PHILADELPHIA — About 45 minutes before kickoff of a divisional-round playoff game that will have seemed inconceivable for the Giants in August, Coach Brian Daboll and General Manager Joe Schoen met on the sideline. The team’s co-owner, John Mara, soon joined.
Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch hired Daboll and Schoen last January. Of their first 12 months, as an alternative of muddling through a rebuild, the Giants won nine games within the regular season and their first playoff game since their Super Bowl victory after the 2011 season.
The Cinderella story of sorts ended Saturday night when the Giants lost to the top-seeded Eagles, 38-7, on a cold evening in Philadelphia. The Eagles, one in every of the league’s heavyweights all season, sent the Giants to the off-season with big decisions to make regarding their key players and top assistant coaches.
The Giants slipped right into a 14-0 hole in the primary quarter, behind a sloppy offensive performance and an explosive start by the Eagles. Philadelphia scored touchdowns on its first two series, the second coming on a drive that began at midfield when linebacker Haason Reddick sacked Daniel Jones on fourth down.
Eagles cornerback James Bradberry, who was released by the Giants last May, intercepted Jones on the subsequent drive. By the point Eagles running back Boston Scott plunged into the top zone for a 3-yard touchdown, widening the gap to 21-0 with about seven minutes remaining within the half, the Giants’ sideline looked somber. The sport was never doubtful, and apart from an 8-yard rushing touchdown by Matt Breida and just a few splash moments from running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants showed no resistance.
Still, it was a surprise for the Giants even to succeed in this point. In an interview in August during training camp on the team’s red brick-ladened facility in Recent Jersey, Schoen listed few bombastic goals for his team, which had endured five consecutive losing seasons and had not reached the playoffs since 2016. Schoen and the front office inherited a difficult salary-cap situation, which prevented them from adding free agents or trading for star players.
“I just need to see progress,” Schoen said. “I just need to see the team improving, the execution improving and never beating ourselves and being competitive in all of the games. There’s not loads that we will do financially, so we’re not in a position to do numerous big moves to upgrade what we’ve. But the fellows improving, competing and playing together as one, hopefully that may catapult us going forward as we set the muse and the culture.”
The Giants actually showed progression. They won nine games — that they had won 10 within the previous two seasons combined — and their most significant players shined. Barkley, who had been tormented by injuries since his rookie 12 months in 2018, revived his profession, ending fourth within the league in rushing yards (1,312). Jones played more efficiently and whittled his turnovers, and he appeared to thrive under Daboll, who as offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills helped develop Josh Allen into an elite quarterback.
But on Saturday, the supporting forged struggled. Barkley rushed for 61 yards and Jones took five sacks because the offensive line crumbled. Jones threw for just 135 yards because the receivers did not create space against Philadelphia’s secondary and dropped passes.
The Giants, whose roster all 12 months had holes, in contrast faced a team shrewdly constructed by Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ general manager. Through veteran additions resembling Reddick, Bradberry, receiver A.J. Brown and cornerback Darius Slay, together with draftees in quarterback Jalen Hurts and receiver DeVonta Smith, Roseman over the past three seasons has complied enough talent to make the Eagles a Super Bowl contender.
Hurts, the third-year quarterback who passed for 154 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday, has blossomed into one in every of the league’s best young throwers. The Eagles’ rushing attack, led by Kenneth Gainwell and Miles Sanders, compiled over 200 yards and three touchdowns. The defense allowed just 227 total yards of offense.
Within the regular season, the Eagles burst out to an 8-0 start and won six of their remaining nine games, including two against the Giants. The netted a league-high eight Pro Bowl selections. They are going to host the winner of the divisional-round game on Sunday between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys for the N.F.C. championship.
Each Jones and Barkley are set to enter free agency within the spring unless they’re signed to long-term contracts, and Daboll’s top assistants, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator Don Martindale, have drawn interest for head coaching jobs across the league. With a projected $54 million in cap space and a 12 months of experience implementing their system and culture, Daboll and Schoen are poised to employ an improved roster in 2023. But they face key decisions through the spring and summer that may determine if the team will still be viewed with a Cinderella narrative or as an actual contender.