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I’m On A Boat
Maybe you remember how you celebrated the New Year in 2017. Maybe you don’t. We all know how the receiving core of that season’s New York Giants did, though.
On Jan. 1, 2017, the Giants outlasted division-rival Washington, 19-10, at FedEx Field to clinch the franchise’s first postseason since 2011. That same day, Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Roger Lewis, and Sterling Shepard flew to Miami and partied it up, finding themselves on a boat wearing winter clothing with Trey Songz the next morning. This was the setting for the now-infamous boat picture.
Before the receivers had even left Miami, the photo had gone viral. In 2021, Cruz recounted the tale of the boat picture while on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. The sheer scale of the photo’s reach didn’t fully sink in with Cruz until his mother called him.
“Are you on a boat with a beanie on?” he said she asked him on the phone while he and his teammates waited for the flight out of Florida.
The picture’s lore grew when the Giants laid an egg in their playoff game at Green Bay on the following weekend, 38-13, which led to Beckham smashing a hole in a wall in Lambeau in the aftermath. The years since haven’t been kind to New York’s G-Men – the franchise failed to qualify for the postseason in each of the subsequent five seasons and cobbled together a combined record of 22-59 from 2017 through 2021, unable to avoid double-digit defeats in any of those campaigns.
That is, until now.
On Sunday, the Giants secured their spot in the 2023 NFL Playoffs with a 38-10 beating of the Colts, seemingly stomping out the cursed boat photo’s looming influence once and for all. It only took three head coaches and six years to get here.
The Giants Reach The Playoffs
This was not supposed to be the year the Giants flipped the script. In the publication’s preseason predictions, nobody at The Ringer thought this team would see the playoffs. CBS picked the Giants to go 5-12 and finish last in the NFC East. ESPN placed New York at No. 28 in its preseason power rankings, with Matt Bowen opening, “The Giants will struggle again, which means they will draft Alabama QB Bryce Young in 2023. The Giants will move on from quarterback Daniel Jones after this season, shifting their focus to the draft prep of Young.
This is not intended to rub these freezing takes into anyone’s face. I have been wrong about many things before, sometimes also in writing. This is to highlight the shock that has been the 2022-23 NY Giants.
Now through 17 weeks of this season, the Giants are 9-6-1 in the most difficult division in the league and have guaranteed a forthcoming postseason trip. Not even seeding is up for grabs in the final regular season contest – the Giants will be the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
With one of the league’s most potent rushing attacks and a quarterback who rarely throws to the other team, Brian Daboll has his squad performing well above expectations. The first-year head coach has transformed the hapless, 4-13 Giants of 2021 into a possible thorn in the side of some of the NFC’s top outfits.
Brian Daboll: Winner.
Daboll is a man who has been around a lot of winning. He joined the Patriots in 2000, was promoted to wide receivers coach in 2022, and was part of the franchise’s three Super Bowls in the early-2000s. Fast forward to 2013, and Daboll found himself with the Patriots again, this time as tight ends coach, and this time experiencing two Super Bowl triumphs. In 2017, he took his talents to the college level to serve as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. What did the Crimson Tide do that year? They won the national championship. In 2018, he joined the Bills as their offensive coordinator and helped lead them to their first AFC Championship Game in decades with one of the league’s most effective offenses.
Has Daboll brought that same knack for winning to New York? So far, so good.
In 2021, the Giants averaged fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground and scored the second-fewest points per game in the NFL (15.2). Injuries didn’t help, but mistakes were plentiful. Giants fans rarely enjoyed it when their team had the ball.
In 2022, it was as if 2021 never occurred. The same Saquon Barkley who couldn’t reach 600 yards rushing last season has already gone for 1,312 yards on the ground in this campaign with five times the touchdown output. Jones became one of the best quarterbacks in the league at taking care of the football. Dexter Lawrence is providing nightmares for opposing backfields.
The Giants aren’t without flaws. Jones is one of the most-sacked quarterbacks in the NFL, the defense can be porous, particularly against the run, and the team could do with generating more takeaways from its opponents. But for a one-season turnaround and the end of a playoff drought, you can’t complain too much.
It is with great relief and liberation that Giants fans rejoice at the end of an era defined by a photograph of shirtless, boot-wearing boat-goers and a joint-toting Trey Songz. There is still plenty of work to do, including but not limited to winning the franchise’s first playoff game since 2011. Before anyone gets ahead of themselves, celebrating how far Daboll and his Giants have come in the span of one calendar year after a half-decade of stinky ones is only appropriate.
But What If We Did Look Ahead…
It’s only natural to look ahead, and ahead is the NFL Playoffs. High-stakes games between the best of the best – even if your team didn’t make the cut, you’re still excited for what’s to come. Maybe you even think you know a thing or two about what the future holds.
Prove it. There is $5,000 worth of prizes up for grabs in RYP’s Precision Playoff pool. Enter for free, pick against the spread, predict game scores, and watch your points add up, hopefully enough to get you into a top-five finish and some cold, hard cash.
Are the Giants a paper tiger? A dark horse poised to make a run? The eventual Super Bowl champions? That’s for you to decide, then hope that yelling at your TV screen from hundreds of miles away is enough to deliver the results you promised.