Brian Daboll admitted he and his staff were “out-coached” by the Philadelphia Eagles when the New York Giants were beaten 38-7 in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday, January 21, per NBCS Philly’s Dave Zangaro:
Daboll saw the Giants’ Cinderella season come to a sobering end thanks to third-straight defeat to their bitter NFC East rivals. A loaded Eagles team did whatever they wanted on both sides of the ball at Lincoln Financial Field, but Daboll still left himself open to criticism for some questionable decisions, including going for it on fourth down with the Giants trailing 14-0 early in the first quarter.
Although Daboll’s blunt assessment of his own performance is refreshing, one Giants Super Bowl winner wasn’t impressed by how ill-prepared his team appeared in its biggest game.
Super Bowl Kicker Trashed ‘Unprepared’ Coaches
Lawrence Tynes’ booted the Giants into two Super Bowls with some clutch kicking, so he knows what it takes to win high-stakes games at this time of the year. Tynes didn’t pull any punches about what he saw when the Giants fell behind 28-0 by halftime in Philadelphia.
The 44-year-old dubbed his former team “completely unprepared.”
Tynes was directing his ire squarely at Daboll and his assistants by the end of the game:
It’s a tough verdict, but the bottom line isn’t pretty for Daboll after a three-game tilt against Eagles’ counterpart Nick Sirianni. The latter is only in his second year, but he’s owned the man Heavy’s Senior NFL Reporter Matt Lombardo believes “has a strong case as the most impressive coaching hire in NFL history.”
Part of the reason Sirianni has dominated Daboll is because he’s taken the latter out of his comfort zone. Daboll has consistently been forced into making reckless decisions against the Eagles.
One of those occurred just over 10 minutes into the opening period when Daboll left his offense on the field for 4th-and-8 barely 10 yards into Eagles’ territory. It didn’t go well:
Bold aggression has defined Daboll’s first season in charge, ever since he went for two to beat the Tennessee Titans in Week 1. Yet, most of his gambles have been calculated.
Risking giving the Eagles a short field by trying to convert a down-and-distance situation when the percentages were against his offense, appeared desperate. It kept the Giants in the eye of the storm instead of easing the pressure.
Fourth-down calls don’t always work, but game-planning and failing to adjust against Sirianni’s core schemes on both sides of the ball proved just as costly.
Giants Had No Answers for Eagles’ Familiar Ploys
It wasn’t as if the Eagles did anything the Giants couldn’t have expected from their previous meetings. Instead, Sirianni’s team won the same way they’ve won all season. By running the ball on offense and swarming around the pass pocket defensively.
The Giants appeared wholly unprepared for either approach. In particular, coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s defense had no answers for an Eagles’ run game built around mobile quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Several highlights from NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger showcased how easily the Eagles manhandled the Giants in the trenches. It was a surprise considering the strength of Martindale’s defensive front is in the middle, where All-Pro nose tackle Dexter Lawrence II and Leonard Williams line up:
This was basic and familiar stuff from the Eagles, but the Giants had no answers. There was no alteration of the line splits or techniques played by Lawrence and Co., and few run blitzes called to counter the tidal wave on the ground.
Martindale could hardly blame any deficiency in talent for the one-sided fare. Not when he had his line fully healthy for the first time this season and safety Xavier McKinney and cornerback Adoree Jackson available in the secondary.
The Giants’ defense was simply out-thought and outfought.
The story played out the same way for the Giants on offense. Worryingly, the Eagles knew what was coming.
Defensive end Brandon Graham explained the Eagles knew how to take away quarterback Daniel Jones’ strengths, per Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar: “Just taking away that first read because we knew they wanted to take us out of the game by getting away quick throws and by him extending the play with his legs. When you look at [Bills quarterback] Josh Allen and you see the system that he runs, it’s similar to what [the Giants] run; the same thing. We just played off that. Take away his first [read] and get him to move around. We gave ourselves a chance to put pressure on him. I think it’s a credit to [Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon] and the coaches.”
That’s a damning indictment of the predictability of the Giants’ offense under Daboll and coordinator Mike Kafka. Their simple formula helped revive Jones’ career this season, but the coaches need to take things up a notch in the future.
They’ll also need to better protect a line that allowed Jones to be sacked five times. Edge-rusher Haason Reddick ran riot, per Baldinger, who noted the Giants “had no answer” for the player who notched 1.5 of those sacks.
Daboll worked a minor miracle to return the Giants to the playoffs in Year 1, but the things that took people by surprise this season won’t fool anybody in 2023. A much-needed infusion of talent at wide receiver, interior offensive line and inside linebacker needs to be allied with fresh thinking from those patrolling the sidelines.