Leonard Williams Credit: Bill Moore photo

With a 19-16 win over the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium this past Sunday, the 2-0 Giants doubled their win total from last season when they were 4-13. It is the first time they have started a season with two straight victories since 2016. The Giants will try to stay undefeated when they host the 1-1 Dallas Cowboys in New Jersey on Monday.
On the surface, the players have collectively adopted the self-assured and purpose-driven characteristics displayed by their first-year head coach Brian Daboll, who in the Giants’ season opening road win versus the Tennessee Titans boldly, and ultimately successfully, went for a two-point conversion with 1:06 remaining and his team down 20-19. 

Daboll didn’t take the conservative path which proved to be a culture building moment as the Giants overcame a 13-0 halftime deficit and held on for a 21-20 victory. Facing the Panthers, he wasn’t confronted with making a similar consequential decision, but the Giants played with the same aggressiveness and swag that early on in Daboll’s tenure is defining them. 

Their new defensive coordinator,  Don “Wink” Martindale, who held the same position with the Baltimore Ravens from  2018-2021, had his unit in attack mode, pressuring Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield into hurried throws and never allowing him to establish a comfortable rhythm in the pocket. 

“I have a lot of confidence in Wink,” said Daboll after the game. “I think the players have a lot of confidence. They’re playing fast. Give a lot of credit to the coaches on the defensive side, but to the players that are out there executing the assignments.
“But again, Wink’s done this a long time. Wink’s not afraid of failure, and that’s really what we want for the entire organization is to not be afraid of failure, not to be afraid of the consequence. If you prepare the right way, you can live with the results.”

Even with lineman Leonard Williams, one of the anchors of the Giants’ interior, exiting the game midway through the third quarter with a sprained MCL in his right knee, the Giants defense remained sturdy. Williams has only missed one game in his eight year career with the Jets and Giants. As of yesterday (Wednesday), there was no definitive assessment of how much time Williams may miss.

Offensively, the Giants scored just one touchdown, a 16-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to tight-end Daniel Bellinger at 9:19 of the third quarter. But kicker Graham Gano had four field goals, including a go-ahead 56-yarder with 3:34 remaining in the game to give the Giants a 19-16 lead. For his performance Gano was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.   

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