Giants’ Brian Daboll calls playoff experience ‘overrated’ but must make his own count in Minnesota

Giants coach Brian Daboll invoked Tom Brady’s first of seven Super Bowl runs on Monday to prove a point that playoff experience is “overrated.”

“The first year that I was part of a Super Bowl, the quarterback didn’t have any playoff experience there at New England. Some of the guys did. Some didn’t,” Daboll said on Zoom, referencing the Patriots’ 2001 championship run after Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe. “We had some experience at Buffalo [from 2019 through 2021]; we lost. What you make out of it is the experience is probably overrated, to be honest with you.”

Daboll certainly will have the opportunity to put that theory to the test when his green Giants, the NFC’s No. 6 seed, visit the No. 3 seed MInnesota Vikings on Wild Card Weekend (Sunday, 4:30 p.m., FOX).

Only nine of the Giants’ 25 projected starters on offense (three), defense (four) and special teams (two) have played in an NFL playoff game in their careers.

That’s compared to 13 of the Vikings’ 25 projected starters with a seasoned defense (eight of 11) but a young offense (only four) and mixed special teams (one).

Total, the Giants’ projected starters have played in 36 playoff games compared to the Vikings’ 56.

Center Jon Feliciano and kicker Graham Gano have the most experience of all the Giants’ projected starters with seven playoff appearances. Top corner Adoree Jackson has played in six, followed by right guard Mark Glowinski (five), edge Jihad Ward (three), wideout Richie James (three), linebacker Jaylon Smith (two) and corner Fabian Moreau (one).

It’s not even clear, however, if Jackson will be able to play. He has missed seven games with a sprained MCL in his right knee, and he was coy Sunday night in the Philadelphia visitors’ locker room about suiting up next weekend.

“We’re just taking it a day at a time,” Jackson said. “If I could give you an answer, I would. We all want to be out there. But at the same time I’m trusting the trainers. Obviously, they’re the experts.”

Daboll must disprove his hypothesis that playoff experience is overrated, though, by making his own experience count inside U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

Daboll has five Super Bowl rings from his days as a Patriots assistant coach. He’s been coaching in the NFL since 2000. And he’s coaching in the playoffs for the fourth straight year, including his final three seasons as the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator.

The Bills went 3-2 in his three postseason trips in upstate New York, including an AFC Championship Game appearance in 2020.

Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell won one Super Bowl last season as the L.A. Rams’ offensive coordinator, but the former Patriots draft pick (third round quarterback, 2008) has only been coaching in the league since 2015.

Daboll’s experience must shine through in key moments. He must become the advantage for a Giants roster without much to draw on when it comes to this grand stage.

“I’ve been part of a lot of them, but they’re all different,” Daboll said. “The losses really hurt. They probably hurt more than the happiness of the wins in the playoffs. But in terms of my overall experience, I’d say there are a lot of coaches on our staff that have some, too. But I talked to those guys already. It’s what we do this week. I think everybody understands that. It’s what we do this week and ultimately how we go out there and play in the game, because what wins in Week 1 wins in the playoffs. And what loses in Week 1 loses in the playoffs.”

If the defense’s performance on Sunday in Philadelphia with mostly backups was any indication, coordinator Wink Martindale might be able to take advantage of a Vikings offense with little experience in these one-and-done games.

Minnesota’s banged-up offensive line has zero playoff experience among its five likely starters for Sunday. And if Martindale’s defense can jam up MVP candidate Jalen Hurts like it did Sunday, the Giants certainly can give Kirk Cousins (1-3 in four playoff games) some things to think about.

“Everybody plays sound. Everybody knows their job,” Landon Collins said Sunday of Martindale’s defense. “To other teams it may look complicated because guys are all over the field, but for us it’s simple. Anyone can play anywhere on this defense. And by doing so, it gives other teams fits because they don’t know what we’re gonna be in or what we’re gonna do. And when that happens and everybody plays fast — because it’s a simple defense. We all play fast and play great.”

Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson might have something to say about that in his playoff debut. After all, in Daboll’s own words, playoff experience is overrated. So the coach is simply trying to play down any advantage or disadvantage to having past experiences in this big moment.

The reality, though, is that the Giants hope Daboll’s experience will count for everything on Sunday in Minnesota. He can be the difference, as he was in several wins early in the year. In fact, he should be.