Brian Daboll offers long-awaited hope as Giants reward his faith

There is hope. You can feel it. You can taste it. It’s not an illusion, not after that. The Giants have wandered the desert for so long, and their fans have waited for signs — however small — of better times to come. Well, better times are ahead.

And for a week, anyway, better times are here.

As Randy Bullock’s 47-yard field goal moved to the left, securing that Giants 21-20 victory over the Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, it was Brian Daboll whose smile might have revived the plane. As well he should have. Because it was Daboll who made a bold and courageous choice on his first official day at work. And was rewarded. A hundredfold.

Before the last practice, led 20-13, Daboll gathered his attack around him. He had a message for them.

« If we score, » Daboll said. “We are going to go together. Are you okay with that? »

The message from his players was immediate.

“Eff yeah,” they replied.

They scored. Daboll held up two fingers. There wasn’t a soul among the 67,805 inside the stadium, or the thousands of Giants fans at home watching on TV, who didn’t immediately realize what Brian Daboll was at that that time.

“We will aim for victory,” he would say later.

Brian Daboll gave the Giants new hope.
Brian Daboll gave the Giants new hope.

They won, okay, and so they start a 1-0 season for the first time since 2016, and they showed a tenacity that contenders wearing Giants uniforms haven’t shown much in years. They were on the verge of blowing themselves up and instead picked up one of the most satisfying wins in recent memory.

Later, his players would give Daboll the match ball. He was uncomfortable with it.

But too bad if he didn’t deserve it.

« Our coach told us, he’s going to coach us and sometimes put himself in situations that most coaches wouldn’t, » receiver Sterling Shepard said. “That’s what our mindset was all the way. It’s not going to lead scared. He will train with his foot on the pedal.

For a while, there was a real Groundhog Day feel to this one, as the Titans took a 13-0 halftime lead that looked like 30-0, which in truth would have maybe should have been 30-0. But the Giants were still hanging around when Daboll was able to talk to them at the break. And then, suddenly…

BAM! Saquon Barkley, 2018 edition, showed up, reeling off a 68-yard run. Moments later it was 13-6.

BANG! Daniel Jones joined Shepard on a 65-yard field goal play.

Brian Daboll, left, celebrates with Daniel Jones.
Brian Daboll, left, celebrates with Daniel Jones.

But there was more. There was a strong reluctance to fold once the Titans came back and took a 20-13 lead. There was a stubborn refusal to allow a terrible interception by Jones in the Tennessee end zone to ruin their day.

And then, after another long run from Barkley and another short pass from Jones TD, this one to Chris Myarick, came Daboll’s Defiant decision: he was going to go for two. He was going for the win (or at least the lead). He wasn’t going to allow the whims of the last 66 seconds of regulation time or extra time to play into this.

He trusted his team. And his team reimbursed him in full. And you could see the confidence boost even before Barkley scored the two-pointer. Daboll couldn’t have made it to his locker room any faster if he had promised them all the million-dollar raises.

« We are going to be aggressive, » Daboll said later. “We want our players to have that mindset as well. If we don’t? I can live with that. »

Now look, there have been plenty of lousy football teams that started their seasons 1-0. There have been many forgotten and forgettable football managers who started their careers 1-0. Even after such a brilliant victory, Daboll kept his press conference low key. He doesn’t want games like this to be outliers. He wants them to be the norm.

Brian Daboll takes a celebratory shower after the game.
Brian Daboll takes a celebratory shower after the game.

And for the first time in a long time… it’s possible to truly believe they will be.

« We are trying to build something, » Daboll said. « We’re a long way off but it’s good to have that first W. »

He did his part. He made them believe and then gave them a vote of confidence, and still had faith even as Bullock lined up for the 47-yarder that in so many past seasons would have undoubtedly split the amounts. At that time, Daboll had no big ideas.

« I was hoping the SOB would miss it, » he said.

He missed it. The Giants won. They’re 1-0, and Brian Daboll is 1-0, and suddenly there’s plenty of opportunity at 1925 Giants Drive. At least there is hope.


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