EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After his first three seasons resulted in him sitting at home this time of year, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones says he isn’t content with simply making the playoffs. He wants more. He’s not viewing a surprising first playoff appearance as playing with house money.
The underdog and sixth-seeded Giants play on the road against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon in their first trip to the playoffs since 2016.
“We’re definitely not satisfied just to make the playoffs. That’s not how we see it as a group,” Jones said. “We were confident dating back to training camp and knew what we were able to accomplish. We are by no means satisfied to be in the playoffs. We expect to play well and to win and that is our expectation every week. That hasn’t changed.”
The Giants (9-7-1) reached the playoffs in their first year under coach Brian Daboll, even if it wasn’t necessarily expected. General manager Joe Schoen and Daboll tempered expectations publicly this summer.
But behind the scenes, it appears to have been different.
“[Daboll] said it from Day 1: We’re going to be humble about it; we’re going to go about our work while everyone sleeps on us,” fourth-year safety Julian Love said.
Love is also in the playoffs for the first time in his career. He said in a radio interview Tuesday that he’s confident in his team and believes they can make a run in the postseason.
It begins in Minnesota, where the Vikings beat the Giants three weeks ago on a 61-yard Greg Joseph field goal as time expired. So they’re aware nobody is sleeping on them anymore.
“Now that we’re in the playoffs, no one is under the radar. … Teams know who we are,” Love said.
Jones, 25, in particular has shown the league what he can do under the tutelage of Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. He finished seventh in the NFL in QBR (60.7) and had perhaps his best game of the season in the previous meeting against the Vikings. The fourth-year quarterback threw for a season-high 334 yards in the 27-24 loss in Minnesota.
The playoffs are an opportunity to reach that next level. This is where Giants fans have seen their team do damage in the past. Twice Eli Manning led the wild-card Giants to a Super Bowl victory.
Jones told ESPN on Wednesday that he plans to reach out to Manning later this week for advice. The two are still friendly after playing together during the 2019 season.
In the meantime, Jones has asked around to others about what to expect in the postseason.
“I’ve spoken with some of the older guys, some of the coaches,” he said. “A lot of guys talk about the speed of the game and that increasing in the playoffs and just how critical each play is. And it’s one or two plays here or there that’s going to make the difference. In a regular-season game, maybe it’s a handful. But in the playoffs, these are good teams that you’re competing against. It’s one or two plays that’s going to make the difference. So, we understand that. We understand what’s at stake. We’re going to stick to what’s gotten us here. We’re going to stick to the routine, the preparation that we’ve been putting in.”
That is the Daboll influence. He has been steadfast about maintaining a sense of normalcy. He called the first practice day of this playoff week a “normal Wednesday.” He referred to Sunday’s matchup as the “next game.”
Unlike many of his players, this is not Daboll’s first playoff game. He has been an assistant in 30 postseason games with the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills. His teams have a 23-7 record, and he’s 5-0 in Super Bowls.
So the Giants coach knows a little something about making a run.
“It just goes back to being consistent and doing the things that we need to do to prepare for this game. That’s really what it comes down to,” Daboll said. “How we play on Sunday and how we prepare during the week, those are the most important things.”
And maybe it can lead to another game next week and the week after that.