- The New York Giants have fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after a non-competitive 30-10 road loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Head coach Joe Judge made clear in media comments after the game that his coaching staff has failed the players on the team.
- Former Cleveland Browns head coach and current Giants’ assistant Freddie Kitchens is expected to take over offensive play calling duties.
The old saying that ‘defense wins championships’ just isn’t true anymore. At least that’s the case in the National Football League (NFL) where a potent–preferably pass oriented–offense has become a near prerequisite for any legitimate Super Bowl contender. The New York Giants are a long way away from contending for the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl but the team has at least taken a step in the right direction on the offensive side of the ball. New York has fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after another dismal showing by the Giants, this time a non-competitive 30-10 beatdown by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Garrett was in his second season as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator following a long run as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Under Garrett, the Cowboys were horribly inconsistent–the team won three NFC East Championships with records of 12-4, 13-3 and 10-6. The problem was in the other six seasons (we won’t include his 8 game run as interim coach in 2010 after Wade Phillips was fired)–in those six seasons Dallas would only once finish over .500 (9-7 in 2017). In all fairness, they only finished *under* .500 once during his tenure in Dallas but four seasons of 8-8 football aren’t doing to get it done in a market with high expectations for their football team.
Since taking over as the Giants’ offensive coordinator before the 2020 season the New York offense under Garrett hasn’t been inconsistent–they’ve been downright awful. A bigger problem is that the offense became discernibly worse over the course of Garrett’s run with the team even as more and more talent was added on that side of the ball. It isn’t supposed to work that way. Another duty of any offensive coordinator is to develop young quarterbacks and in that area Garrett was an abject failure. Daniel Jones clearly has talent but he has shown significant regression this year compared to his rookies season. The progression of Garrett as the Giants’ offensive coordinator was bizarre–the more tools he was given the less he was able to accomplish which is completely counterintuitive.
In 2020, the Giants were near the bottom in most significant offensive statistical measures. They were next-to-last in points scored per game with 17.5 PPG–only their ‘Big Apple’ compatriots the New York Jets were worse with 15.2 PPG. The two New York teams were similarly ranked in total offense with the Giants averaging 299.6 YPG and the Jets 279.9 YPG. Rushing yardage was as close to a ‘bright spot’ as you’ll find on the 2020 Giants’ offense though even here they were extremely mediocre ranked 19th with 110.5 rushing yards per game. New York’s passing attack was 29th in the league putting up 189.1 yards per game.
So far this season, the Giants’ offense has shown only marginal improvement despite considerably more talent and a full season of experience for QB Daniel Jones. New York is 25th in scoring offense with 18.9 PPG, 23rd in total offense (322.8 YPG) 18th in passing yardage (229.9 YPG) and 25th in rushing yardage (92.9 YPG). To be sure, the offense is far from the only issue on this team and the defense is no great shakes either (26th in total defense, 23rd in scoring defense). The offense is something that the Giants tried to address in the off season and with improved talent their lack of scoring punch was glaring. New York has only exceeded 25 points twice this season and their last three losses have seen them put up scores of 10, 17 and 11 points. NFL analyst shared an even stronger indictment of Garrett on Twitter–since the start of the 2020 season no team has scored fewer offensive touchdowns than the Giants. Even the woefully bad Jets have scored 4 more offensive TDs than the Giants:
The ‘writing was on the wall’ immediately after the Giants’ Monday Night Football loss to Tampa Bay. An animated Judge made clear that he faulted ineffective and inconsistent coaching for the defeat and not lack of execution by the players:
“You can put that down tonight. Got that? You guys can write that tonight. Players have to execute. That is their job, right? It is our job to teach them. It’s their job to go out and execute. But we’ve got to make sure we put them in position to have success. That has to be consistent, by the way. So, you can go ahead and write that down. I’m not going to debate that.”
He went on to single out the lack of output from the New York offense:
“We have to do a better job of scoring points. I know it sounds pretty obvious and to the point with it. But I’m going to keep it pretty blunt right there. We have to do a better job of putting our players in position to make plays. We have too many good players. We have to put them in better position to capitalize on it. That’s it.”
After the firing was announce, Judge affirmed to the media that Garrett’s dismissal was ‘not a snap decision’. Despite not announcing the move immediately after the game it was evident to anyone able to ‘read between the lines’ that Garrett would not be around long. Asked if he still had faith in Garrett as offensive coordinator, Judge gave this vague and noncommittal answer:
“I have faith in all the people on our team — players, coaches, everyone. We’ll assess everything as a team and make any move we need to going forward.”
Even more revealing–Judge was asked if Garrett would remain offensive coordinator and this was his response:
“I’m not going to go into it right now.”
Former Cleveland Browns head coach and OC Freddie Kitchens will take over play calling duties on offense. Kitchens serves in an unspecified ‘Senior Offensive Advisor’ role with the Giants but for the time being at least no ‘interim offensive coordinator’ has been named in favor of a ‘collaborative approach’. Judge says not to expect any dramatic changes in how things are done:
“There’s going to be a lot of the same players out there and it will still be elements of the playbook that we’ll have out there. We’ll see as new wrinkles develop and new schemes and concepts that may be included.”
On the other hand, when asked to elaborate on Kitchens the head coach sure sounded like he is now in a de facto offensive coordinator role:
“Freddie has a very aggressive approach to the game. Freddie has done a good job in terms of using his players and creating matchups and situations where they can have success, and he calls it with a degree of multiples and variables, which present problems to opponents. He sees it through the lens of the player, in terms of creating plays for the player. That’s a valuable asset.”
Another school of thought–the Giants sent Garrett packing at a very inopportune time. The Tampa Bay loss was coming off of their bye week and they’re heading into a short preparation week due to Thanksgiving before they host Philadelphia on Sunday. On the other hand, there are seven games remaining and the schedule isn’t exactly intimidating. Only two of the seven games are against teams with winning records–they play the 6-4 LA Chargers in Southern California and the 7-3 Dallas Cowboys at home. The other games are Philadelphia (5-6) twice, Washington (4-6), Miami (4-7) and Chicago (3-7). Even assuming that the Giants lose both games to the teams over .500 (and that’s not a given) the benchmark for the team to improve their record isn’t high at 6-10. There are 17 regular season games this year but a 4-3 finish would put New York at 7-10 for the year with a winning record after Garrett’s firing.