There is every reason to believe Giants head coach Brian Daboll would come out and say what Jets head coach Robert Saleh gave voice to the other day:
“My opinion, I think 32 teams — 32 coaches — stand in front of their teams every year and talk about winning a championship,” Saleh said.
There is every reason to believe Daboll would not utter — at least publicly — what Saleh did as he finished his thought.
“And then realistically, there’s maybe six or eight teams that have an actual chance to do it. And I do think we are one of those teams.’’
There is no way Daboll would say that in the third week of May, at the start of organized team activity practices. There is no way Daboll would say that at the opening of training camp in mid-July or at the start of the season in early September. That does not mean Daboll is wise and Saleh is wicked or that Saleh is gutsy and Daboll is gutless. What it means is different coaches each has a different modus operandi.
Saleh, after grouping his Jets with the other (in his mind) Super Bowl contenders did add “But none of it matters unless we take care of today.’’ That is classic coach-speak for let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but the juicy part of the quote was Saleh — with Aaron Rodgers at the ready — lifting his team into the rarefied air of the NFL elite.
Daboll does not have (we presume) a surefire future Hall of Famer at quarterback or a returning top-five defense. Even if Daboll is feeling bullish, he is not going to say the Giants have an “actual chance’’ to accomplish anything other than what is right in front of them in the here and now. What we know about Daboll after one season as a head coach is that he eschews the big picture. He can be playfully bland when it comes to providing colorful commentary. The bigger and broader the question, the smaller and more generic the response.
It took Daboll 21 years to work his way up through the NFL ranks before the Giants came calling. There was nothing abrupt about his ascension. He arrived with more than an offensive system and a practice schedule. He arrived with a holistic plan, formulated during all those years waiting for his shot. Daboll has a big personality, but he rarely lets it out when talking about his team. It is advisable to go elsewhere to procure a vivid anecdote about a certain player or to rekindle a particular memory. Daboll knows what you want, but is reluctant to give it to you because he is cautious by nature with his words, realizing high praise today does not guarantee continued success tomorrow.
As the reigning NFL Coach of the Year, Daboll is headed into Year 2 with all sorts of credibility he could not possibly have possessed as a first-time head coach. The Giants, in most circles, were expected to win five or six games. Daboll won nine, and added the franchise’s first playoff victory in 11 years. Ownership is sold on Daboll. The front office is run by general manager Joe Schoen, who brought Daboll to the Giants. The returning players believe in Daboll. If there is a slight step back in 2023, no one will be happy, least of all Daboll, but it will not weaken his hold on the job.
Without Daboll’s blessing, the Giants would not have committed to quarterback Daniel Jones with a four-year contract worth $160 million. That was an investment in Daboll’s vision and Jones’ potential. It all does not have to get done this season. Saleh is on a different timetable. He is 11-23 with two last-place finishes in the AFC East since coming to the Jets and the 39-year-old Rodgers will not be around for the long game.
Daboll’s elan comes from his decisions on the field, not his comments off of it. Co-owner John Mara said his head coach “just has a way of inspiring confidence in players.’’ That is not done by heaping praise on them for mass consumption. “I’m glad we have him’’ or “He’s doing what we’ve asked of him’’ are repeated refrains from Daboll when asked about players performing at the highest of levels.
Daboll was the offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2017 and worked closely with quarterback Jalen Hurts. Prior to a game against the Eagles, Daboll gushed about Hurts with a passion he had not previously lavished on Jones. Daboll’s action of casting his lot in 2023 and beyond with Jones spoke volumes, though.
Proclaiming the 2023 Giants as Super Bowl contenders? Daboll assuredly will not be going there. But that does not mean he can’t think about it, right?