Can you feel it?
That buzz of excitement? That sense of something positive happening? An air of change?
The Giants can.
Their Week 1 win unleashed a frenzied thrill from the team’s long-suffering fans, thanks to the gutsy new head coach and the explosive running back returning to form after a series of injuries, the tremors of which have reached inside the Giants’ facility.
The players and coaches, the ones who continually talk about blocking out the outside noise, tried to spend the week downplaying the significance of the event as “just one win” and reminding themselves they are just one-seventeenth of the way through their schedule.
But even they couldn’t help but notice the charged atmosphere their victory brought to the area.
“I definitely get a sense of that,” quarterback Daniel Jones said of the vibes. “I’m not on social media a lot, so I don’t see a ton of that. But just kind of in the building, talking to guys, talking to friends, talking to family, everyone’s excited.”
So much so that the Empire State Building was to be lit in blue on Saturday night in the Giants’ honor.
It is perhaps the most elated that Giants fans have been since those first two glorious weeks of Jones’ tenure as starting quarterback in 2019.
Now to keep them in that state.
The Giants have their home opener Sunday against the Panthers in front of what figures to be a MetLife Stadium crowd hyped with hope and primed to be pleased.
It will be their first chance to see coach Brian Daboll in action in person, their first up-close look at the rejuvenated Saquon Barkley, and maybe even their first glimpse of first-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux (after missing last week’s game with a preseason knee sprain, the linebacker is listed as doubtful on the injury report).
“I expect they’re going to be loud and pretty upbeat,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard said of the fans. “We’re trying to establish a winning culture at home, so guys are pretty amped up about it and I’m sure the fans will be too.”
None of that will matter, though, if they can’t win again.
Simply put: The Giants can double the enthusiasm that has embraced them in recent days, or they can douse it.
That such a significant crossroads should occur at a place where the Giants have struggled — MetLife Stadium — only adds more depth to the dichotomy between newness and same-oldness. The Giants haven’t had a winning record at home since 2016. During the last five years of agony, they are 12-28 as hosts in the Meadowlands; 12-29 if you count their “road” loss to the Jets in 2019.
It is a building that has more often heard the thunderous cheers of fans for opposing teams than the Giants themselves in recent seasons. And it is a crowd that has grown weary of uninspired football and has regularly turned on the team with boos at the earliest sign of further incompetence.
That’s a foreign concept to many of the team’s new coaches. They come from Buffalo, Kansas City and Baltimore, where having a raucous atmosphere at home isn’t just the norm, it is part of the game plan.
The Giants have done all they can to rev up those who will be on hand Sunday, from the win last week to a personal appeal from defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.
“You want to be part of changing this culture here with the Giants? Be loud,” he said to the fans. “Have that place rocking so people don’t want to come to our stadium. We’ll take care of the rest and we’ll give you something to be loud about.”
One way or another, the Giants are certain to do just that.