The Seahawks host the New York Giants at Lumen Field on Sunday, welcoming to town at team that, at 6-1, is one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this year. To learn more about the upstart Giants, we reached out to Giants.com senior writer and editor Michael Eisen with five questions about this week's opponent.
Much like the Seahawks, the Giants (6-1) are exceeding outside expectations, but what was the belief like within the organization coming into the season?
Eisen: There was certainly much excitement because of the new leadership, including general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll. They really energized the entire building. But I'd be lying if I said we expected to be 6-1. I think most people, inside and outside the organization, expected a rebuild that would take some time. And frankly, that still might be the case. But this team is so well coached and has demonstrated a knack for overcoming adversity – the Giants have trailed in every game, including in the fourth quarter in each of the last three weeks – that a belief has developed that this team can find a way to win. That was certainly missing the last few seasons.
You can't turn an entire roster over in one season, so clearly first-year coach Brian Daboll is making a big difference. What has Daboll brough to the Giants that has contributed to a 6-1 start after winning just four games all of last season?
Eisen: Accountability and consistency. He talks every week about the process, paying attention in meetings, working hard in practice, bringing in players to upgrade the roster (for example, Landon Collins. A Giants from 2015-18, made his second debut with the team in Jacksonville). Don't look back – it's always on to the next play or the next game. Daboll also hired a terrific staff. He and coordinator Mike Kafka have brought great creativity to the offense, both in terms of game-planning and play-calling. Wink Martindale is as good a defensive coordinator as you can have. The players believe this staff will put them in the best position to win a game, and that was a big hurdle to clear.
All six of the Giants' wins have been by eight points or fewer, what has allowed them to thrive in close games, and is that formula sustainable?
Eisen: The Giants have continually had players step up when plays needed to be made, whether it's a Saquon Barkley run, a Daniel Jones pass, a Julian Love interception. Each time it happens, Daboll talks about the preparation that went into the play and credits the players. The players have the mindset of playing for 60 minutes and playing the next play regardless of what happened or the score or the situation, which Daboll considers very important for any football team. Is it sustainable? Good question. Even Daboll admits they're not trying to fall behind. It would be nice to jump out to a lead. Until it happens, they'll use the formula that has worked.
The Giants come to Seattle with the No. 2 rushing attack. This is probably an obvious question, but what does this version of Saquon Barkley—fully healthy and two years removed from ACL surgery—mean to New York's offense?
Eisen: Barkley has been sensational from the season's first game, when he ran for 164 yards and was NFC Offensive Player of the Week. For the first time since he sprained his ankle in 2019, he looks like the player he was when the was Rookie of the Year in 2018. Barkley has 906 scrimmage yards, 99 more than anyone else in the league. He's gained at least 88 yards in every game and has topped 100 yards five times. With the Giants depleted wide receiver group and now tight end corps, he is indisputably the team's best and most valuable player.
What is a key matchup(s) you're looking forward to seeing play out in Sunday's game?
Eisen: I would list a few. Will a Seahawks running defense that is tied for 29th in the NFL be able to slow down Barkley and the Giants' No. 2 rushing offense? Conversely, the Seahawks lead the NFL with an average of 5.5 yards a carry, while the Giants' defense is last by allowing an average rush of 5.7 yards. The NFL has become a passing league, but this game could come down to which team has the stronger run defense. Also, can the Giants, who had just 13 sacks in seven games, find a way to harass Geno Smith? Finally, Jason Myers and Graham Gano are two of the NFL's four-highest scorers this season. Will one of them come through if called upon to kick a clutch field goal?
The Seahawks and Lumen partnered together to donate $40K to Y-WE Tech's tech library, along with 60 refurbished laptops, helping provide the necessary equipment to support their STEM program for young women. Y-WE is one of the team's Spirit of 12 partners.