The Giants plan to keep the identity of their new play-caller under wraps for as long as they can, but one thing is for sure: whoever is taking charge of developing the offensive game plan has his work cut out for him.
The one thing we know is that it’s too late in the season to scrap the current system and start from scratch, certainly not on a short work week. Removing Garrett from the play-calling role is, at best, a quick fix that may or may not bear fruit considering that the rest of the offensive coach remains in place and that the Giants offense was supposedly a collaborative effort even when Garrett was here.
The Giants aren’t about to scrap their entire offensive system midway through the season, but there are a few things they can do moving forward that might provide some better results.
The Offensive Line
The revolving door of linemen hasn’t helped build chemistry, but the individual play hasn’t helped either.
There are still instances where blitzes and stunts aren’t being picked up. And the run blocking has been inconsistent. According to Football Outsiders, the Giants’ offensive line is ranked 30th in Adjusted Line Yards (a metric that separates rushing yardage blocked for by the offensive line from yards gained by the efforts of the running back) with just 3.76 yards per carry.
Pass protection has been slightly better, despite what we saw on Monday night against the Bucs. The Giants are ranked 15th, having allowed 22 sacks and an adjusted sack rate (a metric that “gives sacks (plus intentional grounding penalties) per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent”) of 6.2 percent.
The problem here is simple. The Giants don’t have quality depth along their offensive line. They went into training camp confident that their young projected starters—Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez, and Matt Peart—would become a solid offensive line. They also anticipated having a veteran group of backups such as Nate Solder, Zach Fulton, Jonathan Harrison, and Joe Looney to serve as a safety net.
They didn’t anticipate season-ending injuries to Gates, Lemieux, and Harrison, Thomas landing on IR for three games, the retirements of Fulton and Looney, and Solder beating out Peart for the starting right tackle role.
The biggest miscalculation by the Giants is not stocking up on young talent to develop. Solder and Hernandez are in contract years and are not likely to be in the long-term plans. The Giants did add former Titans first-round pick Isaiah Wilson, whom they’re feverishly trying to groom into a guard, but he might still be a few weeks away from being able to step in.
Peart got some starter’s snaps in Thomas’s absence, but he went right back to the bench while Solder continued to hold down the right tackle job. If Solder is not in the long-term plans, why not get Peart as many snaps as possible, especially as the season continues to slip away from them?
Why not see what you have in Ben Bredeson at right guard if Hernandez, who struggled against the Bucs, isn’t in your long-term plans. The Giants seem to be playing for the moment on the offensive line, which is fine if they were winning. At what point do they flip the switch so they know exactly what they have to address next off-season in the draft?
The Passing Game
Over the last four games, quarterback Daniel Jones has averaged 175.5 yards per game, and his average completion has traveled just 3.55 yards downfield in the air. Per Sharp Football Stats, the Giants rank 30th in explosive pass rate (25 plays, or 7 percent of their pass plays).
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Considering that they added speed to the receiver corps, those are damning stats. But their deployment of the receivers and tight ends hasn’t helped either.
Take, for instance, receiver Kadarius Toney. The Giants can’t go wrong in putting the ball in Toney’s hands, but these short, quick passes over the middle are allowing defenders to key in on him and limit his yards after the catch.
Over his last three games, Toney was targeted 17 times and caught 12 passes for 75 yards. That’s an average of 6.25 yards per reception—a pitiful number given the speed Toney has shown himself to have.
Some might argue that the injuries to the rookie have caused the Giants to roll back what they’re asking Toney to do. I’m not buying that because, as head coach Joe Judge has said in the past, if a guy is dressed and ready to play, then let him play.
Whoever is calling the plays starting this weekend must find a way to get Toney involved in some longer passes that go beyond 6.25 yards.
Speaking of the passing game, we’ve seen instances in which the Giants flood multiple receivers to one spot on the field with the intent of trying to create a guessing game as to where the ball is going. Sometimes the receivers have run into each other, and it's made it too easy for the defense to close in and take those options away.
Rather than flood an area with multiple receivers, why not make greater use of route concepts and combinations that put defenders in responsibility conflicts or create traffic for defensive backs to navigate? Add some motion and misdirection to create further confusion because right now, opposing defenses are having way too easy to figure out what the Giants are doing in the passing game.
With Garrett removed from the equation, the Giants hope that these last remaining games will finally answer those remaining questions about their franchise quarterback. For all that Jones does well, such as the deep ball and his ability to extend and make plays with his legs, there is still enough that leaves one wondering about if he’ll ever move to the next level of quarterback play.
Jones has improved, but there are still issues in his game. These include telegraphing where his passes are going, locking in on one receiver, trying to force balls into tight windows that just aren’t there, his pocket presence, and an inability to see the entire field.
The new play-caller can help Jones out by calling for more play-action, more bootlegs, and getting the running backs in space where they can potentially match up against smaller linebackers and defensive backs.
Don’t expect the Giants offense to change from top to bottom overnight. At best, let’s hope that whoever does have the final say in what call gets sent into the quarterback, that person is a little more daring, a lot more creative, and a lot more in tune with the personnel they have and don’t have to make the system fit accordingly.
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