Following an entire regime change, not many expected the New York Giants to be playoff-bound in Year 1 under first-time head coach Brian Daboll and first-time general manager Joe Schoen, and yet, here they are as the NFC's sixth-seed getting set for a wild-card round rematch with the NFC's third-seeded Minnesota Vikings. The Giants haven't played a postseason game since the 2016 season, when they lost 38-13 at the Green Bay Packers following a New Year's Day trip to Miami where they took the infamous "boat picture." That picture and season now feel like ancient history, but Daboll isn't worried about his team's lack of postseason exposure since then ahead of their upcoming game in Minnesota.
"I think really what you make out of it is the experience is probably overrated, to be honest with you," Daboll said Monday. "It's how you prepare, how you practice and ultimately how you play the game and coach the game on whatever day it is."
"I've been in so many different situations. The first year that I was part of a Super Bowl, the quarterback didn't have any playoff experience there at New England. Some of the guys did. Some didn't. We had some experience at Buffalo; we lost."
Yes, Daboll was a defensive assistant on the 2001 New England Patriots and the quarterback Daboll was talking about was none other than Tom Brady, who replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe and led the Patriots to the first of their six Super Bowl titles. The Giants head coach was a Patriots assistant coach for five of their six Super Bowl wins across two different stints on Bill Belichick's coaching staff in a variety of roles from 2000-2006 and 2013-2016.
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As the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, he saw his team make it to the AFC Championship game in the 2020 season after a gut-wrenching overtime defeat in the AFC wild-card round in 2019. The year after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship, the Bills lost to them again in the divisional round, a game that's most known for how his offense led by quarterback Josh Allen didn't get the ball in overtime after losing a coin flip.
"We have multiple coaches that coached in a Super Bowl, that have been part of a Super Bowl, been part of runs," Giants running back Saquon Barkley said, via the New York Post. "We're definitely going to need their experience and their coaching ability to help us go where we want to go."
New York does have a few players up and down their depth chart who have tasted the postseason: cornerback Adoree' Jackson was part of a run to the 2019 AFC Championship game with the Tennessee Titans. Center Jon Feliciano and receiver Isaiah Hodgins were with Daboll on the Bills during their previous playoff trips. Wide receiver Richie James reached the Super Bowl in the 2019 season with San Francisco 49ers, and safety Landon Collins is the one player on the current roster who was with the Giants in 2016 the last time they made it. Five other Giants have played playoff football in the NFL as well.
"I've been around a lot of different teams that have had varying levels of experience — some a lot, some a little, some not much," Daboll said. "I think really, what matters is taking advantage of your opportunities when they come and playing a good football game and coaching a good football game. But I really think it's an overrated thing."
Some of Daboll's confidence ahead of the matchup with the Vikings likely stems from how the NFC North champions needed a 61-yard field goal at the buzzer to defeat his team 27-24 up north in Week 16. Another reason could be how historically quirky the 2022 Vikings have been. They're 13-4, but they have a point differential of negative three this season, meaning they have been outscored by an aggregate of three points against all their opponents. That makes this year's Vikings the first team in NFL history with 12 or more wins and a negative scoring margin. Minnesota has won an NFL-record 11 one-score games this season while losing games by 17 (Week 2 at the Philadelphia Eagles), 37 (Week 11 vs. the Dallas Cowboys), 11 (Week 15 at the Detroit Lions), and 24 (Week 17 at the Green Bay Packers).
Come 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Daboll will see if his Giants can take advantage of this latest postseason opportunity against familiar opposition.