Giants are who they are: Gritty, well-coached and good

by Catherine


Jaylon Smith Leonard Williams cropped 11/13/22

Jaylon Smith Leonard Williams cropped 11/13/22

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Giants are who they are. You’d be silly to expect anything else by now. Nothing significant will change at this point in the season.

Flashy? Please. At times they’re downright ugly. Why? Because their defense has its issues. Their offense, aside from the magnificent Saquon Barkley, is void of impactful playmakers. They’re so far from a perfect team and, several times each Sunday, that’s overwhelmingly obvious.

But who really gives a damn?

Because what the Giants are is tough. They’re gritty. They’re incredibly well coached. They absorb more punches than they dodge, but they’re never knocked out. They keep coming … and coming … and coming for every millisecond of those 60 minutes.

And that recipe helped them beat the Houston Texans on Sunday, 24-16. It’s why they have a sterling 7-2 record to this point. The Giants are steamrolling toward the postseason because of that brand of football.

So does anything else really matter?

No, no it does not.

“I embrace winning,” wideout Darius Slayton said.

Defensive end Leonard Williams stood by his locker not long after Sunday’s clock hit triple zeros. He was asked about legacies and those of past Giants’ teams. In his opinion, and with all due respect to those who came before him, he didn’t want to follow in anyone’s footsteps. The way he put it: He and his teammates wanted to build their own legacy.

That’s happening before our very eyes.

The Giants were believed to be one of the worst teams in the NFL when this season began. It’s not too hard to see why. They had issues at cornerback. They had many issues at linebacker. Their pass rushers were young. They were learning a new scheme. They had Barkley on offense, yes, but a lame-duck quarterback in Daniel Jones. And, aside from Barkley, Jones had virtually nothing to work with at receiver or tight end. The offensive line was good at tackle (Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal), but a massive question mark on the interior.

And most of those problems are evident each Sunday. Take this game against the Texans, for example. Houston running back Dameon Pierce had 122 total yards (94 on the ground). Quarterback Davis Mills threw for 319. Barkley was incredible (career-high 35 rushes for 152 yards and a score), but aside from Slayton’s 95 receiving yards, few others made impactful plays.

The Texans finished Sunday with more yards (387 to 367) and first downs (22 to 19) than New York.

It just doesn’t matter. With the Giants it never seems to matter. They grind and grind and grind, then find ways to win the game. They do it week … after week … after week.

“I can’t speak for the future and I can’t speak for the past,” Williams said. “Speaking for what we’ve done up to this point? I feel like we have been setting the foundation for a good team. We have everything ahead of us right now to be a legacy team.”

There’s likely going to come a time where the Giants play an opponent and the talent discrepancy is so stark their effort can’t make up the difference. To this point, though, that hasn’t happened. The Giants are so remarkably well-coached it keeps them in games with teams who look past them because of the names on their roster. Then, late in games, they find ways to pull it out or ice it down.

The Giants needed game-winning drives from Jones and Co. against the Titans, Panthers, Packers, Ravens and Jaguars. Against the Texans, though, their offense gained the lead and their defense closed it out. Three times the Texans threatened scoring in the second half. The Giants forced and recovered two fumbles, and rookie safety Dane Belton intercepted an end-zone pass.

“There’s no such thing as visions,” rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux said. “You’re either going to manifest it and work towards it, or you’re just going to hope. For me and the team, we don’t dream and we don’t hope. We put the work in, dedicate, stick to the facts.”

This game against Houston was a big one for the Giants as it presented them another test. For the first time all year the Giants played an opponent the masses outside East Rutherford felt they were better than. They were — an alien concept in 2022 — the betting favorites. It presented an opportunity for a letdown. The Giants couldn’t play the underdog card, which could have led to the team losing some of its edge.

The Giants instead opened the game with a 10-play, 73-yard touchdown. They spent the ensuing four quarters running the ball down Houston’s throat. At no point did the Giants trail in this game. They played a team they were better than — and they beat the team they were better than.

That’s the sign of a good team.

The Giants have a chance to do the same thing next Sunday against the Lions (3-6). They need to beat Detroit, too, before their schedule takes a turn for the more challenging. New York still has to play the undefeated Eagles twice, a Thanksgiving date with the red-hot Cowboys, and a Christmas Eve battle with the maybe-not-overrated Vikings.

That’s quite the challenging set of games.

Then again, that’s another trait of this Giants team.

They never back down from anyone.

And more times than not, they come out on top because of it.



Content Published on: 2022-11-14 13:24:24

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