Brian Daboll
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants are headed to the NFL Playoffs.

Yes, you read that right.

In a year that was supposed to be disastrous as the long-overdue rebuild was finally underway, the Giants have achieved their first winning season and playoff berth since 2016. They’re 9-6-1 and locked into the NFC’s six seed with a week still remaining in the regular season.

It’s been a wild ride these last four months; the Giants have shocked everyone. And there are seven people who are most responsible for this incredible development in East Rutherford.

Brian Daboll. How could you not include the mastermind behind this winning season? The rookie head coach came in and took over a team lacking true talent with a quarterback who was shaky at best. And still with one week left in the regular season, that same rookie head coach, team, and quarterback are headed to the postseason.

Daboll has excelled from the start, gotten the most out of his players, and turned Daniel Jones into a legitimate NFL starting quarterback.

While he may not win the award (the Eagles’ Nick Sirianni and the Lions’ Dan Campbell both have a shot), Daboll will at least be in the conversation for NFL Coach of the Year.

Joe Schoen. Even with minimal cap space, Schoen was able to acquire two starting offensive linemen (center Jon Feliciano and right guard Mark Glowinski) in free agency and took chances on current starting receivers Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins.

Schoen also drafted outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 5 overall, addressed the offensive line with the selection of right tackle Evan Neal at No. 7 overall, and found diamonds in the rough in tight end Daniel Bellinger and linebacker Micah McFadden in the middle rounds.

Oh, and he chose Daboll to be his head coach over any of the other candidates.

Schoen deserves a great deal of credit for this playoff run. And it’ll be interesting to see how he operates this offseason when he actually has money to spend.

Wink Martindale. The Giants were set to retain Patrick Graham as their defensive coordinator before he bolted for Las Vegas. Martindale was Plan B, but he hasn’t coached like one through 16 games.

There were concerns with this defense considering Martindale’s blitz-heavy scheme and the youth of the Giants’ secondary. But New York’s unit has kept the team in numerous games.

The Giants’ defense is tied for fourth in the NFL in third-down percentage (35.1%), tied for sixth in completion percentage allowed (61.7%), and tied for eighth in pass rush win rate (44%). The unit also has its first Pro Bowler since 2020 in defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence.

While there are still some spots to be addressed in the offseason, Martindale’s defense is a whole lot better than many initially expected.

Daniel Jones. Everyone was writing Daniel Jones off just four months ago. It was a make-or-break year for the young quarterback after Schoen passed on the fifth-year option. Many expected the turnover woes to continue and Jones to be a goner after 2022.

But the kid has stepped up and is proving to have franchise-quarterback capabilities. He’s greatly limited the turnovers (he has only eight after turning the ball over 23, 16, and 10 times from 2019-21) and has career-highs in rushing yards (708), passing yards (3,205), and completion percentage (67.2%).

Just a few months after there was much doubt regarding his future, Jones is deserving of a new contract. And he’ll get one.

Saquon Barkley. Saquon is back to being Saquon. The 2018 first-round pick had a sensational rookie season (league-leading 2,028 scrimmage yards) but was hampered by injuries from 2019-21.

This season, finally healthy again, Barkley has delivered. It started with his 194 total yards in the season-opening win over Tennessee and has continued all throughout the regular season. In Sunday’s win over the Colts, Barkley surpassed his career-high rushing total of 1,307 yards, set as a rookie. He’s rushed for 1,312 yards in 16 games.

Andrew Thomas. Hand up — Dave Gettleman got this one right. After a struggle-filled rookie season, Thomas has morphed into one of the better left tackles in the NFL. The 2020 first-round pick has proven to be an offensive staple, someone you can build around.

While Thomas likely has two years remaining on his rookie contract (expect Schoen to pick up the fifth-year option this Spring), he’ll be sticking around for quite some time after that initial deal expires. The Giants finally have their franchise left tackle, who has masked many of the issues throughout the rest of the offensive line.

Dexter Lawrence. Through his first three seasons, Lawrence was an okay player. But not much more. He was your average run-stuffing defensive lineman and not an Aaron Donald-type interior pass rusher. Needless to say, he was easily replaceable.

It thus came as a little bit of a surprise when Schoen picked up his fifth-year option, keeping him signed through 2023. But Lawrence has played like a star this season.

In his first Pro Bowl campaign, he leads the team with 7.5 sacks and is third with 68 combined tackles. With Martindale, Lawrence has become a dual-threat interior lineman and is greatly deserving of a new contract, whether he signs one this offseason or the next.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.