There is a saying going around in the building. It is a message the Giants’ front office and coaching staff hopes will hit home with the players. It is succinct — just three words — and it conveys a singular request.
“Be a pro.’’
“Who was a pro all summer when they were away from the building?’’ general manager Joe Schoen told The Post.
It will be easy to detect who was a pro during a break from football that officially comes to an end on Tuesday, when all veterans report for the start of training camp, joining the rookies, who arrived a week earlier. A player arriving in shape and ready to compete will have lived up to the “Be a pro’’ mandate.
Once camp opens up, with the first practice Wednesday morning, “Be a pro’’ will be all about attending to the many responsibilities put forth by the new coaching staff, under the direction of head coach Brian Daboll. Taking care of the body, taking care of the work in the meeting room, taking care to hydrate and eat with a sense for nutrition. Taking mistakes one day on the field and turning them into production the next day. Taking pride in being on time, all the time.
For all the Giants, much of this is new, once again, and the absence of continuity is no way to run an NFL team. Daboll is the fourth different head coach to open up a Giants camp in the past seven summers. Considering that every coach has his own vision for what he wants his camp to look like, there will be yet another series of adjustments for players returning from the Joe Judge roster and a wholly new experience for those signed in free agency or selected in the draft this past spring.
“Yeah, I think that’s unfortunately the nature of our business,’’ Daboll said. “There’s a lot of change usually every year, a lot of different roles. The guys that have been in this league for some time I’m sure have had multiple position coaches, different coordinators. You’d love to be the same coordinator or same coach for a guy for seven, eight years. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in.’’
That has not been the Giants’ world since the 12-year Tom Coughlin run ended in 2016. Daboll is inheriting … what? What is the most accurate characterization of the 2022 Giants? Rebuilding? Revamped? Transitioning? Starting anew?
It is certainly not “up and coming’’ or “on the rise,’’ judging by the extremely low expectations established by the majority of those who dabble in predicting NFL success or failure. That certainly is fair, based on the 2021 season — a record of 4-13, with six consecutive desultory losses to close things out.
Joe Schoen, the first-year general manager hired away from the highly successful Bills regime, was handed a salary-cap mess and did what he could to enhance the roster. He inherited two desirable first-round draft slots (Nos. 5 and 7) and used them to fortify the pass rush (Kayvon Thibodeaux) and the offensive line (Evan Neal). If those two prize prospects are immediately ready for prime time, the Giants could be a bit better than the dour prognostications. Most rookies need time to acclimate, though, and growing pains are usually inevitable.
This will be a big summer for many holdovers. Saquon Barkley, finally coming off a healthy offseason spent revitalizing, rather than rehabbing, wants to show he once again deserves to be included in the small circle of feared NFL running backs. Daniel Jones missed the final six games last season with a neck issue and, like Barkley, is venturing into the final year on his contract. Jones is always a diligent worker, but he admits he had to — and will continue to have to — hit the books on overdrive to learn yet another new offense.
“There is certainly more studying and there is more kind of playbook-specific work rather than just fundamental throwing and stuff like that,’’ Jones said.
The well-traveled Daboll, 47, is making his eighth different NFL stop, and this is his first-ever head coaching gig, at any level. His schedule will put the team on the field most days from 10 a.m. to noon. He will speak with the media every day, a far more public face from the one he showed as a position coach or coordinator. During the spring, Daboll displayed a light touch around his players. We shall see what the summer brings.
“Come in here and try to do the best job I can do for the guys, be myself, tell ’em like it is, be honest, be demanding that they do things right,’’ Daboll said. “But also I think we have some good guys that want to do things right. I tell them all the time, ‘It’s your team.’ They have to be accountable to one another. We’ll give them instruction, we’ll teach them fundamentals, we’ll try to put in the schemes that best suit them. But at the end of the day, they have to take hold of this thing and take it where they want to go.’’