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Giants HC Brian Daboll: We'll leave 'no stone unturned' working to improve after 2023 struggles

With his Giants going from a 9-7-1 record and a playoff win in 2022 to a 6-11 finish this last year, making changes was inevitable for New York head coach Brian Daboll.

Daboll sat down with NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero at the Annual League Meeting on Saturday to discuss the state of his team at this point in the offseason and the work that has already begun to make tangible improvements.

"You certainly want to have a better record than we had last year, so there's no stone unturned," he said. "Done a lot of research, met with a lot of different people, trying to grow and develop, do a lot of different things in terms of procedure, process, player evaluations, scheme evaluation, decision-making, leadership, those are all things you try to grow and develop with every year."

That focus on adjustments has already shown itself in the form of notable departures and signings for Big Blue through the opening days of free agency.

The most significant of the Giants' acquisitions is undoubtedly Brian Burns, with the pass rusher joining New York via trade from the Panthers and immediately signing a long-term contract with the team.

"Yeah, give a lot of credit to (general manager) Joe (Schoen) and his staff for getting that done," Daboll said. "[Burns is] a good player, a good acquisition, a good trade for us, happy to have him. He's been a productive guy at Carolina and doing all the research on the player, and more importantly the person, he's the right kind of guy and we're excited to have him."

The two-time Pro Bowler is expected to immediately boost a Giants pass rush that tied for 28th in the league in sacks in 2023, part of a struggling defense that finished 27th overall in yards allowed.

But while the defense added a star player to its roster, the Giants lost one of their biggest offensive contributors in free agency when running back Saquon Barkley signed with the Eagles.

When asked about his thoughts on Barkley's departure after six years with the team, Daboll acknowledged that while it would have been ideal to have kept the back, he understands the ever-evolving nature of today's NFL and the difficulties in keeping a group together for multiple years.

"This is what it is every year in the NFL. You meet great people, whether it's coaches, players, staff members, and unfortunately everybody doesn't stick together the entire time, it's not what it was 30, 40 years ago," Daboll said. "I've got a tremendous amount of respect for Saquon and all the players that went on to other places. It's a special group when you're going through an NFL season, you've got to go through ups and downs. … Wish him all the best except when he is playing the Giants."

One area in which Daboll has not committed to significant change, however, is at the quarterback position, once again affirming his faith in Daniel Jones to continue leading the offense. Jones, still in the midst of rehabbing a torn ACL, didn't have his best season even before being sidelined by the injury, but Daboll has stuck by him as the starter.

However, with Jones' return timetable still unknown -- Daboll only would say he was continuing to improve but balked at committing to a Week 1 return -- the team signed former Seahawks QB Drew Lock, who Daboll expressed confidence in for the interim.

"We're excited to have Drew, and he knows what his role is going to be," Daboll said. "He's going to get a lot of reps this spring, he needs to learn our system, but again excited to get Daniel back, when he gets back he'll be the guy."

The more things change, the more things stay the same. But a year removed from a surprise playoff appearance and looking to rebound from the subsequent fall from grace, Daboll is trusting that the changes he's made, and those still to come, will be enough to get his squad back on track, even if there's still a lot of work to go before any offseason changes can bear fruit.

"I'm excited about some of the pieces we have and we've got to build a team," he said. "There's a long way from now until September, so we'll give everything we've got to improve, as a coaching staff, as an organization, as players.

"April 15 when the guys get back, it can't come soon enough."

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