The dance party was soulful and grooving to Drake’s “Knife Talk,” then really started to move when Notorious BIG’s “Juicy” blared from the speakers in the visitor’s locker room at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
The Giants came to town and Music City was the setting for their own concert tour after they came back on Sunday to defeat the Titans 21-20, marking Brian Daboll’s first game and his first victory as head coach of the NFL. The tunes were rising and Daboll was, well, uh, Daboll was, uh, he was, well, he was kind of making a physical contribution to the festivities.
“They were dancing before I got there,” Daboll said Monday. “I don’t know if I really danced a lot, if you want to call it that.
“It’s good to celebrate with your guys. They put in a lot of work and I give credit to the players who play there. They got a lot of juice after that game, and rightly so. They played a tough 60 minute game, had good and bad games to bounce back from. They brought me into the circle there. I don’t think I would call it dancing.
Daboll, surrounded by his players, jumped up and down to the beat, clapping his hands then waving his arms up and down before pulling down the front of his sweater to accentuate the Giants logo. Closest to him in celebration were Xavier McKinney, Sterling Shepard, Leonard Williams and Oshane Ximines, all going wild like unabashed college kids at a spirited Bar Mitzvah.
Earlier, Ximines had lifted a Gatorade jug and emptied the icy liquid contents onto the shoulders and back of the head coach who decided to give him another shot, a still-young outside linebacker (25) who had been buried by trainer Joe Judge. Personal.
“I didn’t even smell it,” Daboll said.
No kidding. So many around the Giants — and especially their most ardent and angsty fans — were numbed by what happened in Week 1 of the 2022 season. They were down 13-0 at halftime and it felt more like the same from a franchise that was all too familiar with how the storyline unfolded.
Even after Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard, survivors of old training regimes, scored touchdowns and Daboll boldly went for the two-point conversion, down 20-19, with 1:06 remaining to take the lead, he there was an impending sense of doom everywhere. except inside. An organization that hasn’t created its own chance in more than a decade got thrown out of its way when Randy Bullock’s 47-yard field goal attempt sailed left at the buzzer.
If that kick had split the amounts, the Giants and Daboll would be 0-1. He told his team a day later that if that was the case, he wouldn’t have wanted to see anyone with their “heads down”. He started reviewing the game on the flight home and finished it the next morning. There’s a lot, he reported, that needs fixing and cleaning up.
“No matter the result of the game, you always coach the things you need to coach and when you win, the players have a bit more ear because they are happy to have won the game,” said Daboll said. “Certainly when you win there is a little more juice.”
Is it tempting to signify this reversal of fortune with a checkmark in the “culture improvement” column. The Daboll lane is easier to live with than the tougher judge and the players still on the scene in 2020 and 2021 – Barkley, in particular – appreciate the softer touch. At 47, Daboll is comfortable with himself and has learned from the various successes and failures along the long journey – he started his coaching career 25 years ago – that if he doesn’t connect with those around him, it will not work.
“Since they arrived, they’ve shown us that we can be ourselves,” linebacker Tae Crowder said. “They often preach this: just be yourself and have fun with it. It’s something they do too.
For his first game, Daboll had his wife, Beth, and five of his six children with him in Nashville – Christian couldn’t attend his dad’s debut because he was busy working on the Nashville football team. Penn State.
Daboll, looking tired a day later, knows there is a lot of work to do. His guys won a game that few outside the circle expected to win. His huge gamble of going for the win rather than giving away the extra point to shoot even scored huge ratings with the fans. His players were also in love with it but not at all surprised.
Daboll, however, can’t stick to the dance moves he unveiled to mixed and bewildered reviews.
“We’re going to work on that,” receiver Richie James said. “He is loyal to himself. Who is it. He’s a prankster, a good guy.
The guy is 1-0. Cue the music.
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