EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The New York Giants have just one player on their 53-man roster to win a Super Bowl. Many of their top players take on the Minnesota Vikings for the first time in their postseason careers this week.
None of that seems to bother coach Brian Daboll.
“To be honest, the experience is probably overrated,” Daboll said. “It’s about how you prepare, how you train and ultimately how you play the game and train the game, no matter what day it is.”
It’s Sunday afternoon (4:30 p.m. ET) when players like quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, left tackle Andrew Thomas, safeties Xavier McKinney and Julian Love, defensemen Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, long snapper Casey Kreiter and Core Special Teams contributor Cam Brown will all be making their playoff debuts.
That’s nine of the 10 Giants captains who have never seen a postseason game. Only kicker Graham Gano was in the playoffs and Super Bowl from his time with the Carolina Panthers.
The only Giant on the active roster to ever win a Super Bowl is reserve wide receiver Marcus Johnson, who was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles when they won it all in the 2017 season.
New York (9-7-1) has not made the postseason since 2016. Only Landon Collins and Sterling Shepard remain of this team.
The Giants ended a five-year playoff drought in Daboll’s first season as coach. They secured their spot in the postseason with a Week 17 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Now they have a rematch with the third-seeded Vikings, who defeated the Giants last month with a 61-yard field goal on time.
Daboll doesn’t think his side’s lack of experience will play a role in Sunday’s second leg. He’s seen firsthand how players have excelled on their first foray into the postseason.
“I don’t know. I’ve been in so many different situations,” Daboll said. “The first year I was a part of a Super Bowl, the quarterback there in New England had no playoff experience. Some of the guys had them, some didn’t.”
The player Daboll was referring to happened to be Tom Brady. He was a sophomore in the NFL and a freshman year as a starter when the Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams and the Greatest Show on Turf in Super Bowl XXXVI. Since then, Brady has won just six other Super Bowls and is considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time.
Daboll was a defensive assistant on that Patriots team. He also produced former New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, who made the crucial interception in his first playoff appearance in Super Bowl XLIX. Daboll was that Patriots team’s tight ends coach.
Daboll has been on the coaching staff of five Super Bowl winners and a national championship team in Alabama.
“I’ve been on a lot of different teams with different levels of experience,” he said. “Some a lot, some a little. I know someone mentioned Malcolm Butler. I think what really matters is taking your chances when they come. And play a good game of football. A good game of football to train for.”
He added: “No, really, I think [experience is] an overrated thing.”
If true, that would do the Giants good. Barkley and many of his teammates have been waiting for this opportunity. Barkley had never been on a team with a professional-level winning record until this season. Now he’s showing what he can do in the playoffs.
The difference is that there are no repetitions. It’s win or go home at this time of year.
“We’re excited because that’s what you dream of as a kid in the National Football League,” Barkley said. “Not many people on this team have had the opportunity to play in the playoffs. It’s been a tough few years here and we’re finally getting our chance. We feel like we have a balanced team that complements each other really well. It’s a week of the season now.”
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