Of the 10 new coaching hires across the NFL, where Brian Daboll landed immediately became a place to watch. As the architect and developer of what became one of the NFL's most effective offenses with quarterback Josh Allen, Daboll was a coveted head coaching candidate. Even after two preseason games, it appears the New York Giants hit a home run by hiring Daboll to pilot their rebuilding effort.
It started back in free agency and the 2022 NFL draft. General manager Joe Schoen, who came from Buffalo as the assistant general manager alongside Daboll, had to make the most out of his limited cap space to improve the roster.
The Giants had to release their best cornerback in James Bradberry and also watched Logan Ryan depart in free agency. They couldn't afford to splurge on a notable free agent, leaving them to add fliers who will shore-up positions for the short-term.
The biggest additions to the roster came via the draft.
First-round picks Evan Neal and Kayvon Thibodeaux are immensely talented individuals who can lead their respective units to a brighter future. Neal is a powerful offensive tackle with great potential as a run- and pass-blocker, while Thibodeaux was arguably the best pure pass-rusher in the class.
The future won't come right away, and the Giants are operating under that assumption. Shortly after taking the job, Schoen and Daboll had to make the call on quarterback Daniel Jones' fifth-year option. They declined the option after seeing Jones produce 49 turnovers over 38 games and struggle with durability.
It's possible Jones proves to be a franchise passer in 2022, but that's a mere bonus if he does. The Giants are building their foundation now, setting in place the surrounding pieces for Jones or the next quarterback to take the team to the next level. Daboll's ability to maximize the available talent is a big part of that.
The Giants offense has already shown significant improvement throughout the preseason. The quarterback room has accounted for the second-most passing yards among teams that have played two games. Jones, Tyrod Taylor and Davis Webb have combined for a 69 percent completion rate, 606 yards and three touchdowns so far.
Jones' play has been particularly impressive. He's completed 20 of 26 attempts for 185 yards and one interception. He's trusting his pre-snap reads more and delivering an accurate ball. His protection has improved, and that has led to an increase in effectiveness thus far.
It's early, but even a leap to average offensive play would be meaningful. The Detroit Lions gained a ton of momentum throughout 2021 because they saw a noticeable growth in effectiveness from their game plans. Trusting their big-picture process worked even if the results didn't come right away.
New York's unheralded receivers have also emerged. While Darius Slayton has been relegated to the second and third team, Alex Bachman and Collin Johnson have looked like rosterable players. They've combined for 23 receptions, 262 yards and two touchdowns.
The offense has run crisply. As importantly, the Giants are showing they know how to utilize their array of offensive weapons. If there's a strength on this roster, it's the receiver room when healthy.
While all eyes are on Saquon Barkley in his contract season, the Giants have shown the ability to create rushing lanes for backup Antonio Williams. Williams is tied for fifth in rushing yards with 87 on only 14 carries, good for a 6.2 average. Daboll's offense has produced a 4.6 yard per carry offense on 53 carries thus far.
Whether all that translates to regular-season success for the Giants remains to be seen. Oddsmakers expect them to be bad. DraftKings Sportsbook has their season win total at seven games.
This is for good reason. This was a bad team last year, and they've struggled with injuries over multiple seasons. The best players on the team are the youngest, and the NFC East has stiff competition with Super Bowl hopefuls in Dallas and Philadelphia.
The defense is in good hands under Wink Martindale. Martindale was surprisingly let go from Baltimore despite producing one of the league's more dangerous defenses from 2018 through 2020. They ranked sixth, first and first in those three seasons until injuries derailed their 2021 campaign.
His blitz-heavy approach is a good way of manufacturing turnover opportunities. Increased efficiency on offense will also help Martindale's defense stay out of disadvantageous situations; the Giants turned the ball over eight more times than they took it away in 2021.
Overall, Daboll has already unearthed potential contributors on both sides of the ball, either through his scheme or by hiring the right assistants to identify and develop talent. That's what a rebuilding effort is all about. There will be painful growth along the way.
Regardless of whether 2022 brings more wins than expected or not, the Giants are on the right path to building a successful model. Look for more unheralded playmakers to establish themselves throughout this season as Daboll and his staff maximize their skill sets.
That's been the M.O. of this staff throughout their careers.