Brian Daboll focused on Giants’ unlikely path to success


Brian Daboll was smoking a cigar outside U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday evening, and he deserved one. Let’s be real. The brain trust of the 2022 Giants—Joe Schoen the GM and Daboll the coach—inherited a bad combination when they took the jobs last January. The Giants had the worst talent 1 to 53 and the worst cap situation, combined, of any team in the league. Oh, that cap. But the Giants had a quarterback with athleticism and some moxie, Daniel Jones, and they had a running back, Saquon Barkley, burning to show the world he was back, and a defense with some intriguing talent.

So the Giants made the playoffs. Now, winning a playoff game, on the road, against the NFC’s three seed, the 13-4 Vikings Wouldn’t this be time to breathe a sigh and appreciate the feat of winning a playoff game in what was absolutely a bridge year for what Schoen and Daboll were building?

“No,” Daboll said. “Can’t do it.”

Sort of a Parcellsian answer.

He wasn’t positive yet, but Daboll thought there was a good chance the Giants would be playing top-seeded Philadelphia Saturday night in the divisional round. Not only was this not the time to preen, it was a time to start the short-week homework for Philly.

Daboll got on the bus to the airport. A minute or two later, he said: “You know what I’m doing right now? I’m watching our field-goal rush team against Minnesota’s field-goal protection. I’m watching the tape. No time for that other stuff.”

The Giants beat Minnesota 31-24 in the Wild Card game Sunday. Barkley churned for 109 total yards and two rushing touchdowns. Jones, in his best clutch games as a pro, threw for 301 yards, ran for a game-high 78, outplayed Kirk Cousins, and looked like he’d been playing games like this one forever. No sweat.

But what impressed me is what else the Giants had Sunday. Some teams have cap problems and push the issue into the future. The Giants were in cap hell last spring and it influenced every last decision they made with this team. The fact is, they started four veterans who, on average, were making $960,000 this year. The leader of that pack: wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins. What a story. The Bills drafted Hodgins, a 6-4 target from Oregon State, in the sixth round in 2020, and he’d mostly languished on the Buffalo bench and practice squad. Daboll and Schoen were with that Buffalo team when Hodgins came aboard. Daboll, then the Bills’ offensive coordinator, coached him.

On Nov. 3, the Giants saw Hodgins on the waiver wire. The brain trust thought: He could be our best wideout. The Giants put in a claim for him.

What a strange league. The Giants were the only team to claim Hodgins.

Turns out Buffalo was trying to move Hodgins from the active roster to the practice squad and had to expose him to waivers to do so. The Giants were awarded Hodgins, and he quickly moved into the rotation. He started five games in the regular season and a sixth Sunday in his first playoff game, in Minnesota. At 6-4, he was the kind of big receiver the Giants lacked.  “Smart player, dependable guy, kept his head down,” Daboll said. “Caught a lot of contested balls at Oregon State. He worked. He knew what we were trying to do offensively inside and out. Joe [Schoen] brought him up. We thought he’d be a good fit because he knows all the terminology of our offense.”

Hodgins in Minnesota on Sunday. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Price tag for the cap-strapped Giants was good too: Hodgins would make just $705,000 in 2022. He’d be one of the lowest-paid players on the team.

The Giants were the land of opportunity, though, and Daniel Jones took to Hodgins right away. Since Dec. 1, he’s the most-targeted wideout on the team, with 33 targets, and another nine Sunday in Minnesota. His 14-yard TD catch from Jones Sunday gave the Giants a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter. New York never trailed after that.

Turns out Hodgins had the first 100-yard game of his life—eight catches, 105 yards. One of the lowest-paid guys on the field out-performed the likely Offensive Player of the Year, Justin Jefferson. One more catch, one more TD, 48 more receiving yards.

The Giants employed three other starters in Hodgins’ financial neighborhood—wideout Richie James, corner Fabian Moreau, linebacker Jaylon Smith—on short, prove-it deals, the only kind Schoen could offer roster marginalia. He signed others to low-paying Practice Squad jobs, telling those willing to work cheap it’s all the Giants had, and they’d be moved to the active roster on gameday when the opportunity permitted. And Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale coached them hard.

The result: New York will go to Philadelphia with a bunch of players with boulders, not chips, on their shoulders. The Giants wanted them. No one else did. The Eagles will have more talent, to be sure. But desire could make this a game Saturday night at the Linc.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!