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Giants-Eagles ‘things I think’: Successful year ends, important offseason begins

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Giants-Eagles ‘things I think’: Successful year ends, important offseason begins
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

There are a lot of decisions to be made this offseason

The New York Giants’ 2022-23 season is over. The Philadelphia Eagles sent them into their offseason Saturday night with an emphatic 38-7 kick in the back side. Here are a few ‘things I think’ after Saturday night.

This was a successful season

No doubt this was a disappointing ending. It would have been nice to see the Giants at least be competitive, at least make the Eagles sweat before moving on to the Conference Championship game against either the San Francisco 49ers or the Dallas Cowboys.

Something I wrote Saturday morning holds true. The Giants’ disappointing night does not make the 2022-23 season a disappointment.

There is also no doubt that this was a successful season for the Giants.

Before it began, rookie general manager Joe Schoen had said “I want to make it the best I can. I don’t want to go out and get my head beat in, ever.”

He and the Giants accomplished that, and more.

  • The Giants got to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. They won a playoff game for the first time since their 2011 Super Bowl season.
  • The Giants figured out that they have a head coach and a general manager they can go forward with.
  • They went a long way toward proving that Daniel Jones could indeed be a good NFL quarterback.
  • They found a core of talented, young players who should be able to centerpieces of the franchise for the next several seasons.
  • They became relevant again. Rather than a laughingstock, they were a well-coached, resilient team that won some games against good teams, had to be taken seriously, and will have to be taken seriously going into next season.

The Mara family offered the proper sentiment as coach Brian Daboll headed to the locker room after the game:

So, too, did our Tony DelGenio:

There’s a long way to go

The Giants are good — better than anyone anticipated. On Saturday, though, the Eagles showed the Giants just how big the divide is between being a team capable of making it to the playoffs and being a team truly capable of contending for a championship.

The Giants have to get better. Much better.

The Eagles dominated both lines of scrimmage. They overwhelmed the Giants’ offensive line, sending waves of pass rushers crashing toward Daniel Jones. There was hope that the Giants defensive front, anchored by Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, could control the line of scrimmage. Nope. The Eagles pushed them around and made it clear that the Giants need more help for Lawrence and Williams, not to mention real answers at the linebacker position.

Philadelphia laid waste to the idea that the Giants had found all the answers they needed at wide receiver. Isaiah Hodgins and Darius Slayton were non-factors. Hodgins had one catch for 3 yards, Slayton one catch for 4 yards. Richie James had seven catches, but dropped a pass that should have been an easy touchdown of about 75 yards. It helps when you have All-Pro caliber cornerbacks. The Eagles do. The Giants do not.

Dallas Goedert, like T.J. Hockenson of the Minnesota Vikings, showed the Giants what it is truly like to have a real difference-making tight end.

Interesting offseason ahead

The Giants have a number of critical decisions to make this offseason.

None of those decisions are bigger than how to approach the futures of quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley.

Jones has played well enough to be brought back. He has, though, also played well enough to make himself marketable to other teams. The consensus is that Jones’ market value is somewhere above the $32.4 million franchise tag value.

Barkley had a resurgent year. He finished with a career-best 1,312 yards rushing and 1,650 total yards from scrimmage. I think it is going to be interesting to see how much Schoen and Daboll value a premier running back.

“Everyone knows I would love to be a Giant for life,” Barkley said.

It is hard to imagine the Giants not doing everything they can to bring both players back. There are, though, no guarantees that will happen.

There are plenty of other ptential free agent players about whom the Giants have to make decisions. Here is the full list of unrestricted free agents for the Giants:

S Julian Love; Edge Oshane Ximines; WR Darius Slayton; LB Jaylon Smith; CB Fabian Moreau; LB Jarrad Davis; WR Marcus Johnson; WR Richie James; P Jamie Gillan; LB Landon Collins; S Tony Jefferson; DL Nick Williams; Edge Jihad Ward; LS Casey Kreiter; RB Matt Breida; DL Justin Ellis; C Jon Feliciano; OL Nick Gates; QB Daniel Jones; RB Saquon Barkley; WR Sterling Shepard.

The Giants have to decide whether or not to extend the contracts of players like Andrew Thomas, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams and Adoree’ Jackson.

Coaching carousel

Three teams have asked to interview Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka for their head-coaching vacancies. One has asked to speak with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. Now that the Giants are done playing you can expect Kafka and Martindale to go on interviews this week.

It would be great news for the Giants if both coaches are back with the team next season. Success, though, comes with a price. Less successful teams want your people, and it’s possible the Giants could lose one or both of their outstanding coordinators.

I was asked in a mailbag this weekend about options if Kafka should move on. I am actually more concerned about what happens if Martindale moves on. The obvious in-house candidate might be linebackers coach Drew Wilkins, a Martindale protege. Wilkins, though, might follow Martindale if he lands a head-coaching job.

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