Grading the Giants' 2022-23 season: Players, coaches, and the front office

Joe Schoen, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and Brian Daboll
Joe Schoen, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and Brian Daboll / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

This was supposed to be the beginning of the rebuild, a season to make strides, but probably not the playoffs. The Giants, however, jolted the process, surprising the NFL with a remarkable year and a win over the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round before cratering against the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles.

If they make another leap next season, who knows where this could all go? But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. For now, the Giants went from a 4-13 NFL laughingstock in 2021 to a playoff team with an impressive coach and some elite individual players.

There was the not-so-good, too – the defense did not generate turnovers (their six interceptions were tied for last) and they struggled against the run. The lack of a true No. 1 receiver hindered the offense. The Giants had a negative point differential.

Here are our grades for most of the prominent names on the roster:

QB Daniel Jones

He stopped being a turnover machine (leading the NFL with a 1.1 percent interception rate), set a Giants record for completion percentage (67.2 percent) and made things happen with his legs while notching a career-best 92.5 passer rating. No one is carping about the Giants taking him sixth overall anymore.

Grade: A

RB Saquon Barkley

He was fourth in rushing (1,312 yards) and seventh in yards from scrimmage (1,650) and tied for the team lead with 57 receptions. After injury interrupted his ascension to the NFL elite, he proved he can still be electric.

Grade: A

OL Andrew Thomas

This quote might sum up Thomas’ breakout season: “There’s no one playing at a higher level at that position in the league,” Daniel Jones said of his left tackle. Thomas consistently lit up Pro Football Focus’ grading. No one would dare call him a bust now.

Grade: A

Oct 30, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrates with guard Jack Anderson (77) and offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (78) after rushing for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrates with guard Jack Anderson (77) and offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (78) after rushing for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports / © Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

WR Darius Slayton

Led the Giants with 724 receiving yards, but still has drop issues, like the ball he didn’t catch that would’ve wrapped up the Wild Card Round a little earlier. Still, seems to have a rapport with Jones and can make big plays.

Grade: C+

WR Wan’Dale Robinson

Second-round pick showed promise before injury wiped out his season. He totaled 23 catches for 227 yards in six games and enough aptitude at getting loose to make him an intriguing future weapon.

Grade: Incomplete

WR Richie James

Caught 57 balls for 569 yards and four scores, blooming into a reliable target for Jones. Dropped what likely would’ve been a long TD pass against the Eagles and had other gaffes during the season as a returner.

Grade: C+

WR Isaiah Hodgins

Claimed off waivers from the Bills, he caught 33 passes for 351 yards and four TDs in eight games and then soared in the playoff win over the Vikings (eight catches, 105 yards, one TD). Had only one catch for three yards against Philadelphia, but seems like a future factor.

Grade: B

OL Evan Neal

A year of growing pains for Neal, the No. 7 overall pick in last year’s draft. He missed four games because of a sprained MCL and, according to PFF, the right tackle allowed eight sacks.

Grade: C

Evan Neal
Evan Neal / John Jones - USA TODAY Sports

K Graham Gano

Made 29 of 32 field goal tries to finish eighth in the NFL with a 90.6 percent success rate. It’s the third time in his career he’s made more than 90 percent. His long field goal was 57 yards, the third-longest of the 35-year-old’s career. Also made 32 of 34 extra points (94.1 percent).

Grade: A

P Jamie Gillan

Ranked 18th with a career-best 46.8 yards per punt and was 25th in net punting yards (40.2). Had a long punt of 69 yards and had one punt blocked.

Grade: C

DL Leonard Williams

Williams had 45 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 12 games – not playing in five games was something new for the Big Cat, since he usually plays in every single one. He formed a nice interior duo with Dexter Lawrence, but the Giants had trouble against the run (27th overall), and some of that falls on the line.

Grade: B

DL Dexter Lawrence

Perhaps their best player at any position, Lawrence led the Giants with 7.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss (tied with Jihad Ward) and 28 QB hits while getting voted to his first Pro Bowl. Whatever success the Giants had on defense this year, its origin likely was Lawrence’s impact at the line of scrimmage.

Grade: A

Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux

Missed time early because of injury but, by the end of the season, he was a terror. Did not have huge sack numbers (four), but put pressure on the QB with 13 hits (tied for second with Ward). Made one of the signature defensive plays of the season, too – his strip sack and recovery for a TD against the Washington Commanders in Week 15 helped the Giants into the playoffs. Best news? There’s much more to come.

Grade: B+

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) reacts after winning a wild card game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) reacts after winning a wild card game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Edge Azeez Ojulari

Despite only appearing in seven games, he was second on the Giants with 5.5 sacks and led with three forced fumbles. He and Thibodeaux could form an imposing rush, but Ojulari has to stay healthy.

Grade: B

S Julian Love

By far the leading tackler on the Giants (124), Love also tied for the lead in interceptions (two, with Dane Belton) and was tied for second in tackles for loss (six) in what was a breakout season for the 2019 fourth-round pick.

Grade: B+

LB Jaylon Smith

Emerged from the practice squad to action in 13 games, Smith was the second-leading tackler on the Giants (88) and had one sack and one fumble recovery. Notched 14 tackles against the Eagles.

Grade: B

CB Adoree’ Jackson

The Giants’ best corner dealt with injury and played only 10 games, but had 51 tackles -- two for loss -- and seven passes defended. His real value came in the Wild Card Round when he was primarily responsible for holding Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson, the NFL’s best receiver, to seven catches for 47 yards. Needs health, though.

Grade: B

Oct 30, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; New York Giants cornerback Adoree Jackson (22) celebrates following a fumble recovery against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field. New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) joins Jackson at left.
Oct 30, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; New York Giants cornerback Adoree Jackson (22) celebrates following a fumble recovery against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field. New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) joins Jackson at left. / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

S Xavier McKinney

He’s a big-time player, but he injured his hand in an ATV accident over the bye week and only appeared in nine games. His impact was apparent when he returned, though, especially against Minnesota.

Grade: B-

OLB Jihad Ward

The loud voice of the defense – in a good way – Ward led in tackles for loss (seven) and was tied for second in QB hits with 13.

Grade: B

Head coach Brian Daboll

The loss to the Eagles was not Daboll’s best day, but his ability to get an under-talented team to believe and the dose of derring-do he injected into a stagnant franchise means he hits it big on this report card. Under his watch, Jones became a weapon, not a woe, and Daboll squeezed the most out of his roster. The Giants, after many misfires, finally have their leader.

Grade: A

GM Joe Schoen

Cap cuffs meant there were few big moves to be made last offseason and salary needed to be trimmed. But he made the best of difficult circumstances. The last draft was promising. He plucked Hodgins off waivers, and the receiver seemed to do something good every single week. His season begins now, and he’ll have more money to spend, have to deal with contracts for Jones and Barkley, other roster churn, and the 25th pick (not two selections in the Top 7).

Grade: A