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The Giants’ Flaws Are Obvious: They Don’t Have Enough Captains

10:37 AM EDT on September 11, 2023

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 10: Mark Glowinski #64 of the New York Giants recovers a fumble during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on September 10, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

It was all going so well for the New York Giants—for five minutes and 43 seconds. They had marched down the field with little resistance from the Cowboys, Daniel Jones carving up the defense with his legs as he began his "justify contract extension" season and the Giants sought to prove that last year was no fluke. They were inside the Dallas 10 and looking to score, but more than that, looking to make a statement. Then everything went to Moonachie.

LT Andrew Thomas false-started. Then center John Michael Schmitz made a bad snap. Then this happened:

This would prove the high point of the rest of the game for the Giants, as the Cowboys, limited only by their own innate mercy or the limits of their cardio training, stomped to a 40-0 win in the season opener. "Embarrassing," one Giants player declared. "[T]he worst loss I’ve experienced in my life."

Fortunately for New York, it is a long season and one loss is one loss, no matter how comprehensive or humiliating. Doubly fortunate for New York, what ails them can be fixed. They simply need more captains.

The Giants entered the season with an NFL-record 10 captains, a sign this team was up to the gills in leadership. But after this Week 1 demolition, it's clear that 10 isn't nearly enough.

Consider: Did Thomas's momentum-killing false start penalty occur because he felt the pressure of being among the just 18.86 percent of rostered Giants with a captain's C, and the only one on the offensive line? Did he then overcompensate two plays later, injuring his hamstring while trying and failing to run down the blocked field goal like a good captain should? To both, I say: assuredly.

Did Schmitz make a bad snap, and did guards Josh Ezeudu and Ben Bredeson let Juanyeh Thomas split them to block the field goal because they felt like they'd let their teammates down when they were not named captains? Undoubtedly. Did Graham Gano, as a captain, feel like he had to do it all himself and kick the ball too low? Indubitably.

Was Saquon Barkley feeling so guilty about the 43 Giants who aren't captains, and their disappointed families, that his mind wasn't on securing this ball?

Did Daniel Jones go 15-for-28 for just 104 yards and two interceptions because he feels a nagging jealousy for being the only one in the two-person QB room who is legally allowed to come to midfield for the coin toss? Does the power imbalance make every interaction awkward? Does a little voice in Jones's head taunt him every time he speaks to Tyrod Taylor, warning him that Taylor is envious and wants to claim his precious "C"? I don't think I even need to answer that one.

Brian Daboll can and must address the captaincy inequality that is tearing apart his roster. It stands to reason: If a captain provides leadership, then each additional captain provides more leadership, and if everyone is a captain then there will be maximum leadership. It's not merely ceremonial: I am the captain of Going To Sleep At Halftime When My Team Is Down Four Scores, and last night I performed my duties admirably and set an example for all to follow.

Sure, the Giants already have a quarterback captain, a running back captain, an offensive line captain, a tight end captain, a defensive tackle captain, a defensive end captain, a linebacker captain, a cornerback captain, a safety captain, and a kicker captain. But if they had a receiver captain, maybe this wouldn't have happened:

And look, if you're going to have a change-of-pace back to try to ease Barkley's workload, that back needs to be a captain.

A distinct lack of captains could doom the Giants to a lost season. It's not too late, but Daboll must tune out the naysayers who claim, erroneously, that the problems are not captain-related. You hear them everywhere, spreading their oleaginous poison. They Giants have no pass protection, they claim. The wide receivers stink, they insist. The defense can't "make a stop." Daniel Jones is "not" "very" "good." Balderdash! They just need additional captains.

"I’m supposed to be a captain and a leader," Andrew Thomas said. "And I don’t think I played to that standard today.” All of this can be solved with more captains. Next captain up.

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