EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There is a long way to go for the New York Giants to get back to being a contending team. Coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen are starting from close to scratch.
In a way, they’re overseeing this massive project.
“I think we understand where we are at. Are there times where [Schoen] might say, ‘Hey, we’re in Year 1 or vice versa,'” Daboll said. “I think a lot of times it happens with myself and the offensive staff. Particularly the guys that came from Buffalo. There are times where I am going through my mind and doing things and motioning and shifting and doing all these different things. I told them they better remind me that we are in Year 1 of this and not Year 5 of this in terms of designing plays and tempos and different things like that.
“We are starting to crawl here. We are making progress, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
New York is coming off a 4-13 season in which it averaged a paltry 15.2 points per game. That led to the firing of coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman earlier this year. Daboll and Schoen were hired to take their place.
The Giants, under the three previous regimes, are a combined 22-59 over the past five seasons. That is tied with the New York Jets for the worst record in the NFL over that span.
Enter Daboll and Schoen, who were in Buffalo the previous four years as the Bills were built into Super Bowl contenders. Schoen was the assistant GM under Brandon Beane and Daboll the offensive coordinator.
Now, it’s on their shoulders to get this once-proud Giants franchise right, with this year’s training camp being a huge part of the process.
“We’ve got a lot of evaluating to do,” Schoen said. “We haven’t been in pads [with this team]. Again, the continuity part, some guys are still learning the defense, [Quarterback] Daniel [Jones] hasn’t thrown to some of these receivers. We just signed four new players [Tuesday] so there are a lot of moving parts right now. So, that’s what training camp is about.”
The evaluation process begins with Jones. He is on the final year of his rookie deal after the new regime declined a fifth-year option in his contract earlier this year. Jones is playing for his future in New York.
The Giants will take it day by day with him this summer, saying he has “a lot to learn” in this new offense and that they won’t have a complete assessment until there is some continuity with his playmakers and offensive line. Jones spent the spring with wide receivers Kenny Golladay (leg), Kadarius Toney (knee) and Sterling Shepard (Achilles) on the sideline because of injuries.
Toney caught a pass on the first play of live drills at Giants training camp on Wednesday. He later made a leaping touchdown grab over cornerback Aaron Robinson that prompted the energetic Daboll to sprint from behind the line of scrimmage into the end zone to join the celebration.
It’s a start for this offense which struggled so badly the past two years. It’s also a step in the right direction for Jones, who has something to prove to the new regime with a new contract on the line.
“My focus is to prepare as well as I can and win games,” Jones said. “That’s all I can focus on and it will lead to the best results. That is my mindset. If I do those things, the rest of it will take care of itself.”
He’ll need some help, especially from his offensive line. Jones is expected to have three new linemen in front of him. Free agents Mark Glowinski at right guard and Jon Feliciano at center and seventh overall pick Evan Neal at right tackle.
They were part of Schoen and Daboll giving this team a fresh look this offseason. With it, however, are likely to come some growing pains. It seems to be an inevitability that they anticipate.
This is the process of rebuilding. Or revamping. Whatever they want to call it.
“Again, 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. “There’s a lot of things we still need to evaluate that you can’t get a feel for in the spring, but again to [Daboll’s] 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.”