Perhaps a new philosophy during the preseason game will break through the regular season starts for the Warriors.
“I expect all of our guys to play Thursday,” first-year coach Brian Daboll said before sharing his plans with the team in the preseason opener against the New England Patriots. That means healthy starters won’t be rested to prevent injury — even though it’s common these days to sit starters around the NFL.
“Everybody is in a new offensive and defensive line here,” Daboll said. “I think that’s important in playing football: getting live reps. I cannot tell you now how frequent it will be. I think it will be less for some and more for others, and each game will have a plan going into it.
Canceled pre-season games in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions. When the Expos returned last season, then-Giants head coach Joe Judge erred on the side of caution and — like his mentor Bill Belichick — viewed the first four regular-season games as an extended preseason ramp, which proved costly.
Running back Saquon Barkley played one preseason game in his four-year career and quarterback Daniel Jones played one last season. Neither Kenny Golladay nor Kadarius Toney played last preseason as both receivers struggled with injuries.
The Giants have started 0-2 in each of the last five seasons and are 7-30 in September and October under three different head coaches. The Buffalo Bills, with Daboll as offensive coordinator, have finished October with a 5-2 record in each of the last three seasons.
How can a team get off to a fast start with less time to prepare than two practices a day and three preseason games?
“There is more sports science. There are further analyses,” said Dabol. “I’d say I’ve learned a lot from my time in Buffalo, on a historically fast start. A very healthy list. I think it’s a coach [Sean] “McDermott does a good job of getting them ready early, and at the end of the day it’s about the players … making the plays under pressure and making the plays when they need them.”
One thing Daboll noticed during Friday’s intrasquad scrimmage — when the Giants’ starters ran 34 plays in 45 minutes — was that their bodies were tired and needed better conditioning. During Sunday’s practice, the Giants again set up similar units, drilling red zone plays on one end of the field and running to the other end.
“The strength, the effort, the energy was good,” said Dabol. “In terms of reps or more conditioning, we’ll add a little bit more.”
A year ago, Judge’s Giants were surprised to find so much emphasis on running practice errors as penalties. Long sprints are always tough on linemen, many of whom seem gassed.
“I think we can be better,” center John Feliciano said when asked if his players were in shape.
Safety Xavier McKinney wore a helmet with a line of communication with the coaches for the rookie defensive back.
Linebacker Darrian Beavers is on the second team and safety Yusuf Corker is on the third team as well as the second-teamer when Beavers isn’t in the game. Keep in mind the level of confidence gained when it comes to roster cuts.