The reigning NFL Coach of the Year won’t get to hand the keys to his kingdom to Aaron Rodgers.
But when you orchestrate the sweet, innocent climb from Rock Bottom and your New York Football Giants win a playoff game for the first time in 11 seasons as a rookie head coach, there will be great expectations for Brian Daboll at a time when the last thing the fan base desires is Robert Saleh and Rodgers making this a Jets Town, if only temporarily.
“You’re the New York Giants. … You always have great expectations,” special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey told The Post while walking in the team’s field house toward the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl banners overhead — opposite the 1986 and 1990 banners. “So that’s nothing new around here. When you walk around this facility and you look up and you see the banners, you know that walking in the door. It’s great tradition, we’ve been here since 1925, so there’s always been high expectation levels of where you want to be as a football team in respect to our fan base and our tradition.”
Daniel Jones got paid, GM Joe Schoen added speed and new toys for his $40M Man and upgraded the run defense, DC Wink Martindale and OC Mike Kafka return following head-coach interviews … and Saquon Barkley will return as well, and hopefully with a new deal before training camp that will leave both sides satisfied.
“Every year’s a new year,” Martindale told The Post. “There were times that we won games last year that everything just hit just right. High expectations doesn’t make you nervous as a coach ’cause you want high expectations. That means you’re doing the right things with your job.
“But it’s how you handle the setbacks. And that’s what gives me confidence about working with Dabes.”
The Eagles remain The Team to Beat in the NFC East. But they lost their DC and OC to head-coaching jobs. The Cowboys are a threat. But hope springs eternal now for the Giants fan.
“We have to handle it like we would any season,” Kafka said. “Right now where we’re at, just focusing on us in this Phase 3 part of it, getting better each day.
“I think when that time comes to get ready to play, we’ll be ready for it.”
Daboll walked toward media members on the far end of the field house expressly to apologize for them having to come out for what became a lazy, hazy day of treacherous air quality that forced the cancellation of practice and player availability. He was not scheduled for a press session.
“I loved his approach to the culture of the building,” McGaughey said. “I loved the way he was just his true authentic self. I think he was unapologetically himself, and I love that about him. I think he is a helluva teacher, he’s a helluva motivator, and he’s a student of the game, and he’s always trying to find a competitive edge on the opponent. I love his approach to it, he’s super intense, and he’s exactly what we needed.”
Adversity hits every team at some point in the season. Daboll never blinked when it did.
“He relishes consistent every week,” Martindale said, “and that’s something I strive to do — I don’t know if I do it as well as he did — but he was consistent … how he handled players, how he handled coaches, how he handled games. I think that’s what led to a lot of our success.”
You cannot coach in this market if you are not comfortable in your own skin. Daboll lets Wink and his outsized personality be Wink. He lets Kafka handle the play-calling.
“He has a really simple way of seeing the game,” Kafka said, “and I think keeping it simple in your mind, especially as a first-time play-caller, keeping it simple in your mind, having your plan, kinda building that plan. … I think that was one thing I learned from him, he sees the game in a simple way, and you want to try and make it as clear in your mind as possible, so that way you can go operate.”
McGaughey was assistant special teams coordinator for Tom Coughlin and special teams coordinator for Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge. Daboll knew he was a keeper.
“I think he’s just authentic, he’s a real guy,” Kafka said. (See Daboll cheering on the Rangers at MSG alongside Schoen). “He’s obviously coached a long time in this league, so he has a lot of experiences to fall back on. I think guys respect that, players respect that. And then, I think he’s a smart guy. He can communicate what he’s looking for and what he wants. That’s hard for a lot of people, and I think Dabes has a good way about him. He’s able to do that.”
Success won’t spoil Brian Daboll. He’ll be the same guy. And every day.
“He’ll be the same guy, that’s who he is,” Kafka said. “That’s who he was last year, he wasn’t trying to pretend to be anybody else.”
Ready, willing and Daboll again.