The Giants have parted ways with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett ending a tenure that has been maligned since the former Dallas Cowboys head coach was announced.
There is no doubt that the offense has struggled during his tenure. The Giants offense is currently ranked in the bottom quarter of the NFL in total yards, touchdowns, and points per game.
Although it is convenient, everything can't be laid at the feet of Garrett. The offense has lacked consistency due to injury at receiver and tight end, along the offensive line, and to running back Saquon Barkley.
One could argue that we never saw the offense that Garrett wanted to put on the field. Nevertheless, the move has been made, and with tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens reportedly taking over the play-calling, Giants head coach Joe Judge is looking to add some dynamics into the offense that he has not seen over the past year and a half.
The first thing they should and need to see is a more concerted effort in the run game. Expect to see more one-back power out of 12 personnel (1 back, two tight ends). This will help the offensive line who have struggled to sustain blocks by allowing them to take angles on blocks on the sensitive line or climb to second-level defenders.
Power is quick-hitting and doesn't provide the back with autonomy, so the line knows exactly where the play should hit. As speed becomes king in the NFL, defenses are shedding size for speed which is great offenses attack through the air vertically and on the ground east and west.
The downside is that north/south running can be a problem. The Giants have to find a way to exploit that fact in their offense, and plays like power are exactly how you do it.
But it can be run superficially. There needs to be a commitment to it and to understand that how a defense can withstand the punch in the first quarter is not how they will handle it in the fourth.
Zone is great, but if offensive linemen are not confident in their blocking, it can cause doubt, leading to slower play and indecisiveness that's bad for the zone scheme. It's a play that fits Barkley and Devontae Booker, so you can plug both backs in and keep consistency on the play.
Once you establish that downhill presence, it is much easier to return to the zone because defenses have to brace and sit down in gaps rather than penetrate and disrupt.
Downhill plays force defenses to flow fast and react quickly. That is counterproductive against the zone, which uses a defense's fast flow against them to create cutback lanes and leveraged openings to run through.
The other thing that needs to be emphasized moving forward is getting the ball out of Daniel Jones's hands quicker. It seems as if the longer Jones holds the ball, the worse the outcome.
While with the Browns, Kitchens would run three-receiver bunch formations where two receivers would push deep, but the third would run a quick shallow crossing route that the quarterback could deliver quickly and without much thought.
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Despite adding talent to their edge rusher group, the unit appears to be at a crossroads.
Baker Mayfield feasted off those passes in his rookie season with Cleveland while Kitchens was the offensive coordinator. In a league with defenses who blitz almost every play, those short routes can expose the soft spot, or vacated area, from a blitzing linebacker or defensive back.
RPOs should be more prominent as they give the quarterback one easy read and can happen quickly, allowing him to get rid of the ball.
The Giants have weapons, so it is the responsibility of the offensive coordinator to help the quarterback be comfortable. Kitchens has a lot of options that can help benefit Jones and get the ball out of his hands quickly.
Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard are both able to pick up yards after the catch, but both are injured and are not expected to be a part of Sunday's game plan against the Eagles.
Screens off the run action should also be more prevalent if there is a renewed emphasis on running the ball. Faking the run to Barkley, then throwing him the screen is highly effective, and we know how special he is with the ball in his hands in space.
The run fake to a back and quick throw to Toney also serves as a way to get an extremely talented player the ball in space and alleviate the need for Jones to hold on to the ball.
Unfortunately, Kitchens is inheriting the same issues Garrett had, namely injuries. Barkley is questionable as he continues to deal with his ankle injury. As previously noted, Shepard is out, and Toney is doubtful.
Kyle Rudolph is doubtful, and Kaden Smith is out. Speedster John Ross is questionable with a quad injury.
While the injuries should not change the game plan, it does change the dynamic of the players being relied on. Kenny Golladay can work the middle of the field and shallow similarly to how Jarvis Landry did for Cleveland while Kitchens as offensive coordinator.
Slayton is more than capable of taking the top off, and if Barkley does play, he becomes even more valuable as a pass receiver. Power and other gap scheme plays are tailor-made for Booker and his downhill style, so it should benefit him in the offense if he is the lead back.
Every play is designed to work. Execution will be key as the Giants continue on. There will need to be a renewed effort to execute on a high level on every play.
It seems that injuries will continue to be a concern, so every player needs to be locked in and ready to do their job. There's a better than likely chance that your number will be called if you are a player on this offense.
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