Safety Xavier McKinney: Giants ‘not so uptight’ anymore with Brian Daboll as head coach

Over the past two seasons in New York, discipline was as prevalent as Giants losses.

With the departure of Joe Judge and his old-school approach, and the subsequent arrival of Brian Daboll, there’s a little more fun to be had in Gotham these days.

“The communication part of it, it’s not so uptight, how it was before,” Giants safety Xavier McKinney said on the Blue Rush podcast, via the New York Post. “You can be yourself, you can be you. When we come in here, we always come in here to work but it’s just fun, everybody being who they are and we’re having fun with it.”

Since he was selected in the 2020 NFL Draft’s second round, McKinney’s only NFL head coach had been Judge. Known for his disciplinarian approach, Judge’s tenure with Big Blue lasted all of two seasons as the franchise went a combined 10-23 in that span for its fourth and fifth straight losing campaigns.

Thus far, it’s been a monumental difference under Daboll, the former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator.

“He’s been great,” McKinney said. “The communication has been fantastic. Him asking us, ‘What’s too much? What’s too little? What more do we need to do? What do we need to cut down on?’ Just him being transparent with us and having that line of communication always open.

“And it really is open, it’s not one of those things where he’ll tell you and then if you try to talk to him, he kinda ignores you. You can actually go and have a conversation with him, tell him what you don’t like and what you like, what we should do more. I’ve had that with him thus far and it’s been great for all of us.”

Daboll’s looking to lead one of the NFL’s most revered franchise back to relevance and getting the most out of McKinney is a key in doing that.

Seen as a steal in the 2020 draft when he went 36th overall, the Alabama product was limited to six games as a rookie due to injury. However, as a 22-year-old second-season player in 2021, McKinney was one of the Giants’ few bright spots. He posted 93 tackles, a team-high five interceptions and 10 passes defended in 17 games.

He’s still got room to improve and grow his game and appears to be in a setting more suitable for him to do just that.

By McKinney’s account, things are a little looser now at practices, the environment is lighter and the beginning of a new foundation under Daboll is being laid for the Giants.

“He was smoking a cigar and we just had a conversation, he just asked me how the week was going, I told him good,” McKinney said. “Just stuff like that has been great, it’s been refreshing to know he’s really for the players and he wants to see us be successful and actually help us in whatever way we need.”

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