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Giants shock football world with impressive season

By Brady Campbell, Staff Writer

The New York Giants went well beyond expectations this year, finishing 9-7-1 in the regular season, followed by their first playoff win since the 2011-12 season. Entering the 2022 National Football League (NFL) season, the Giants were at the bottom of the barrel. The franchise hasn’t had a winning season since 2016, when they finished 11-5, before falling in the Wild Card round to the Green Bay Packers. 

Their record from 2017-21 was tied with the New York Jets for a league-worst 22-59. In that period, the team went through turmoil in the front office, coaching and team. When General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll were hired following their time in the Buffalo Bills organization, the fanbase was cautiously optimistic. 

The 2022 NFL Draft marked the beginning of the new regime, and the team selected defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackle Evan Neal with the fifth and seventh overall picks respectively. Even with a good draft class, many fans tempered their expectations.

Junior broadcasting major Brendan Kaufman was caught off guard by the Giants’ fast start.

 “I did not expect them to win many games. I thought that they would be picking high in the draft,” he said.

While Kaufman was not expecting much from the team, junior broadcasting major Perry Balsamo was more optimistic.

 “The expectations going into this season were a little bit better than the previous years,” Balsamo said. “I don’t think anybody really expected them to have a winning record.”  

Questions still surround quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley heading into the 2022-23 season. Both have been injured for portions of their young careers, and when they have played, they have not been explosive. All eyes were on them as they both are set to become free agents during the 2023 offseason. Facing a lot of pressure from the media going into the season, both of them responded with the best seasons of their career. 

Jones threw for a career-high 3,205 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, the second most in his career after his rookie season in 2019. Meanwhile, Barkley had a career high in rushing-yards this season with 1,312, while also scoring 10 touchdowns, the second-most since his rookie season in 2018. 

Kaufman believes the Giants should resign both of their offensive weapons.

“They should definitely bring them back, but I don’t think they should be giving Daniel Jones Lamar [Jackson] money. He should be getting more of a Derek Carr type of contract,” Kaufman said. “For Saquon, I don’t know what they should give him because the second contract for running backs is always a bit shaky.” 

After an ugly ending to the season when the Giants fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 38-7, some began to question their value to the team once again. However, with an unexpected playoff berth and victory, this put the team ahead of schedule in their rebuild. 

Balsamo believes in the culture the new regime has instilled hope for next season.

“Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley are the heart of the team right now. Hopefully, they stick with the team because the organization seems to be focused on them,” he said. “When healthy, both of them can perform. We have seen it this season, and I think it was enough to influence the front office.” 

Both Balsamo and Kaufman believe that the new faces brought in will help bring the franchise back to a high standard of football. 

“They have been able to win games,” Balsamo said. “They played more aggressively this year than they have in the past. Whether it’s going for it on fourth down or going for a two-point conversion, at least they are showing that they actually want to win games.”

Though this is a great start to the rebuild, the Giants still have a lot of holes to fill. Despite lacking talent in many areas, the Giants were able to overcome that in their 31-24 Wild Card win against the Minnesota Vikings. However, these holes were displayed in the blowout loss to the Eagles a week later. 

Kaufman believes that finding more depth will help the Giants become constant contenders for years to come.

 “They have an okay offensive line, but they need more depth. They should probably go for a weapon or a tackle in the draft or free agency,” he said. Their defense has been all right, but realistically, they need more talent.” 

Balsamo put an emphasis on being able to win games against their division rivals. 

“During the regular season, they didn’t beat the Eagles or Cowboys once, and that definitely hurt them later on, especially mentally in the playoff game with the Eagles,” he said.

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the NFL announced the nominees for their yearly awards. Brian Daboll was nominated for the Coach of the Year award, given to the coach that brings the most out of his team. 

Many believed throughout the season that Daboll was a favorite for the award, and that still holds. The other two coaches nominated, Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and Doug Pederson of the Jacksonville Jaguars, have also had incredible seasons with their teams. 

Kaufman feels that any of them could win, but Daboll should be the favorite.

“Daboll should probably win. If not him, then Shanahan. I think they both had excellent leadership throughout the season,” Kaufman said.

Balsamo agrees, as he has a clear hopes for his favorite team’s head coach.

“Daboll should definitely win. With the expectations coming into this season for the Giants, he completely blew it out of the water and shattered everyone’s expectations,” he said. “I don’t think anybody thought that they were going to make the playoffs and even advance through the Wild Card.”

Barkley was nominated for the Comeback Player of the Year award, given to the player that has the best season after returning from injury or a benching. 

Both Kaufman and Balsamo could see Barkley winning the award, but believe it should go to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith. 

“[Barkley] didn’t have that bad of a season last year, and he was only hurt for a little while, so I don’t think that’s worthy of winning. Plus, there is a much better candidate in Seattle right now,” Kaufman said. 

Balsamo added, “I know he has dealt with injury in the past, but if you’re going to win the award, I feel like you have to have a monster gap between the one season to the next in terms of production. He performed great this year, but I don’t think he should win.” 

No matter what expectations people have, the NFL has proved time and time again that anything can happen from one season to the next. If any team proved that this season, it was the Giants. After coming back to upset teams like Tennessee, Green Bay and Baltimore, they were finally starting to turn heads. Although it will still take time for them to get the complete respect and trust of the media, the league and most importantly, the fans, they have shown the league that they could be a team to be reckoned with in future seasons.  

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