A bald, bearded 47-year-old football lifer, one who has been an offensive coordinator just about everywhere and worked for both Nick Saban and Bill Belichick along the way, is suddenly as big a star as we have right now in New York sports, at a time when we have an awful lot going on around here. That is how well Brian Daboll has done in the first five games he has ever gotten as a head coach. He has shown up and changed the culture around the Giants the way Buck Showalter did with the Mets this season. And really has made himself a very big guy around here, very quickly.
“We talk a lot about process around here,” he said the other day.
But the process we have seen from him just so far, in this season when he has brought his quarterback along the way he has and built the early season around running the ball and defense in an old-school, Bill Parcells way, has brought the Giants to a 4-1 record and what has turned this into a big-game Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Giants against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
In a very short time, Daboll has done what coaches are supposed to do: He has identified what his players can do and not fretted about what they can’t. He has not chased the idea of making the Giants something they’re not. He broke in by having his team go for two points at the end to beat the Titans on the road. We can all wonder how the season goes for Daboll and the Giants if they hadn’t converted. But they did convert. Daboll had introduced himself to Giants fans in a loud and, well, very Dabollsy way. What he really did is tell his players he believed in them.
Then we all saw what happened in London last Sunday against the Packers, when the Giants completely dominated the second half. Now they go up against one of the great talents in the sport in Lamar Jackson. But if the Giants can somehow get this game, take a look at the schedule they’ve got coming up between now and their Thanksgiving game in Dallas:
Texans at MetLife.
Lions at MetLife.
Nobody, certainly not the coach, is getting ahead of themselves over there in the Meadowlands. Too many bad things have happened to the Giants since Tom Coughlin stopped coaching them. Ben McAdoo had one outlier of a year before he began slipping on banana peels. Then came Pat Shurmur and then came Joe Judge, who had also worked for both Saban and Belichick and who was discussed as some sort of young Lombardi on his way in the door.
But now comes Daboll, who in addition to his stops in New England and Tuscaloosa, was offensive coordinator in Kansas City and Cleveland and Miami before he ended up with Josh Allen in Buffalo, and put his name up in lights, finally, as a legitimate head coaching prospect. Joe Schoen, also out of Buffalo, became Giants general manager. Brought Daboll with him. And just like that, Giants fans have hope again.
The Jets are 3-2 as they get their shot at the Packers on Sunday, at Lambeau. The Mets are out of the playoffs but the Yankees are still alive and the Rangers look like a legit contender already, and here comes the NBA with the Knicks and the Nets. If the Giants aren’t leading the conversation right now, they sure are a very big part of it at 4-1. Maybe people in their building saw this coming. Nobody else did.
Daboll has watched Saquon Barkley run the ball the way he did at Penn State. He has gotten just enough out of Daniel Jones without turning him loose. He has watched Wink Martindale (who goes up against his old team on Sunday) build the kind of defense that chased Aaron Rodgers all the way to the Tower of London last Sunday, and hasn’t backed up very much so far.
Now the Giants are tasked with chasing Lamar Jackson around, a job as big as there is in pro football when Jackson is at his best and looks like a streak of light. But you simply can’t talk about the work the Giants have done so far without talking about the fine work of the head coach. Nobody wins Coach of the Year midway through October. But nearly a third of the way into this, nobody is coaching his team better than Brian Daboll is coaching his.
“I try to be as consistent as I can regardless of results,” Daboll said this week. “Focus on our improving our fundamentals. Be consistent with our preparation and practice habits. Keep taking steps forward.”
The Giants have taken big steps forward just getting to 4-1. They can take a giant step — in all ways — forward if they can beat Baltimore at home.
Daboll’s Giants don’t have any stars at wide receiver. The jury is still out on the quarterback, who continues to be a work in progress. The Giants still don’t have a lot of depth. But you can see the change in attitude just by watching them play. A guy, Daboll, who knows plenty about being a coordinator has brought in a terrific defensive coordinator in Martindale. The coach keeps talking about process. The process has gotten the Giants this far, to this game against the Ravens.
Again: Daboll has clearly gotten these players to believe. Giants fans have begun to believe. All part of the process. Been a while in Jersey.
GANG GREEN HAS PUNCHER’S CHANCE AT LAMBEAU, METS RAN OUT OF HITS & MAX ISN’T GETTING ANY YOUNGER …
Wait, do our green guys have more than a puncher’s chance against their green guys at Lambeau?
If you had the Giants and Jets being 7-3 after 10 games had been played, you win the office pool.
And if you had the Mets winning 102 games in a season when Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer combined to start 34 games, you win, too.
Even with the runs the Mets scored in Game 2 against the Padres, the Mets didn’t hit against the Braves in the last weekend of the regular season and did nothing against the Padres in Games 1 and 3.
Sometimes when teams stop hitting like that at the end of one season, they don’t start until the next.
By the way?
The Mets weren’t supposed to be suspicious of Joe Musgrove spinning balls like he was Sandy Koufax last Sunday night?
Apparently not, from some of the ranting and raving you heard after the fact.
My buddy Stanton thinks that Robert Sarver, the outgoing owner of the Suns, should look for work on the L.A. City Council.
Before long people are going to start wondering why Pete Carroll didn’t give the ball to Geno sooner.
Yordan Alvarez of the Astros really does look like Papi Ortiz Jr. right now.
And having himself a week that could be one of those October weeks that turns into a month.
Yankee fans don’t want to hear this, but the record says that the Astros are as good after sign-stealing as they were before it.
And it is worth pointing out again that after losing Gerrit Cole and George Springer and Carlos Correa, they still won 106 baseball games this season.
Yankee fans sure are hoping that Oswaldo Cabrera is their third baseman next season.
One more thing on the Mets:
You look back on what happened at the end for the Mets and realize how defenseless they were when their ace, Scherzer, coughed it up the way he did against the Braves and then the Padres.
And as much fun as he gave us this season when he was healthy, Mets fans have a right to wonder what things are going to be like for Scherzer when he turns 39.
I’ll ask this question again:
Who do you think is going to hit more postseason home runs for the Yankees, Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton?
I read Davante Adams’ apology afterward, but it was still a bush-league move for him to think he could shove that cameraman after the Raiders lost to the Chiefs the other night.
Wait, now Brett Favre tells us he didn’t know where that welfare money was coming from?
I know I shouldn’t be as worried about this as I am, but isn’t Herschel going to need a whole week of Father’s Days?
If you watched the Jan. 6 hearings, you can only come away from them with the conclusion that those hours when the Capitol was under siege are as shameful as this country has ever seen.
And only a bum would try to justify them.
It’s a good thing Harrison Bader is balling the way he is for the Yankees, or this trade deadline would have been one of the emptiest the Yankees have ever had.
I don’t think Judge would ever leave the Yankees for either the Mets or the Red Sox, but the owners of both teams could sure torture Hal Steinbrenner by throwing their hats into the ring.
Phil Mickelson was in Saudi Arabia this week, singing the praises of that LIV Tour, and I was just happy to see Phil back with his people.
Mickelson can’t play a lick any more, but he still can talk.
Al Michaels is still at the top of his game doing those Thursday night games for Amazon.
As bad as these last two Thursdays have been.
Does even Kyrie think he’s full of it sometimes?
When Draymond inevitably ends up on “Masked Singer,” do you think his height will give him away?
This question, once posed by my old pal Liz Smith about Michael Jackson, has to be asked again:
Who gives Kanye the creeps?