Giants head coach Brian Daboll coaches against the Eagles during...

Giants head coach Brian Daboll coaches against the Eagles during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday. Credit: Brad Penner

Remember the Titans.

It was back in September when we started to learn about these Giants. They would open the season at Tennessee, going in as five-point underdogs.

A team looking for an identity, the Giants erased a 13-0 halftime deficit and exhaled as Titans kicker Randy Bullock missed from 47 yards as time ticked away.

Brian Daboll’s first game as an NFL head coach was a rousing success. (He even yelled at the quarterback!) Giants fans could dream again. They had a resourceful leader who relates to players, has a no-nonsense quality to him and who is a football guy.

Name another coach who drew up plays in the dirt on the sidelines. We’ll wait.

The Giants reeled off wins in six of their first seven games. They hadn’t won more than seven games in a season since 2016.  

And they still haven’t.  

While the injuries piled up, what do the Giants playoff chances look like after a home loss on Sunday?  Plus, did the Jets get good news regarding Zach Wilson? NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa speaks with Kim Jones and Al Iannazzone about the outlook for both teams for the remainder of the season. Credit: Newsday

Which brings us to Sunday night’s main event.  

Fittingly, the game was moved to prime time. The visiting Giants versus the Washington Commanders. These teams tied in Week 12, 20-20, at MetLife Stadium, an unsavory result to be sure. But Sunday night’s loser will feel worse because it will have a much tougher road to the playoffs.

(Under the new NFL format, seven teams from each conference reach the postseason and only the top seed in each conference earns a bye.)

So Sunday night likely will also represent something of a referendum on these Giants. The question is, should it?

As crazy as this may sound, not much in the big picture has changed for the Giants since they left Tennessee that Sunday evening of the Sept. 11 season opener.

Yes, they won some games, which is not something the Giants can take for granted, given recent history. But they also were handed notice by Jalen Hurts and the Eagles on Sunday that there is a formidable front-runner in the division and that team — and that quarterback — don’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

The Giants, of course, have their own issues.  

The Daboll/Joe Schoen pairing will address the roster in the offseason. Decisions must be made about quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. Those two get top billing, but there will be dozens of ways the new brain trust will Humpty Dumpty the Giants roster. Which is to say it will be built and rebuilt in myriad ways, as the salary cap and spending allows.  

Fixing the wide receiver position will be paramount. That the Giants traded receiver Kadarius Toney to Kansas City at the trade deadline despite their need for bodies at the position is telling. So is the less-than-nothing contribution the Giants have asked for and received from veteran receiver Kenny Golladay, a $40 million mistake  that was a leftover from the previous Giants administration.

An aside on Daboll: He will play to his strengths, especially when he has more of them. In the 2020 season, as the Bills’ play-caller and offensive coordinator, he opened three games — against Seattle, the Chargers and Pittsburgh — in five-wide personnel. Why? Because he could.

Call it the Daboll flex. (In real time, he didn’t dislike that description.)  

So, Giants fans, when Daboll and Schoen acquire more of their players — particularly playmakers at receiver — the offense is going to be fun. How do we know? The track record.

But first, there is a season to finish and an all-important game Sunday night.  

Say this about Daboll: He doesn’t dwell on what he doesn’t have. Yes, the Giants seem to miss safety Xavier McKinney more and more with each passing game. Their lack of depth has been exposed. Daboll doesn’t dwell.

“I live in the moment,” he said.

The biggest moment of the season arrives for these Giants on Sunday night. Maybe they should take a look back at how this promising season started.  

Remember the Titans.  

More Giants

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months