The Giants are moving about a quarter mile closer to the real thing on Friday night.
That’s roughly the distance from their training facility where training camp has so far been held to MetLife Stadium, just across the parking lot, where their Fan Fest and Blue-White Scrimmage will take place in front of what figures to be a rather larger crowd (60,000 or so tickets have been distributed).
It’s certainly not a regular-season game and it’s not quite even a preseason game, but it’s also a little more than the practices they have been going through and it’s certainly much more than the workouts they had in the spring.
“It’s the next step,” coach Brian Daboll said of the event.
For the Giants to get to where they eventually want to be, of course, there will have to be a lot more of those steps and strides. There probably will also be stumbles and stoppages. All of which is why, on the eve of unveiling his team to the largest in-person audience that has so far gotten a chance to see them play — and see him as a head coach — Daboll is preaching patience in a process that he hopes will turn the Giants from the losing franchise they have been for most of the past decade into title contenders.
“We’re committed to a process of trying to improve and do things a certain way,” he said this week. “Sometimes the results aren’t going to be exactly what you want right away, but you have to stay committed to what you believe in and keep improving … It’s hard nowadays — it was hard 20 years ago when I was [starting out] — to not let the results affect the process. We’re strong in our belief of trying to do things the right way and keep improving in that area, competing. And you hope that the better you do, the more you compete, the more detailed you are that the results come with it.”
It's hard to say whether any of that progress will be on display Friday night. As of Wednesday Daboll still wasn’t sure exactly how he would be running the scrimmage, whether he would have his entire first offense face his entire first defense or split them up into two teams with the backups mixed in. This may look more like a practice with fireworks to follow than an actual scrimmage that imitates a game experience.
All part of the experiment that is rebuilding the Giants. Daboll knows the results he eventually wants, but he is not locked in on the exact path to get there and certainly not on a timeline to arrive at it. That part is fluid, just as the setup for the scrimmage will be.
“Humble,” he said of his approach. “You don’t have all the answers, you’re doing the best job you can and creating a culture that you see fit for your team. You got to give it sun and water every day. It just doesn’t stay the same. You have to stay on top of it. The values that you believe in, you have to commit to those, and you have to find different ways to express those and show them good examples of what they’re doing. Not just the players but the coaches, the staff. You have to be a good communicator. But there’s certainly a big part of it that I’ve been trying to work on the best I can.
“And it takes time.”
Notes & quotes: The scrimmage won’t just be an exercise for the players but for the coaching staff as well. “The coaches that will be up in the box for the first preseason game will go upstairs in the box” after special teams drills, Daboll said, noting that the event will serve as a way to help the new staff get acclimated to each other and game day procedures. Daboll said both offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will be on the sideline for the scrimmage, but that is no guarantee they will be in the preseason or regular season. “I haven’t made an ultimate decision,” Daboll said. “We’ll see how Friday goes" . . . The Giants claimed DB Nate Meadors off waivers from the Browns, who released him on Aug. 3. Meadors spent last year on IR (hamstring) with the Eagles and has also been with the Jaguars, Browns and Vikings. He was also a college teammate of Giants CB Darnay Holmes at UCLA. The Giants did not need to make a corresponding roster move with OT Matt Gono placed on the exempt list on Wednesday after he left the team.