacles of the organization, namely the roster makeup. General manager Joe Schoen had obviously worked with Brian Daboll before, so what he wanted on offense was not a huge mystery. Defense, on the other hand, was a different story. Schoen had never been on a team with Wink Martindale, and it took a full season to learn what the defensive coordinator needed to make his system go.
Thus, the growing pains turned into the discomfort of having the grizzled coach give you a big bear hug after drafting a cornerback in the first round.
"He was obviously super excited, and it's something for his defense that's very important – having two good corners," Schoen said recently on the Giants Huddle: Front Office Edition podcast. "So with Tae Banks and Adoree' [Jackson], I think the defense has taken a little bit more shape in terms of what he wants it to look like. But Tae Banks was one of his favorite players in the draft, and when we were able to get him, he was obviously very excited. My back is still a little bit of sore from that bear hug he gave me."
"I'm excited about where we're at defensively with the roster," Martindale said on another episode of the podcast. "I was just talking to Joe about that earlier. It's come a long way in one year, and I'm looking forward to getting back in training camp and getting things going."
Must-see photos from minicamp as spring practices come to a close at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Lance Medow: When you look at spring workouts overall, there's more to take away from what the coaches say and where players are positioned than anything else. With respect to the former, there's clearly much more comfort between the players, coaches and schemes in comparison to this time last year. That's the natural progression when you enter year two of a similar system and it enables the Giants to fine-tune the elements that are already in place thanks to the foundation that was built in 2022. People like Daniel Jones, Darius Slayton, Leonard Williams, Adoree' Jackson, Mike Kafka and Wink Martindale seemed all echoed those sentiments.
In addition to the overall team's familiarity and better grasp of the game plans, the depth of the defensive line is a unit to watch. When Leonard Williams addressed the media last week, he indicated the additions of A'Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches will provide that group the opportunity to rotate more throughout the game and keep everyone fresh, a philosophy the Eagles have adopted for the last several years. Ryder Anderson has also bulked up, making him another attractive option to contribute both inside and outside. Not only are the Giants looking to improve their run defense with that mix of players but also creating chances for more sacks and disruptive plays from their edge rushers. Those goals can be achieved if that position group stays healthy and complements each other throughout the season.
Matt Citak: Deonte Banks has been a member of the Giants for less than two months now, but it is already easy to see how his presence in the secondary will boost the defense. Since the start of OTAs, when the team first began doing 7-on-7 drills, the rookie cornerback has made numerous strong plays. Whether it's getting his hands on an interception or using his makeup speed to break up deep passes, Banks has shown a little of everything over the last month. And he's clearly impressed a lot of people inside the facility with his performance this spring.
"He's very instinctive," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale told reporters during OTAs. "What's Ted Lasso say? He lives life like a goldfish. He's got a short memory when things don't go right. He's tough minded, he's physical, he can tackle and on top of that, he can run. So, we're excited about it. He's getting into the groove. There're still some rookie mistakes, which you expect that, especially this early, but we're really excited. I was obviously really excited that we got him. It was like winning a scratch-off ticket."
"I think he can be really good," wide receiver Parris Campbell added about the rookie CB during minicamp. "He's patient. He's strong. He's smart. He's fast. Yeah, I think he could be really good."
Banks and Adoree' Jackson combine to make a formidable duo in the Big Blue secondary, but there is also more depth at the position this year as well. The same goes for the safety position, with Xavier McKinney, Bobby McCain and Dane Belton leading a now deep group of players. Add in guys like Nick McCloud, Jason Pinnock and Cor'Dale Flott, just to name a few, and all of a sudden, the secondary could be a strength for the Giants' defense in 2023.