Teams coming off losing seasons often poach players from more successful programs in an effort to infuse a winning mentality. It’s a fairly common tactic, and one the Giants relied on this offseason (although to be fair, they couldn’t exactly sign players off teams that were worse than they were since there only was one of them).
But besides just adding guys from playoff teams a year ago, the Giants also managed to add guys who were on playoff teams a year ago that were losing teams the year before that. In other words, players who know what it takes to make the sharp 180-degree turn the Giants are attempting to maneuver.
Linebackers Alec Ogletree and Connor Barwin were both with the Rams and guard Patrick Omameh was with the Jaguars. Both of those teams made worst-to-first transformations in 2017 under new coaches and new cultures. So as much it helps to have the experience of someone such as Nate Solder who has never in his career played a season that did not reach at least the conference title game with the Patriots, having the guys who experienced lows that transformed into highs should be more important.
Already they are starting to share their advice with the Giants.
“The key last year was accountability, playing together, and discipline,” Barwin said of the Rams’ jump from 4-12 in 2016 to 11-5 in 2017. “I wasn’t there two years ago but Tree was and he said that was the big difference and that’s what we have to do here. Guys have to come together, guys have to play as a team and you have to be accountable for your actions.”
Ogletree said the key is “to get everybody to believe in the same goal, believe what the coach is putting out there, and respond and take it upon yourself as players to make it work. The coaches are going to coach but the players have to play and go out there on the field and play together.”
Omameh said the biggest impetus to the Jaguars’ transformation from 3-13 in 2016 to 10-6 in 2017 was that they believed in their new leaders (including former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin).
“Guys have to buy in,” Omameh said. “If you can get the collective group to buy in and everybody is on the same page with the same focus and the same goal, that’s really when you can get it done.”
Can the Giants do what the Rams and Jaguars did last year? They certainly have the talent to be a competitive team and turnarounds in the NFL are fairly commonplace. All they seem to be missing so far is positive reinforcement. They got that two years ago when they beat the Cowboys in the opener and wound up making the playoffs. Omameh said the Jaguars last year found their launching point with an opening day win at Houston.
“You have to get a taste of success and then you really start to see what you bought into is actually getting results, and the rest of it takes care of itself,” Omameh said. “That’s when it opened up people’s eyes and if there were guys who were on the fence it was like ‘Wow, we’re on the right track.’ Some people need to see it to believe it, but seeing it work, that’s when everybody was on board.”